If you’re looking for work, advice provided by participants at a recent panel discussion at Porter Campus at Wiregrass Ranch may come in handy.
The group was assembled as a part of a series of activities leading up to the inauguration of Dr. Timothy Beard as the fourth president of Pasco-Hernando State College.
The panelists were Greg Lenners, general manager at The Shops at Wiregrass; Tracy Clouser, director of marketing at Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel; Hope Allen, president and CEO of The Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce; Dr. Dennis Feltwell, an assistant professor of humanities at Porter Campus; Carin Hetzler-Nettles, principal at Wesley Chapel High School; and Denise Savolidis, a student at the college.
Dr. Bonnie Clark, provost at the Porter Campus moderated the panel, and Beard occasionally weighed in on the discussion.
Clark asked the panelists what qualities they seek in potential employees.
“Commitment and initiative are probably two of the most important attributes that I look at,” Lenners said.
Experience is important at Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel, but so is culture fit, Clouser said.
The hospital is seeking employees who will be highly engaged, Clouser added.
“There are a lot of studies that show highly engaged employees deliver better results, and that’s across industries. Gallup has researched this in all kinds of industries across the world. So, in health care, that means better outcomes for our patients. We couldn’t ask for anything more than that, right?” Clouser said.
Intangible qualities are important, too, Clouser said.
“I can teach processes. I can’t teach innate things like integrity,” she said.
Being able to deal with multiple people is important, too.
Allen said she doesn’t hire employees, but routinely works with scores of businesses at the chamber.
Successful companies share common traits, Allen said.
“The passion has to be there. You have to know your business.
“You can make the best cookies in the world, but if you can’t market those cookies, and you can’t do your books and you can’t find the right people … your business is not going to be successful,” Allen said.
Students graduating from college need “resilience and adaptability,” Feltwell said.
Having the capacity to relate to others is essential, too, he said. “That involves interpersonal communications, cultural competence, all sorts of things that will help you deal with different people in different situations,” he said.
“You’ll pick up a lot of different accents from different people, you’ll pick up different situations, different manners of talking and thinking, and speaking,” he said.
Being able to relate to people from diverse backgrounds “doesn’t mean that you know everything the cultures of other people, but you’re open,” Feltwell said.
Having relevant skills is important, Clouser said.
“Typically, businesses are moving at the speed of light. They’re running a hundred miles an hour,” she said.
The more skilled new hires are, she said, “the faster they’re going to hit the ground running and be able to make an impact on your business.”
As a high school principal, Hetzler-Nettles said she hires employees, while at the same time preparing students for graduation.
The key is connecting with students, and also with staff, to help them identify their passions and develop leadership skills, she said.
“What I most look for in employees and what we constantly try to teach children are grit and perseverance, which, in my mind, can get you through anything,” Hetzler-Nettles said.
Savolidis said internships are important because they help students to develop skills, and also help people to figure out if they’re on the right career path.
Students need hands-on experiences, in addition to book work, she said.
Feltwell agreed: “Part of the educational process is learning what each person can become excellent at doing.”
Being willing to seek help is important, too, Allen said.
“If you need something, just ask somebody. You have no idea what they’re going to say. The worst possible thing they can say is no,” Allen said.
It’s also important to be careful with social media, Lenners and Clouser said.
Employers look at prospective employees’ social media postings, Lenners said.
“Think of social media as an extension of your brand,” Clouser said. “Be careful what you post on your social media pages. It is out there. It does reflect on you.”
While it’s great if you know your career path when you’re young, it’s OK if you don’t, Lenners said. “I didn’t start doing what I’m doing until I was 33.”
Be willing to take risks, Lenners added.
Savolidis agreed: “My middle name is risk. I took a huge risk going back to school.
“You have to believe in yourself,” Savolidis added, noting she’s not a typical 21-year-old college student. “Put yourself around people who also believe in you, and they will encourage you when you think you can’t go on any farther. You’ve just got to do it. You just have to do it,” she said.
And, she’s doing just that.
“December, I will graduate,” Savolidis said.
Published April 13, 2016