Tough Times Deja Vu

Steve Ovadia's graduation day is one he'll never forget, but it didn't fall into the "best moments" category.

"The ceremony was really sad," says Ovadia, who graduated in 1991 from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton. "Almost everyone who got up and spoke was saying, 'You people are not going to get jobs.' We walked out, my family and I, and were like, 'Oh, my God!' " But Ovadia, now vice president at ProActive Solutions Inc., a Howell, N.J.-based IT consulting firm, has learned how to take his career into his own hands rather than letting himself get swept up by the waves of a bad economy.

Looking back on his first job search, Ovadia acknowledges he had a lot to learn.

"I got every newspaper [and] put together a template cover letter and resume and printed out probably close to 50 a week," Ovadia recalls. "And for the next seven months, I collected a stack of rejection letters. Most of them didn't even reply."

Ovadia says he eventually landed a job teaching local business college students how to use computers, which "was completely not what I was looking for." But, he adds, "I had to do something because I think I was ready to shoot myself."

Ovadia connected with a recruiter he found in The New York Times and continued his job hunt while he taught. He started his own company teaching employees at local businesses how to use software. "Anything I could get my hands on, just for experience, I started doing," he says.

He also started building a portfolio, consisting of work samples, videos of his computer training classes, charts from projects he had managed, reference letters -- everything he could find to illustrate his work style and accomplishments.

Ovadia took his portfolio on an interview at New York-based Marsh and McLennan Cos., where he applied for a job as a corporate IT trainer. "The portfolio really did it," says Ovadia. "It was a pretty cool interview; then, when I pulled it out and showed them the kind of things I was working on, that was it."

From Marsh, Ovadia went on to New York-based financial services firm Neuberger Berman, then to ACORD Corp. (also known as the Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development), a Pearl River, N.Y.-based data standards organization for the insurance industry.

Despite the depressed economy, Ovadia says he isn't nervous about his career. He's learned a great deal since his graduation day at SUNY Binghamton.

There are those who see their jobs as just that -- jobs. Then there are those who do what they do because they can't imagine doing anything else, Ovadia says. Those are the people who come up with unique solutions to problems, who take initiative and who aren't afraid to stand up for what they believe is right.

For Ovadia, that's the secret to success on the job and in his career. "Add value wherever you can," he says.

"The ceremony was really sad," says Ovadia, who graduated in 1991 from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton. "Almost everyone who got up and spoke was saying, 'You people are not going to get jobs.' We walked out, my family and I, and were like, 'Oh, my God!' " But Ovadia, now vice president at ProActive Solutions Inc., a Howell, N.J.-based IT consulting firm, has learned how to take his career into his own hands rather than letting himself get swept up by the waves of a bad economy.

Looking back on his first job search, Ovadia acknowledges he had a lot to learn.

"I got every newspaper [and] put together a template cover letter and resume and printed out probably close to 50 a week," Ovadia recalls. "And for the next seven months, I collected a stack of rejection letters. Most of them didn't even reply."

Ovadia says he eventually landed a job teaching local business college students how to use computers, which "was completely not what I was looking for." But, he adds, "I had to do something because I think I was ready to shoot myself."

Ovadia connected with a recruiter he found in The New York Times and continued his job hunt while he taught. He started his own company teaching employees at local businesses how to use software. "Anything I could get my hands on, just for experience, I started doing," he says.

He also started building a portfolio, consisting of work samples, videos of his computer training classes, charts from projects he had managed, reference letters -- everything he could find to illustrate his work style and accomplishments.

Ovadia took his portfolio on an interview at New York-based Marsh and McLennan Cos., where he applied for a job as a corporate IT trainer. "The portfolio really did it," says Ovadia. "It was a pretty cool interview; then, when I pulled it out and showed them the kind of things I was working on, that was it."

From Marsh, Ovadia went on to New York-based financial services firm Neuberger Berman, then to ACORD Corp. (also known as the Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development), a Pearl River, N.Y.-based data standards organization for the insurance industry.

Despite the depressed economy, Ovadia says he isn't nervous about his career. He's learned a great deal since his graduation day at SUNY Binghamton.

There are those who see their jobs as just that -- jobs. Then there are those who do what they do because they can't imagine doing anything else, Ovadia says. Those are the people who come up with unique solutions to problems, who take initiative and who aren't afraid to stand up for what they believe is right.

For Ovadia, that's the secret to success on the job and in his career. "Add value wherever you can," he says.

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