As a part of the 26th annual Working Smarter to Be Job Marketable program, Purdue University Calumet aimed to equip those seeking a job, changing careers, thinking of going back to school or wanting to find their dream career with the information they need.
Purdue Calumet faculty and staff presented career-geared mini-sessions during a workshop Tuesday night at the Hammond campus. The faculty members were from human resources, the university entrepreneurship program, career services and the Purdue Calumet counseling center.
Wes Lukoshus, assistant vice chancellor for university relations at Purdue Calumet and Working Smarter program coordinator, estimated about 130 people were in attendance. There were several people who indicated they were either unemployed or transitioning between careers. Lukoshus said half of the participants were age 45 or older.
The Working Smarter program began in 1988 when The Times and Purdue University Calumet teamed up to present a series of educational programs designed to help local residents assess themselves and become more marketable in the workforce.
Since then, the workshops have developed with changing technology.
"In over 26 years, it's a cliche, but the more things change the more they stay the same," Lukoshus said. "Still the same job challenges, the same challenging economy. People in Indiana want to work and make a contribution and then they lose their job. It's about helping them picking up the pieces again."
The sessions taught the importance of using networking sites and social media to enhance job searching. Participants also learned how to improve traditional resumes and cover letters. Other sessions focused on the importance of mapping out a career path.
Lauren Blazevich, 23, of Munster, graduated from Purdue Calumet in May with a bachelor's degree in psychology. Blazevich has been searching for a job in her field and said it's been difficult to find work because of her lack of experience. She said the program motivated her to take action.
"It really opened my eyes, that I can do it," Blazevich said. "It motivated me to sit down and make a plan. Not just go through life and think what happens, happens."
Other attendees had decades in the job market. One focus of the resume session was cramming years of experience into one resume.
Andre Cheairs, 58, of Gary, is unemployed and looking to find another career path.
"I'm looking to reinvent the wheel at my age," Cheairs said. "Age discrimination is real. I look around the room and see people older than me or the same age, and then people much younger and we're all mixed together in this."
Lukoshus said there were people of various levels of education present, from those with high school degrees to graduate degrees. Lukoshus said his work organizing the event since its inception has brought him much satisfaction.
"The two newspapers band together for this, and you have the universities banding together for it," Lukoshus said. "It's the town and gown coming together. We're all working together to impact region residents."