SAN DIEGO — Dozens of people explored new job opportunities at the Central Library in the East Village, where the City of San Diego hosted its first-ever career fair for immigrants and refugees.

Riley Minkoff with the Office of Immigrant Affairs says they planned the event for months, and the idea came from a need to fill vacancies at the city.

“A lot of the immigrants and refugees in San Diego come with these backgrounds where they have other degrees or experience in their home country. At the city, we are trying to give them a place where they can utilize those advanced degrees, get re-credentialed, get accredited and then fill a lot of the vacant positions we have the city right now and get a really good stable job here in San Diego,” said Minkoff.

Minkoff said the city wanted to cater a career fair to immigrants and refugees because of the added challenges they face finding work.

Anna Kopelzon and her family are starting a new life in San Diego, arriving less than two weeks ago from Ukraine.

“Me, my husband and three of my kids, we decide to leave because it’s dangerous there. Maybe we can find some new opportunities for our life,” said Kopelzon.

With the help of interpreters, participants met with staff from several city departments, including Parks and Recreation, Library, Public Utilities, Development Services and Transportation.

Ukrainian refugees Anton and Maria Padolko say they’re eager to start working in their new city.

“I used to work at the airport and I still hope to find the job here, in hospitality maybe, but the airport is my goal,” said Maria.

From entry-level to management positions, city staff helped people submit applications on the spot.

“The process takes a little bit longer. They have to get vetted and everything through the city, but they could be hired within the next couple months, so it’s really exciting,” said Minkoff.