By Sue Ellen Ross Post-Tribune correspondent July 15, 2013 11:54AM
Jose Reyes, associate director of Purdue Calumet’s Transfer Student Services, talks with audience members during a panel discussion. Behind Reyes (from left) are panel members Dushan Nikolovski, Ryan Parsons-Rozycki, Shelly Robinson, and Heather Runyan. | Photo provided
Updated: August 17, 2013 6:18AM
When she became aware that her Chicago company intended to downsize in a rapid manner, Marley Richardson of Merrillville decided to take a proactive approach to ensure continual employment.
Strategies include attending job fairs and exploring other avenues. One recent program, Working Smarter to be Job Marketable, offered at Purdue University Calumet, was a perfect opportunity for the soon-to-be unemployed accountant.
“The company cutbacks were a complete shock to our department; many of us have spent our entire career in this one place,” Richardson said as she waited for the program to begin. “Middle-age isn’t the ideal time to go job-hunting, but I’m hoping to pick up some pointers tonight. The speakers are covering topics that look like they could answer many of my questions.”
Indeed, the evening’s agenda of this 26th annual event included relevant information in various areas geared toward those in the job market.
“Proven Job Search Techniques for Today’s Successful Job Seeker” was presented by Shelly Robinson of Purdue’s Career Services Department.
Recognizing the fact that audience members were all at different stages of their careers, she mentioned that, nevertheless, there are many things everyone has in common when it comes to looking for a new job.
“A job search IS a job. Preparation is key,” Robinson said. “Do your homework ... part of that is research — not only of the companies you apply to, but reflecting on your own skills as well. Know what you’re bringing to the table.”
Purdue Calumet counselor Ryan Parsons-Rozycki pointed out the necessity of matching your current experience, such as actions needed to complete certain tasks, and skills to what a company is looking for during her talk, “Transferable Skills. ... They’re Important & You Have Them.”
“It’s very important to identify these skills in your resume,” Parsons-Rozycki added. “Transferable skills are the hub of the wheel.”
Rounding out the evening were tips on how to write a resume, cover letter, and thank-you note presented by Heather Runyan, Purdue Calumet human resources employment manager; “Learning to Work Smarter” by Jose Reyes, associate director of Purdue Calumet Transfer Student Services; and “Find Your Passion, Find Your Career!” by Dushan Nikolovski, director of the Purdue Calumet Center for Entrepreneurship Success.
Realizing that there will be setbacks in life and looking at them as opportunities to re-create yourself was one of Nikolovski’s strongest pieces of advice.
“Get rid of negative people in your life. Surround yourself with people who boost your ambition,” Dushan told the crowd. “Believe in yourself. You have the power to create your own opportunities.”
Occupations, ages, experience and education levels of those in the 100-plus member audience were as varied as their clothing choices.
Chesterton resident David Hutchings currently attends Ivy Tech College, studying Computer Information Technology. He will continue his education at Purdue Calumet, as he works as a network technician in Michigan City. Not one to become complacent, Hutchings knows that the job market, and its requirements, can change rapidly and would like to stay on top of all available information.
“I want to know how to keep my skills up to date — and how to market those skills,” he said during the program break. “It’s been a while since I’ve written a resume, and I’ll need to build another, to expand on my experience.”
Previously employed as a faculty member for 13 years at local college, Elizabeth Igartua was let go after budget cuts due to low enrollment.
“I was totally unprepared, it happened so abruptly,” the Hammond resident said. “No one ever thinks they will be cut, but you have to be prepared. This program tonight addresses what many of us have, or are, going through.”
Currently working as a guest lecturer part time at Purdue Calumet, Igartua continues to look for full-time work. “It’s very difficult. You have to be your own advocate.”