Hundreds of islanders from Guam recently relocated to Denver to work for the area’s biggest employer: United Airlines.
More than 460 residents of the U.S. territory in Micronesia now call the Mile High City home after United recruited them for ramp agent roles. Guam is about 6,650 miles from Denver, and was first colonized by the U.S. 125 years ago. As U.S. residents, Guamanians don’t need visas.
Magda Morais, managing director of talent and acquisitions at United, said her team faced a “hard time recruiting our ramp agents” in the Denver market, so they had “to get creative.”
They held a two-day job fair in January on the island, and extended to a third day because of “overwhelming interest,” she said in an interview.
United received around 2,600 applicants in Guam, and the carrier offered over 800 jobs, with more than 460 passing the clearance process. “We filled the need” for ramp agents, Morais said.
An entry-level employee starts at a low of around $20 hourly, with the top of the pay scale maxing out at around $90,000 annually.
Each new United team member received a $25,000 incentive bonus, a paid hotel stay for two weeks and per diem for food. The airline partnered with several apartment buildings in Denver located near public transportation to streamline the housing process.
Almost three decades ago, Anthony Meno applied for a role at United, but the opportunity didn’t move forward. Now, at 56 years old, he’s seized the chance to work as a ramp agent in Denver, relocating from his homeland of Guam to do so.
Meno worked in law enforcement for 34 years, and retired last December. Soon after, a friend called him to mention that United was hiring.
Even with his recent retirement, Meno described himself as a “workaholic.”
“I couldn’t see myself just sitting around,” he said in a Monday interview. “I’ve always wanted to go to Denver. I’ve always wanted to relocate to a different location.”
By April, Meno had sold most of his belongings, secured housing near DIA and sent his car from Guam to Colorado. Months later, he’s predominantly focused on building his career – and learning the area as a new Denverite, “so that I don’t have to keep using GPS.”
Colorado and Guam differ in several aspects, including their cultures. He described Denver as “a melting pot,” with more diversity.
Given that Guam spans “only about seven miles wide, 31 miles long,” Meno’s excited to eventually explore the rest of the Centennial State, such as Colorado Springs.
“There’s so much here to see,” he said. “There’s so many places to go.”
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