Friday, April 27, 2012

Eroding Academic Freedom in Michigan

Two University of Michigan graduate student research assistants (GSRAs) have filed a lawsuit to overturn a recently-passed law banning GSRAs from unionizing in the state of Michigan.
Alix Gould-Werth and Christie Toth filed the suit in federal court on Tuesday against the Michigan Employment Relations Commission.

The suit claims that the law, pushed through at the last minute by Michigan Republicans and signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, violates the state constitution and the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

In the suit, they say the new law, signed by Snyder on March 13, singles GSRAs out.

“It restricts a single class of public employees from the rights available to every other public employee whether employed by a university, a college, a public authority, a school district, a city or a county,” they said in the suit. “(The law) asserts that Graduate Student Research Assistants are not employees without a factual basis for the conclusion.”

Meanwhile, the state legislators are considering another law that targets public universities. It will vote on Section 273a, passed by the House Appropriations Subcommittee, which, according to the Lansing State Journal, reads:
It is the intent of the legislature that a public university that receives funds in section 236 shall not collaborate in any manner with a nonprofit worker center whose documented activities include coercion through protest, demonstration, or organization against a Michigan business.

UPDATE: The Board of Regents at the University of Michigan wants to join a federal lawsuit on GSRA unionization. In its filing, the Regents argue the state law violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution by singling out a particular class of employees for special action.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Why You Aren't Getting Job Offers (U.S. News Money)

Allison Green, author and owner of Ask A Manager, posted a column on U.S. News and World Report, explaining eight reasons why you haven't received any job offers. This is useful advice for those who are frantically searching for work in this economy.
Frustrated with your job search? Are you sending out tons of resumes, and maybe even getting interviews, but not any offers?

  1. Your resume doesn't indicate anything about your work beyond your job descriptions.
  2. Your cover letter puts hiring managers to sleep.
  3. You don't seem enthusiastic about the job.
  4. You aren't paying attention to details.
  5. Your interview skills are lackluster.
  6. You're trying to "stand out" by using gimmicks.
  7. You're so focused on selling yourself that the hiring manager can't assess your fit for the job.
  8. Math.

I would also add another reason: you have no control over hiring practices in your region. You could have performed your best interview, but someone higher-up has the final say in the selection of candidates. It isn't your fault; you are simply better off working for another organization.

You may also want to read this Chronicle article on why your resume isn't receiving callbacks. It is applicable to both academic and non-academic settings.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Penn Video: Honoring W.E.B. Du Bois in 2012

In February (Black History Month), the Center for Africana Studies and the Department of Sociology honored W.E.B. Du Bois, the first black professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, with a conference honoring his life and scholarship. As a former African-American Studies major, this was the perfect occasion for Penn to acknowledge his accomplishments.

Du Bois was the black public intellectual of the 20th century; he was a scholar, civil rights activist, author, editor, pacifist, and Pan Africanist. During his time at Penn, he published his second significant monogram, The Philadelphia Negro. This groundbreaking publication was one of the first publications to use social statistics to analyze urban communities. It was also the first scientific study of African Americans. After the conference, the university later bestowed Du Bois with the title of Honorary Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Africana Studies. Posthumously, of course.
The conference and professorship will honor Du Bois’ considerable contributions to several fields of study—contributions that were fostered at Penn, when he worked as an assistant in sociology at Wharton from August of 1896 through December of 1897. During that time, Du Bois researched and wrote “The Philadelphia Negro,” a social scientific study of the black community in the city.

EXTRA: There's also an excellent Chronicle article about my alma mater's African American Studies program and how a new generation of doctoral students are advancing the discipline. I majored in African-American Studies at Northwestern, so I'm proud to hear great news about the department.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

How Do Recruiters Really Scan Resumes; 11 Resume Mistakes to Avoid posted an article about recruiters' decision-making behaviors. TheLadders research found that it takes employers an average of six seconds to determine whether you are a 'fit or no fit' for a position! Your responsibilities and accomplishments under each job carry less weight (in other words, recruiters only skim those bullet points).
The study used a scientific technique called “eye tracking” on 30 professional recruiters and examined their eye movements during a 10-week period to "record and analyze where and how long someone focuses when digesting a piece of information or completing a task."

In the short time that they spend with your resume, the study showed recruiters will look at your name, current title and company, current position start and end dates, previous title and company, previous position start and end dates, and education.

Not sure how to draft a proper resume? Make sure you don't make these eleven mistakes.

  1. Get rid of the objective.
  2. Cut out all the irrelevant work experiences.
  3. Don't include personal information.
  4. Don't let your resume exceed one page.
  5. Don't list your hobbies.
  6. Don't give them the chance to guess your age.
  7. Don't write your resume in the third person.
  8. Don't include references ('references upon request' is outdated).
  9. Don't include a less-than-professional email address.
  10. There is no need to identify 'phone' and 'email'.
  11. Don't include your current business phone number.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Freep: Detroit's workforce lacks job skills; it's called a 'huge problem'

This news storyhighlights one reason why I must seek greener pastures elsewhere. The economic situation in Michigan shows little progress.
They're students, retirees, people living on disability and those laid off, too discouraged to look anymore.

Whatever their background, they're among the 1 of every 2 Detroit adults neither holding a job nor looking -- the worst percentage for 2010 among 41 major U.S. cities.

This vast segment -- some 174,000 Detroiters ages 16-64 do not work -- poses a serious challenge for a city on the brink of fiscal ruin.


Most major cities see at least 60% of adults participating in the workforce, either by working jobs or actively applying for them. In several cities -- Seattle, Charlotte, N.C., and Denver, for example -- more than 70% of adult residents are in the labor force.

Detroit's rate is the lowest among big cities: 49.8%.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Petition: Reinstate Brooke Harris at Pontiac Charter School

This story hits close to home in Pontiac, Michigan (a suburb of Detroit). I still cannot believe she was fired for wanting to create a fundraiser with her students on behalf of Trayvon Martin. Such insensitive administrators. This is ANOTHER reason why charter schools should not replace public education.
Brooke Harris loved her job teaching eighth grade at an inner-city charter school in Michigan -- but Brooke says she was fired for teaching her kids about Trayvon Martin, an African-American teen who was recently shot and killed because someone thought he looked suspicious.

Brooke's kids had heard about Trayvon, and she saw they wanted to know more in part because they identified with him: "They are young, black and brown kids who walk to the corner store after school every day," Brooke says. "They've been stopped by police because they 'looked like' some kids who did something illegal."

Many of Brooke's students wanted to go beyond writing essays and classroom discussions -- they wanted to raise money for Trayvon's family. For helping the kids plan the fundraiser, Brooke says that she was suspended and eventually fired, and that she was told, "you're a teacher, not an activist."

Now there's a petition on demanding that Brooke's school, the Pontiac Academy of Excellence, give Brooke back her job, and her students back their teacher. The folks at the Southern Poverty Law Center -- a group that does a lot of work to combat racism -- started the campaign because they think it's wrong to fire someone for teaching about Trayvon Martin.

Monday, April 9, 2012

ALA: Defining Literacy

When I attended Michigan, I was very much interested in literacy issues. I took a few library science courses to study information-seeking behavior, information use in communities, and the digital divide. As an aspiring social worker and educator, I believed I needed to understand these issues if I want to work effectively with communities and student populations.

This is the American Library Association's official definition of digital literacy:
...the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information requiring both cognitive and technical skills.

Do you agree or disagree with this definition?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

How to Use Google and LinkedIn Properly

Have you ever wondered how to use the advanced features on Google and LinkedIn? Read these infographics and learn cool tricks for your academic and career research.

Note: You may need to enlarge the images in your browser.