Published: Sep 28, 2010 10:50 PM EDT
Updated: Sep 28, 2010 6:02 PM EDT

CAPE CORAL, Fla. - Hundreds of local people competed for just a handful of positons at last week's McDonald's job fair. We bring you the story of one of those applicants - a 46 year old Cape Coral mother - who is thrilled to finally be back to work.

A week ago, we met Karen Chambers at a McDonald's job fair "I'll take anything," Chambers said at the fair. "Even if it is part-time work at Christmas time, just to get back in the work force."

The 46 year old mother hadn't worked in 2 years. She'd been forced to downsize her home and vehicles.
With 13.7% unemployment in Lee County, she wasn't alone. Chambers was competing with 500 others for just 24 jobs.
"I thought, there is no way," Chambers said.

She took the owner's business card and sent a thank you e-mail anyway. Sure enough, she got a phone call, and now, she has a job.
"Most people think of fast food, retail, as high school jobs. You have to realize in today's economy, you have to look outside the box," Chambers said.

The job is a huge benefit as Chambers works toward a Bachelor's Degree in Business. Tim Frederic, who owns the 6 restaurants hiring, said last week, McDonalds can provide credits that can be transferred to colleges and universities.

"You can start in any area of McDonalds and end up being the C.E.O. one day," Frederic said. "It's all up to you."

Some good news, the Labor Department reports total the U.S. job openings in July rose to 3.04 million, a 30% increase since last July. So for now, things are looking up, especially for Karen Chambers

"It could be a great opportunity for me, I am very excited, a different chapter of my life," Chambers said. "Sometimes you have to start at the bottom to get back to the top."

Chambers said she will start as a crew member, but plans be a part of the manager training program within 45 days.