IN6 T1 Maxxin sanastolaajennusta
IN6 T1 You’ve got mail
Imagine having applied to a prestigious college. Finally the day arrives when the admissions letters are due to reach the applicants. Eric Kester recounts his experience of collecting that ever-important letter he has received from Harvard University.
It must have looked pretty weird to people driving by: two parents flanking their teenage son as they all made a solemn walk down the driveway. My ashen face and hesitant steps likely made it look like I was walking the plank,or being led by my parents through some bizarre driveway-based version of that punishment. But anyone who’s ever opened a college admissions letter can attest that this was far more terrifying.
Mr. Lynch, our neighbour across the street, was out mowing his lawn and began to watch us. He seemed surprised to see me walk up to the mailbox. “Already time for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue?” he shouted cheerfully.
Part of me wanted to snap at him. I was checking the mail today because I was getting my admissions decision from Harvard, not because I was some sort of obsessive horndog. Besides, the next swimsuit issue was still 293 days away.
I kept quiet, though; my anxiety about the letter had me unusually irritable, and snapping at Mr. Lynch wouldn’t do anything to change what was going to be in the letter when I opened it.
I was a decent college candidate (at least that’s what I had been told by family members obligated to say such things). But everything I had ever heard about the prestigious university indicated that being “good enough” wasn’t good enough for Harvard. So by the time my parents and I finally reached the mailbox, I had already read the letter in my mind:
Dear Eric “Failure” Kester,
After carefully reviewing your application, we have determined that we cannot offer admission to you or any of your future offspring. This was not an easy decision*, but ultimately we concluded that it reflects poorly on the Harvard brand to admit a student who would be better served attending a lesser school, perhaps as a janitor. For your benefit we’ve included a pamphlet to a nearby orphanage in the event that your parents abandon you in shame. We wish you the best of luck in your future, highly unsuccessful life.
With the utmost sincerity,
P.S. Your ex-girlfriend was right about you.
My mom reached into the mailbox and pulled out the heap of mail. She then forced me to walk halfway up our driveway before handing over the pile. Getting into Harvard wasn’t a life or death situation for me, but still my parents thought it might be best if I opened my letter a safe distance away from oncoming traffic.
Breathing, hearing, and pretty much all other bodily functions ceased to work as I hastily flipped through the mail, starting first with the thin letters at the top. The past two years of my life were flashing before my eyes – the gruelling “college process” filled with SATs, APs, GPAs, and other miserable letters that have left me forever terrified of the alphabet. The stakes were huge: an acceptance letter would mean that all my hard work had actually paid off. And that my parents wouldn’t have to return those Harvard T-shirts they bought on my campus tour.
I found the envelope from Harvard near the bottom, and it was thick. Under normal circumstances this would indicate good news; acceptance letters include brochures and other informational material for the new admits, while rejections are normally just a letter in a thin envelope. But I remained sceptical. I figured that, in typical Harvard fashion, the university would make even their rejection letters ostentatious, and I would open that fat envelope only to release a package of fireworks that would explode above my house and spell in giant letters: YOU’RE REJECTED.
But my mind was the only thing that exploded when I tore open the letter, scanned the first line, and saw “Congratulations!”
Holy shit, I’m going to Harvard!
In my excitement I accidentally expressed this thought out loud. But my parents didn’t notice; they were too busy cheering. We collapsed into a prolonged three-way hug that made an uncomfortable Mr. Lynch turn off his lawn mower and go inside. My mom ran back to the house to call my grandma and probably the local newspaper, leaving my dad and me to relish the moment.
“I’m proud of you, son.”
He looked at me with misty eyes, and we shared a long man-hug. Now I had banned such public displays of affection back in middle school, when I learned that girls don’t have “dad-hugger” high on their list of turn-ons. But this was a special moment. Something miraculous had just happened. I had somehow been accepted into Harvard, and I didn’t even play the violin.
While we walked back up the driveway, my dad held onto the other mail as I leafed through the Harvard brochure, excited to get a taste of my new school. It was filled with picture after picture of highly enthusiastic Harvard students engaging in various academic activities. There was one photo of a guy in a white lab coat mixing test tubes of chemicals, then another of a young woman at a blackboard writing what appeared to be Egyptian hieroglyphics. Or maybe it was calculus… I wasn’t sure.
For some reason, I felt my chest begin to tighten. Next was a picture of a student relaxing with a magazine in his dorm room. It wasn’t a magazine I’d qualify as “leisure reading,” and it sure as hell wasn’t the swimsuit issue. It was The Economist and the guy was giggling with delight while reading it.
My hands felt sweaty as I quickly turned the page. Now I was faced with a picture of a student just standing there and staring intensely at me, his unnaturally wide eyes bulging like they were being squeezed out of his skull by his oversized brain. I looked at his shirt, neatly pressed and tucked in. I glanced down at my shirt, the host of an ongoing territorial war between ketchup and mustard stains.
IN6 T2 Maxxin sanastolaajennusta
IN6 T2 Just don’t do it!
Each year, the most prestigious works in science, literature and peace are rewarded with a Nobel Prize. At the same time, the not-so-prestigious works are also rewarded at the Ig Nobel ceremony at Harvard University. The main idea is to promote science and research that first might make you laugh and then think. The following text covers the work of a philosopher called John Perry, who won the 2011 Ig Nobel Prize in Literature for his Theory of Structured Procrastination.
You know, I wrote this at the last minute. I really intended to get it done earlier, but stuff kept coming up, and it kept looming on my to-do list. But you know, I’ve been so busy, and…
…ok, never mind. I’m a really effective procrastinator. That’s the real reason.
But reading this paper, I realized that my procrastination efforts are in fact what make me AWESOME!!! They are what make me EFFECTIVE! And you can be too! Just trust the guy who wrote the paper (and yeah, he totally wrote it at the last minute).
Presenting the Ig Nobel Prize in Literature, to John Perry for his Theory of Structured Procrastination!
The idea is this. Most of us procrastinate, put things off till the last minute. But there are two WAYS to procrastinate. The first way is to procrastinate by doing nothing. People who procrastinate in this manner have a few important tasks on their list. They then work very hard to clear their list of other tasks, figuring that if they do so, they will complete the important items. And I guess they do, eventually. But in the meantime, what do they do? Pretty much nothing. Surf the internet, maybe.
And then there is the other kind of procrastinator. This one procrastinates like I do. I have a couple of very important, theoretically deadlined but not in actuality time-sensitive (though for the benefit of my career they probably should be) items on my list. But I never do them (ok, I’ll do them eventually). Instead, I get done all the smaller tasks that feel more urgent. I clean the kitchen, I blog, I run that extra experiment, extract that bit of RNA, make a poster or presentation, you know. And the net result? Get my big items done about as often as the first type of procrastinator does, but in the cracks, I’m a heck of a lot more effective. So much so, that I’ve actually got a reputation for being really high powered and getting a lot of stuff done. It’s just…not the stuff I SHOULD be getting done. Oops.
Perry proposes to trade upon this second type of procrastination to make us all more effective human beings. Procrastination is not exactly a good trait, but by using it to get everything ELSE done, you can make it work for you. Perry proposes establishing a hierarchy of the things you have to do. The most important stuff is on top, of course, but there are LOADS of important things you need to do further down the list. You have to…clean the bathroom! That’s right! And vacuum the cat! And write that blog about farting in gnats! By doing all of these worthwhile activities, you procrastinate doing the things higher up on the list. The net result? You get a lot done, and still manage to procrastinate. See how effective you are?
Of course, Perry points out that this involves a certain amount of self-deception. You have to be able to convince yourself that all the other stuff you have to do is more important and due a lot sooner than the items higher up on your list (I mean, OBVIOUSLY the cat is getting unbearably hairy and dusty, and that paper on gnats farting is going to be super important and massively high traffic, and if you don’t cover it someone else will…). But they are so much more ACHIEVABLE than writing, say, that grant that’s due. And think of how effective everyone else will think you are!
And hey, it works for me (sometimes). I started an entire BLOG devoted to procrastination. Jorge Cham started a whole comic strip devoted to procrastination, and look what happened to him! And you too can be an effective procrastinator. Just listen to Perry, after all he won a prize. And even though he was procrastinating his hardest, he still manages to be a professor of Philosophy at Stanford.
And sure you might have a lot of things to do, but you can put this post on your to do list and read it first, after all it’s still going to be useful. See? That simple! Look how effective you are!
IN6 T4 Maxxin sanastolaajennusta
4 We want you!
According to a survey conducted in the UK, geography and psychology students had a better than average chance of getting work after graduation. What is it that makes these graduates more desirable on the job market and least likely to be unemployed? Experts share their views.
Dr Alison Green is the psychology programme director at the Open University (OU)
1. Psychology graduates gain an impressive range of skills that make them highly employable
A key factor behind this success story is that psychology graduates acquire diverse knowledge and an impressive range of skills that make them highly employable across an enviable range of professions that offer real prospects. Psychology programmes deliver skills employers value, such as numerical skills, the ability to understand and work with statistics, effective communication and the ability to work productively in teams – and this gives students a real edge when competing with graduates from other disciplines. Open University psychology graduates, for example, move into careers in advertising, career counselling, education, the health professions, human resources, management and social services, and of course they also have the option to progress a career in a professional area of psychology, such as forensic psychology. It’s the combination of skills and the nature of the discipline itself that not only underpins the recent growth in numbers of students studying psychology at university but also assures its continuing relevance in the global marketplace.
Anne Wilson is head of careers at Student Careers & Skills, University of Warwick
2. Psychology students often gain extra work experience and further study – which enhances their employability
Psychology graduates, when compared to graduates overall, fare slightly better than average in the graduate employment stakes. While graduates from this discipline have many options open to them, it’s also true that these students know that if they want to apply their psychology theory in the workplace for a range of careers (clinical, education, neuropsychology, forensic, health, sport and so on) they understand a period of further study and work experience – up to 12 months – is necessary. Typically these students will have been gaining some relevant experience while at university, some through compulsory sandwich placements. Students will continue to build on this when they leave. These experiences would certainly enhance their employability.
It is important to remember that the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) reports on graduate destinations a mere six months after graduation which is an insufficiently long enough period of time for many students to have secured a graduate-level position.
James Uffindell is MD and founder of the Bright Network, a careers network for students, graduates and young professionals
3. Geography and psychology graduates are attracted to industries with increasing numbers of vacancies
We work with high flying geography and psychology graduates who are anecdotally and statistically more interested in the areas of highest employment demand. Accountancy, banking and general management, the three areas projected to benefit from the largest increase in vacancies this year, are all favoured by geography and psychology graduates. Out of the graduates that have joined Bright Network this year, on average 28.7% are interested in a career in accounting and finance, (geographers have a 26% interest level, so about average), however just 14% of IT graduates (the most unemployed group) are interested in this sector. This is a shame as banks and finance institutions are keen to acquire their skills.
Demand is strong for graduates from leading universities and geography and psychology are far more likely to be studied at these institutions (often labelled the old universities) than the former polytechnics where media studies graduates, who seem to have higher unemployment rates, appear more prevalent.
Nick Keeley is director of the Careers Service at Newcastle University
4. Studying geography arms graduates with a mix of skills employers want to see
Geography students generally do well in terms of their relatively low unemployment rates. You could attribute this to the fact that the degree helps develop a whole range of employability skills including numeracy, teamwork through regular field trips, analytical skills in the lab and a certain technical savviness through using various specialist computing applications. Also, the subject area in itself cultivates a world view and a certain cultural sensitivity. These all potentially help a geographer to stand out in the labour market.
Copyright Guardian News & Media Ltd 2017
IN6 T9 Maxxin sanastolaajennusta
9 Gig economy
Temporary jobs are becoming more and more common, full-time work and lifetime careers seem to be a thing of the past. These days, people find jobs and provide many new services online.
Not so long ago, the only people who looked for “gigs” were musicians. For the rest of us, once we outgrew our school dreams of rock stardom, we found “real” jobs that paid us a fixed salary every month, allowed us to take paid holidays and formed the basis for planning a stable future.
Today, more and more of us choose, instead, to make our living working gigs rather than full time. To the optimists, it promises a future of empowered entrepreneurs and boundless innovation. To the naysayers, it portends a dystopian future of disenfranchised workers hunting for their next wedge of piecework.
Today’s digitally enabled gig economy was preceded by marketplaces such as ELance and oDesk, through which computer programmers and designers could make a living competing for short-term work assignments. But the gig economy isn’t just creating a new digital channel for freelance work. It is spawning a host of new economic activity. More than a million “makers” sell jewellery, clothing and accessories through the online marketplace Etsy. The short-term accommodation platforms Airbnb, Love Home Swap and onefinestay collectively have close to a million “hosts”.
A different technological revolution – the digital revolution – is partially responsible for the recent return to peer-to-peer exchange. Most of the new on-demand services rely on a population equipped with computers or GPS-enabled smartphones. Furthermore, the social capital we’ve digitised on Facebook and LinkedIn makes it easier to trust that semi-anonymous peer.
Does this suggest a shift towards a textbook market economy? Granted, Uber, Airbnb, Etsy and TaskRabbit are quite different from organisations such as Apple, BP or Sainsbury’s. Because you aren’t actually renting a space from Airbnb, taking a ride in a car owned by Uber or buying a product made by Etsy. The platform simply connects you with a provider of space, a driver of a vehicle or a seller who runs a virtual shop.
But these platforms are by no means merely the purveyors of Smith’s invisible hand. Rather, the hand they play in facilitating exchange is decidedly visible. Uber, not individual drivers, sets prices. Airbnb trains its hosts to be better providers of hospitality. Etsy facilitates seller community building. All of them provide user-generated feedback systems, creating a high-quality consumer experience. Much like an organisation building a brand might.
Almost anyone with talent can become a part-time hotelier through Airbnb or an artisan retailer on the side through Etsy. Any reasonably competent driver can morph into a provider of commercial transportation by plugging into Uber or BlaBlaCar.
And providers don’t have to commit to full days of work. You can pick up your kids from school (and then switch to being an Uber driver). In the gig economy, the lines between personal and professional become increasingly blurred.
There’s certainly something empowering about being your own boss. With the right mindset, you can achieve a better work-life balance. But there’s also something empowering about a steady pay cheque, fixed work hours and company-provided benefits. It’s harder to plan your life longer term when you don’t know how much money you’re going to be making next year.
On the other hand, starting a new business has generally been an all-or-nothing proposition, requiring a significant appetite for risk. There are benefits to dipping your toes into the entrepreneurial waters by experimenting with a few gigs on the side. Perhaps this lowering of barriers to entrepreneurship will spur innovation across the economy.
Economist Thomas Piketty tells us that the main driver of sustained economic inequality over the past two centuries has been the concentration of wealth-producing “capital” in the hands of a few. This seems less likely if the economy is powered by millions of micro-entrepreneurs who own their businesses, rather than a small number of giant corporations.
But the latest generation of specialised labour platforms also raises the spectre of greater social inequality. We’ve now got apps through which providers will park your car (Luxe), buy and deliver your groceries (Instacart), and get you your drinks (Drizly). There’s a risk we might devolve into a society in which the on-demand many end up serving the privileged few.
In many countries, key slices of the social safety net are tied to full-time employment with a company or the government. Although the broader socioeconomic effects of the gig economy are as yet unclear, it is clear we must rethink the provision of our safety net, decoupling it from salaried jobs and making it more readily available to independent workers.
Copyright Guardian News & Media Ltd 2017