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Letter To A Graduate

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Dear College Graduate – Congratulations on your brand spanking new diploma! No matter where you go or what you do you will always have this accomplishment. You can never become a lapsed graduate or have your degree expire. There are few things like that in life so by all means bask a bit. No doubt you’ve heard a few rumblings about the job market and your prospects of doing better than your parents. Some speaker at your graduation (or older relative at your party) thought himself or herself insightful and wise to depress you with their opinion. You may have taken loans that have a looming repayment date. The thought of which may waken you in the middle of the night, the young adult version of a monster under the bed. This would be a good time to remember that with any luck, life is long and you’re going to be just fine. But there are some harsh realities that must be faced.

Uncle Don is right; the job market is different for you than it was for him. When he (and Aunt Joyce) graduated college, sometime during the heyday of network television and the invention of the answering machine (look it up) there was such a thing as “entry-level” jobs. A person could join a firm (that’s what companies were called then) at the bottom and work their way up. These jobs were plentiful as back then people did the work of machines. A mailroom in a large firm had to be staffed as emails and texts were sent in paper form and had to be sorted and delivered by people. Receptionists and switchboard operators did the work of automated phone trees. And secretaries did just about everything. In the finance world clerks and administrative assistants (which meant entry-level administrator before it became a euphemism for secretary) were an integral part of the pre-technology workplace. Back then Don and Joyce would have sent letters to dozens of firms and answered ads to get an interview with personnel (aka H.R.) During that appointment they would most likely be given aptitude tests and then placed within the organization according to their strengths. Once placed Don and Joyce would learn the ropes, distinguish themselves, serve their time and move on up or even out.

While technology is a wonderful thing, as is progress in general, and the new(ish) field has created jobs, it has also diminished an entire classification of jobs. Of course this phenomenon isn’t entirely new. Don and Joyce may remember their ancestors starting out as “office boys” or runners. There was a time when department stores (which ruled the retail world) were staffed with; counter help, salespeople, cashiers, wrappers (items went home wrapped in brown paper and string not in bags), elevator operators, restroom attendants, doormen, models, dressers, dressing room assistants…You get the idea. Department stores themselves are practically a relic from the past, let alone the diversity of employment opportunities. So yes, with each generation there seems to be a dramatic change in the employment tableau. But you and your classmates are also facing much more competition for the sparse opportunities. Many many more people go to and graduate from college today. Many more people borrow substantial amounts of money to do so. Don and Joyce knew little about that. Their friends went to schools they could afford. They might have worked their way through school, went on scholarship or went to state schools that were highly subsidized.

So great news, right?! Don was right to rain on your parade! Well not exactly. Challenging isn’t the same as hopeless. Tenacity is your best friend right now, that and humility and hard work. Be willing to do anything (that’s legal) and work like a dog. Put your head down and get it done. Knock on every door; don’t wait for anyone to do anything for you. You need to be your own manager and press agent. Style yourself and your profile to be attractive to an employer. Prove why you’re an asset, not why you deserve a job. Let go of any notion of a dream job, and embrace the concept of a job. Believe in destiny and really hard work and let go of fantasy. And once you get that job, and you will, treat it and others with respect. Go get ’em.

Signed,
F.O.D. (Friend of Don)

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Posted by on June 26, 2013 in Childhood, Education

 

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House Party Rules

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Graduation, prom and end of year celebrations are under way. Flowers are purchased, restaurant reservations made, and for many people living outside of a city, house parties are planned. For some families a child’s life is integrated and celebrated by extended family and friends. Adults gather and toast the graduate while bestowing generous gifts (which may very well be the point of the party.) For other households prom, graduation and end of year parties are populated by the child and his/her friends and acquaintances. These parties can be seen as a gift or reward for a job well done. Some parents simply prefer to know where their kid is and therefore allow/create a party. Whatever the motivation, there will be authorized house parties across this great land now and throughout the summer.

House parties can go well and be civilized, but that rarely happens by accident. In olden days perhaps the greatest concern a parent might have is that of destruction. We can all probably conjure a bit of household destruction that we witnessed/caused in our own youth. A broken coffee table or a car driving through the living room wall is nothing compared to incarceration however. Parents can and will be arrested for children drinking on the property. Whether you’ve got a great lawyer or bail bondsman the truth of the matter is that the cops are always a buzzkill. So before the first foot-long is even ordered create your party sanity strategy.

These are simply (though perhaps not easy) ways to ensure that no one will end up in jail

Size Matters
Invitation only is key (this was the case before social media as well)
You and your child determine the size of the party
Your child understands that when the party exceeds the limits the party is over

Only As Far As The Eye Can See
Determine what area of the house/property guests are allowed to use
This controls household damage & allows for adults to manage surveillance

Employ Chuck-E-Cheese Tactics
Adults accompany their children to birthday parties
Guess Who’s Coming To The Party? If you can not get every child’s parent there employ friends
Adults will periodically make rounds, mingle, smell breath & check bedrooms

There are teenagers who will balk at these guidelines and claim that he/she is not a child. The fact of the matter is that legally, yes they are children. And parents are legally (and morally and ethically) expected to protect the child, often from him/herself. A child who wants to be treated like an adult (and hosting a party is an adult endeavor) is expected to behave like an adult. Adults do not destroy each other’s property (outside of reality television shows) nor do they engage in behaviors that are verboten in a host’s home. A teenager who’s interested in having their friends get together and celebrate will not balk at these guidelines. A teen who was looking to make party history and get wasted will have some issues.

Teens break rules; it’s actually their job. They will push limits in order to learn their own limits. Our job as parents is to give them something to rebel against. A child without limits and whose parents are his/her best friend will have to go to some extreme lengths to test limits. That’s never a good thing. Coffee tables break, mistakes are made, none of it matters as long as the kids are all right.

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2013 in Childhood

 

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