The new academic year begins!

It’s the end of August already which means the start to a new academic year. The beginning of the new school year means different things to different people. For me, it’s the start to a new work year. For you, it might be your first semester in college and the beginning of your collegiate career, or it might be a return to classes filled with friends and colleagues and continued learning, or it might be a time of transition where not only are you finishing up your degree but you’re also wondering what’s next for your life. In any case, this is an exciting time whether you are continuing or changing the path you’ve been on. So I’ve decided to provide you with a range of resources that you can use for the different paths you might be on.

Academic Resources

Job/Career Resources

Graduate School Resources

 

Using Social Media in Today’s World

social-worldSocial Media is the biggest phenomenon to hit the twenty-first century, and almost anyone who has an internet connection uses social media in some fashion. Social Media encompasses all aspects of online interaction-including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Blogs, and Chat rooms- where people have a forum to communicate with others around the world. In the age of technology, it is no wonder that governments and businesses are making changes, trying to catch-up. You can see these changes daily when you can easily find government information online, follow your local Congressman on Twitter, or ‘like’ the news station on Facebook. All these advances toward utilizing the World Wide Web has established links between the people and those who serve.

However, a question that needs to be addressed is how do we personally use social media in the workplace? There have been numerous cases where social media has been a serious problem for governments and employers. For instance, in May a young man serving on a Florida jury was removed from the court in handcuffs, and now faces charges of contempt in court. Why? Because the juror chose to update his Facebook, not only about having to serve on a jury, but also vocalizing personal opinions in reference to the case. While the man in Florida is not the only person to have made such a poor choice, the alarming fact is that in the last decade, “at least 90 verdicts nationally had been challenged over allegations of Internet-related juror misconduct, [and judges have] granted new trials or overturned verdicts in 28 criminal and civil cases.”

To read more about this case, follow the link here:

Florida juror removed in handcuffs, faces contempt charge over Facebook posting

 

Technology can be a great thing, but there are several negative implications to the use of social media in today’s society. A significantly negative flaw to social media is that it can be harmful to you without you even realizing it. Studies have shown that people using social media have a tendency to feel worse about themselves, and are less happy about where they are in life the more they use social media. Additionally, it has been reported that social media fuels psychological issues and eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating. The more time someone dedicates to social media, the more harmful it can become. This is not to say that all social media is bad and that you should never use it; rather, it is to say that social media should be utilized in a positive reward type manner. For more information about social media impact as well as eating disorders, you can use the following links:

Social media helps fuel some eating disorders

National Eating Disorders Association

 

So, how exactly does social media influence you as you enter into a summer job, summer classes, or even into the work force after school? The best answer to this question is being a responsible user. Recent surveys have indicated that when asked to assess the impact of social media on their daily lives, nearly three-quarters of respondents between 18 and 34 ranked it of medium-high importance. However, there are certain skills that those of us classified as the Millennial Generation are lacking in reference to social media. Here are a few areas indicated as needing improvement by the Financial Post:

Knowing when to hit the bleep button

At our age, it is time to grow up and be responsible, which includes taking responsibility for what we say online. Using offensive language or posting derogatory comments about others is unprofessional and unacceptable in today’s world. Once you have posted something online, it is on the internet for everyone to see, so it is imperative that you choose your words wisely and remember that if you wouldn’t want your grandmother or your boss to read the post, then it’s probably a bad idea.

Using social media to actually save time

Many people use social media, like Facebook and Twitter, to stay in the loop about news, sports, and other various areas of interest. However, when it comes to the work place, many employers are shifting to utilizing social media to not only get the word out about their business but also save time amongst employees. It is important that you use social media as a tool of communication, not just catch up on the latest drama with friends or see what your Ex is doing. Social media has been used as a quick means of effectively getting work accomplished as you can respond in a chat or message board to your co-workers or even classmates, getting projects completed effectively.

Networking professionally

As previously stated, social media is not just for seeing how many friends you can get or how many re-tweets, it can be used in a more positive manner to help you get that next job and know the right people. Social media sites such as LinkedIn are useful in connecting you to the right people as your network your way through the world. It is important to consider making those important connections now as a future investment. To read the full article by the Financial Post, click on the following link:

Beyond the selfie: There are some social media skills Millennials don’t have

 

Social media is a great thing for people to communicate with old friends and meet new ones, but like anything else, has its flaws. Use social media in a positive manner by following the right people on Twitter to stay informed, friend request those who will maybe offer you a job one day, and monitor how much you gripe about your school work. Making social media work for you will not only keep you happy, but make a difference in how you perceive the world around you.  To increase your success, and hopefully your overall happiness, it is important that you consider the significance of your digital footprint now and make the necessary changes for your future.

Tips for Entering the Job Market

Stop Whining, Start Looking

Stop Whining, Start Looking

While there are signs that foretell the strengthening of the economy and the US job market, the road to recovery (as it has been called on more than one occasion) is still fairly slow and in some cases, unforthcoming. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US unemployment rate for February was still at 6.7 percent, with states like Rhode Island at drastic 9 percent unemployment rate. Fortunately for those of us in the great state of Texas, things are starting to look up as the state, along with California and Florida, gained 129,000 jobs altogether last month, and Texas has a current unemployment rate of 5.7 percent. While numbers only tell part of the story, those of us preparing to enter the workforce could use a little bit good news as we begin the job search.

It should be noted that increases in those dropping out of the job market are choosing to stay out, not because of the inability to find employment elsewhere, but due to more individuals seeking to retire or apply for disability. According to the article written by Lucia Mutikani of Reuters news agency, 6.6 million people left the workforce between 2010 and 2013, with nearly 61 percent of those individuals retiring. Additionally the unemployment rate for those out of work six months or less is 4.2 percent, which is not only surprising but positive in a sense.

Many of the jobs currently available are in the Oil and Gas industries popping up all over the state of Texas, and these companies are in dire need of employees from engineers, to project managers, and even employees in human resources. If jobs in such a field are not your cup of tea, there are other opportunities out there, but you have to take that first step to look. However, what does all of this mean for college students preparing to leave good ol’ Mom and Dad and get a big kid job? It means it is time to hit up those contacts, boost up your resume, and start the search now.

Below are some helpful tips to assist you with moving forward:

Networking

The best way to prepare yourself for the future now is to begin networking. That means talk to your professors about letters of recommendation, ask that coworker to be a reference, and make a list of who you know and how they can help you succeed. Another form of networking is getting a grown up Facebook account called LinkedIn, which is professional networking. Follow the link below to get started

LinkedIn

Resume Building

Have you created your resume yet? If you have, you might want to consider seeking some guidance if you are unsure if your resume is highlighting your achievements properly. Here at SFASU, the Career Services offices are available to help you with not only fine tuning your resume, but also for mock interviews, job fairs, and possible job leads based on your field. Check out their website for more details and to make an appointment.

SFASU Career Services

Start looking now

For those of you just entering college, keep in mind that there is life outside of college and you must start thinking now what you want later. As for those of you preparing to graduate in May or August, if you have not already started the job search, it is time to kick it into high gear. Public administrators not only find employment through government and non-profit, but as previously mentioned, there are opportunities in the private sector waiting for you. Beyond looking at the City of Houston’s website for open positions, check out the Texas Workforce Commission, whose mission is to connect employers with job seekers in this great state.

Texas Workforce Commission

 

While college may be coming to an end, this is just the beginning of a new and exciting adventure in public administration. Take the time now to know how you want to make an impact and how you want to use your skills and knowledge for future employment. Don’t be afraid of the next step, but rather, embrace it so reality does not sneak up on you. Right now, even with the economy still struggling to pick back up, there is promise out there and the competition is fierce. Give yourself the opportunity to succeed by starting early and being prepared.

 

Additional Sources

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Most states see more jobs, lower unemployment

U.S. jobs market dropouts increasingly likely to stay out

Oil & Gas Boom 2014: Jobs, Economic Growth And Security

The Playground Bully is back & in the Office

bullying 2I am sure that if you take a look back at your younger days, there will be a familiar face or two on the playground, in your class, or in the cafeteria that you would much rather forget. We all hoped that after high school, things would change, life would change, and for the most part, they did. Many of us took on new identities and established new bonds after our young school days, and we all hoped that the torment and strife we dealt with would never return. Sadly, for some of us, that person in the office reminds you so much of a time when you felt powerless and helpless.

He used to take your pencils and brake them, just to prove how strong he was over you; She used to tell you in the bathroom how much she hated your existence, just to show her group of friends that she was better than you; He used to wait for you outside of Gym class, just to tear at your pride one more time for not climbing the rope; She used to spread rumors about you on a daily basis, just to alienate you from everyone else your age. Any of these people sound familiar? They should, because in one form or another they were the bully that made life suck when we were all younger and a lot less wise. Now, as an adult, that bully is back.

Bullying is defined as the repeated mistreatment and harm of one or more individuals that includes verbal abuse, offensive nonverbal behaviors, or interfering with someone’s ability to get work done. According to an article by USA Today, workplace bullying is on the rise in America and is far more serious than originally thought. Workplace bullying does not just harm the individual(s) who are being harassed, it also harms the organization in regards to productivity and performance. When someone is consistently being put down or fearful of someone in the workplace, their self-confidence has all but disappeared, leaving an empty shell of a person who struggles to work and function at the same capacity.

Read the full article:

What’s behind a rise in workplace bullying?

It is obvious that with any profession, bullying can happen, and someone always falls victim to mindless, childlike taunts. For example, the Miami Dolphins as a team of the National Football League had three individuals who were named as bullies towards Tackle Jonathan Martin as well as towards another lineman and assistant trainer. You can tune in to sports radio and hear the debate between workplace bullying and the old zinger of “guys just being guys.” In reality, it is NOT guys just being guys, it is people intentionally hurting and belittling others for their own self-gratification.

Background information and Report available here:

Ted Wells releases Miami Dolphins misconduct report

So what do we do? As future public administrators, it is our role and responsibility to incorporate strategies against bullying. Below are a few techniques to consider to deter workplace bullying in your organization:

Lead by example

As an administrator, you should always be a person your subordinates can trust and confide in when they have an issue. Since administrators serve leadership roles, make sure you are setting a good example for your staff by emphasizing the purpose of a positive work environment. Additionally, as a leader, take the time to evaluate your actions on a regular basis to ensure that you have not become a bully yourself. A healthy work environment starts with good leadership and trust, so make sure time is set aside for your employees when needed.

Recognize the situation

Again, administrators serve in leadership roles and as such, you have the capacity to monitor and evaluate what goes on in your organization. It is your responsibility as an administrator to watch for signs of bullying, such as name-calling or someone pulling a prank. Keep an eye out for such behavior as well as recognize when an employee is not working to their same standards as before. If a person’s productivity and even attendance become sluggish, look into the situation to determine if it is a case of bullying.

Enforce Zero Tolerance Policies

We all know that a slap on the wrist in junior high is the same as a slap on the wrist in the workplace; the bully is only going up the ante. Therefore, as an administrator, it is important to 1) establish a zero tolerance policy for bullying and 2) enforce such policy across the board. Giving a bully multiple warnings is not going to stop the problem, but instead make it worse for the victim(s).

Have Outlets Available

As previously mentioned, you as an administrator should be a person your employees can talk to and trust. However, maybe you are not the right person for a specific employee to talk to because they are embarrassed, ashamed, or lacking the confidence. Whatever the case may be, make sure that all employees are aware of the resources available to them. Some organizations provide employees with access to counseling, and even if your organization does not have this option, make sure your employees are aware of outside options to seek help if it is needed.

Bullying is simply not nice and has no business in the workplace. If you allow bullying to continue, you are putting your organization and your employees at much greater risks than you could imagine. However, while we may never be able to fully put an end to bullying, the influence you have as a public administrator can make all the difference in the world to someone else. Developing strategies for organizations to combat workplace bullying will ensure that the playground bully from elementary school does not have the opportunity to take advantage of others today.

Women in the Workplace

The battle of the genders, in the workplace.

The battle of the genders continues in the workplace.

Some may agree that the struggle for women is the workplace has never been easy, and in today’s society, it is not much different. In the year 2014, female workers are still being paid 77₵ for every dollar made by their male colleagues, while females make up just over half of the US population. Furthermore, of the Fortune 500 companies in America, women hold a mere 4.2 percent of the chief executive positions, which means out of all these companies, only 21 women hold high ranking positions. These disparities are consistently contributed to the traditional stereotypes of “childbearing, maternity leave, and child care” associated with biology.

There have been numerous articles and blogs published referencing the workplace inequality for women and what women face when getting a job. Others reference the advantages women have and do not have over their male counterparts that consistently go unnoticed. Take a look at the following articles and blog post to get an idea of what is already out there:

What Data Analytics Says About Gender Inequality in the Workplace

Women poised to effectively lead in matrix work environments

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know About Women in the Workplace

President Barack Obama has remained firm on the idea that everyone should receive equal pay for equal work. Additionally, the Paycheck Fairness Act proposed by the President seeks to make revisions to the current Equal Pay Act to require employers to provide evidence that pay disparities are based on skill, knowledge, and background, rather than on gender. This, in theory, will give women equal chances of obtaining jobs and having equal pay. However, it has been determined that men with children are considered the most hirable as they are viewed as being more capable of balancing work and home relations, while women with children are continually penalized.

The questions we are not asking are what does this mean for the workplace, and more specifically, how does it relate to public administrators? These differing views in regards to gender are not going to change when the pay rate changes. What needs to change is how administrators think. As administrators, it is our role to seek out the best and brightest in reference to supporting the objectives and goals associated with our organization. Below are some helpful tips to consider during the recruitment process as well as questions to ask and not to ask during the interview, no matter the gender of the individual:

  • Spend the time and money to recruit

As administrators, when a vacancy opens up within our organization, it is important to assess the value of the position. Additionally, the more specialized and higher salary associated with a position, more time and expense is required to fill the vacancy. It is important to make sure to dedicate the right amount of resources to ensure you have the most qualified people in your organization.

  • Emphasis on the job description

Once you have determined the need to fill a vacancy, make sure your job announcement clearly states the jobs functions, needed qualifications, location, physical job demands (if any), and the pay range. This will protect the organizations interests by making sure the right people are in the right place for the right reasons.

  • Internal vs. External Recruitment

Administrators must keep in mind that there may be viable options available for promotion within the organization already. Never rule out your current employees who may fit the bill and are more than willing to step up to the plate. However, if the person you are looking for to fill the position does not exist currently within the organization, make sure to find the right person who fulfills the requirements associated with the job description.

  • Married with Children?

During an interview, never ask if a person is married, unmarried, or has children. First, you are opening yourself up for a discrimination law suit, and second, it is unprofessional. Instead, ask a question like “We are looking for someone who is willing to commit to this position. Are there any reasons why you might not stay with us?” This way, the person you are interviewing has the opportunity to divulge the information they wish to share.

  • Check out and verify credentials

Lastly, before you offer a job to anyone, make sure you are firmly set on the type of person you are looking for with the right amount of knowledge, skill, and experience required for the position. Make sure the applicants information checks out so you make the correct choice.

As an administrator, consider these tips wisely, without consideration to gender. Ignore the person’s name and how they looked, and instead consider the hard facts in front of you. Women may still have a difficult time competing in a male dominated job market, but the more administrators ignore biology and look more towards the capacity to function efficiently and effectively, the better a woman’s chances to succeed. Administrators are the next big thing for equality in this country today, and now more than ever it is important to consider your role in changing inequality for a better tomorrow.

Politics, Policies, & Immigration Reform

Which side of the fence will the GOP end up?

Which side of the fence will the GOP end up?

On Tuesday, January 28, President Barack Obama addressed multiple issues facing the country in his State of the Union address. One of the topics President Obama discussed was our country’s broken immigration system and the need to make immigration reform happen this year. However, are such high expectations possible? Last year the US Senate was successful in creating and passing immigration reform legislation that would “tighten border security, provide enforcement measures and offer a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally.” While this may seem like a great stride towards better immigration policy and citizen equality, the measure has been consistently stalled by the work, or lack thereof, by Republicans in the House of Representatives.

Furthermore, a survey released by the Public Religion Research Institute last November indicated that approximately 63% of Americans favored providing immigrants already living in the United States illegally a clear path to citizenship, provided they meet certain requirements. While there seems to be an indication that even the American people and our nation’s representatives want better immigration policies, what continues to be the hold up?

In my opinion, politics and policies are the main reasons hindering the creation and implementation of immigration policy in the country today.

Politics, as we have seen, influence change, and immigration reform is no different. Currently, House Republicans have hit the brakes on continuing the process of establishing more sound legislation in regards to immigration. However, this year is an important election year for Republicans as the midterm elections draw closer to the GOP possibly gaining six seats in the Senate and seizing majority control. So if politics are hindering change, then how are policies making an influence? Current immigration policies are not the answer, but what has been proposed may not be the answer the American people are looking for. For instance, according to the survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, Americans seem O.K. with immigration reform only when certain requirements are met. We keep hearing that our government will provide a clear path to citizenship, but what requirements are there to make everyone affected by immigration policy happy?

Finally, politics and policies, good or bad, will consistently have a direct effect on public administrators, and immigration reform is no different. As it stands, politics and policies go hand in hand with the changes that need to occur for a better America. Politics are a constant part of working for the public and nonprofit sectors as an administrator, and these changes will affect how we operate in our organizations. For administrators, this means knowing and understanding the new laws and regulations when it comes to hiring employees, and having the knowledge and skill to work with politics that affect your daily operations.

House Conservatives No Immigration Reform in 2014

Survey | What Americans (Still) Want From Immigration Reform

Three Reasons Boehner Hit Pause on Immigration Reform

Rocky Mountain High has a new meaning for Super Bowl XLVIII

The Super Bowl becomes more than a game, its about policy change.

The Super Bowl becomes more than a game, its about policy change.

For many avid sports fans, this upcoming weekend has a whole new meaning beyond football, beer, commercials, and halftime shows. This year, the two teams meeting at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey bring with them supporters as well as ample opposition to the legalization of marijuana. The Denver Broncos from Colorado and the Seattle Seahawks from Washington hail from the only two states that have approved the recreational sale and use of cannabis. Colorado’s law went into effect January 1st with a projected $67 million in tax revenue for the year, and Washington is not far behind. However, what does this mean for our nation’s drug policy and how will it affect the rest of the world?

It has been widely questioned as to whether the federal government would get involved with the states establishing such laws, and so far, the federal government has sat on the sidelines to observe this pot tax prototype. Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder stated that the Department of Justice and the Treasury Department were working together to come up with a solution to establish a clear avenue for banks to handle the revenue created by the new marijuana market. Under federal law, marijuana is still considered illegal due to the Controlled Substance Act, which has put cannabis facilities at a slight disadvantage because financial establishments cannot accept deposits from such businesses. By establishing a clear, legal financial system for banks and cannabis retail establishments to use, the marijuana industry becomes safer as well as changes regulation and legalities associated with the plant.

Additionally, polls have shown increased support of the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana in the United States. Over the years, the War on Drugs has become more of a mockery in the face of the justice system and there has been a shift in perspective toward a more sensible drug policy. Last Thursday, Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) met with Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos, and former United Nations Secretary, General Kofi Annan, among others, at the World Economic Forum to discuss drug control policy. While Governor Perry does not support the legalization of marijuana use, he has voiced his support for the continued use of drug courts, which serve as alternatives to “imprisonment for some low-level offenders that often involves treatment.”

Around the world, more and more governments are realizing that more viable options to strict drug policies are available with Colorado and Washington leading the way. The War on Drugs, since the beginning, has been an uphill battle for government and many Americans who suffer in some fashion from the stringent laws. This is not to say that what Colorado and Washington are doing is perfect in any sense, but they are creating the model to follow if drugs such as marijuana are to be considered useful for both recreational and medical uses. If successful, the future may be a lot different in relation to drug policy and how administrators will handle the use of drugs in the workplace. As for the Super Bowl, I am cheering for the Broncos.

Listed below are sources referenced for this post.

Feds To Issue Banking Guidelines

Majority of Americans support efforts to legalize marijuana

Rick Perry And Colombian President Discuss Drug Decriminalization