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Local businesses hiring seasonal employees

Contributing Writer

Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Updated: Thursday, October 25, 2012 11:10

Holiday employment

Megan Elliott / Central Florida Future

Stores that attract a high volume of holiday shoppers like Walmart, UPS and Honey Baked Ham are hiring students to temporarily increase their manpower.

As the holiday season quickly approaches, Central Florida businesses are looking to beef up their staffs in order to take on the increasing number of holiday shoppers. Many students look to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld for seasonal jobs, but they often overlook other employment opportunities closer to UCF.

Stores such as Walmart, Old Navy, Aeropostale, UPS and Honey Baked Ham have already started their searches for seasonal employees. Like the tourist attractions in Central Florida, these companies find they are short on manpower when the holidays arrive. But these businesses are also looking for employees they can keep after the holiday season is over.

Many retail companies are looking for cashiers and sales associates to help manage their increased customer bases during the holidays. The Old Navy in Waterford Lakes Town Center is starting the process of hiring for the holidays and is looking for customer service representatives.

“We are looking to hire around 20 people,” Mary Payzant, a sales associate at Old Navy, said. “Students are great because they are good with people.”

Payzant said Old Navy also looks for employees it can keep after the holidays are over.

“If someone does a really good job, they usually ask them to stay on,” Payzant said. “That’s how I got the job.”

The food industry also has an increase in sales near the holidays. Honey Baked Ham sees its business increase tenfold.

“We usually triple or quadruple our staff for the season,” said Elizabeth Masters, a sales associate at the Honey Baked Ham on East Colonial Drive, near the Orlando Fashion Square Mall. “We’re hiring for positions in the front and back of the store, but most students will probably work up front.”

Jobs students can find at Honey Baked Ham include positions such as cashiers and customer service representatives, as well as some unique positions in the back of the store.

“The back works like an assembly line,” Masters said. “We have people glazing hams, wrapping them in foil, weighing them for pricing and sticking them in the fridges.”

Honey Baked Ham also needs people to answer phones and place orders, a task Masters said students are perfect for.

“We have people calling in orders from the time we open to the time we close,” Masters said. “As long as you can do two things at once, like talk on the phone and write at the same time, you can sit in a chair all day and get paid for it.”

Honey Baked Ham receives most of its business the week leading up to Christmas, and its busiest day is Dec. 23. Masters said the line can stretch out the door.

“When I was a supervisor in Colorado Springs, [Colo.], we had a line that wrapped around the building. For days like those, we need people to go outside and talk to people, promote deals and keep customers from getting frustrated and leaving,” Masters said.

The UPS Customer Center, located on Atlantic Avenue close to the airport, is another business that is looking for seasonal employees to help with its increased demand. Dan Yarbrough, a senior political science major, has been working at the UPS Customer Center for nearly five years.

“I saw people being trained last week and this week, so they’re definitely hiring,” Yarbrough said. “I’ve known people that have been hired for the holidays in the past. I’m used to seeing a bunch of new faces around this time.”

Unlike retail stores, UPS needs people who are willing to do physical work. Yarbrough likened his job to a workout.

“It’s definitely physical work. You have to be able to lift at least 70 pounds repeatedly to get the job,” Yarbrough said.

UPS is also looking to keep employees who stand out, and once a person is asked to stay, he or she can look forward to benefits like tuition reimbursement and medical, dental and vision coverage.

“That was definitely the main draw for me,” Yarbrough said. “It’s a good place to work for students just because of that.”

These potential jobs won’t be around for too much longer. Many companies have already started the hiring process and are accepting applications for employment now.

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