On Tuesday, March 23 at 7 p.m. in the Hansen Student Center, bestselling author, speaker and consultant Lindsey Pollak will share her career expertise during a special presentation, “Getting from College to Career: How to Get a Good Job in a Bad Economy.”
Pollak specializes in Generation Y career and workplace issues, with a decade of experience helping college students become young professionals. She is also involved on the corporate side, advising organizations how to maximize the potential of new employees.
The first 50 students to arrive for Pollak’s engaging and enthusiastic presentation will receive a copy of her book, Getting From College to Career: 90 Things to Do Before You Join the Real World. There will be a ‘Q and A’ and books available for purchase (and signing) after the presentation.
“Career Connections,” the monthly newsletter from the Hart Career Center recently had an exclusive interview with Ms. Pollak. To read the interview folow this link:
Can you talk a little about your background?
I was always interested in career development. I think perhaps because both my parents own their own businesses, I saw career building from a very young age. And my mother was a professional speaker so I knew that business quite well. I went to graduate school in Australia and when I came back, I got a job at Working Woman Magazine and their new website division which was really kind of the perfect job for me working on career issues. I was in my early 20’s at the time so I gravitated toward entry-level career issues. Unfortunately, that website went out of business in 2001 and I got a little bit of severance money and I got to keep my laptop, so I decided to try a freelance entrepreneurial career. So, I finally started my own business when that happened. I worked as a freelance editor/ghostwriter/researcher, anything I could do to work on books. In 2005, I got my own book deal to write Getting From College to Career, and I think it was about that time that I admitted it was really a business I wanted to pursue full throttle.
How would you describe what you do on a day-to-day basis?
I call myself a Generation Y career and workplace expert and it manifests itself in three ways:
First of all, I run career advice workshops for college students. So, I do campus workshops, webinars, teleclasses, and I have a blog (www.lindseypollak.com).
And then I run training programs for companies on how to recruit, retain and engage recent graduates, sort of get the best young talent and bring them into their companies. So I have kind of a corporate arm.
The third side is really researching and teaching on the future of careers. So trying to figure out where this is all going. I teach the students and the companies how to deal with the world today and I’m looking at where all this is going and how I can help prepare people for careers maybe 20 years down the road.
What are some typical questions and concerns that you hear from students today and how do you respond to them?
You know, I think that people feel really paralyzed right now, because they just keep hearing how bad the job market is. And it is very bad. But my main message is, “You’ve got to take action, and you can’t let the news get you down.” There are definitely opportunities out there but you’ve got to be a little bit more creative.
The question I get a lot is “what’s the secret to getting a job in a bad economy, or what’s the magic bullet when things are bad?” And the answer is there’s no special playbook that I can pull out of my back pocket and say “Oh, in a bad economy, you should do this.” Really, you have to do the same things you’ve always done. I just like to say you have to do them smarter, faster, and better than ever before. You’ve got to be quicker to jump at opportunities, you’ve got to be perfect in your interactions, your communications and your resume.
Also, you’ve got to be more creative and smarter about the kinds of places you can look for work. You might have to think about small companies whereas in the past maybe you only wanted to work at a Fortune 500. Or if you’re looking for jobs in the Chicago area, maybe you want to expand to other cities. You’ve just got to cast a wider net and think really broadly about what you can do. That’s not comfortable for a lot of people. So that ‘secret sauce’ is really about being more flexible and smarter.
Where are you identifying gaps between corporations and students?
I really get on student’s case about communication skills. That’s the biggest gap companies find, that their written and oral communication skills are lacking. So grammar, spelling, being able to speak in public. All those skills that you would think are kind of basic elementary skills And a lot of kids who are going into engineering or technical fields say “oh, that doesn’t matter in my field.” It always matters because you’re always communicating with colleagues, with clients, with your board of directors. I think a lot of people blame it on email and text messaging, but I think that as a country we’ve gotten really lazy about how important that is. And a lot of companies don’t really understand how you could graduate from an excellent university like Illinois Wesleyan University and not be able to write. So I think that’s a really big deal.