Alumni News

June 5, 2018 at 9:08 am

Wolfort to Arts & Sciences Grads: You’re in High Demand

David Wolfort gives job search advice at Alumni Career Panel, shown here standing and gesturing.

David Wolfort gives job search advice at Alumni Career Panel.

Editor’s Note: David Wolfort ’74, former chair of the Ohio University Board of Trustees, shared the following job search strategy during the College of Arts & Sciences Career and Networking Week.

We Want People Who Are Ambitious and Have Great Intellect

By David A. Wolfort ’74
President of Olympic Steel

Today’s graduates are entering a very strong job market, especially for liberal arts graduates of the College of Arts & Sciences. You’re in high demand today, very high demand.

I’m going to tell you right now, the prosperity of this country looks strong. Now I couldn’t make that statement in 2009, nor could I have in 1974, the year I graduated. Those were recession years. But you’re not in a recession year. You’re in a hyper-growth environment, and you have the ability to secure employment and begin a career.

I want to encourage you not to just send your resume on the internet. Hear me: Do not just send your resume on the internet. Decide where you would like to live. Apply a little shoe leather and knock on doors of people who are advertising for jobs, and those who are not. Prepare, present yourself well, and I guarantee you you’ll win a job.

Recognize the fact that you are a precious commodity; people like me are looking for people like you. If you have the courage to step into industrial America, you’re going to be most welcome. Remember, we’re in a growth industry, and businesses like mine are looking for people who want to come to work, who are ambitious, who want to learn and be successful.

Like you, I have a degree from the College of Arts & Sciences. My degree was in government, which we now call political science. When I left our Athens campus, I didn’t have a job and wondered what I was going to do. But I knew where I wanted to live. It was Washington, D.C. I went to the Hill and applied for some jobs, but in 1974 I wasn’t having much success.

My father had been in the steel business. He had worked outside of D.C. for a while, but left there in the ’50s. I remembered the name of the company, and so I dialed it up and invited myself in and told the general manager of that facility that I needed a job. He gave me a job on the spot because I’d picked up the phone and called him. Today, I run a public company, a national steel service center.

Alumni Career Panelists: David Levy, David Wolfort and Lisa Maatz, shown seated on stage.

Alumni Career Panelists: David Levy, David Wolfort and Lisa Maatz.

Businesses are ‘Communities’

I’ve been in this field now for 44 years. In business, a liberal arts education is most welcome. You’re critical thinkers. You can adapt to the culture of any business that you choose.

And let me talk to you about the businesses that you might go into. They’re all communities…. I’m in the steel business. It’s a community.

When I left Ohio University, we were in a recession. You’re leaving the University…. We’re not a recession. Unemployment is exceedingly low. It hasn’t been this low in years. There are job postings all over the country.

Decide Where You Want to Live

Again, I would encourage you to decide where you want to live. This is a bit of an adventure–you’re starting out–where do you want to live? Next, once you decide that, start applying for jobs. You don’t have to move to your ideal location, but start applying. Use the benefits of today’s technology, and blend some old-school practices by applying your charming personality and an outstanding resume which includes your graduation from Ohio University.

I’m going to tell you right now, the prosperity of this country looks very strong. I run a billion-and-a-half-dollar business, and we are constantly growing. The only way we can grow is if we have the support of human capital around us. We’re looking for people like you.

I Want You To Win the Job

Now, my industry is maybe a little unknown on campus today, and the steel industry may sound like the Cro-Magnon era. It’s not. It’s a vibrant industry that deals in currencies around the world and requires a broad education, which all of you have received here from the College of Arts & Sciences. Please know that you’re in demand.

You do have the ability to secure employment. As a matter of fact, you already have a job right now: Your job is to find a job.

Now, when you’re interviewing, I don’t want you saying to yourself, “I really don’t want to work here.” Rather, I want you to interview as if that is the only job that you’ll ever get, and the only job you’ve ever wanted, for the sake of that interview at that time. It doesn’t matter if you’re unsure. Go in there and win the second interview. So when they call you back for a second interview, and you do really well, I want you to have the option of accepting that job. Win the job, and win the next job.

It’s not that difficult today. Have the confidence and the courage to go out and make those employment applications. There’s a shortage of qualified, well-educated future leaders out there today. You have a great education; you have a broad base of knowledge—I wish everybody had a liberal arts education. You’re clear thinkers and you’re decisive. That’s what the business culture wants.

My perspective is from 44 years in the steel business. I tease my wife of 40 years…. I met her in D.C. saying, “It’s only a temporary job. Just a temporary job. I’ll find something later that’s really, really good.” But it is really, really good. It’s what you make of it. So, go out there with confidence and the attitude that you’re a precious commodity.

Folks, in summary, running a public company means growth. Nobody wants to invest in a public equity if that equity is not growing. You’ll find that out when you work. If you have savings plans, 401K plans, Roth IRAs— whatever investment you make—you make that investment in a company that you expect to grow…. That growth comes by hiring qualified people. Like you.

Kyle Triplett, portrait

Kyle Triplett

One of our regional sales managers is Kyle Triplett ’12. He served as a student trustee and graduated from Ohio University six years ago. He was so impressive that I went down to see him to encourage him to come on over and do an internship with us and then eventually work for us, which he has for the last six years. Today Kyle’s managing a team of eight people and $200 million worth of business.

Kyle graduated from the College of Arts & Sciences—as you are.

David Levy, Lisa Maatz, and David Wolfort panel, photo with 3 small portraits





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