Students improve soft skills at inaugural symposium

Professionalism, personal brand and interpersonal communication skills were focus points of the Smith Career Center’s first Soft Skills Symposium held Wednesday.

The event featured New York Times bestselling author Lindsey Pollak as the keynote speaker, who wrote “Getting from College to Career: Your Essential Guide to Succeeding in the Real World” and “Becoming the Boss: New Rules for the Next Generation of Leaders.”

“Lindsey Pollak is a very well known keynote speaker on all things career related, especially pertaining to millennials,” Rachel Levine, Smith Career Center Peer Advisor, said. “As about half the students at Bradley can be classified as millennials, this was the perfect time to bring in such an amazing speaker.”

Pollak covered the topics of personal branding and creating reputations in her talk. She highlighted visibility, differentiation, consistency and authenticity as ways to build a personal brand.

“Everything you do and everything you choose not to do communicates the value and character of your personal brand,” Pollak said. “Everything from the way you handle phone conversations to the email messages you send to the way you conduct business in a meeting is part of a larger message that you’re sending about your brand.”

Students took notes on papers provided at each table. The papers included surveys to complete before the talk, questions to answer during the speech and a survey to evaluate what they learned after the presentation.

“My favorite part of her talk was when she paused and allowed her audience to write three things about their current personal brand and three things they will like to change about their personal brand,” freshman biology major Clinton Osei said. “This part helped me think deeply as I realized I hadn’t lived to my full potential since the beginning of the school year.”

Pollak outlined the importance of making eye contact, smiling, showing respect and taking notes. She also emphasized listening to instructions and showing gratitude.

“I will tell you it takes zero skill, talent or money to follow directions,” Pollak said.Another thing that takes no talent, no skill and no money is you saying, ‘Thank you,’ to the people who offer you advice.”

Goals for the Soft Skills Symposium included educating and diversifying students on interpersonal abilities in the working world.

“Lindsey is a phenomenal woman,” Emily Formea, a sophomore Smith Career Center Peer Advisor, said. “We are so blessed to have her speak here at Bradley, and we could not be more honored and thrilled to have had the opportunity to work with her at the Smith Career Center.”