PLAINS TWP. — Students, working parents, the unemployed.
About 2,000 people from across Northeastern Pennsylvania filed through the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs ballroom during a job fair Tuesday, having come to try their luck at an estimated 250 openings expected to be created by the opening of a $50 million hotel and convention center this fall.
If there was a common denominator throughout the crowd — whose attire ranged from business suits to shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops — it was the oft-spoken view that a job at Mohegan Sun, which already employs more than 1,700 people, means good, steady work.
That’s how Matt Smolskis feels.
“You know that there’ll always be work here,” said the Dunmore resident, 19, who trekked down from Lackawanna County after hearing about the job fair.
According to statistics provided by the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry, Mohegan Sun is the largest private, non-medical employer in Luzerne County. And while its workforce is drawn from across the region, nearly all employees are Pennsylvania residents, officials said.
If the era of employment for life may seem like a distant memory for most, casino officials say their facility has worked hard to encourage high levels of employee retention and internal promotion.
Maria Zangardi, director of human resources, said Mohegan’s turnover rate, about 20 percent each year, “is extremely low.”
Available openings run the gamut from housekeeping and food service positions to hotel operations, security, transportation and audit work, ranging from about $9 per hour to a $50,000 yearly salary for some of the top spots, Zangardi said.
Getting foot in door
A Pittston native who started with the company while she was a graduate student at The University of Scranton, Zangardi believes getting a foot in the door is the first step to a fulfilling career.
“Mohegan Sun helped me get through my education,” Zangardi said. “There are many great employment opportunities here.”
Smolskis said he had been working in maintenance elsewhere, but came to Plains Township to check out the opportunities available as part of the casino’s “Project Sunlight,” with an eye toward jobs in the security department. Like many who waited to talk with human resources staff and representatives of the various departments, Smolskis came away from Tuesday’s job fair with an appointment for a formal interview.
“I can’t wait,” he said.
Likewise, anticipation is building among casino staff for completion of the new hotel complex, which will have 238 rooms, a bistro, an indoor pool and fitness center, and the 20,000-square-foot convention center able to seat 850 people for dinners and other events. It also will be able to host entertainment events for 1,500 people. The complex also will be home to the 4,150-square-foot Spa Sapphire on the first floor.
“It’s an exciting time for us,” said Mike Bean, president and general manager of Mohegan Sun, adding that the project is on track for a mid-October opening.”
After interviews with prospective candidates, officials said they hope to begin filling the openings this summer, with new hires coming on board between early August and mid-to-late September, depending on the individual post and personal circumstances.
Interest in hotel work
Many of the people coming through the doors on Tuesday expressed particular interest in hotel operations jobs.
Among them was Donald Gianetti, a 54-year-old Jermyn resident who said he was laid off from his job as a mail-room employee with a Scranton firm earlier this year. Given a history of customer service experience, Gianetti said he came to the job fair to inquire about hotel front desk jobs.
“I’m starting to feel a bit of heat,” Gianetti said when asked about what life has been like during the past three months.
While there are many applicants for the available openings, Zangardi stressed that new vacancies come up frequently, encouraging anyone with an interest to apply online.