Overwhelming response to workshop reflects depth of economic crisis
January 28, 2009
Phil Brozynski, Media Relations Manager
When author, motivational speaker, career coach and corporate trainer Rob Sullivan asked more than 400 people attending a career workshop in Benedictine University’s Krasa Center on January 21 how many were in transition, all but a very few raised their hands.
Today’s economic realities are creating hardships for many Americans. The number of people who attended the presentation, “Packaging Your Potential: Lessons from a Job Hunter Who Learned the Hard Way,” hosted by the officers of Alumni Relations and Career Development at Benedictine, indicates that no community and no demographic are immune.
“As a resident of Lisle and a person in transition, it was greatly appreciated,” said one attendee, who may have just as easily been speaking for dozens at the workshop.
The event coincided with the University’s recent economic initiatives such as the tuition freeze and the “Displaced Earner Program” which are designed to help students continue their education despite financial difficulties at home and help their parents who might have suffered a job loss because of the ongoing economic crisis.
The event drove home the depth of the crisis, the broad age range affected, and the impact the nation’s economic ills have had on Benedictine alumni, parents of Benedictine students and area residents.
“I wish there is some way I could pay you for tonight,” said one single mother in attendance. “Right now, I need to make sure my girls have food and clothes. For now, thank you for caring about me.”
The workshop also magnified the need for a continuing response to the crisis from the University.
“Early in the evening prior to the presentation, I had a chance to overhear conversations among those in attendance as they discussed adjusting to life with no job and the difficulties of starting over,” said Benedictine University Executive Vice President Charles Gregory.
“As sobering as those conversations were, they brought the reason for our initiatives into focus,” he added. “As a University and as Benedictines, we have a moral obligation to our citizenship and constituency to listen, to provide information and assist whenever possible.”
No one may be more suited to address many of the issues that confront those in transition than Sullivan. To land his dream job at the Leo Burnett advertising agency, Sullivan had to overcome thousands of other applicants, dozens of interviews and 18 months of rejection. He made numerous mistakes along the way, but he finally landed the position.
Today, his passion is helping people recognize, leverage and communicate the gold in their backgrounds. He offered tips on how to get employers interested in potential employees even if they think they have few if any meaningful accomplishments, and how to develop a winning pitch that describes who the job-seeker is and what they want to do.
“Employers need to be convinced that they are not taking a risk in hiring someone,” Sullivan said. “To convince them, job seekers have to tell a compelling story. Employers have to know what a candidate has done to demonstrate potential. This may sound simple, but most people never do this.”
The workshop was designed for job seekers of all ages, those who are in the job market for the first time in many years and those who are seeking a new career or opportunity. Most came away refreshed and with new-found enthusiasm.
“This event energized me so much that I’m going home and rewriting my resume and starting tomorrow, remarketing myself,” said one attendee.
Benedictine University will host another career workshop from 7:00-9:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 4 in the Krasa Center when Bill Bartlett, president/owner of Corporate Strategies and Solutions in Naperville presents, “Presenting Yourself with Impact: Phone, Letters or Face to Face.”
“I look forward to more of these events,” said a workshop attendee. “You have no idea how much better I feel tonight.”
Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 56 undergraduate majors, 16 graduate and four doctorate programs. The Chronicle of Higher Education
recently ranked Benedictine University as the seventh fastest-growing campus among private nonprofit master’s universities, and Forbes
magazine named Benedictine among the top 20 percent of America’s colleges for 2011. Benedictine University’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain’s Chicago Business
as the fourth largest in the Chicago area in 2011.