August 29, 2011
Today’s food for thought.

"The experiences of the high-tech companies in the last few decades that failed to navigate the rapid changes brought about in their marketplace by these types of forces may be a warning to all the businesses, institutions, and nation-states that are now facing these inevitable, even predictable, changes but lack the leadership, flexibility, and imagination to adapt - not because they are not smart or aware, but because the speed of change is simply overwhelming them".

- Thomas L. Friedman, The World Is Flat

(can’t help but think that my former employer might benefit from this)

August 24, 2011

I want to opine on two comments I read in a New York Times debate about the value of a college education:

#1 comes from Steve: 

 As a 29 year veteran High School teacher, I am surprised to read that many of your contributors are pointing to the academic/vocational alternatives offered in other countries as a solution to the issue discussed. We really need look no further than our OWN high schools back in the 1940s and 1950s. Public schools in America used to also have an academic/vocational option for students. Then, someone decided that was somehow unfair, and we began our delusional march towards silently degrading vocational work and convincing people that EVERY student, even the most developmentally disabled, was a candidate to benefit greatly from a 4 year college degree. As much of the discussion has pointed out, this is a delusion, and ,in many cases, a very expensive one.I fully agree with Mr. Trachtenberg. I often admonish my own students not o look down on vocational training—their plumbers and car mechanics will out-earn me, their teacher with two master’s degrees in our respective lifetimes. We have to , I suppose, de-condition ourselves from looking down on the artisans as somehow “failed” because they did not earn a B.A.

The other issue, however, is that we no longer make ANYTHING in this country. Those really well-paying jobs that used to be out there for high school graduates no longer are. The more technically oriented ones now require training in a 2 year college. Maybe thee needs to be a hybrid, sort of like Junior High School, wherein high school students can opt to receive the higher level technical training to become car mechanics or plumbers at those Community Colleges. Some programs like those do exist, but there is such a ridiculously effete,elitist attitude among parents, other students and , frankly, many of my fellow educators regarding attending them, that they are nowhere near s effective as they might be.

Everyone should have the option to attend college. I had no idea what I wanted to do for a living until I was in my Junior year of college, and many discover that vocation while there. However, I attended City University which, at the time, was so inexpensive I was able to pay my own tuition with the part time job I had. MY parents were not shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for me to party, get Cs and “find myself”. That also has to be addressed. Thee is little to no reason for a college education of worth to cost the consumer upwards of 200 thousand dollars for 4 years. State University, which my daughter, a very highly ranked student from her graduating class attended, will grant you the same or ,dare I say, a superior education to many of the private colleges out there, and the cost for all four years at the former will be equal to the cost of one year at the latter. Parents and students have to become smarter consumers as well and drop these ridiculous, again, elitist ideas about college. Many of my colleagues were absolutely aghast that I, an educator, would actually send my highly motivated, high performing (but not scholarship eligible) daughter to “just” State school. Now that she has graduated and is till, as so many are, unemployed, at least she is debt free—no student loans. As fewer people opt for the overpriced private institutions, the market will demand a drop in price. This involves a major ATTITUDE shift in this country. We would not spend as much on high school education if we really did offer dual tracks and partnered in sharing some of those costs for a good percentage of our students with our local community colleges who already offer great vocational programs. The pool of 4 year college candidates would shrink somewhat, and if parents became smarter consumers and stopped buying a lot of the private college hype, state universities would have larger student bodies and that might defer some of their current cost, while private colleges, facing a student shortfall, would have no choice but to respond to the “market forces” and lower the price for what they supply to increase the demand. The single most important factor in all of thise, however, is a MAJOR attitude adjustment for us as a society.”

I cheered when I read this. 

#2 comes from Josh: 

Judging by my experience at work, once one has become established in a profession, the source of one’s degree doesn’t much matter. That being said, it does matter when one is first entering the job market, since in the absence of a reputation it tells the prospective employer something about whether the applicant has had a decent education.

Perhaps more to the point, it would never occur to an upper middle class family *not* to send their kid to the best school he could get into. That points to certain cultural attributes — ambition, and a knowledge of how to manipulate the system — that have great value at work.

In my years in the workplace, I became very aware of the degree to which cultural assumptions associated with class determined success in the workplace. Some talented and ambitious employees were able to transcend their backgrounds. But more frequently, people from working class backgrounds lacked the drive and self confidence necessary to move up in the corporate world.

I jeered when I read that. 

Steve makes excellent points about a shift away from elitism in the professional world and the need to produce things again in this country. Josh, on the other hand, exudes the elitism that reinforces the broken system we currently have.

Let’s examine this for a moment: 

"more frequently, people from working class backgrounds lacked the drive and self confidence necessary to move up in the corporate world."

That’s an awfully biased and unfair assumption to make, whether or not Josh believes it’s backed up by his observations. Simply stating that drive and self confidence comes from being a child of privilege is absurd. My (middle-class) family alone disproves this theory. I attended a well-esteemed private liberal arts college, skated my way through 4 years, graduated with a 2.7 GPA and have struggled to find meaningful work since. My sister, on the other hand, attended a state school, graduated with an excellent GPA, and is currently in her third year of medical school. 

(to add to that - and to bolster Steve’s point - I’m about to begin work for a program that that will train me in a trade…this might actually be the beginning of a meaningful career for me).

it does matter when one is first entering the job market, since in the absence of a reputation it tells the prospective employer something about whether the applicant has had a decent education.

Again, incorrect assumption…..I’d wager my college has a stronger reputation than the school my sister went to, yet I’d make a side bet on that wager she received a better education overall. 

How about this - you get to choose between a Harvard grad and a UMass grad for a given position. The Harvard kid barely tried, earned a passable GPA, and wasn’t that involved on campus/didn’t have any internships. The UMass kid, on the other hand, graduated with honors, had several internships, and worked his way through college to pay for his tuition. You’re going to go with the Harvard kid because Harvard is a “better” school? 

That points to certain cultural attributes — ambition, and a knowledge of how to manipulate the system — that have great value at work.

 Being a good manipulator is a valued trait to have at work?  

Perhaps more to the point, it would never occur to an upper middle class family *not* to send their kid to the best school he could get into. 

I chose the “best” school that I got in to to attend college and haven’t earned more than $10 an hour since I graduated 3 years ago. That worked out really well, huh? 

August 15, 2011
Quickies

Haven’t found anything worthy of a full post lately, so here’s a couple of quickies: 

#1

Fine Dining restaurant is in search of qualified candidates for consideration of employment.

And I’m a full-time Labor Researcher with a specialization in Hyperbolic Language. What a distinct pleasure to have made your acquaintance! 

We are currently looking for entree level

Entree level! Nice pun! 

as well as experienced staff. 

#2

Now hiring……… Must have 2 years fine dining experience. No exceptions.

Those of you with 3 years of experience can fuck right off!

August 10, 2011
Another name change

Another name change = Do Not Apply. Can’t guarantee this will be the last one, but I think it fits the best out of all the names I’ve come up with so far. 

August 5, 2011
Dear Potential AmeriCorps volunteers,

There don’t seem to be a lot of Web resources dedicated to reviews of AmeriCorps from alumni, so let me give you my take.

I served as a VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America) - my term lasted from April 2010 to April 2011. In short, I had a rough go of it. There are a few reasons why, but the root issues revolved around a bad fit for me and poor management due to a lack of understanding of AmeriCorps VISTA by my site supervisor. I’m inclined to be bitter about my experiences, but despite this, I still think AmeriCorps is a great concept and offers many programs that make a positive difference. 

Here, then, is my advice to anyone looking to do AmeriCorps: 

Enter into your volunteer search with a critical eye. Know what it is you want to do and find an organization that aligns very closely with your values.

Don’t serve with an org you feel lukewarm about or do it just because you want to do AmeriCorps. Speaking as someone who did AC partly for those reasons, really, don’t do it. The year is trying enough as it is. Instead, volunteer with a community agency in your spare time. You’ll be able to make a difference and give back without having to deal with the crap AmeriCorps throws at you. Also, it’s nice to be able to make the world a better place without having to go through an extensive (and sometimes silly) interview process.

Be mindful of any org that seems overly disorganized. Yes, non-profits are often underfunded and understaffed, so a bit of sloppiness is acceptable. However, if the disorganization goes above and beyond your comfort level, move on immediately. It’s probably an indication that the org will not manage you well.

Most importantly, make sure that the org has experience with AmeriCorps volunteers and has a thorough understanding of the program. Here’s how it broke down: My site supervisor had no experience managing AmeriCorps volunteers, did not understand what AmeriCorps was, and as such viewed my position as something of a cross between an internship and office assistant (NOT what a VISTA is supposed to be). On the other hand, my VISTA supervisor was VERY well versed in AmeriCorps, had supervised AC volunteers before, and was himself an active volunteer in the community. There was only so much he could do, though….ultimately, site supervisors are in charge of day-to-day operations in your project. If your potential site supervisor gives any indication that they don’t know much about AmeriCorps or views it as something other than a service project, move on. 


Again, just go into it with a critical eye. You’re evaluating your potential service site as much as they are evaluating you. 

August 4, 2011
What makes a good job posting?

Before you think I’m just nitpicking Craigslist posts for shitty jokes, here’s a couple examples of what make DECENT job postings: 

Overnight cook needed ASAP in the warehouse district. Experience required. Email resume or stop in and fill out an application. We are looking to fill the spot immediatly. 

Now aside from the misspell, option to e-mail your resume to a randomized CL address, and no listing of compensation (hey, no one’s perfect), it’s as straight & to the point as they come. They need an overnight cook, they list the name of the restaurant in the title of their post, and they want experience. Also, they’re ready to hire, so there’s no bullshit waiting period - either you get it or you don’t. Thanks.

Also decent: 

Looking for a fun and fast-paced work envirnoment? This restaurant is the place for you. We are looking for day and night time servers with experience. We offer flexible work schedules and competetive wages. Apply in person Monday - Friday between 2:00pm - 4:00pm. No phone calls or e-mails please. 

Compensation: Health and Dental Insurance

Again, there’s misspellings, and there’s no mention of specific pay ranges, but this isn’t bad. It’s mostly straight and to the point - they listed the name of the restaurant and the location in the job title and are upfront about what jobs are available.

Most importantly, it’s not larded with a bunch of unnecessary crap about being “passionate” or “a team player!”. Kudos on encouraging people to apply in person and emphasizing no e-mails.

So there you have it - :P

(written while listening to Lewis Black’s “Information” off The Carnegie Hall Performance, appropriately enough)

August 1, 2011
Re-name

RIP “Where the Jobs Is”, welcome “Apply Without”. All your old favorites are still here, don’t worry.

July 28, 2011
What exactly is a “floater”?

Seen on NOLA Craigslist: 

Excellent early childhood center seeks part-time floater. Hours are: 12 -5:30. 

I can think of a couple definitions of this word - one involves an eye condition and the other can be found in a toilet.

I hope this job involves neither. 

July 27, 2011
"I do not like green eggs and ham….I do not like them, Sam-I-am"

This one was titled “Breakfast Attendant” on yes, you guessed it, Craigslist. 

Position Description:
Creates 100% guest satisfaction by providing the service brand behavior, genuine hospitality and by exceeding guest expectations.

When I go to a hotel, I usually expect staff to stage an impromptu rendition of “West Side Story”. Can you exceed that?

Gives personal attention, takes personal responsibility and uses teamwork when providing guest service. Listens, apologizes with empathy, finds a solution and follows through when resolving guest problems

"I’m so sorry your childhood dream to be a radioactive zombie werewolf astronaut never worked out! It’s all my fault….please accept my humble apology!"

Assumes the responsibility to notice when the guest is not satisfied and uses their best judgment as to when it is appropriate to use the 100% Guest Satisfaction Guarantee 

It’s whispered in some circles that the 100% Guest Satisfaction Guarantee is a blowjob. 

Performs other duties as required to provide the service brand behavior and genuine hospitality

I think earlier there was mention of faking empathy in dealing with customers. Nothin’ genuine about that. 

Provides explanation of breakfast menu as appropriate 

"Well, you see, our Western omelet…that’s made with eggs…which come from chickens…which actually come from eggs themselves. Deep, huh?". 

Makes coffee for the customers

Definitely the hardest thing on this list. 

Clears tables during the breakfast experience using proper methods for removing dishes, glassware and silverware in a timely manner 

Picking up utensils and bringing them to the dishwasher is a surprisingly complicated process. There’s the gripping, the lifting, the holding, the walking; don’t try it at home, kids. 

Setting out condiments as appropriate

"Ketchup, mustard…uh…motor oil, cat pee…." 

Position Requirements:
Technical Service Skills… Demonstrate understanding of the technical service skills for assigned area (i.e. food & beverage service, housekeeping, etc.) Know the available products and services and suggest alternatives. 

"May I suggest Tropicana instead of Florida’s Natural?"

July 25, 2011
"Camp Annawanna, we hold you in our hearts, and when we think about you, it makes me wanna…"

Craigslist, you goldmine.

Outdoor Education Staff 


Overview: 
Approximately 25 - 35 hours per week, starting in early August. Work in partnership with lead program staff.

Hm, ok, so you’re an assistant…..

Will teach and facilitate place based, multi disciplinary expeditionary learning curriculum components. This includes but is not limited to outdoor skills, & character development programming (i.e. initiative games & full low and high elements challenge course), co - leadership of workshop activities, canoe trips, and camping trips. Groups are typically comprised of up to 30 students at a time. Students range from grades 3 through 12.  

….a summer camp assistant. 

Qualifications desired: 
Looking for motivated, outgoing individual with excellent teaching skills and outdoors education experience. 
Passion for with children a must. Must be willing to work outdoors and in primitive surroundings. Flexible weekday/weekend schedule. College degree and background in outdoor education desired. 

Ok, well, I don’t know that you need a college degree to do this, but it might be a good gig for a college student, considering that the schedule is flexible.

Education/work experience: Requires a bachelor’s degree in social work, psychology, education, youth development, or related field, or active or significant and recent enrollment/work in the above fields.

Wait, what? Didn’t you just say that a

 

College degree and background in outdoor education desired.

"Desired" does not equal "required". Please get your shit together. Who could make such a silly oversight? 

Office of State Parks is seeking outdoor education staff

Oh, hi, Leslie Knope.

Due to the volume of applicants, please no phone calls. Qualified applicants will be contacted. 

Remember the old saying, “don’t call me, I’ll call you?”? From what I remember, that usually means you’re not going to hear from that person. Isn’t that what they’re essentially saying here? If there’s one thing I’m learning, it’s to avoid any job posting that includes any iteration of that. 

Anything else you’d like to share with us about this WONDERFUL opportunity? 

This is a wage position with a starting rate of $11 per hour. No benefit package

So you’re asking people to engage in potentially hazardous outdoor labor for $11/hour with no assurance that they’ll be covered should imminent injury occur? You really think we’re that desperate, don’t you? 

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