International worker enjoys working for Wall Drug

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WALL, S.D. (KEVN)- Friday morning, Wall Drug Cafe is busy serving visitors from across the country-- and some of the employees behind the counter might be from across the ocean.

"I'm from Jamaica," Shaneka Bryan, an international worker for Wall Drug, introduces herself with a big smile.
"I first came here as a student, and that was back in 2017, it was an awesome experience, and as you can see, I am back, so it was definitely a great experience." Shaneka really enjoyed working with Wall Drug years ago, and if it wasn't for COVID-19, she would've come back earlier. "Because our borders were closed back home in Jamaica, and they reopened on the 15th (of June), so we weren't able to come anytime before that."

Wall Drug has a few international workers on H2B visa, because it hasn't been easy to get enough local workers for such a busy season. "Our goal each year is to hire 200 employees, this year we're currently at 120 employees," Anne Jo Spotted Bear, the human resources director for Wall Drug says. "And we have 7 of them are H2B workers and the rest of them are all American. We did petition to get 15, but unfortunately, we only got 7 this year." Anne Jo says, practically everyone in Wall already has a job, so these international summer programs help the local businesses get seasonal workers. "Like our J-1, which is the summer work and travel program, they work here but they also clean motel rooms, work at other establishment throughout town, so it's super important not just to us, but to other industries in this town." Anne Jo says, each year it becomes more difficult to get workers though international programs, and the pandemic also plays a role this year. "We've had a lot of employees who have changed their plans due to COVID whether their school was delayed or they have just felt it's too risky to travel."

Anne Jo says, Wall Drug appreciates all the employees they have now. "At least for Wall Drug, we are managing, and I think it's going to be a great season."