Category Archives: employment

Will You Be a First Responder to ITT Tech Students?

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Teaching and college administration has been my calling for well over a decade. From 2005-2009, I fulfilled that passion at ITT Technical Institute. When I read the news today, that they were no more, my first thought was, “Good! This is long overdue.” It was quickly followed by, “What will happen to all those students?” I am going to put aside the analysis of all the bad things done under the banner of higher education while the colors of ITT Tech flew high upon the helm.  I am not going to think about the fortunes gained and lost by shareholders, employees, and taxpayers.  Today, I want to talk about that secondary concern…the students.

Now that the school is closed, where will these students finish their education?  As outlined, some will seek loan forgiveness, some will drop out, the rest will seek a new college. My hope is that most of them will find another college. My fear is that many that wish to finish somewhere else, will find that there is no room at the inn.  State and private schools have record numbers of applications and not enough seats to accept them.  A similar scenario for different reasons awaits them if they remain in the market driven college realm. Those systems have experienced significant slowdowns, with several meeting the same fate as ITT Tech, or operating as a much smaller college.

If you are like me, you look at that data and ask yourself – “What can I do about this?” My brief answer, in two parts:

  1. I will prepare myself to meet more students who have had a negative education experience, or hear more negative than positive these days regarding college overall. It is more than school closures – it is noticeable safety issues, degrees with few marketable skills, high debt, the list is truly without end. When I hear these issues in class, I will actively listen and not try to defend. I will facilitate understanding.
  2. I will support local movements that seek to meet with students and provide options to them. Even though these students are not “mine”, I am pledging my willingness to educate any one of these affected students. I will do so formally through my University, but also ask other education leaders in the region what can be done. I think about the RED teams that a city will dispatch to court an employer or secure a regulation that will facilitate solid job creation and economic development.

I choose these two actions because they are within my area of control. I proudly work as an associate professor at University of Phoenix. I have been active in causes supporting business and education for two decades in and around Riverside, CA.

One thing I teach first year students is that they need to assess their skills and abilities, then apply them to the problem at hand. I can imagine no better service to students than to follow my own advice and work tirelessly until I make a positive difference in their lives and help them reach their career and academic goals.

What will you do? #ITTTechstudents

Note – Bruce Baron and the San Bernardino Community College District are already doing great work, see the article here

 

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Full Time or Adjunct? Which one is better for students?

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First, let me confess my bias:  I was hired as a full time faculty member with University of Phoenix back in February of 2015*. Prior to that, I spent the previous decade as a full time college administrator and an adjunct faculty member. I like being fully engaged in higher ed.

Is full time better for ME? You bet! But it’s not about me, cupcake, it’s about the students.  So, is it better for students? What’s happening in higher education.  Moves by Maricopa Community College District tells part of the story.  For the rest, join me, won’t you, for a few minutes in the classroom.

New college students must overcome external obstacles, internal doubts, and regular distractions from their studies if they wish to be successful (ie, graduate college and progress in their career). While those barriers are typically within their control, it helps to have someone in their corner.

Nearly all of the adjuncts I know are pressed for time. They usually have a full time job. In a growing number of instances, an adjunct may work for a half dozen schools, stringing together a bunch of courses to get them as close as they can to full employment.

What happens outside the classroom has a significant effect on the goings on inside the walls, or your CPU for those online educators. Day one, students respond positively to both backgrounds. In my experience, they are most interested in my work as a writer and literary advocate. Those in the job hunt, and really, if you are in college, you ARE in the job hunt, appreciate my two decades of employment, placement, and career development experience. What matters again is not my experiences, but how I present them that first day that matters.

My solution to the dilemma is to try and understand my audience and my purpose walking into that room or logging in for day one. When that is a consistent part of my practice, the student benefits. And I think that was why I meandered onto this career path in the first place.

Feel fee to share your own experiences, as teachers or students. I would like to profile others in a future post. Thanks!

 

*To add another layer, I was laid off in April 2016. I am now an Associate Faculty member at University of Phoenix…aka Adjunct.

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Your Career Memoir

Going into the final weeks of my University Studies course, career development gets some well deserved attention. One of the skills a successful student (and student of teaching) must have is intrapersonal intelligence.  For me, it’s the ability dial in your GPS career coordinates in the now.  Then, look back to understand the motivations, people, and circumstances that brought you to this moment. Then use that data to glimpse potential futures.

I’ve had my fair share of juicy plot twists along the way.

I worked for my first employer from ’86 to ’96. In ’93 I had my first son and took three weeks vacation to be home with him and my wife. Result? My old-school boss wrote me up for “lack of dedication” to my job. Human Resources helped my boss understand that the world had changed since he worked for Sterling Cooper.

Lesson learned? Take nothing for granted – not your legal work rights and certainly never assume your employer has your best interests in mind.

In 1996, I cashed in my 401(k), left the only company I ever worked for, and joined the entrepreneur-class. I was a third generation printer; what could go wrong? Eighteen months later, I joined the ranks of the failed business owner. I even sold my car to keep the business alive a few more months.

Lessons learned? One, don’t go into a business just because you think it can make money. I did not like printing but it was all I knew. I probably would have failed in another business though because I also learned…I prefer to work for other people. There! I have outed myself. In this vague period of self-directed and self-employed and completely empowered version of work we see today, I say “no thanks”.

I like being part of a group, I like not having to make all the decisions, and I really like a dependable paycheck!

The rest of the 90’s and early 2000’s were various sales jobs. Good jobs sure, but the limited jobs available to a person with hustle, the ability to wear a tie, and NO COLLEGE degree. So just like in 1992, when I realized how much more career advancement was possible in an office vs a production line, I leveraged my relationships and experience and vaulted onto a new path.

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My volunteer efforts landed me an interview for a Director of Career Services job with a 9-month certification school.  I was not qualified but got the job anyway (see previous paragraph, re: Hustle). This was six months after earning my English degree. Then I did some calculated jumping, similar to what James Citrin advises in his blog, How to Move From Job to Job.  My goal? To get a job at a degree granting college.

Over the next ten years, I stayed in the same role (Director), in the same field (Career Development) in the same industry (Post Secondary Education). But I learned about the many ways education is delivered. I worked at nationally accredited colleges, market-driven colleges, and a state college. It was not always pretty, but I also was fortunate to serve a similar student cohort everywhere I worked – first generation college students from Inland Southern California.

So, flipping to the last chapter, I gear up to break into a new career in Summer 2014. My gift arrives, just at the top of the story arc, 3 days after Christmas: An interview to teach first year college students full time. I get the job! How? Patient and deliberate (somewhat) planning. It was the culmination of my effort and intentions over the last two decades. It was setting up a SMART goal. It was using the tools at hand.

I wrote, revised, and edited that story for years.  Lots of blank pages left. Time to get to class and write some more.

What’s your career story? Ready to tell it? Better yet, are you ready to live it? If not, today is a great day to start.

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Week #2 Training – Telecommuting 102 – Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings

Well…

Off to another excellent week of training for this new teaching role with University of Phoenix. Week 1 hit on tons of stuff (drinking from the fire house as our trainers like to remind us!). What strikes me is the attention to student support at every stage. When we discuss the learning objectives, we talk about how the students incorporate the learning. When we talk about communication by forum or email, we talk about how the student interprets our actions and words – what we say and don’t say is heard loud and clear. When we correct, we do so from a desire to help the student improve.

It should go without saying that we don’t want to derail their motivation or crush their young college hopes and dreams. But it reminds me of how often I go into a situation only looking at the resolution and not at how the feelings of those involved are concerned. Some might say (and some of my former managers have) people should not be concerned about others feelings. I disagree. Feeling shape our perceptions – our perceptions shape what we think we are capable of learning and doing – what we learn and do BECOMES a part of who we are…which will influence how we feel.

Ah, another circle found. It bears remembering that these things tend to come round and round. Therefore, the good and the bad we leave in our wake – as managers, as teachers, as partners, as humans – affects the feelings of others. And it will still be in our path when we come around again. Better to leave things we need – things that nourish and help us grow – rather than laying traps and debris in the way.

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Filed under employment, higher education, telecommuting, training, Uncategorized

Say Thank You

Say Thank You.

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