Job seekers head to Heartland Lakes Career Fair – Park Rapids Enterprise

Fifty-seven employers – offering jobs in management, engineering, manufacturing, health care and more – filled the Park Rapids Area High School (PRAHS) gymnasium on Friday.

The career fair was a partnership of the school, Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, Heartland Lakes Development Commission (HLDC) and Rural Minnesota CEP.


Justin Ahrendt sought underground operators and laborers to bury fiber-optic cable for Zenergy, headquartered in Sebeka. The work is seasonal, Ahrendt said, but well paid and includes full-time benefits. Laborers must be 18 years or old.

Shannon Geisen/Park Rapids Enterprise

The first two hours of the event were devoted to student job applicants.

Melissa Backman, HLDC admin specialist, said Nevis, Laporte and Wadena schools bused students to Park Rapids. PRAHS students attended as well.

Late afternoon was dedicated to adult job seekers.

Teresa Walsh, along with daughter Katie, stopped at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) booth. “I’m retired and I just want to have some part-time hours,” Teresa said. She was inquiring about retail jobs at the Mary Gibbs Mississippi Headwaters Center.

The center attracts close to 600,000 visitors per year, said Tina Brandenburg-Cermak, a parks and trail associate for Itasca State Park.

Cynthia Holleman, also with Itasca State Park, said they were looking to fill food service, security and retail positions. “Those are the main jobs we are still hiring for at this point and time,” she explained.

Brandenburg-Cermak added, “We have one of the best jobs in the world because 99.9% of people are happy.”

DNR jobs are listed at

“It’s the best office in the world,” Brandenburg-Cermak said.

Derek Ricke, Chamber president/CEO, said they were really happy with the adult turnout at the fair.

It’s outperforming last year and previous career exposure, he said.

Halfway through the public, the adult portion of the fair, he noted they already had 60 participants.

While students certainly packed the gymnasium earlier in the day, Ricke said the return was more valuable with adults who immediately wanted employment.

“It’s a great start,” Ricke said. “Today’s a good day.”

HLDC Executive Director Mary Thompson said the committee tweaked the second annual event based on feedback from last year’s attendees. They made improvements to the location, parking, timing and food availability.

Shannon Geisen

Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.