Monthly Archives

May 2013

Career Tools

The Power of Continuous Education

learnDo you take time to keep yourself sharp? I often hear about strategies to “improve your business, improve your process, improve this, and improve that.” Enough about the process…what about you? What can you do to improve you? Think about how much the business world has changed over the last few years. When I started in business, computers were just emerging, there were no laptops, and cell phones were bigger than your head. Yes, it’s ridiculous to think about, I know. And even if you’re just recently entering the business world, technology marches on. As everything changes around us, if we don’t grown and also change, we’ll be left behind. So, what can you do to keep yourself continually educating? Here are just a few things that I’ve run across throughout my career, and found to be incredibly helpful.

Go back to school. If you can make the time commitment, consider going back to school. I had the benefit of completing my MBA right after my undergrad. While I was excited about this accomplishment, the down side was that I had no real world experience to apply my learning toward. I learned many things, but not to the extent I would have, had I pursued a similar path now. If you are interested in learning more about a particular topic or industry, and you have the time and financial ability, nothing says “continuous education” like going back to school.

Take a technical class. If you find yourself with limited time or resources, this is a great way to keep your mind and skills fresh: take a technical class. (I kind of learned Excel in an 8-hour session. Don’t tell.) There are many local colleges or community centers that offer a variety of classes that can keep you up to speed in our ever-changing business environment, especially in the digital space!

Start networking more. Go to a networking event and get out of your comfort zone. If you’re more introverted, this can difficult task, but there are plenty of great articles out there on how to make this an easier process. I promise, it’s not so bad. Make a commitment to yourself that when you go to a networking event, you are going to learn something. And make note of one very important thing…it’s patio season, people, and we live in Minnesota. Take advantage of it!

Get involved in a peer group. One of the things I’ve done over the last couple of years is get involved in peer group meetings. If you think you have things all figured out…it’s likely you don’t. Somebody always does it better. In a peer group, you can learn best practices from some who has “been there, done that.” If you think you have unique problems that no other business or business person has encountered, a peer group can be helpful by not only giving suggestions, but sometimes it’s also just nice to know that you’re not alone when encountering a problem in your career.

These are just a few suggestions that have been helpful in my career. While there are many other things you can do, the main piece of advice is this: Consistently engage yourself in activities that will keep you sharp, and growing professionally.

Chris Ohlendorf is the Chief Talent Officer at Versique Executive Search and Consulting, and McKinley Consulting. He can be reached at



Career Tools

Celebrating Successes: Class of 2013, 2014

This Memorial Day weekend marks graduation for the UST MBA Class of 2013. This group has numerous successes to celebrate besides the end of long study sessions, classroom lectures and finals.  Many of the 2013 grads will embark on a new journey with organizations such as Deloitte, Thrivent Financial, Disney Corporation, and Ecolab Inc.  Others have chosen to continue on the entrepreneurial path with start-ups and family businesses.  The Class of 2013 has been an excellent role model to the current first-year MBAs as they begin new adventures of their own, starting internships with Mayo Clinic, Target Corporation, General Mills, DataCard, Pepsi Co, 3M and others.

Many events, recruiting efforts, and informational interviews took place during the last year, enabling students to showcase their knowledge and market their aptitude.  Of these events, the Career Fair, held in November showcased over 40 employers and lead to 5 interviews and 3 job offers for the full time MBA program alone.  In October, the Corporate Partner reception honored Ecolab and Jim Miller for Corporate Partner of the year, other companies honored were UnitedHealth Group, Cummins and Supervalu.  Several companies visited the University of Saint Thomas to meet or interview with students, the list includes: Target, DataCard, Cummins, US Bank, and many others.  Students also had an opportunity to shadow over 40 different employers and companies as well as complete a mentor program with leading professionals in various industries.

We in the Graduate Business Career Services Department wish continued success and professional development to the class of 2013 and look forward seeing the future 2014 and 2015 graduates this fall.





Career Tools

Achieving Expectations

Having expectations is important, having a shared expectation is key.  Successful relationships, prosperous businesses and customer satisfaction are all built on shared 0503_expectations_unnikrishna_menon_damodaran-338x338expectations.  A consumer expects a product to fulfill its purpose for purchase, businesses expect employees and vendors to fulfill their work requirements, and partnerships are formed on shared expectations for love and happiness. Even a job description establishes clear expectations for what employees are hired to complete on a day to day basis.

Surprisingly, over 50% of marriages end in divorceonly a quarter of UK customers are repeat shoppers. In the hospitality industry alone, the turnover rate for employment is over 75%, leading to employers paying far more to hire a new employee, than to keep a current one.

So what can be done to limit unrealistic or unmet expectations?

Here are several factors that should be considered for any future personal or professional partnerships.

Get it in writing, get it up front

Job descriptions set clear expectations for employees, as does the salary and benefits package.  Employees and companies know exactly what is expected and what their return should be, i.e. salary.  But often times, more job duties are added, hours are extended and expectations become unclear.  Asking for an updated job description, or writing out a plan of attack for any future project are great ideas.  One can also utilize the SMART tactic of goal planning which includes establishing Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely goals. Creating SMART goals and having written documents ensures everyone has the same frame of reference to review while working towards the same goal or goals.

Meet frequently, review and revise

Managers and partners should continue to discuss how goals or expectations have evolved.  Unfortunately, and fortunately, nothing can be set in stone.  As organizations and needs evolve, so should the expectations previously set.  Setting aside time on a regular basis to ensure all parties are aware of the current and evolving expectations will allow open communication as well as the opportunity to re-engage in previously set goals.  During these meetings, it is also important to take the time to understand why expectations are important to a specific individual, a customer or the company.  This establishes a cohesive front that understands each other and the motives behind each partner.

Share the same goal

Common goals enable people to band together as well as feel motivated to complete large or small tasks together that can assist in achieving the big picture.  Employers should want their constituents to continue to grow and prosper; managers should seek to develop team members so that promotions are possible.

Celebrate successes 103999-101580

Achievements take dedication and hard work.  Individual and team accomplishments should be celebrated as a group, no matter the circumstance.  Small achievements should also be part of everyday successes as they are important to the end goal.  This encourages progress as well as strengthens the partnership or community.

While it may be difficult to agree on each and every expectation, or understand a specific individual’s desires, these steps will assist with maintaining a successful partnership engaged with achieving the same goals together.  Creating individual, team and product oriented expectations will allow a cohesive workforce, partnership as well as raise customer return rates.  Transparent and well formulated expectations create a common front that is charged to exceed any goal, large or smal

Career Tools

Living the Map – 50 Jobs in 50 States

Obtaining the title, “the most rejected person in the world,” doesn’t come easy.  USA Today granted Daniel Seddiqui this honor after failing 40+ job interviews and sending imagesout 18,000 emails looking for volunteer positions.  While obtaining one job proved far too difficult, Seddiqui opted for a loftier goal, to work 50 jobs in 50 states in the course of a year.  From September of 2008, to September of 2009, Seddiqui spent one week in a new occupation in each of the different states.  From Lobsterman in Maine, to late night Meteorologist in Ohio, this job seeker sought to learn about different cultures, environments and careers offered in America.

Within his first month of career exploration, Seddiqui was a Cartographer in North Dakota, a Rodeo Announcer in South Dakota, in Colorado he was a Hydrologist and worked in Humanitarian Services in Utah.  Throughout his 50 careers, 48 resulted in full time job offers.  As a keynote speaker for the Minnesota Career Development Association Conference, Seddiqui shared touching stories of the 50 different families who took him in each week, the work communities he was quickly welcomed into and his personal growth throughout the trials and tribulations of this extensive journey.

As a career coach and lover of all things relating to travel, this story actually made me jealous.  I have the privilege of assisting students and alums with working towards their career goals.  Each day I review resumes of different professional backgrounds and listen to stories of accomplishment or distress from the world of banking, marketing and corporate America.  Listening to the 50 different stories told through 50 different occupations heightened my awareness for the ability to learn not only from an academic and professional setting, but also on a level that is only created through personal and cultural contact.  Seddiqui saw what it took to be a miner, working alongside the lines of coal stained workers.  But more importantly, he also listened to stories of families who had worked in the same mines for generation after generation. He witnessed the strength, determination and compassion the team had for their coworkers as most teams stay in a four mile deep pit for weeks on end.

In Minnesota, he witnessed firsthand, the importance of a great first impression as well as the strength and compassion of communities with in organizations.  Here is how Seddiqui describes it:

shapeimage_8“Minnesota Nice,” “You bet.”

“Those are the two sayings that I’ve heard all week and they really fit together.  Seriously, Minnesota people are sooooo nice and I would bet on it.  I can’t believe what has happened today.  I’ll start with the end of my last work day.  I was packing my stuff ready to leave for good, but Metal-Craft didn’t allow me to leave.  They called me into the cafeteria and woah, all the employees were packed inside for a surprise farewell party.  The owners handed me two envelops and one had a check for the work week and the other was a card signed by all the employees with cash; cash from each of the employees’ pockets.  That’s “Minnesota Nice.”  All of the manufacturers work hard for their money and well, I’m speechless.

Throughout the entire process, Seddiqui had to continue to find new jobs, and opportunities to be hired as only a week long employee, mostly on an “ad hoc” basis.  He continued to pull different traits or skills he had gained throughout high school and college career, as well as many new abilities he had learned throughout his journey.  While he attributed his success to networking, and persistence, his ingenuity and ability to create and recreate a new selling pitch for each possible employer strongly aided in his success.

Rejection, perseverance and ingenuity are all traits in the typical job seeker’s quest for employment.  Seddiqui provided a light hearted and courageous look into the life of a fearless job seeker, who not only took no for an answer, but took no for an answer several hundred times and continued on a path that provided profound opportunity and personal growth.  Seddiqui is continuing on his explorative journey in a new assignment titled “Drop Me In!,” in which he seeks to connect with a struggling and secluded community in efforts to make social change.

To learn more about Daniel Seddiqui and follow his journey visit:



Career Tools

14 Tips to Find Passion and Purpose in Your Work


For many, an occupation is just that, a job and a paycheck.  The majority of the population will have to work 40+ years, for some even longer, before the possibility of retirement is an option.  Winning the lottery, or receiving an inheritance are pipe dreams for those looking to get out of a dead end job. But for those who have found occupations that offer meaningful challenges, opportunities for growth and play up an individual’s passions, counting the days until a possible retirement seem far less important.

“Few people discover the work they love,” writes Lance Secretan in his book, Inspirational Leadership.

Many professionals have long since faced the facts that finding a meaningful position is a dream long since given up.  These individuals measure each day by a clock hanging on the wall and count the hours, minutes, seconds, until the work day is over.  Finding passion in one’s occupation can be difficult, but not impossible.

Kenneth A. Tucker, Coauthor of Animals, Inc, states:

Simply put, passion, or its absence, isn’t just a philosophical or psychological matter — it’s a business problem, too. Far too many companies lack employees who are passionate about their work, and they flounder, or just get by.

But some companies instill passion and thrive as a result. Ask Herb Kelleher, founder and chairman of Southwest Airlines, and he will tell you that passion means money in the bank for his company. Fly on one of Southwest’s flights, and you soon come to know why their slogan, “the airline that love built,” articulates the passion of their employees. “At far too many companies, when you come into the office you put on a mask,” writes Kelleher in Leader to Leader. “We try not to hire people who are humorless, self-centered, or complacent, so when they come to work, we want them, not their corporate clones. They are what makes us different, and in most enterprises, different is better.”

Passion helps to engage an organization. When people discover the work that they love, work becomes more than a job — it becomes a unique calling, a life’s mission. People with passion for their work engage each other and their customers.

Kaihan Krippendorff of Fast Company provides 14 tips to finding passion and purpose for work –  read them, and the rest of this post on the Career Link Blog.

Jessica Bauer is a Career Specialist in the Graduate Business Career Services office.