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 1, 2011
Re-name

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

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? 

July 18, 2011
Some thoughts on unpaid internships

The past few days, I’ve come across two postings for unpaid internships that really stuck in my craw. The first is below (the fashion start-up internship thingy with the pic of Lady GaGa) and the other was for a non-profit supporting a Native American community center. In the latter instance, basically, the agency are looking for someone to work 40 hours a week and are asking for the applicant to have experience in the field.

With regards to the Native American non-profit, I’m not inclined to ridicule the post as the agency is clearly trying to help a very worthy cause. My objection is that a 40-hour a week position that’s unpaid (note that I didn’t see anything about college credit, either) and involves the possibility of being rejected for not having enough experience is asking an awful lot out of someone. I’d recommend they apply for a government grant to get an AmeriCorps volunteer or try to get a volunteer or two to handle the workload instead. Hell, I’d give 10-20 hours a week to help out a Native American community.

In the case of the fashion internship, and other internships in general, this whole notion of not getting paid and working 40-50 hour weeks is really distasteful to me. I recall a few years ago, I inquired about a publishing internship in Manhattan. I explained that I was living in Fairfield County (about an hour outside of the city) and could give about 20 hours a week, considering I also needed to make some money to pay for transportation and, well, not destroy my savings account. IMHO, you can get a lot done in 20 hours and learn what you need to learn about an industry.

The guy wanted a minimum of 35 hours a week and offered no reimbursement of any kind.

I don’t understand how that’s a reasonable thing to ask of someone. New York is astronomically expensive, so the only way to pull off that internship for someone in my situation would either be to rely on my parents (I’ve borrowed enough money from them over the years) or take out massive loans, with no guarantee that that position would lead to anything (I had already graduated at that point, so college credit was out of the question).

I’ve heard that in most cases, “that’s the way the industry works”, but come on. There’s no one within these companies who gets paid to do this stuff? College credit, sure, that’s all well and good; experience, yeah, that’s great too; “getting one’s foot in the door”, ok. But must that involve a full work week with no compensation? At the very least, cover meals, housing, and/or transportation reimbursement - those are relatively small fries if you can’t afford to pay a full time staff member to do the work (or are too stubborn to).

My suggestion (and I guess this mostly applies to non-profits) is to get a feel for an industry, develop experience, and make contacts by volunteering. Agencies generally don’t turn down volunteers for not having enough experience, you’ll be assisting people who need help, and you’ll be able to put it on your resume afterwards. If you can’t get a job doing something you want to do, make money by getting a P/T gig and do the volunteering thing on the side. 

Anyway, thanks for indulging me; now, back to the jokes.

July 8, 2011
Hi! and FAQ

Hi! and thanks for checkin’ this out. 

I created this blog because I’ve spent the last 3 years since college working unsatisfying jobs and have become irritated with the silly want ads employers post.

Look, we all know you want the best possible candidate for the position, but do you really have to use pretentious and/or hyperbolic language to ask for it? And does that “TWO YEARS OF EXPERIENCE A MUST!!! A MUST!!!! BLAHHHH!!!!” (cue tears and steam escaping from ears) really mean anything? 

All I’m asking for, basically, is a little more truth in advertising. You want a pizza delivery driver? Please don’t ask for a “culinary logistics professional”. How about a janitor? Then don’t go looking for a “cleanliness technician”. 

…of course, I’m not above occasionally making fun of the poorly written ad, so expect to see especially egregious examples from time to time.

I hope this blog provides a little laughter and relief for people who’ve had similar crappy job experiences and who are fed up with sifting through ridiculous want ads.

Now, to the presses!

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