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EXTINCTION OR DISTINCTION IN THE 21ST CENTURY WORKFORCE: THE CHOICE IS YOURS!

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“The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more”

                                                                                                            – Jonas Salk 

Yesterdays Convocation on Critical Issues at Missouri Western should be a wake-up call to staff and students alike. The intoxicating lullaby humming today’s workforce into an apathetic stupor is, at best, astounding. Maybe it’s just me, but at a time when the (Missouri) unemployment rate is 8.8% (9.1% nationally), putting in less than 110% is just not an option.

The profound statement of Western’s keynote speaker, Thomas L. Friedman, resounds with every 21st century employer: “Average is Over.” Actually, during this high-tech era of mass globalization, average is becoming as obsolete as last year’s Smartphone. In today’s economy, unless you can illustrate (with more than just words) that you are a “mover and shaker,” can “hit-the-ground-running,” and can produce results that are above-average, you may, like last year’s Smartphone, be phased-out too.

Motivation is Inherent

            “I look on that man as happy, who, when there is question of success, looks into    his work for a reply                                            – Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is a striking difference between “work” and “work ethic.” By definition, work is the labor, task, or duty that is one’s accustomed means of livelihood (Webster’s). By contrast, work ethic is an intrinsic virtue that cannot be taught at a seminar or workshop. It is that inherent moral trait that values dedication and hard work because it is the right thing to do. Work ethic is not governed by whether or not the boss (or anyone else) is watching. Rather, it is a focused drive to get the job done, no matter what.

From an Employers Perspective

Think about it: if you were positioned to hire a candidate who would you select: the “average” person who puts in the bare minimum, or the candidate that has developed a portfolio of accomplishments, backed by a fiery determination to meet and/or exceed expectations. If the choice for you is easy to make, think how much easier it is for hiring authorities.

In this new global economy, employers have to be selective when hiring. It’s therefore imperative to offer a compelling list of qualifications that will position you to be selected amid a competitive playing field. A few of the skills that will set you apart include:

  • Technological proficiency
  • Teamwork Skills (remember: there’s no “I” in TEAM)
  • Creative Problem Solving Skills (the ability to think outside the box)
  • Interpersonal and Communication Skills (bilingual fluency is a definite plus)
  • Intercultural Competence (the ability to work collaboratively with diverse groups)

The college experience presents a unique opportunity for students to amass the skill-set that are attractive to today’s employers. Those experiences range from classroom projects, involvement in student organizations, community service projects, internships and co-ops, volunteer opportunities, and on/off campus employment.

My advice is to start early. Follow the Career Center’s recommended four-year plan and stop into the office sooner rather than later.

For more information, visit the Career Development Center in Eder 202 or call (816) 271-4205.

Donnell Turner, GCDF

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