Today, Gina works at a major properties and construction corporation as a business developer, but she didn't always know she would be working in that field. Though her parents suggested she go to college after high school, she wanted to earn her own money as soon as possible and started working immediately after high school. She had attended a technical school, where she applied her interest in drawing and painting to architecture. Having knowledge in architecture and buildings led her to various jobs related to building, including estimating. Though an employer trained her in estimating, she realized pretty quickly that this was not the job she wanted to stay in. She later found a position in business development at another company, where she learned it is important to research the company's reputation before accepting the job. Her job was difficult at first because the prior management had damaged relationships within the community, so she had to repair and rebuild their reputation to gain more business. Currently, she does business development at another company and enjoys it because she gets to meet and talk with people. Relationships and networking are very important to her job; she often goes to activities like golf, sporting events, happy hours, lunches and dinners with prospective clients. While this can be a fun part of her job, she still maintains a professional and business-minded persona at all times. She told clients that "persistence pays off", and there's a difference between being persistent and being a pain. She also encouraged job seekers to think about what they do every day that could be useful to an employer. Do you keep your house organized? If so, you have organizational skills. Do you lead a church group? If so, you have communication skills.
Patricia has experienced and adapted to a lot of change throughout her career. Though she had a college degree in language and linguistics, her jobs never directly related to her major. She was a paralegal at a consulting firm, and eventually ran the consulting firm. She also has worked in banking, sales, customer service, and worked for herself for a while. She has been working as a realtor in Baltimore for about a year now, and loves it. Her advice to job seekers is to look at what you can bring to an employer. You will be hired if you can show that you fill a need at a business. Also, take advantage of any resources that you are offered. Network, go to events, even go on job interviews once in a while just for practice. Always realize that you can get better at anything you want to do, even if you have to start over in a new field. Don't expect to be perfect, just allow yourself to learn, but have an end point in mind. Patricia also said, no matter what you do or where you work, just be positive and helpful. It's never fun to work with a negative person and you won't go far with a poor attitude.
Derek is currently the director of a community kitchen program at a faith-based nonprofit in Baltimore, but he had a lot of career and life experiences before starting that position. He told clients to remember, everything you've done is valid experience for whatever you are trying to do next. You have to learn from your experiences, and they build on each other and influence who you are and how you think today. Derek used to be a professional actor, mostly in off-Broadway productions, experimental theater, and some movies. He had stage managing experience as well, where he utilized organizational, management and communications skills that would help him later in his career. At some point, however, he made mistakes, and lost it all--the tenureship he had at a school he worked for, his money, and his self-esteem. "I wasn't even likeable, let alone employable," Derek said. He had to re-enter society and the workforce, but his mistakes made it hard for him to find employment. He became a client at a program that could help him with his situation, and then decided to volunteer as a peer-mentor. He realized once he started giving back, opportunities came to him. After volunteering for a while, the organization offered him an office manager position, something he had never done before. But, because he had stage management experience, he realized he had the skills to do the job. From there he eventually became the program director.
He said there are two things that are extremely important to be successful. You have to be comfortable with technology, and you have to speak your language correctly, which in the US would be English. If you can communicate effectively, you can get any job out there.
Gary was one of the younger speakers on the panel today, but said his career journey started young. From an early age he knew he wanted to be a part of making communities better. In 5th grade, he organized a group of friends and neighbors to save his favorite library in his neighborhood and succeeded. Through his various other volunteer and professional positions, he adopted the philosophy that he needed to be a man for others, so he has led his life to be a role model to those around him. Even though his college degree was in archaeology, he followed his passion of helping the communities he cared about, and worked in nonprofits after college. He tried teaching for a little bit, but realized teaching in a classroom was not for him, and he could help youth in other ways. He volunteered and helped organize youth raise money and give grants to other youth causes. Though there were times when he has been broke and even homeless, he still believes in volunteering, because the facts show that unemployed people who volunteer will find a job faster than unemployed people who don't volunteer, because you are meeting more people. He said the most important habits you should have to do any job are treating people well, having integrity and being accountable. Without those things, you won't succeed.
Currently Dan works at a benefit group, but like many of the other speakers, Dan has worked in a lot of different companies, ranging from the power tool industry to restaurants to pharmaceuticals. Even though he contributed a lot to every place he worked, there were times when he was laid off. In 2008 during the recession, he was laid off, and the next job he took only paid 30% of what he made at his previous position. He took the job, though, because it is easier to find a job when you have a job, and he wanted to gain momentum to get his next position. He shared many true expressions and quotes that are helpful to job seekers, like it's harder to steer a parked car than one that is moving; yesterday is a cancelled check, tomorrow is a promissory note, but today is cash money; and, as Winston Churchill once said, "When you're going through hell, keep going." He reminded clients to not make excuses, take action, and take charge of what you can do for yourself. He also explained that anger happens for two reasons--either you feel unloved, or you feel hopeless, so always remember that you have value and always look for hope in any situation.