Recent economic fluctuations over the past few years have created great opportunities for some, while simultaneously creating difficulties and hardship for others. Wharton alumni have not been immune. Wanting to “answer the call,” the Wharton Club of Philadelphia partnered with Wharton Alumni Relations, the Wharton MBA Career Management and Career Services at the University of Pennsylvania, to launch our first annual Career Planning Workshop on Sept. 20, 2014.
Taking a traditional approach, we offered the usual assortment of programs, including personal assessments, coaching, resume writing/job document portfolios, using social media, networking and more. The capstone of the workshop was a presentation by Cara Costello, director of alumni services with MBA Career Management, and Barbara Hewitt GD02, senior associate director with Penn’s Career Services, highlighting career service benefits for alumni. Based on survey results, the workshop was a huge success.
We wanted to build on that success as we began to plan our second annual Career Planning Workshop. We knew that we wanted to move beyond the traditional information about techniques and focus on the individual. What participants really need is to be transformed. They must examine what makes them unique and special, then unleash the power from within. The workshop should be about bringing forth a new energy and perspective, setting themselves apart from the general candidate pool (who, by the way, are approaching their career management with the traditional approach we offered last year).
The first decision made for this year’s Career Planning Workshop, to be held on Oct. 3, 2015, was to not only prepare a workshop for current job seekers and everyone who should be managing their career every day, but also to expand to include entrepreneurs and consultants. For too long, there have been limited resources to assist entrepreneurs and consultants in honing their craft. Many find themselves thrown into the heat of the situation with little preparation, understanding or bandwidth, often resulting in lesser outcomes or the need to become dependent on someone else to fill that need.
Once the purpose (transformation) and audience (job seekers, entrepreneurs and consultants) were decided, design became the next focus. The Career Planning Workshop will begin with a presentation entitled “HeadTrash” with co-author Tish Squillaro, CEO and founder of CANDOR Consulting. We have all heard the expression, “We are our own worst enemy.” Well, this old adage is proven true here. All too often we squander away or sabotage opportunities because of the conversation we have in our heads–you know, “Am I really qualified for this position?” Or, “If only I was more of this and less of that!” And the list goes on. Squillaro will present a program for turning around this negative HeadTrash and to help put us on track right out of the gate. How can you convince someone you are right for the position when you keep telling yourself you are not?
For the next event during the workshop, attendees will then be split between traditional job seekers and entrepreneurs/consultants. The job seekers will receive guidance for “Portraying Confidence and Courage: Influencing At Work and in Interviews,” led by Barbara Taylor, partner at JanBara & Associates. Again, the battle has to be won within before achieving success with others. We have all been in situations where another person was trying to convince us of a perspective different from our own. We judge their merit based on their confident portrayal, accepting their truth if they are confident, while discounting their perspective if they appear unsure. The same holds when people evaluate us.
For the entrepreneurs and consultants, the focus will be on being able to “Tell a Compelling Story.” Kevin Connor of brand design company MODERN SBC has structured his presentation to help his audience understand the need to provide a clear, concise message about who they are and their offering, so potential clients want to work with them—in essence to close the sale. With today’s crowded workplace, entry as an entrepreneur is both easier and more difficult than ever. Success will only be achieved by those who can separate themselves from the masses, from all the noise in the marketplace, so potential clients can find them.
Each presentation will be followed by a specifically picked panel of experts—again, one for entrepreneurs and consultants, the other for traditional job seekers. The purpose is to provide participants the opportunity to take what they have already learned during the morning, plus questions they have brought with them, and seek advice and guidance from successful industry experts. (For a full list of panel participants, visit the club’s Career Planning Workshop webpage.)
No matter how well you plan, things never quite go the way you would like or expect. So, to prepare our folks for anything that should come their way, we invited “motivational improviser” Avish Parashar to guide us on “Using Improv to Turn Agony Into Victory.” Utilizing his techniques and remembering his examples will help our participants not only learn how to turn situations around but will also help alleviate the fear of the unknown and what could go wrong.
Ultimately, the goal of our 2015 Career Planning Workshop is to help individuals transform themselves into communicators who can present their compelling stories in a confident and courageous manner. And if by some chance things don’t go as plan, they will be able to demonstrate they can turn any situation into a stunning victory.
—Lori Rosenthal WG80 is a board member at large with the Wharton Club of Philadelphia. She serves as a strategic human resources partner at Lori A. Rosenthal & Associates. Her service commitment to the School began with the co-founding of the Wharton Undergraduate Marketing Association and leadership roles with Wharton Women and the Wharton Activities Council. Her service to Penn has included being an alumna interviewer for over 30 years.
Editor’s note: For full details about speakers, times and location—and to register for the event—visit the Wharton Club of Philadelphia’s website.