‘What do you bring to the table that is unique?’

By Dylan Matousek

Contributing Writer

“You need to assess what skills do I have, what skills do I need, and you need to continually learn…or you’ll fall into the pool of workers we call barriered,” Beth Sullivan, manager of the Western Wisconsin Workforce Development Board, told an audience of about 100 peo­ple at her presentation: Tomorrow’s Workforce: Are You Prepared?, Feb. 5 in the main theater of Viterbo’s Fine Arts Center.

“Who are you and what do you bring to the table that is unique?” Kem Gambrell, assistant professor in the Dahl School of Business at Viterbo, asked an audience of about 150 people at her presentation, Following Your Bliss: Working at What Makes Your Soul Soar Feb. 5 in the same location.

These pieces of advice for those currently in and about to enter the workforce came from two of the nine presentations at Viterbo’s 2013 Humanities Symposium, held Feb. 5-6 in Viterbo’s Fine Arts Center.

This year’s Humanities Sympo­sium was titled Why Work? Mak­ing a Living and Making a Life. It is the latest in an annual series of symposiums hosted by the School of Letters and Sciences at Viterbo since 2001.

The symposium was organized this year by Robyn Gaier, instructor of philosophy at Viterbo, and Rev. Bill Reese, associate professor and chair of Viterbo’s religious studies and philosophy departments. Rev. Reese is on sabbatical this semester, but worked on the symposium in the fall of 2012.

Unlike past years, there was no keynote speaker at this year’s sym­posium due to a desire to increase attendance during the daytime presentations, Gaier told Lumen.

Sullivan distinguished skills need­ed by those entering the workforce between “basic” and “applied.” Some of the basic skills she listed were: reading in English, writing in English, mathematics and geog­raphy. Some of the applied skills she listed were: critical thinking/problem solving, written commu­nications, teamwork/collaboration, creativity, leadership, life-long learning, etc.

“Critical thinking and problem solving are the number one skills needed in the workforce today,” Sullivan said. She went on to report, though, that “38 percent of companies hiring four-year gradu­ates reported deficiencies in critical thinking and problem solving in 2012.”

Sullivan listed the skills needed by employees today as: sense mak­ing, social intelligence, novel and adaptive thinking, cross-cultural competency, computational think­ing, new media literacy, transdisci­plinarity, a design mindset, cogni­tive load management and virtual collaboration.

“The number one reason why people get fired is because of per­sonality conflicts,” Gambrell said. One major factor contributing to personality conflicts is a negative attitude.

“Approximately 64 percent of workers under 25 say they are un­happy in their jobs,” Gambrell said.

It is important to find bliss and engage yourself in your work, Gambrell said. The definition of bliss Gambress said is “doing what you love to do in a way that encour­ages joy and happiness to you and those around you.

Employees engaged in their work had 25 percent higher overall well-being,” Gambrell said. She described well-being as health, happiness and fulfillment in one’s life. She stressed the importance of recognizing that a career is a journey and that it will change and evolve over time.

“Allow yourself to grow and evolve. Don’t lock yourself into a particular way that it has to look. If you’re in a workplace that doesn’t feel right to you, go someplace else,” Gambrell said.

“Some ways to figure out what your bliss is are: strengthens quests, personality instruments, asking yourself what comes easily or natu­rally to you, trying new things and new classes, and talking to those who know you,” Gambrell said. Strengths finders are offered in the Viterbo Career Services office.

“You will still have to do some stuff that you don’t want to do, but you need to find a balance,” Gambrell said. “You won’t always be at the top (of happiness in the workplace), but you don’t have to always be at the bottom.”

“Work is a vital part of everyone’s life, and I think this resonates with a lot of our students who will be on the job market in the near future,” said Gaier of the choice of theme for this year’s symposium.

When choosing presenters and presentations, the interest and en­gagement of the student body is a primary concern, but variety is also important, Gaier said.

“We like to have a good balance of faculty and those that aren’t in faculty represented,” Gaier said.

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