Harper College's Career Forward event to inspire, connect adults to opportunity

It's one thing to want to refresh your career or reinvigorate your life. It's another to know how to do it.

Big or small changes like these come down to each person finding their purpose, said Dr. Sean Bailey, who will give the keynote presentation on that topic at Career Forward, a Harper College event on Wednesday, April 5. Harper's faculty and staff are presenting Career Forward as an opportunity for community members to come to the Palatine campus, 1200 W. Algonquin Road, and get inspired while learning about the many ways the college can assist adult students with educational and career resources.

"I think it's important to reach anyone who's lost their way. They're just stuck," said Bailey, the founder and chief learning officer at BCG Learning Solutions. "They're watching their career play out instead of making it their own. It's about them saying, 'I want to be the author of my own story.'"

Bailey, who has more than two decades of experience in the learning and education space, is affectionately known to his colleagues and friends as "Bear." He said that it can be a bear to understand how learning can change the trajectories of people's lives, but that he's seen how powerful that journey can be for anyone who takes it on.

"I'm here to remind them of their power and their abilities," he said. "It's not about me teaching them anything. It's about them owning their own creativity and passion."

Harper is here to help adults seeking that reset opportunity and assist at every step along the way. Career Forward is designed to connect community members with the college's offerings, from apprenticeships and workforce partnerships to the University Center (which offers bachelor's and master's degrees from Illinois universities on Harper's campus), Continuing Professional Education (including options for workers to remain certified or transition to a new field) and Fast Track (an accelerated, cohort-based program geared to adult students).

Career resource experts and Harper faculty from a variety of fields of study will be on hand to meet with attendees and answer questions. In addition, there will be a career direction workshop, a LinkedIn session and "Know Your Worth" presentations with Rosie Zilinskas, author and corporate career coach.

Potential adult students will have plenty of company at Harper. Enrollment in the college's Adult Education department is more than 100% in 2023 compared to the Spring 2022 semester. In addition, Harper offers a range of modality options that are adult-friendly, including online and hybrid courses, with a goal of reaching underrepresented adult students. Plus, the college's support services are designed to be available when and where adults students are.

"We recognize the importance of the adult population at Harper College," said Bob Parzy, associate provost for enrollment services. "Whether you live or work in the district, Harper is a great option. If you're looking to boost your job skills or change your career, the college offers a variety of education and support options to help adults who want to improve their lives."

Harper created the Career Forward event to be as approachable as its staff and faculty are for adult students. Keynote speaker Bailey is just as approachable. He is as likely to talk about his personal journey - coming from a "socially depressed area" of Brooklyn and overcoming his learning disabilities - as he is to make real-world analogies to the Flash or Bugs Bunny. He takes obvious joy in the journey of discovery, both for himself and others. He gets excited when people break out of the boxes that have been placed around them, or that they've put there themselves.

"When you start labeling yourself as this or that, you restrict your capabilities. You get labeled and you label yourself," he said. "Labeling prevents you from thinking outside the box and you don't need to fit into that box."

Career Forward will take place 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 5, in Wojcik Conference Center, Harper College, 1200 W. Algonquin Road, Palatine. Admission is free.

For information, visit

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.