■ By Chris Smith / advisory editor
The line was long, the wait was frustrating, but for some, the payoff was like hitting the jackpot.
When you have been unemployed – or underemployed – or have had to endure a long commute everyday, finding a new job is like getting a new lease on life. Monday, Nov. 27, was when the new Soboba Casino held its first job fair, and the response was, if not overwhelming, extremely gratifying. “What if you held a job fair and no one showed up?” mused one observer of the event that was held at the Soboba Springs Country Club.
That turned out not to be the case this week as an estimated 1,000 people showed up to throw their hats…er, resumes in the ring and apply for the more than 400 positions at the casino that is scheduled to open in early 2019.
“We’ve had people contact us from a broad geographic area, many from San Bernardino,” said Gloria Baron, the casino’s director of human resources. “One person reached out from Idaho!” she said describing the casino’s social media and direct-mail marketing campaign as a resounding success.
While there were a few middle-aged folks in line, for the most part the applicants appeared to be in their 20s or 30s, well dressed and ambitious younger people who may have been tired of working for minimum wage or at least less than they feel they are worth given their experience and education in an area of the country that some say never fully recovered from the 2008 recession. Despite the nation’s official low unemployment figures, many are still waiting for that rise in wages that the Trump administration has been trying to orchestrate with mixed success.
“I’m looking for anything in management,” said Jennifer Irwin, who by 11 a.m. said she had been waiting in line for two hours. Hanna Blankenship said she would be happy with a job in food service, “or possibly front desk.”
While the wait was about two hours to get to the front of the line, those who showed up at 9 a.m. were relieved that the line was steadily moving forward – all the way from the golf course fairway, up the stairs to the parking lot in front of the country club, and inside to where three rooms full of chairs were set up for new-hire orientations and interviews.
“Some people got here at 7 a.m. just to be at the front of the line,” said one applicant noting that the job fair was advertised to begin at 9 a.m.
While the country club’s parking lot was full, and security was on hand to keep those frustrated at not finding a parking spot from getting impatient, others went straight to the ample casino parking lot a half mile away and were shuttled over to the country club by bus.
“We still have 200 people waiting at the casino to come over,” Baron noted at 11 a.m. when the orderly line out front of the country club still draped down the stairs and onto the golf course. Because people had to stand in line in the sun for hours, the casino brought in a truck filled with bottled water to help ensure no one became dehydrated.
“We’ll be here for as long as it takes to process everyone,” promised one of the organizers.
Applicants were pre-screened in one room by the types of jobs they were seeking. They then were ushered into an adjacent room for interviews.
New positions that hadn’t been previously available at the existing casino include hotel management, since the older casino doesn’t have a hotel like the new one does. Other jobs include food and beverage servers and managers – the biggest category – line cooks, housekeepers, front desk clerks, and people who work on the floor supporting the slot machines and table games.
While the wait caused some people to break out of line and leave early in order to make it to their current jobs on time, Baron said those who missed Monday’s event will have another chance to apply when the casino holds its second job fair in December on a date yet to be announced.
The Soboba Casino is located at 23333 Soboba Rd., San Jacinto 92583, https://soboba.com. The Country Club at Soboba Springs is located at 1020 Soboba Road, San Jacinto http://sobobaspringscc.com.