Positive side to Child Labor?

How did you spend your childhood? If you were like me a typical Saturday consisted of dunking Chip Ahoy cookies in a glass of milk while watching back-to-back episodes of Scooby Doo.  Even if your weekends didn’t consist of marathons on Cartoon Network, I would assume that you didn’t spend them working (doing chores for your parents doesn’t count as work) like over one million children in Bolivia, the poorest country in South America.

As a person who has never directly experienced and been sheltered from extreme poverty it is easy for me to take the stance that children should never have to work. But after reading this article, I have come to realize that although this is an ideal situation it definitely isn’t realistic for many people all over the world. According to the Switzerland-based International Labour Organization there are currently 14 million workers in Latin America between the ages of 5 to 17.

The question that has been causing issues for many is simple, what work is acceptable for children and what is not? True, working a machine where there is a constant risk that you’ll loose a critical digit isn’t  an acceptable environment for a child or anyone for that matter but what about a child who shines shoes for a couple hours a day? Sure, it isn’t exactly a great way to spend your childhood but other than the occasional back cramp, it isn’t a strenuous task and there probably won’t be many psychological problems caused by it.

 

Many children interviewed for this piece, said that without their job their economic situation would be unbearable. One Bolivian child, Victor Chipani, was paid one dollar every hour to round up people to fill public minibuses. Although this meager hourly wage wouldn’t even buy you a soda in the States, with his salary Chipani was able to buy supplies for school and help feed his eight siblings.

It seems to me that instead of focusing on the fact that children are working, it would be more useful to focus on the situational factors that are forcing them to seek employment.

Sources: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2099200-1,00.html

 

Where is the party?

I love the holidays. Even the annual five pound weight gain can’t get me down from the months of November to December. This year I am particularly excited for the month of December because I get to experience a new phenomenon. The office Christmas party.

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Now I have heard tales about the typical office party with cheap booze, bad food, and awkward chit chat but I have never experienced one in all its glory. So I did some research and below are some suggestions on what one should avoid.

1) Attend! Sure your employer might say it is ‘optional’, but we all know it really isn’t.

2) If there is an open bar, don’t get hammered. You should probably be acting as if your boss is watching because hey, they probably are. (Fun fact: research has shown that throwing an office party on a week day actually reduces the amount of drinking done by employees.)

3) Network! One article even went as far as to say that you should put your drink in your non-dominant hand because no one likes to shake a clammy hand.

4) In one of my previous posts I mentioned how people tend to favor attractive individuals. While the holiday party is a great occasion to dress up, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should take this opportunity to flaunt everyone of your best assets. Unless of course, it is your mind.

Sources: http://www.hrworld.com/features/holiday-party-tips-121007/

Business and Pleasure.

“How many of you think you’ll meet the person you are going to marry after you graduate from college?” Insert intense awkward silence. Not deterred, my professor continued, “No, really, raise your hand.”

Tentatively, myself, the girl next to me, and a few brave others put our hands in the air.

Our professor responded a little something like this:

“Well, if you think it is going to be easier to ‘meet the one’ when you aren’t surrounded by thousands of people your own age, you’re wrong.”

That stung.

Now that I have one foot in the real world, I see what he meant. It is hard. You know, when you are working in an office with all women, enrolled in a graduate program with 5 men, and when you’re not doing that you are either sleeping and/or studying.  Ahem.

Anyway. Where do most people meet the people they date? A bar? Sometimes. Match.com and/or any other dating website? Apparently, 1 in 5 people do. Or is it becoming more common for people to meet at work? After all, with the amount of hours that a lot of people spend at work, where else are you going to meet that special someone?

But is dating someone at work a good option and/or an HR nightmare?

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On the bright side, some studies have shown that couples who work together tend to be more productive. Also, often coworkers in similar jobs are around the same age and have similar interests (inside and out of work). Furthmore, research has shown that being in love has some pretty great benefits. According to Julianne Holt-Lunstad, an associate professor of psychology at Brigham Young University, “relationships help us cope with stress, so if we have someone we can turn to for emotional support or advice, that can buffer the negative effects of stress.”

This is all great for when things are going well  but what about when you have your first tiff? Or even worse, break up. Might be awkward when you run into them at the coffee machine.

Sources: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/07/AR2011020703564.html, http://humanresources.about.com/cs/workrelationships/a/workromance.htm

Work and Family. Oil and Vinegar?

I’m just going to come out and ask, do you think it is possible to be simultaneously successful as a professional and as a parent?

This probably will depend on how you define successful. For the sake of simplicity let us consider professional success in the terms of whether or not you have an upper management position, a corner office with a view (of something aesthetically appealing, not the parking lot), and a large paycheck. As for being a successful parent, you might be successful if your child doesn’t accidently call their nanny or manny mom/dad on a regular basis, you attend their school events (not just a token game, but the majority of their recitals and spelling bees), and their psychologist bill isn’t as much as some people make in a year. (Yes, I realize these are broad/flawed terms).

Really though, if you are currently working, think about your CEO and the other members of the Executive Team. What are their hours like? I think we can agree that as you advance in your career your free-time diminishes. I can almost guarantee that most CEOs aren’t just doing a 40 hour work week and I really don’t think that they are the ones sitting in the bleachers at  their daughters 3 o’clock lacrosse match.

Family Matters

“The big deal about family business is that you’re running on two levels at all times,” says family business counselor Karen Calcagno. “In the ideal world, you’re a family at home and business at work. The reality is that it’s not that clear-cut.”

This past summer, before moving to California, I am almost started interning for a family friend who started Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Company. (If you are from the West Coast  you probably haven’t been fortunate enough to try this juice. You might also think that it is acceptable to have Tropicana in your refrigerator. But seriously, Florida may have some flaws but we know our citrus and if you’re ever on the East Coast do yourself a favor and pick up a gallon (or five) of what is without a doubt the best Orange juice in the States (just ask Good Morning America)).

Anyway, I digress. When I was contemplating starting the job my friend Natalie aka the girl reaching for the orange on the label below (No, she doesn’t have corn rows in real-life. The illustrator took some liberties) said “Briana, if you work there you just have to remember, we are a family-run company. Things get heated. There is always a lot of yelling.”

A couple of days after this conversation, I found out I got an internship with FranklinCovey in California so I never did work with her family but I can’t help thinking, is working with family a good idea?

Family conflicts are a constant of life and I am sure that adding money to the mix only makes things worse. Really though, how many times have you heard something along the lines of, well, my father used to get along with his brother but they got into a disagreement over some business decision and now I haven’t seem him/my cousins/aunt in a decade?

But, it can’t be all that bad. Like Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice, a lot of people/companies make it work (I wasn’t kidding when I said that Natalie’s was voted by Good Morning America as the best orange juice in the United States).

My question is, how do keep your family and work life separate?

Source: http://www.usatoday.com/money/smallbusiness/2009-12-01-familybusiness01_CV_N.htm

Young and fabulous?

It’s no secret the economy in the United States is bad. Bad as in my good friend who works at a Fro-yo place in D.C. had a Georgetown Business School graduate apply for the store manager position.

When I think about my future I can literally feel the tension creep across my shoulders. To cope I try telling myself that I am doing all the right things-I work hard, I made it to Graduate school. But sometimes in moments of panic, like how I felt after reading this article (see link attached below) I can’t help wondering what if it doesn’t pay off? What if I graduate with a great degree and an even greater deal of debt and I don’t find a job?

The sad reality is that “nearly 14 percent of college graduates from the classes of 2006 through 2010 can’t find full-time work, and overall just 55.3 percent of people ages 16 to 29 have jobs. That’s the lowest percentage since World War II.”

Luckily for me, if I can’t find a job, I can always go home. Although I don’t think anyone wants to return to the “nest” after leaving,  living in your parents basement, cabana, and/or guest room is a whole heck of a lot better than some alternatives. Sure, it may be demoralizing but with one in five young adults, a lot of whom have university degrees, living below the poverty line, suck it up.

Here’s the thing, although there is no guarantee that I will get a job after graduation. I am in a much better position than most. I mean think about just the process of getting a job, how many times have you heard that networking is the key. (If you are in my graduate program we have been lectured on this topic for hours.) What if you don’t have connections? If you were the first person out of your family to ever attend university, it might be likely (although not always true) that your family wouldn’t know people who could help you get into Corporate America. If you come from a poor family, you probably won’t be able to afford t to do the unpaid internships that help you get your “foot in the door.”

http://nymag.com/news/features/my-generation-2011-10/

Long Commute. Big Problems?

8 hours. That is how long I spend making the voyage three times a week from Newport to USC. Although not exactly ideal, most workers in the United States feel my pain. In order to make it to work on time more and more people are leaving their homes while their children are still sleeping and most people are entering the last stage of their REM cycle.

Commonly referred to as  either  “extreme” or “super” commuters these people spend at least an hour and a half (each way, each day) and a MONTH of their lives (each year) commuting to and back from work. According to survey conducted by the United States Census Bureau, the commute of the extreme commuter is nearly double the average commute in the United States.

What might be even more surprising than the fact that these people spend 1/12 of a year commuting is that in 2010, 3.4 million people in the United States fit under this category and experts say this number is going to keep growing.

Author, Alan Pisarski of Commuting in America says that in while in 1990 only “24 percen tof all workers left their home counties to get to the office”, now that number is closer to 50 percent. Even in my own office in Irvine, California  only five out of the 15 employees actually live in the Orange county. One of my co-workers makes the commute from San Diego, leaving every morning at 5:30 a.m.. In the article I read in Businessweek one man takes  five different modes of transportation (car, train, bus, ferry boat, and a subway ride) to get to his job in Manhattan from Rockland County, New York.

Although super commuting is becoming a lot more common, research shows that there is nothing “super” about the negative effects on the commuters well-being. Compared to noncommuters, commuters are on average much less satisfied with their lives. “A commuter who travels one hour, one way, would have to make 40% more than his current salary to be as fully satisfied with his life as a noncommuter.”

While I don’t think there is an easy solution to this problem, I think that this is definitely something you should think about when searching for a job.