Today's national unemployment rate sits at 8.3-percent, which is just slightly below last year's rate. It's still tough going in Spokane and no one knows that more than a 26-year-old college student taking a unique approach to finding a job.
If you've come to Spokane or live there you know that panhandlers along freeway off ramps are mainstays. Their signs litter the corner at Lincoln and Third that solicit drivers for spare change. But Matt Cameron isn't asking for money – he's asking for a salary.
“My name is Matt Cameron, I'm a part time student, looking for a job,” the student said reading his sign.
Cameron is not a panhandler. He's a peddler, peddling himself.
“I've been without a job for the last four months and it just seem that the traditional methods of finding a job weren't working for me,” Cameron said.
So Cameron decided to 'fly a sign' as they say in the panhandling circles. He's been out at different freeway off ramps since Wednesday, rain or shine.
“I wanted [my sign] to be bright, I wanted it to be easy to read and I wanted it to have the necessary information so that people could see what I was doing,” Matt said.
The only costs he incurred in his unique search for a job was the sign. He built a website for free and joined multiple social networking websites to get his name out there.
At first, Spokane, wary of those looking for a handout, ignored Matt. As a community college marketing major though, he learned fast that a friendly wave and smile will get you what you want.
“It really takes a lot, you know, for them to read the sign and appreciate it, but if they do, I really think they respect what I'm doing,” Cameron said.
Few people rolled down their windows on a rainy Thursday morning. A little coaxing with a TV camera got them to talk:
“I think anything works nowadays so good job!” the passenger of one car said.
“He has guts, anybody who's got that much guts deserves a good job,” the person in the next car said. “And a good boss!”
And who better a reference for Cameron than his own mother, who stopped by to give him a bigger umbrella so her trail blazing son wouldn't get too soaked.
“He really is truly motivated to get a good job and he's got lots of charisma, of course I'm his mom,” Joyce Cameron said with a chuckle. “He's got lots of abilities and he's going to be a great employee for somebody in this town.”
It's a social experiment that just might work.
“I really, really think that it's going to be about making yourself stand out from the crowd and by doing this and taking this risk, I think I'm going to be able to accomplish that,” Cameron said.
To learn more about Matt Cameron and view his online resume, click here.