Jim Turnquist
Jim Turnquist, director of the University Career Center, has been helping students and alumni of Michigan Tech find jobs since 1996. He graduated from the University in 1979 with a BS in Business Administration.

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You can help too. If you know of an organization that is looking for top-notch people, whether new Michigan Tech graduates or experienced alumni, email Jim Turnquist '79, director, Career Services, jaturnqu@mtu.edu, or Tina Giachino, manager, Job Development, tgiachin@mtu.edu; or call the Career Center at 906-487-2313.

When the Recession Hits Home

by Marcia Goodrich

Michigan Tech Can Help

When your neighbors are laid off, that's a recession. When you get laid off, that's something else, and they don't call it a depression for nothing, says Jim Turnquist.

The director of Michigan Tech's Career Center knows about the fear and self doubt that comes with being out of work.

"In the early 1980s, I accepted an offer with a company in Lansing, and they told me I was going to be promoted," he says. "Then they said, Merry Christmas, we're going to lay you off.

"Even though many of his peers were also collecting unemployment, Turnquist found himself questioning his abilities and, ultimately, wondering if he was to blame for his predicament. Finally, he came home to the Copper Country and began to regroup. "Just to make money, I was mowing lawns, painting, cleaning houses . . ."

Turnquist, who graduated from Tech in 1979, started frequenting the Placement Office (now the Career Center), checking the newspapers and bulletin boards for leads.

He is now returning the favor. The Career Center is working with the Michigan Tech Alumni Association to offer a variety of services to job-seeking alumni.

"We want our alums to leverage one of the most powerful networks they will ever have: HuskyLink," says Brent Burns, associate director of alumni relations.

Brenda Rudiger, director of alumni relations, says Tech alumni have an intrinsic advantage: their education. "They are skilled people, trained in problem solving, who can hit the ground running," she said. "This makes them valuable to employers, especially fellow alumni who know what they can bring to the workplace."

In addition to the HuskyLink network, Tech alumni groups have formed on the social-networking sites Facebook and LinkedIn. CashCourse, a financial literacy tool originally developed for new grads, is also available and may be especially useful to those who find themselves suddenly strapped.

Alumni are always welcome at the University's two Career Fairs in February and October, when dozens of employers come to Michigan Tech and interview job candidates. The Career Center also provides resume reviews, mock interviews, job search counseling, and more.

The Alumni Association has been taking Career Fairs on the road. Two events are planned in early May for Detroit and Ann Arbor to give alumni a chance to network as well as learn about starting their own businesses and explore educational opportunities. 

"These tools will help alumni hire their fellow grads," Burns says. "Companies continue to need experienced professionals, as well as recent graduates new to the job market.

"Losing a job can be a good time to refocus your professional and personal priorities. If that means more education, alumni can visit Michigan Tech's iTunes U site and download lectures for free. Unemployment could also be the ideal time to pursue a graduate degree; Tech offers a number of options, including distance learning.

All Tech alumni have free access to MyPlan, an online tool that uses a variety of assessment tests to help you plot a career path. 

"It helps you decide what field you want to go into, based on your personality, skills, values, and interests," Turnquist says. If you weren't especially happy in your former job, MyPlan can provide guidance in selecting a new line of work.

Networks, counseling, and training are all great tactics, but the most important thing a job seeker can do is keep trying.

"People who have lost their jobs can be sensitive to their situation and are not always thinking clearly," Turnquist says. "They sometimes feel like they've lost their identity. And they are scared. They are afraid they won't ever get another job."

"You've got to be patient," he says, speaking from experience. "You've got to keep a positive attitude." Because the best way to find a job is to look for one.