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Examine the expectations and inferences underlying selected job positions. Consider timely topics in career preparation and the struggle for fulfilling employment. Analyze what could be improved in either situation. If this blog reminds you too much of work, then peruse my namesake blog for lighter fare.

Fuck UWM and all universities! UW-Milwaukee and their brethren are mediocre. Click banner ads on ClixSense instead; it's a better use of time than a college education in the UW System.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Universities Downplay the Need for Employment

Hot times are here at AJV!

People are getting the fear that a university education won’t provide for their needs, and they're understanding the growing possibility that vo-tech school is a superior career preparation option. This can be readily inferred from the absence of career services or post-college jobs center on or affiliated with a campus.

Call the admissions hotline at UW-Madison, (608) 262-3961, and then press “2” to get the switchboard. Ask the receptionist to please be transferred to the career services department -- and ask sincerely so that no nonverbal evidence of a “possibly insincere” or leading question is telegraphed. What will she say?

When I called on February 7, “Ally” responded, “I don’t know if we really have that at our campus.” She’s supposed to be trained in how to answer the most important questions about UW-Madison, BUT she does not know anything about the existence of career services -- let alone how to get in touch with a field-specific career counselor! How incriminating!!!

In Ally’s defense, the admissions department -- or whichever organizational unit she works in as a campus switchboard operator -- obviously neglected to train her for those types of questions. This indicates a clear chasm between the career orientation of potential students and the nonchalant attitude towards graduate employment held by campus officials.

UW-Madison enrollment nosedives! Cue the chancellor's golden parachute.

Tell them everything but the jobs numbers! Those are abysmal!

According to UW-Madison, job placement rates by field aren't 'major dimensions' or worth reporting. UW-Madison is wrong! -1000 credibility, Madtown U.

Who said you need a job after you graduate? That's why UW-Madison doesn't track occupational outcomes of grads!

UW-Madison misses the mark on what really counts. It's the jobs, man -- the JOBS!

“Whatever counts is counted,” as the program evaluator’s axiom goes, and neither UW-Madison nor most other universities care enough about employment for its graduates to bother allocating even a smidgen of its billion-dollar budget towards monitoring professional employment outcomes of recent graduates.

Remember, UW-Madison doesn’t care enough about the efficacy of its so-called “career preparation” to train its phone representatives and admissions counselors to answer the very simple question of whom to speak for career guidance let alone for job placement statistics!

“Now wait a minute, Joe -- you’re just saying this because ‘you didn’t get yours’ after you graduated!” Rest assured that I speak for many more beyond myself when I tear down the gilded curtain of the higher ed hoo-hah. The public deserves to know the hard-hitting realities of a university system it unquestioningly entrusts with their children’s future and with their own attempts at occupational rejuvenation.

The main thrust of my argument is that unrealistic expectations -- egocentric hubris on behalf of potential students and their over-reaching moral supporters -- means they over-estimate their chances of achieving professional employment after they graduate. Many of these office jobs are imaginary Internet-surfing roles based on popular fiction such as The Office -- but it is all a lie; none of the people portrayed in such a television series would ever snag a job in real life other than food service.

University involvement is therefore less likely in reality to produce a return on investment career-wise than the college-bound are conditioned to believe in the echo chamber of higher education, high school AP / IB classes, and preppy friends comparing which universities they applied for.

In fact, “college bound” is a misnomer -- you’re not the universities’ slaves! You’re bound to nothing! Who ever obligated *you* to go to college?

Why isn’t it yet fashionable for high school seniors to say they’re “trade school-bound” or “free to work full-time” when discussing their future among peers? By the time I’m done, it will be!

This insidiously ignorant assumption of financial return on higher education, or that it will somehow help the individual in ways beyond one’s intrinsic abilities, is total bunk. It is my life’s mission to debunk it!

“But think of all the good you could do for the university as a Communications Specialist or Front-End Web Developer!” The UW System had several opportunities to interview me for those positions, but now the window of opportunity has passed -- there is no expatiation shy of declining enrollment and increased hand wringing by flabbergasted administrators!

I’m dredging up the data and drilling to the core takeaways because sheer rhetoric alone won’t win the day against a billion-dollar industry of higher education hucksters.

Nonetheless, book progress is coming along nicely as I uncover more data regarding the massive investment inputs and lackluster economic outputs of university systems. The issue is so complex that I cannot presently give a publication date -- but rest assured, the anti-university crusade is what drives me to get out of bed each morning!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What HR Managers Really Want to Say

When you get a first-round interview but not a second, you know that apparent qualifications brought you to the dance. But when your partner -- the hiring manager (or group of HR personnel) -- says, "I'll call you," it stops the positive momentum and mounting synergy. They hear you call; they leave you cold.

The worst part is that phone screeners and hiring managers will refuse to give constructive feedback, let alone anything negative but actionable. The following is a list of things that might be on the tip of an authority's tongue but won't roll off until the legalistic culture is rolled back. I have summarized these ideas in a series of "unlike you" statements:

"Unlike you, he has a promising career ahead."

"Unlike you, she has a future in our industry."

"Unlike you, unacculturated immigrants are welcome in this organization."

"Unlike you, our people are first-class citizens."

"Unlike you, trash bags actually have a use in our business."

Bonus insult that almost fits the "unlike you" syntax:

"Unlike your job prospects, what's on HBO tonight is something I care about."

Now some people are just wicked for evil's sake, but I believe most apathetic human resources managers distance themselves emotionally from unsuccessful candidates and try to forget about also-ran interviewees because it would cut them too deeply to know the full consequences for the non-hired applicants. Some of my rants on this AJV blog really infuriate hiring managers for this very reason: It drags them, kicking and screaming, to the forefront of the existential train wreck to which they contributed.

And what if they eventually enjoy it? Upon realizing their satisfaction in causing human suffering, the self-aware hiring manager may realize he or she is truly evil. This precisely reflects Romans 3:10, " As it is written, there is none righteous -- no, not one."

The above "unlike you" insults are commonly thought by those in a position of judgment -- that's for certain! This would explain why a non-selected interviewee typically is not granted even an initial interview when applying for subsequent positions at the rejecting company. The "unlike you effect" of pass/fail as a worthy person has been set in stone for all eternity, at least according to organizational records.

But you know the old axiom, "Being worthless isn't so bad!" And really, you *do* have worth when you won't "shut up" despite haters wanting you to -- you have negative worth, but impact nevertheless. This also has a biblical allusion per Revelation 3:16, "So then because you are lukewarm -- and neither cold nor hot -- I will spew you out of my mouth." Take heart in the notion that you're a cool m***f*****r (mothflipper) exactly because so many people find you unpalatable! Live it as a philosophy, a credo for the misbegotten.

Do You Feel Unloved?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Three Intangibles That Determine Whether College Is Worth Anything

When I worked in Restaurant Operations (RO) at UWM July 2008 through August 2010, I also happened to be in grad school for public administration and worked as many hours as I could in the Panther Bookstore as its website administrator -- before Auxiliary Services consolidated the position under their webmaster when I graduated. My strategy was to use student loans to pay tuition and to use my wages to afford rent and groceries.

There were at least three non-student floor managers in RO at the time, and Lucy Xu was the one who micromanaged the most. The fact that micromanagers are less likely to be promoted makes it even more surprising that Lucy was promoted twice within three years: to Assistant Manager of Restaurant Operations in October 2010 and then to Assistant Manager of Retail Operations in October 2013.

So how did she stack the deck in her favor? Lucy is nothing else if not politically astute in office politics. By befriending students she favored and then placing her friends into positions of team leads and shift supervisors, Lucy leveraged her management position to flavor RO to her taste.

Now why in the world am I dragging Lucy into this narrative? Because when I asked her what I could improve to make myself a better candidate for promotion to dishroom unit lead, Lucy replied, "You lack the intangibles." I pressed for further information about these so-called "intangibles" and inquired, "How can I improve something that I can't measure? How about some useful feedback, other than saying my immutable qualities condemn me?"

It was straight out of a Greek drama in which the protagonist has a "tragic flaw" that prevents an otherwise heroic person from being ideal; and in the context of the story, this would mean a critical failure of some sort. My fatal shortcoming career-wise was my inability to be likable enough to be promoted -- and even though that was bad enough, the post-graduate world of unemployment actually made me miss working that crummy dishwasher job, where my contributions were partially valued instead of not at all!

Due to this lack of supervisory experience, my Restaurant Operations and eventual Pizza Hut jobs were discouraging employers from interviewing me for a stretch of almost a year. So with the exception of applying for government jobs, in which state or federal statute criminalizes misrepresentation of one's employment history or experience, I omitted those two palooka positions in my job applications and received literally double the interviews over the next year!

Those of you complaining about the omission -- hence revealed to illustrate a valuable point about white-collar employers exhibiting cavalier classism towards menial workers -- have nothing to balk about. You didn't hire me, so how were you harmed? I've since gone into business for myself as a writer: Co-authoring and editing Small Business Supercharged; subsequent titles are to come!

So what about manufacturing jobs? Few of those positions require the person to light up a room with interpersonal warmth. I eventually did work for an air pump assembly plant through a temp agency, but the repetition on the wrists was about twice what I anticipated -- 1500 units instead of 750 -- and I had a workers' compensation claim from tendon overuse syndrome.

The local doctor misdiagnosed this as tendonitis, when in reality it was tendonosis -- the difference being a lack of inflammation. Remember this if you ever visit a doctor for tendon-related pain! Understanding the addictive qualities of Big Pharma products, I refused prescription pain relievers; the constant pain had subsided into momentary discomfort when flexing at certain angles.

I could go on about all that I learned about the workers' compensation process, but this article is winding all over the place as it is. You can tell that I use this blog to organize my thinking at least as often I use it to promote an agenda. If I somehow misplace notes on my computer, then I can usually find one of my earlier blog posts to remind me I was working on some facet of a topic and have something similar in my follow-up bucket list.

AlterNet stalwart Leo Gerard wrote an article (rightfully) decrying the loss of manufacturing jobs via NAFTA policies that favor U.S. importation of goods over exportation. However, Gerard finished by repeating the misguided line touted by higher education hucksters: More university students, more university funding.

I have a newsflash for anyone who gives a blanket endorsement to charming as many high school graduates as possible into the various university systems: Universities guarantee only what you'll give, not what you'll get.

Now that I've been leading you along through this article, where are the "intangibles" mentioned in the article title? I mentioned Xu of Restaurant Ops to establish a context: She hinted at the importance of impression management in everything one does but declined to give specifics. Only after three years of arduous trial, error, and meticulous notes did I arrive at the Holy Grail of interpersonal mediation.

A liberal arts college degree doesn't mean access to a non-minimum wage job these days. It potentially could for someone who has ALL the intangibles of:

1) Charisma by which to build relevant social capital / make and maintain the "right" connections;

2) A mind that rapidly assimilates new concepts so you can cut down study time -- to network and to get much-needed rest -- without sacrificing knowledge retention; and

3) A life of low-enough stress where one can think clearly, as opposed to being a zombie from working all day, completing three-hour evening lectures, and squeezing in time to make progress on five assignment papers of about 10 pages each -- practically every week.

That's a lot of work just to get nothing in terms of occupational advancement. I've since given purpose to my "meaningless sacrifice" -- I now drag universities through the mud and promote trade school whenever I can. The pay is crap, but the satisfaction is gold!

While I still struggle with being assertive without being overbearing, I have pinpointed the most important areas of impression management. And frankly, these will no longer be an issue once I can rely on my writing and the power of ideas to generate revenue instead of having to woo petty people and coddle their fragile feelings.

Have you noticed how some people tend to imagine offense at the most innocuous things? Few have thick skin these days. To win the career war, you need to be aggressively likable while somehow seeming to not be trying; people generally disrespect someone who appears to be undergoing emotional labor.

In summary, most college-bound people believe they posses the above three characteristics to sufficient extent, when in fact they do not and therefore graduate without professional employment or the means to gain the same. Vo-tech school is the most reliable means of gaining a job that isn't typically dominated by minors.

Many are paid to ignore this conditional caveat because it is counter to their livelihoods as educators and other college staff. Voices such as mine are the unfunded contrarians running up against the billion-dollar machine.

Small Business Supercharged