More than a thousand people filled the Wellness Center at City College of San Francisco Wednesday to find jobs with some 37 federal government agencies that had set up booths, including the Department of Defense, the Fish & Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“First, it’s interesting. Second, there are no layoffs,” said Tiffany Orick, a field recruiter with the Transportation Security Administration, of jobs with her agency. The department was recruiting transportation security officers, and administrative managers. Some 200 students stopped at Orick’s booth.

Sanela Latic, an event coordinator with City College, said the Office of Personnel Management contacted the college to bring the fair to the campus. The federal agency, which is in charge of hiring, selected the school for its student body diversity and wide-range degrees and certificates it offers, she said.

Most of the agencies were looking for new hires for specific jobs. The prison department, for instance, was looking for special education teachers, and the safety transportation agency was looking for air marshals. Other departments, such as the U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not have openings.

stiff competition

“We did a lot of hiring a couple of years ago. We’re here at the junior college to tell students what kind of work we offer and to keep us in mind,” said Steve Baxter, officer recruiter for the border protection agency.

There are 31,214 openings posted on, the website where potential employees find and apply for jobs.

But securing a federal job can take more than a year.

Many of the jobs require that candidates pass a credit and background check. Some have additional exam requirements.

It took Robinson, who started as a clerk in 1988, 15 months to go through the hiring process at the prison department.

Jessica Billy, a student studying criminal justice, was not intimidated by the time it might take.

“They’re making sure they find the right person for the job,” she said. “What’s 15 months, compared to a lifetime of opportunity?

“I’m interested in finding a job where I can investigate. I like putting the pieces of a puzzle together. I want to advocate for those who can’t speak for themselves.”

K. Robinson, a counselor at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, said the competition would be stiff because many students have parents who have been unemployed.

“With the bad economy, college students who are finishing their degrees are competing with moms and dads” with work experience, she said.

Government jobs have traditionally been seen as secure jobs that offer stability and benefits, but with the fickle economy, many workers in city, local and state departments have seen their hours reduced, or worse.

Last month, California’s unemployment rate climbed to 12.2 percent. The country’s unemployment rate is 9.7 percent, according to the California Employment Development Department.

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Rosa Ramirez grew up listening to stories about her father and uncles migrating from a small rural town in Mexico to work in the garment district in Los Angeles. Now, as a reporter for Mission Loc@l, Rosa enjoys telling the stories of immigrants from Latin America and other parts of the world who are making San Francisco their new home.
Her beat is San Francisco City College and higher education.
Before coming to UC Berkeley, Rosa worked for various news organizations across the country including Hispanic Link News Service, Birmingham Post-Herald, Rocky Mountain News and Daytona Beach News-Journal.
Rosa, who speaks Spanish and Portuguese, graduated from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

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