People of Color Career Fair back in Minneapolis for first time since pandemic

Jacquieta Whittington is turning over a new leaf when it comes to work.

"I worked in the field for more than 30 years dealing with children and adolescents in foster care and adoption," said Whittington.

Recently laid off from her job as a mental health advocate, she's looking for an employer who can bring out her best.

"Someone who is enthusiastic and someone who can motivate me to be the best that I can be as a therapist or an advocate," said Whittington.

On Thursday, she was among hundreds making their next career move at the People of Color Career Fair, created to address racial disparities when it comes to employment in our state.

According to Minnesota DEED, the Black unemployment rate sits at 5.9% and the white unemployment rate at 2.2% – based on 12-month moving averages.

For the first time since the pandemic, the event is back in person at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Founder Sharon Smith-Akinsanya says those face-to-face interactions are crucial when making a connection with a potential employer.

"I put people in the room with great resumes, great fits for the culture, and they get hired!" said Smith-Akinsanya.

Attendees were able to meet with hiring managers and conduct interviews on the spot, potentially walking out the door with a new job.

The employers in the room were all hand-picked by Smith-Akinsanya, who believes in doing things differently to increase diversity at every level in the workplace.

"It's about proximity. If we don't get in the room with people who don't look like us, we aren't going to make any change in Minnesota," said Smith-Akinsanya.