Josh Hughes

Archive for the ‘Professional’ Category

School of Thought Series: Education – Right? Necessity?

In Education, Professional on May 10, 2011 at 11:11 am

Law Books

Right to Education. First thing that comes to mind is _______?

Is education a right? Is it a necessity? And if so, to what degree?

As a part of my School on Thought series, I thought the interesting subject of right to education would be a perfect [albeit debatable] topic.

If we use the college student’s best friend Wikipedia – a right to education gives us:

…is enshrined in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Articles 13 and 14 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.[5][6][7]

The right to education has been reaffirmed in the 1960 UNESCOConvention against Discrimination in Education and the 1981 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.[8]

In Europe, Article 2 of the first Protocol of 20 March 1952 to the European Convention on Human Rights

Breaking it down..

Internationally-

Intruiged Faces

When you apply the right to education internationally, one might think of third world countries in need of implementing a primary education system. This is where I think education is a right.  Teaching children necessary skills to develop into people who can work and strive to make their countries better places. Many believe that through education, you can elevate the living standards of a country. Teaching them how to think for themselves, the causes of disease, how to read, write and count- THESE are rights. Being educated, they can educate their peers. That generation can educate the next and continue to raise the educational level and hopefully raise standards of living along with it.

Domestic-

Classroom in the Afternoon

Similarly, American citizens have the right to an education, a primary one.  This primary education should help them develop critical thinking skills, a familiarity with math, science, literature, and the arts. It should provide guidance and filter people into skilled trades and professions.

Is primary education doing the job? After you graduate high school, does standardized testing help you get your first job? manage your money? Or does it just try to send you to college?

What about college? Do we all need a college education and the risk of collecting 10 years of student loans?

The 4 year college degree has indeed become the new standard, but many graduates after four long years of finals and term papers are faced with a common response from HR departments: “You don’t have enough experience.” Does that mean institutions of higher learned are failing us?

Is this educational standard raising standards of living? For some, it might. But for others, it is a dangerous catch-22. Those that go on to college based on family or society expectations are most likely to earn debt instead of a degree. This because a financial burden that the individual must carry for varying lengths of time. Many companies use a college degree as a benchmark for hiring, even if the position has little or nothing to do with the degree. Where does that leave the degree-less? Jobless.

Is college the best route for all? If it isn’t, is there something higher education institutions can do to make the standard more function [so graduates don’t hear they don’t have enough experience]. If college is the standard, is it also a right? A necessity to function above the poverty line? I don’t have these answers, but I do know that any graduate or non-graduate can make their dreams and goals come true while overcoming any obstacle, all it takes is wanting it bad enough. I also know with continued programs, we are slowly making changes to make the world a better place.

Disclaimer: being a college graduate myself, I am thankful for my college education and do not regret earning it.  My college years helped define me as a person and prepared me for the real world. In reflection, it was less the course material and more the life experiences I accomplished. I can’t help but wonder if that is the big secret. The successful realize that the true test isn’t the midterm, but the skills they are developing in and out of class? Hmm..

Image brought to you by Mr. T in DCBiggs_l

School of Thought Series: Interns, Freelancers, & Temps oh my

In Education, Professional on May 9, 2011 at 8:08 am
Devil Wears Prada..

After interning in college, free freelancing for a little venture with friends, and working a few temporary contracts after college, working a traditional 9-5 job seems a bit foreign to me. I’ve often been asked how I landed internships, a job right out of college, or pick up my stuff and moved across the country and only missed 119 days of work.

I’d like to share a summary of my experiences with each “untraditional job type” in the hope that will spark an idea, help someone get a job, etc.

Intern-

I never fetched coffee. I colored pasta once for an experiential marketing campaign for Barilla once. That was fun. Getting the internship? I applied everywhere.  I went to information sessions given at the Coles College of Business and a few interviews. I turned down a few that didn’t feel right. Sadly, a few companies like to offer internships because they a neon sigh that says: FREE WORKER

The one that felt right was Euro RSCG Impact. The Experiential marketing department’s logistics office.  They were all professional but with personality, and that goes a long way. I learned a lot about pricing, program management, hiring a team, product knowledge, and a lot of random facts. I think that is actually the best thing about marketing professions or marketing majors/professionals: we learn a lot of random facts. While the internship was unpaid, I am a firm believer that I was paid heavily in non-monetary ways: lots of left over program swag [ I was able to eat Barilla pasta for a month. I also got a neat grown, and a light up Palm tree]. I was also paid in knowledge though.  The report and research skills I developed were priceless. I also made a few professional contacts that I keep in touch with today.

Euro wasn’t my only internship.  I also managed to land a 3 month internship at CNN’s Medical Reporting Dept.  Dr. Gupta knew me by name, I did staging for the main newsroom in use at the Atlanta bureau, and even got to write a blog post. How did I land CNN? Apply. Apply. Call. Apply. Call. Email. Basically you become a stalker [in the most professional way possible] to show them that you want it and to keep you in the front of their minds. I actually didn’t get the internship when it started, but was hired as a backup when the first guy couldn’t take the pressure.

Internship tips:

  • Go with your gut, don’t be desperate, and ask yourself “How can this help me develop?”
  • Cliche but true: The only way it is certain you won’t get the position is if you don’t apply.
  • Not being paid to work sucks. Some of the best internships in the US don’t pay $ and that is a sad fact.  Tell yourself there are other forms of payment, it is true.
  • You don’t have to pay to work for free- my second internship wasn’t for course credit so I didn’t have to pay tuition for it.

Internship Blogs/Websites I like:

The last thing I am going to say about internships is that it really helps. It validates your education. It helps you compete against a diverse and typically crowded job market. Sadly, students don’t realize this until it is too late and many college programs don’t build mandatory internships into their programs.

Freelancer-

Just because free is build into the compound word freelancer, doesn’t mean you work for free.. in most cases. I count my current experiences as a blogger and writer as freelance work, which currently has left me with a negative income. That being said, the stuff I have written as a freelancer [ this blog, pieces for CommonCreativAtlanta, and otherwise] have not earned me any money.  I have gained valuable insights and opinions and use this knowledge personally and professionally. I have several friends that freelance for a living, and they are quite happy existing outside Corporate America’s restrictive existence.

Freelance Tips:

  • Network. Network. Network. & Social Media.
  • Freelancer. Not Free. Develop pricing and stand firm.
  • All work and no play make freelancers break.

Freelance Blogs/Websites I like:

Temp-

A maybe not so secret tip amongst those that relocate is to find a temp agency in your new city to start the cash flow, build professional networks, and possibly get a full-time job.

After the holiday season, I went for a “test drive” of DC and San Francisco. I spent a week in each city and felt it out.  [for this post, I’ll focus on the temp job aspect and not focus on relocating] I sold my car, booked my ticket, and ruled out the possibility of ‘What if you don’t get a job?’

All you need to start is one friend. Through one friend, I met several. It was one of these contacts that put me in touch with the Temp Agency his department uses. Two weeks later, I am working in IT. Before, I could barely change out RAM, but now I’m patching server rooms and building training manuals for programs and devices.

The key about the temp job is it is what you make it! For some, they are temp-to-hire and both parties get to test things out before either invest a lot of time or energy into training, taxes, etc. For others, like a coworker of mine, it allows him to work and travel.  He works a lot of hours on special projects for a few months, saves, and then heads out to see family, or explore Asia or Europe.

From my personal experience, finding a temp job is one of the best things someone looking for their first job, a new career move, or supplement their income can do.

Temp Tips:

  • Find a temp agency you have a good feeling for.
  • When working your temp job, don’t think of it has temp, this is YOUR job.
  • Don’t beg to be hired. Let your work speak for itself.

Temp Blog/Websites I like:

Summary:

A professional life takes work to develop [and .25 seconds to destroy]. The best thing to do is start as early as possible [but it is never too late] and to be proactive [but not obsessed]. Not everyone can do an internship and not everyone is happy with the stress that comes along with being a freelancer or self-employed.  You have to do what works right for you.

Image brought to you by IMDb.

Thinking [Language] – Hey y’all.

In Professional on April 26, 2011 at 8:15 am

y’all  (yôl)

pron.Chiefly Southern U.S.

Variant of you-all. See Regional Note at you-all.

Personally if you ask me, sounds A LOT BETTER than youse guys. Y’all is a contraction. Just like: can’t, won’t, shouldn’t. Being raised in the Southeast and now living in California, I find the usage of y’all interesting.

First, allow me to point out that the majority of the people I know from the Southeast here in California do not maintain a southern accent. However, I say y’all. Another girl I know says y’all. We do not disclose our geographic origins by the way we speak otherwise.

My friend used y’all at work in Silicon Valley. She was told “Do you want to know why I am not going to do business with your company? Because their account manager uses y’all.” Outrageous.

I could understand his thought on the matter if it were in a formal document or email, but in conversation? Get over it. Accept the exchange and development enabled by diverse people, regionally and international, or don’t work with others. Crawl into a hole and work under a rock- the world is become a smaller place as information and people travel faster.

Diversity should be valued. Ignorance is worthless.

Thinking [Damage Control] – Three cups of $h!+

In Professional on April 18, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Turkish Tea

Sadly, I read an article today about how the author of Three Cups of Tea basically made up his story? While reading, this caught my eye..

Mortenson’s book agent, Elizabeth Kaplan, declined to comment on the 60 Minutes report, writing in an email to The Daily Beast: “I’m on a runway at Newark airport heading for Prague.” His co-author, Portland, Oregon, journalist David Oliver Relin, could not be reached. The public relations executive at Viking-Penguin, Paul Slovak, didn’t respond to our email, and Viking-Penguin refused to answer 60 Minutes’ questions or speak to Kroft, who, in a classic ambush scene, tried to grill his quarry at a book signing, only to be led away by security.

What do you pay these people for? 

Granted, it is horrible if these allegations are true, and not just because he made a bunch of people look like idiots, but also because it makes people lose faith in the non-profit, and this region needs as much help as it can get! But, that isn’t going to be the focus of my attention – all that stuff is obvious.

My focus is on the crisis management and PR professionals that get paid $$$$ of money, agents that are by people’s side when things are good, but what about when the going gets tough? As some that had a glimpse into PR, I am just dumbfounded. I guess it just takes you back to that phrase..

“Good help is so hard to find.”

What do you do when your PR teams runs with their tail between their legs? What do you do your support system of experts leaves you hanging? Granted, you shouldn’t be doing stuff to get you into that predicament in the first place [imagine being paid to clean up Lindsay Lohan’s mess?!] but stuff happens..

Thinking [Work] – 119 Days

In Professional on April 14, 2011 at 11:57 pm

119

Today was my first day working in 119 days. I completed my contract in Qatar on December 16th, spent the holidays with my family, previewed DC and San Francisco, and then moved my life to The Bay Area. I traded one peninsula (Qatar) for another (holidays in Florida) for another (San Francisco).

It is a contracted IT job. Today, I cabled managed a training room. Coming soon, I’ll be updating RAM. Yes. People get paid to do these kind of things. I am very thankful that a friend was made me aware of the job post.  Regardless of earnings, being at work is just such a relief. I admit it. I’m a workaholic. 

Knowing this makes me feel like I’ll probably end up starting my own business one day. I also think that one of the things I can honestly say I missed about my college life was how busy I was. Juggling an internship, classes, being a resident assistant, a good friend.. … I just enjoy living. Sleep is nice [especially with my new mattress!] but I’ll sleep when I’m dead.. or 80 something.

People should take their jobs for granted, economic hardship or not. One of my thoughts today as I was being shown around the building was “Their cubicles are personalized.. it will be so nice when I’m able to do that.” Water cooler talk, gadget geeking, etc. Even on day one, I felt easily part of their environment. I know this will be a good experience.

Thinking [Criticism] – Yes Man?

In Professional on March 22, 2011 at 7:05 am

good advice

Most of us, myself included, would like to think that we have our lives together. What about when we seek the advice of those around us? Do they have what’s best for us in mind? Are they telling us honestly how and what they feel? I have often felt that my peers’ opinion of me is more lofty than what I deserve and has caused them to take on a “Yes Man” persona.

The point I am trying to get at is: being surrounded by Yes Men makes me feel like I am not growing or developing. Not having someone point out my flaws or ways to improve makes me nervous that I’m missing something, that I am not reaching my full potential.  Is that just me being a paranoid TypeA ENTJ?

It takes a special kind of person to deal out constructive criticism, and thankfully, some of my closest friends can dish it out.

Are you surrounded by a yes man or woman? Do you think they don’t give constructive advice because they are worried about hurting your feelings? Maybe they don’t know how to approach the conversation? These thoughts crossed my mind, prompting me to sit down with my family and friends and tell them: flat-out tell me if I look like a fool or you don’t think something is a good idea.

Becoming aware of a problem or issue is the only way we can start trying to fix it.

(Photo courtesy of: jenosaur)