“Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t waste energy trying to cover up failure. Learn from your failures and go on to the next challenge. It’s OK to fail. If you’re not failing, you’re not growing.” –H. Stanley Judd
Out of all the job seekers I come across, there’s a special connection I share with the college grads. Their incessant zeal to turn the world upside down is contagious; but, it’s a shame to see over 76% of them failing to get a job even after spending months doing unpaid internships. If I talk about myself, it’s because it cost me 4 internships and 2 training sessions to secure my place in the firm I aimed for; however, not every friend of mine put the same effort.
I totally envy a few of them who got their dream job served on a platter. Not every friend of mine who got the job first was an ace scorer, but they avoided making a few mistakes that cost others a lot of time and efforts in their journey. Given below is a brief account of the same.
1. Not Responding To Your Emails And Calls
I understand it’s the age of texting, and for the college grads, nobody actually keeps a check on those emails. But, employers do! A large number of employers keep a constant check on the emails they receive and choose to communicate with the candidates via emails. Similarly, missing on those calls can cause the loss of a kickass opportunity you’ve been aiming for long. To keep up with the employers, check your emails daily and make a rule to answer all your calls.
2. Choosing Facebook and Twitter over LinkedIn
As a student, I spent a lot of time surfing through the funny videos on Facebook; however, I realized a bit late that it did not help me at all to achieve my respective goals. As per a survey, 90% of the college students claimed to network with their peers using Facebook, but over 46% said they have never been on LinkedIn. As a college grad, it is important to gauge the right platform to develop a network that would help you in the long run. It is a must to create a LinkedIn account by the time you’re a college senior. LinkedIn is a great way to network and develop links with the people who can help you professionally. This adds on to the odds of getting a job faster than your friends.
3. Taking ‘No Response’ As A No
It’s no lie that thousands of resumes go directly into a black hole and the applicants never really hear back from the employers. And to be honest, it has happened with almost all of us. While giving up is easy, I would suggest the college grads to keep swimming and find a thread that leads them to the employer. Look for a personal connection or a network that could help you in your quest. While you are in a competition with thousands of others who haven’t heard back from the employer, make yourself stand out by not giving up easily. If you think the job is a good fit then chase it till you get it. This would not only get you a step ahead in the rat race, but it also help you in fetching the perfect job.
4. Not Using The College Network To Max
A big mistake that college grads make is relying too much on the online listings and anonymous placement fairs. While, I don’t undermine the success rate of such listings, looking for a personal connection to the employer can give you faster results. Build a solid network of people on your campus who can help you achieve your goals. Keep up a casual conversation with your friends, professors, alumni and tell them you are focusing on finding a full-time job. Ask them if they know someone who works or have been associated with the companies you’re interested in. It would definitely lead you to the opportunities you would have let go otherwise.
5. Presenting A Self-Centered And Untidy Resume
Young job seekers usually work too hard on their resume and in that effort, they sometimes end up creating a copy that’s full of pages but lacks the required tidiness and grammatical accuracy. Another big problem I usually come across is the self-centered objective section that talks a lot about a candidate’s goals but very little about the employer’s requirements. To bag the job, one should emphasize more on what he/she can contribute to the firm and present the same on the resume.
6. Thinking That You Have Enough Knowledge
Well, I’ve come across a number of fresh college graduates who feel just because they have completed their graduation with great marks and from an esteemed college or university, they can get any job instantly. That’s not how it works in real life. To tell you the truth, there are a number of employers out there who are not even interested in your GPA or marks. Preparing yourself is a must before you apply for a job. While you are still looking out for the right job, keep revising your studies and never forget to get a hand on new skills that will help you bag the right job.
7. High Salary Expectations
Many young students who have completed their schooling or graduation from a reputed college expect too high of a salary for their first job. Students should keep it in mind to never bar themselves from certain jobs just because they are not paying well. In order to kick-start your career, I would advise you to focus more on your growth potential and knowledge that you’ll gain instead of what you’ll be paid.
8. Lack Of Career Focus
Most of the young grads I have encountered lack the career focus they should have. It is very important for you to have an in-depth knowledge of the career path you have chosen in addition to your passions. Research the field in which you have interest so that you don’t get tongue-tied when an employer asks about it. You would not believe the number of alternate options you’ll find relating to your desired job once you start researching.
9. Limiting Yourself Geographically
It’s an undeniable truth most college grads always prefer certain locations to begin their career. But that’s not how it happens every time. As far as my experience goes, it’s a really bad idea to give up on a certain job just because it asks you to relocate to a specific location. Never limit yourself geographically. Be open to all the jobs, whether they are in your preferred location or require you to shift somewhere else. Don’t be confused between going and staying if you are getting a really nice job. I would suggest the students to focus more on the opportunity that they are getting rather than focusing more on the geographical limits. Always have 2-3 choices for locations so that your career is not put on halt because of such a trivial reason.
10. The Dream Job Crisis
While most students have a dream job for which they work hard day and night, others turn out to be blank when asked about the same. If you have a dream job then it’s time you have a reality check as a majority of people do not land their dream job right after graduation. Waiting for the perfect dream job is a really big mistake many graduates fresh out of college make. While it’s okay to work hard for your dream job, sometimes, it’s better to just accept what’s coming your way in order to find better opportunities with the career growth. Instead of avoiding these jobs altogether, you should embrace them and turn them into a stepping stone towards your dream job.
It’s even better for students who haven’t thought about a dream job just yet. They should be open to any opportunity that comes their way and take it up right away. You never know what could be the turning point in your career. Instead of expecting too much from the first job, I say you should try a number of options and retrospect what you actually like doing.
A tip for all the students: Leverage each interview to learn about the corporate culture and underlying career advancement opportunities. It is your time, put your queries, ask questions and observe how employees interact. It’s okay to fail at some interviews and it is equally okay turn some down, there’s a better opportunity waiting for you out there.
Project-Based Learning for the Virtual Classroom
Project-based learning (PBL) may not be the first thing that teachers consider when planning for remote or hybrid lessons. However, with a little creativity and an organized approach, project-based learning can engage students in a way that may be lacking during typical virtual instruction. So what is it, exactly? PBL, simply put, is an approach to learning through exploration of a real-world problem or question. Ideally, students choose to investigate a problem or challenge that means something to them – something that impacts their daily lives. Then, through research, collaboration, and exploration, students gain a deeper understanding of the issue or challenge and how they can contribute to a solution. Even more important is the fact that, through project-based learning, students gain a better understanding of who they are as learners and critical thinkers. With being said, let’s look at how instructors can utilize PBL in virtual settings.
How to Organize PBL for Remote Learning
“Embrace the chaos of now” by asking students to discuss what is currently troubling them. When students have a vested interest in their classwork, they will obviously be more inclined to engage in the work and follow through on the assignment. Ask about challenges or problems they’ve been having, such as:
- What has been your biggest struggle with adapting to virtual/remote learning?
- What needs are not being met in this “new normal?”
- How has your daily routine changed since the start of the pandemic?
- What is a problem that you see your peers, neighbors, teachers, community struggling with?
After students have identified an issue or challenge that they personally recognize in their day-to-day lives, ask them to do a little preliminary brainstorming about the problem using a standard KWL chart. The KWL chart is an old favorite in the classroom for any sort of introduction to a new topic, concept, or unit. For project-based learning, the KWL chart provides students with a visual starting point and a trajectory for where their research is headed. The graphic organizer, for those who have not used it before acts as a simple t-chart to organize what students already know (K) about the topic, what they want (W) to know about the topic, and what they learn (L) throughout their research process. This simple visual aid acts as the foundation for critical thinking by visually, yet simply, organizing a student’s thoughts.
Next, you can help students with backward design or backward mapping by outlining objectives first. Again, project-based learning is all about allowing students to explore a challenge and identify a resolution or fix for the problem. In order to adequately lay out the groundwork, students must have a clear and definitive end goal. Therefore, in planning for success, teachers need to help students employ backward mapping strategies by beginning with something like a S.M.A.R.T. (Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Relevant. Timely.) goal—then working backward from there to achieve that goal.
Instructors can also utilize haptic engagement or hands–on learning by encouraging students to physically try out or experiment with their ideas. Teachers can model this experiential learning by choosing their own PBL to focus on while kids are working. Show students that, in order to truly solve a problem, people must occasionally get their hands dirty. It is also important for teachers to note that success stories are almost always trial and error—a sound solution will not come right away. By testing hypotheses and modifying approaches, students truly understand the value of hands–on, experiential learning. Not only are these demonstrations helpful for getting closer to a solution, but haptic engagement also teaches students about grit, perseverance, and strategies around error analysis.
Another great skill set that students may develop while participating in PBL classroom activities involves retrieval practice. Since students are focusing their work on one primary challenge, they are able to hone their focus and truly absorb new information as they learn. Teachers can help foster retrieval strategies with activities such as Cornell note-taking, peer teaching, and Socratic seminars, in which students take the lead in delivering information to one another.
Try some of these PBL strategies out in your next lesson, whether it be virtual or in-person, and see the results for yourself.
New Preschool Program in Oregon is a Model for the Nation—But Challenges Remain
In November 2020, voters in Multnomah County, home to the city of Portland, resoundingly approved the creation of a new, universal preschool program—a program that could serve as a model for desperately needed preschool and childcare investments for the entire country. All three- and four-year-olds in Multnomah county will be able to attend a free, year-round, universal, high quality preschool program that meets their needs as well as those of most families, providers and staff, and local businesses. Key elements include a wide range of choices for families as well as living wages and professional supports for providers and workers. The program is slated to be equitably funded by a local income tax on the highest income households.
Two big challenges remain: ensuring that families with “non-traditional” work schedules are included, and significantly increasing public investment in facilities to allow preschools to expand well beyond church basements and providers’ homes. Those working non-traditional hours are disproportionately low-income, women, people of color, and often “essential workers” without whom our society and economy would not function. Federal childcare initiatives must address the needs of families with such work schedules, or the families that most need public child care will be left out.
A Universal Model that Serves Diverse Needs
Universal preschool programs benefit all children and lead to better outcomes than means-tested programs for the most disadvantaged children. Means-tested programs such as Head Start seek to deliver services only to households with low incomes. Although means-tested programs “target the poor,” universal programs bring children and families from across the socioeconomic spectrum together, challenging ongoing race, ethnic and class segregation that erodes democracy. Universality also inspires broad support to maintain adequate funding. After fifty well-regarded years, Head Start is still available—but only for a fraction of eligible families, and even then, often only part-time and part-year. High quality preschool and child care is out of reach for the large majority of families who already face the high cost of housing, health care, and student debt with stagnating wages. Importantly, universal preschool is both a two-generation anti-poverty program and a powerful boost to economic development, because it returns $9.45 to the community for every dollar spent.
Families raising young children are diverse and need a wide range of options. Multnomah County’s new Preschool for All program will offer choices of:
- language and cultural contexts, including Afro-centric and other alternatives,
- types of setting, including family childcare providers, public schools and free-standing centers, and
- schedules, including school year and year-round, full and part-time, weekend days as well as week days, with up to 50 hours a week for families that need or want longer days
Children with disabilities will be included, facilitating earlier identification of health issues and treatment. Expulsions, now too common in preschool settings particularly for children of color, will be prohibited, requiring that the system provide supportive interventions to meet all children’s needs.
Fair Pay and Professional Support for Providers and Workers
Currently, U.S. family childcare providers, preschool teachers, and childcare workers earn poverty wages with few benefits and often cope with difficult working conditions. The result is high turnover; the loss of skilled, experienced and dedicated workers to jobs that better support their families; and damage to the quality of care. High quality child care depends on the ongoing relationships caregivers develop with families, children, and co-workers.
Multnomah County’s new Preschool for All program will pay teachers comparably with kindergarten teachers, doubling their current salaries. The wage floor for assistant teachers and other classroom staff will be set at nearly $20 an hour when the program starts in Fall 2022, with pay levels adjusted to reward increasing skills, training and experience. Continuing professional development will be geared to the schedules of the low-income working parents who are over-represented among preschool workers. Should workers wish to join a union, employers will be required to remain neutral.
Funding universal high quality child care is within reach. Over the past 40 years, U.S. economic gains have been concentrated on an ever smaller group of the wealthy, while responsibility for paying for our infrastructure and public services has been shifted from the affluent to the working and middle classes. Reversing such trends, Multnomah County’s preschool program is to be funded by a county income tax on approximately eight percent of households at the top. Combined federal, state, and local income tax rates for such households will still fall far below the top tax federal income tax rates in place for the much of the 20th century, from the 1930s through the 1970s.
Multnomah County intends to offer preschool up to ten hours a day and on weekend days, but has not committed to other “non-traditional” hours. Employers demand “non-traditional” work schedules for the three occupations expected to add the most jobs between 2019 and 2029: home health and personal care aides, fast food and counter workers, and restaurant cooks. Many retail and hospitality positions also entail low wages and employer insistence that workers maintain “open availability,” and healthcare, construction, and gig workers struggle with work schedules that make it very difficult to find child care.
Multnomah County will pay fair wages to everyone working in the classroom, but will not supplement the pay of people working in Head Start and other public preschool and childcare programs that pay too little to retain skilled people in the face of a more attractive alternative. The county plans to support some infant and toddler programs, but won’t be able to overcome the severe shortage of affordable, quality care for these age groups, likely to be exacerbated by competition from a preschool system offering better compensation. Finally, preschool and child care is now crowded into inexpensive or public spaces; serving all children well will require a significant investment in physical facilities.
Despite such continuing challenges, Multnomah County’s Preschool for All offers a national model, with its variety of choices to families, living wages for all classroom staff, and an equitable approach to public funding. Each of these aspects needs to be included in any new federal program. In addition, a new federal program should aspire to offer high quality child care to families struggling with difficult work schedules, until labor legislation is revised to place limits on such unpredictable schedules. Strategies will also need to be implemented to improve the wages of workers in Head Start and other public preschool and childcare programs.
Why Political Science Can and Should Lead Diversity Efforts in Higher Education
Diversity is big business in the academy. Foundations such as Ford, Carnegie, and Robert Wood Johnson support academic efforts to diversify the professoriate; and colleges and universities across the country are investing significant resources in diversity efforts. Furthermore, the academy has begun hiring chief diversity officers, following corporate sector trends — 60% of Fortune 500 companies have chief diversity officers among their top-executives.
Although the numbers of women in political science have shown modest growth over the last two decades, the number of women of color in the field has largely remained flat. Political science scholarship on minority representation in U.S. legislatures sheds light on this professional conundrum, too. This literature shows how organized women, racial and ethnic minorities, and their allies can promote diversity and inclusive practices to bring about lasting change in political science, other disciplines and higher education more broadly.
An Opportune Moment for Political Science
Research on social movements shows that, when windows of opportunity arise, activists must have the resources to change the status quo and push for policy breakthroughs. I suggest that heightened attention to institutional diversity across academia presents an opportunity that political scientists can and should seize by presenting themselves as credible stakeholders who are well-equipped to: steward institutions’ newly available resources, run innovative pilot programs, and produce returns on institutional diversity investments for both students and faculty.
Student demands will be a key resource in these efforts, but administrators can often “wait students out” — stalling student diversity efforts until a new cohort must begin afresh. Political Science is uniquely positioned to lead institutional change by using research from the discipline to encourage student activists to investigate the issues, formulate long- and short-term goals, determine the scope of their influence, identify allies and opponents, construct informed arguments, and make specific demands with measurable outcomes. This informed activism can help students leverage their status over time as students, alumni, and donors to move towards shared goals for departmental, disciplinary, and institutional change.
Political Science is attracting many undergraduate women majors. Women are faring as well as men on the discipline’s job market. They are approaching pay equity with male colleagues and increasing their presence in the ranks of full professors. In 2010, women of color comprised 13.5% of female political science faculty, more than double their share in 1980. Although this improvement remains relatively modest compared to the nearly 300% increase in women faculty over that span, the progress for women of color is promising and can act as a foundation for future diversity efforts. Nevertheless, many challenges must still be addressed — including burdens of balancing tenure-track and family responsibilities, “inhospitable” institutional climates, and research norms that discount women’s contributions to collaborative work.
Building a Diversity Infrastructure
Sheer numbers are the first requirement for building diversity infrastructure. With sufficient numbers, members of gender and racial caucuses can promote further change and build organizational capacities. Research on the impact of diversity in Congress shows that the Congressional Black, Hispanic, and Asian Pacific American caucuses encourage information and resource sharing, enhanced communication, and collective action on behalf of racial and ethnic minorities. Through caucuses, task forces, and organized voting blocs, minority legislators have kept low-salience civil rights issues on the congressional agenda despite waning public interest. Women’s and racial and ethnic caucuses in national and regional political science associations show that female political scientists can capitalize on their numbers to act as disruptive-insiders to further diversify faculties and challenge discrimination.
Buy-in from political science department heads who name search committees and from faculty making influential recommendations will be indispensable for furthering these efforts. Departmental objectives can be linked to university diversity efforts. Male faculty members should be encouraged to serve on diversity committees and act as change agents.
Thinking beyond individual departments, women’s caucuses and ethnic caucuses in political science associations could share resources and knowledge and coordinate agendas. If increasing the racial and ethnic diversity of the discipline is to be achieved, then women’s caucuses will need to work closely with race and ethnic caucuses in the discipline. Although universal sisterhood may be a worthy ideal, faculty women of color cannot be cast as handmaidens rather than full partners in the work of transforming the discipline.
Mentorship is Not Enough
The number of women of color entering political science faculties has stagnated, and many minority faculty members leave political science departments for more hospitable interdisciplinary centers. Recruitment and retention should therefore be top priorities — and that is going to take more than just mentoring programs.
Mentorship is a common answer to the challenge of recruiting, supporting, and retaining minority faculty. Mentoring, however, only teaches people how to survive in institutions. It does not necessarily attract more people to enter institutions, and it does not help them change institutions. Although the very presence of black women on academic faculties and in front of classrooms changes the academy, that is not enough. Despite widely shared good intentions, the discipline cannot rely on mentoring alone to help women of color overcome racism, sexism, and other systematic obstacles to their advancement. At best, mentoring will help women faculty of color expand their social networks, establish important professional relationships, and better navigate minefields. At worst, mentoring will help some individuals survive and advance, while maintaining longstanding power disparities in the discipline. Mentoring obviously cannot ameliorate the impediments that routinely challenge and undermine women of color at all ranks of the professoriate. Political science must lead the way in identifying and deploying all of the strategies that can bring broader progress in universities and disciplines.
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