BAYONNE, NJ – What began as a job fair to help recent Bayonne High School graduates morphed into a broader and more citywide affair, as more than 400 people attended the Bayonne Career & Job Expo on Tuesday.

The expo was sponsored by the Bayonne Board of Education and Hudson County One-Stop Career Center, and featured about 45 prospective employers and organizations.

A steady rain that lasted for hours did not hold back attendees, nor dampen their spirits.

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“I’m happy to have something like this to go to,” said Mina Ishak, 27, of Bayonne. “I feel great about it.” Ishak was clutching information from 10 of the companies exhibiting.

Within a half hour of the job expo’s 6 p.m. opening, McCabe Ambulance had 18 people visit its table, according to representative John Rosario. By 7 p.m., CarePoint Health already had received 35 resumes. Bayonne Community Bank had put 200 applications on its table, and by 7:05 p.m. only 50 remained, Human Resources Manager Cindi Galvin said.

By 7:30 p.m., at least 400 people had attended the job fair, Bayonne Schools Superintendent Patricia McGeehan said. It was open until 8 p.m.

The event was originally targeted toward BHS seniors who had not moved on to college, but then turned into something much more, said Christy Glock, a freshman guidance counselor who helped plan the job fair.

Many attendees gravitated to the CarePoint table because of the constant need of qualified health care workers, and the stability that the industry provides, according to Gian Lincuna, CarePoint corporate human resources recruiter. The company was looking to hire in many of the non-clinical areas, like dietary and environmental services.

Lincuna said his company was specifically seeking one skill in its applicants: customer service.

“You can’t really teach good service,” he said. “When people have good service skills, we look at that.”

Bayonne residents are drawn to BCB Bank because it is a local institution, and one that gives employees an opportunity to thrive and move up the corporate ladder, Galvin said. Its employees also pride themselves on giving back to the community, or “paying it forward.”

The expo was held in BHS’ Rich Korpi Ice Rink gymnasium. Hudson County Freeholder Kenneth Kopacz said another job fair was being considered for the spring.

View the nearly a dozen photos that accompany this article.