I Need A Job!

I’ve been a terrible blogger lately. No job, nothing to do, yet I still can’t seem to find time to sit down for 20 minutes a day to jot down a quick few thoughts. Needless to say, my sedentary lifestyle has been reasonably lately. Prior to graduation, I knew that finding a professional career path upon graduation would prove to be a challenge, but one that I was excited to engage in. Now that I’ve been looking for jobs for nearly a month now, I think otherwise. With 10+ applications sent out and not even one interview to speak of, the process gets discouraging. Finally, I have decided to contact a job recruiter to aid me in my seemingly fruitless job hunt. Tomorrow I have an interview with said job recruiter which will be the first interview I have had upon graduation. After being told by one employer that my college degree and five years of retail experience make me unqualified to sell cell phones, I was extremely discouraged. Everything happens for a reason though and it seems that waiting for good things to happen is a recurring theme in my life. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this opportunity  will work out for me, I need to get to work soon before my money sources are totally depleted!

My Life As A College Grad

Saturday marked my graduation from the University of Maine and since then I have allowed for two days to slip through my fingers. With no job and certainly no school to go to, my life is rather boring. It is my goal to put out a job application a day and hope for the best, but in an economy like the one we’re facing, it’ll be interesting to see where I end up. It’s absolutely terrifying to think that I am now considered a “grown up” in the “real world” and with $34,000 of debt looming over my shoulders, I need to secure a way of making money soon so I can hopefully move out of my parents house before the time I’m 40. Last night at a bonfire I attended, people were sharing what they plan on doing now that they are graduates. Most had already secured high paying jobs and one was traveling to Europe during the months prior to the beginning of her employment, with many new cars parked in the driveway as graduation presents. Feeling like a failure at life, I have absolutely no plans whatsoever – short or long-term. Right now, I can’t even move back home because my bedroom is in a state of renovation and since I’ve graduated, I’ve been doing the exact same things I did as a student. Eating cold pizza, sleeping in until 10:30, turning to my mom in times of distress, struggling to find a decent man and drinking beer around campfires: maybe this is how my life will always be. Better go work on the cover letter now, though. Don’t want to be laying in my bed at 11:00 in the morning with nothing to do forever.

Implications of Outsourcing

In a sluggish economy with many Americans struggling to find jobs, we must search for the reasons behind this growing problem. Leading the issue is corporate America and the push towards outsourcing of jobs to countries like India and China where labor is cheap and readily available. With the United States and other North American countries gaining increasing dependence on countries across the globe for basic services, more and more companies leave their operations on the home front only to hire foreign employees for a fraction of the cost.

The prime offender in this travesty being Walmart, there is little that can be done to stop this global monster. With more than 8,000 stores around the world, Walmart is the world’s largest retailer, grossing more revenue than any other company and helping reduce the costs of goods by buying in bulk. However, this comes at a cost. Walmart currently imports a majority of their goods from China where labor is cheap and the incentives are high for mass production. At the expense of manufacturers based in the United States, we are now importing more goods than we export, accruing debt to countries like China.

While it might be easy to point the finger at corporate giants like Walmart, our own government is outsourcing jobs to India. When you receive a call about welfare benefits or medicare subscriptions, it’s likely that you will be talking to not a fellow countryman, but an Indian. Indians are now filing tax returns for U.S. companies as well, and the trend has been increasing in recent years as the Indian economy adapts to learn and develop to the principles of American government.

Not only is the outsourcing of jobs a concern to Americans who find themselves unemployed as a result of the movement of jobs overseas, but there are implications for those people who take the jobs in the call centers and manufacturing plants popping up all over Asia. Due to their service to North American consumers, most call center employees work throughout the night, leaving the close-knit traditional families embraced by Indian culture to take a job that offers prestige in the community. Forced to make a decision between family values or an opportunity for career advancement, many young Indian adults are put in a tough position in regards to their future life plans.

On a corporate level, outsourcing may appear to be nothing but beneficial. However, it is expensive to set up a reliable call center in a developing country. In a country where power grids are often down, it is important to bring in a phone system that will not falter in a time of need. Also adding to the expense is the buildings themselves – large, air-conditioned structures that house various workers as they go about their workday. Taking jobs out of the United States, however lucrative it might appear to corporate business CEO’s, has many detrimental effects. In America, it is likely that ex-employees will have negative perceptions towards a company who laid them off and thus will lack enthusiasm when purchasing products manufactured by that company.

Before seeking out the nearest Walmart to pick up a notebook for a project or a CD to rock out to in your car, think about the potential outsourcing involved in the product that you are buying. It is quite possible that the Dell computer you might be purchasing has a call center in India, providing technical support to users which was once a service provided on the home front. Your neighbor across the street might have very well lost their job due to your simple purchase of an iPod at Walmart.

Call me paranoid, but outsourcing is a huge problem with not nearly enough attention focused upon it. With cheap labor threatening our domestic employees, we need to take the steps needed to ensure that at least some jobs stay in the United States. Although it is incredibly difficult to avoid corporate giants like Walmart and our budgets might not always be able to support local business, it is the right thing. Be conscientious of all purchases you make and think about the implications involved when buying products.

The Dark Side of Convenience

Not thinking twice before pulling through a late night drive-thru or checking online banking via an iPhone, we live in a culture of convenience. When things are not readily available you’re likely to encounter impatience, and we’ve grown accustomed to have things delivered to us wherever and whenever we want it. However, patience is a valuable virtue. Living in a convenience oriented culture, high stress and intensity are to be expected but should be avoided if we wish to live long and healthy lives.

In high school, a track coach regaled our team with a story of being cut off in the McDonalds drive thru. En route to his Big Mac, another emaciated driver beat him to the speaker box, barking his lengthy order to the clerk before the coach had his opportunity. Waiting an extra five seconds for his meal caused immense anger in this man and was something worthy of disclosing to those gathered in his presence. Showing his lack of pleasure with a purely convenience based service, I often wonder if he ever considered a life of scavenging without neon lit arches to light the way to the next meal.

Back in the days before everything was available at the touch of a button, people were more independent and resourceful, not relying on the varying conveniences available now. Going back to the basics would do a world of good to many and be a reality check for some. Sometimes we are far too quick to commend the conveniences we are exposed to when in reality there are consequences that need to be considered as well.

At the price of convenience comes the ability to take care of problems in a self-reliant manner. With technology and the service industry serving as the prime offenders, we have become far too dependent on the conveniences that modern society has afforded us. When planning road trips, we expect to find inexpensive hotels beside the highway, full-serve gas stations to provide us with the fuel we need to get from point A to point B, and numerous locations to provide us with snacks to engorge ourselves along the way. If we weren’t provided these services, it is highly unlikely that both national and international travel would be as popular as they are today, considering the alternative to convenience would involve a lot less luxury and relaxation than we have grown accustomed to.

Everywhere you turn, it seems that there are increasing amounts of innovative products marketed to make our everyday tasks easier and less time consuming. However, with new technology to make our lives more convenient comes the re-training and learning processes that at times are difficult for the older generations to understand. A few years ago, the gas station frequented by my father changed their payment process so that patrons paid directly at the pump, inserting cash into the same receptacle in which gas is pumped out of. Confusing for customers to grasp, those too stubborn to learn the complexities of modern technology either took their business elsewhere or were humiliated by their lack of comprehension, taking weeks to learn how to use the operating system.

While conveniences might be excellent on the surface, a closer look at the amenities now offered reveals a darker side. When things go wrong, we are left struggling to pick up the pieces, blindly searching for how we lived prior to the lives we live now with the things we have grown so used to always having. Instead of relying on the conveniences so readily available, try something different. By no means is this a suggestion of such radical behavior as catching a fish with your bare hands or aspiring to live your final days in the Alaskan wilderness a la Chris McCandless, but instead of getting frustrated when Dunkin’ Donuts is all out of onion bagels, be appreciative of the convenience provided to you.

Brain Drain in Maine

For years, we have all hear about “the brain drain”, an issue that plagues Maine’s economy and sees hundreds of new grads leaving the state in droves. In May, a new contingent of graduates will receive their diplomas from Maine’s colleges and universities, but the lack of jobs available in the dismal economic downturn we are currently facing leaves few positions up for grabs. The problem remains as we continue to see employers leave the state for areas which are more lucrative for business.

For those out of the know, the brain drain refers to a phenomena in which young, college educated individuals leave the state in order to seek employment opportunities. With this large-scale departure of those with marketable skills, Maine sees it’s economy struggling to withstand hard economic times in industries where blue-collar workers prevail. However, with most jobs seeking candidates who have years of experience, it is no doubt as to why recent graduates struggle to find careers in their specific fields of study. Were the brain drain really as primary of a concern as politicians make it out to be, employers would be embracing the enthusiasm and fresh perspectives that new grads bring to businesses instead of turning them away, forcing people to decide between pursuing their career goals or staying near family and friends.

Of those I know who have graduated in recent years, very few are able to get jobs pertaining to the areas of discipline in which they hold a degree. Certainly not for lack of effort, many find themselves settling for jobs in which they will be able to pay off student loans, losing hope that they will ever be able to break into the career path in which they originally wished to find themselves working in. With the state of Maine holding little career opportunities for those who have big dreams, the only people we have to blame for this deficit of educated individuals are those employers who fail to reach out to recent grads as well as the political climate which does not offer ample benefits for those businesses who wish to bring their operations into the state.

As I embark on my own personal job hunt, it is shocking to discover that there are very few entry-level positions available, leaving few options for those in a similar situation as myself. Reluctant to leave the state that has nurtured my young mind and provided me a safe harbor for the last 22 years of my life, it comes down to making touch decisions whether to stay behind and wait for the dream job that will likely never come or taking my degree as I embark on a career path to success in another state.

While the thought of bringing new business to Maine during hard economic times might seem daunting to some, it is a necessary force in order to combat the evil brain drain. We must provide jobs that will stimulate recent graduates of our state’s colleges and universities, giving them incentives to add to the state’s economy instead of taking their talents elsewhere. Many large corporations might see Maine as the last place to do business, but in all reality, it is bursting with opportunities. With a growing pool of hard workers and plenty of vacant factories and warehouses that could be put to good use, it’s a shame that these resources remain untapped.

Until both businesses and politicians recognize that the brain drain is a huge problem, it is unlikely that we will see any noticeable decline in the number of graduates leaving the state. With so many possible solutions to the problem, it seems that the issue could have been fixed long ago with collaboration between both business and political institutions. This is not the case however, and until it is drastically overcome, we will, as new grads, continue to seek out other employment in places far away from home.

Carefully Donate to Trustful Organizations

In the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that ensued in Japan as of recent, there are many concerns as that country begins to pick up the pieces. With natural disasters on the rise, the global community faces many issues that arise in the wake of tragedy, as is the case currently underway on the island of Japan. A nuclear disaster eminent, the emission of radiation is something we all must consider. With incidents such as Chernobyl and Three Mile Island coming to mind, we must remain optimistic that the Japanese people will be able to overcome such tragedy and rise to the occasion in order to rebuild the country.

At the forefront of this tragedy is the Japanese people. Living in a country that has felt the wrath of natural destruction, the Japanese are struggling to acquire even the most basic of needs and it is time that the global community reaches out during this difficult period. As organizations come together to help those in their suffering, a large-scale sense of community is felt. With search and rescue teams being brought in from various locations around the globe, it’s truly amazing to see the unity of individuals who don’t even share a similar language or cultural beliefs. Just weeks ago, relief workers from the United States were working alongside their Japanese counterparts to aid the victims of the earthquake in New Zealand, and now they are coming to the rescue of those they once worked beside. Coming to the need of others is exactly what we should be doing, but unfortunately there are individuals who seize this opportunity to scam those who wish to help.

Just as we saw with Hurricane Katrina, people are collecting funds under the pretense of it going to Japan, only to benefit those scheming enough to take advantage during crisis. While we might want to give money and help out in every way that we can, it’s also important to make sure that money is getting into the right hands. Overhearing a conversation at a local establishment, an artist expressed an interest in raffling off her craft in order to raise money for the relief efforts. Others in the room were skeptical as to which organization she would be donating too, strictly because of the questionable practices of those groups who claim to donate but fail to follow through on their promise. This woman, however, was quick to note that she donates directly to the Japanese Red Cross, and I couldn’t think of a better way to ensure that help gets to the right place. It truly is tragic that we live in a world where we have to question the motives of others. While it should be human nature to help those suffering, others have their own personal agendas to attend to first. Seeing images of the destruction in Japan should be enough to deter people from taking away resources to the Japanese, yet people still do it regardless. Assuming that these people lack any conscience, it is those that wish to help that must first find a worthy and reliable organization to deliver the goods to those in need. Shooting a quick donation via text might be simple, but is it really going to the right cause?

Before eagerly pulling out your wallet or willing opening up your bank account to the tsunami relief effort, first make sure that your money will actually will be benefiting those who can really use it, not scam artists who will lavish in your generosity.

With this being said, Yahoo offers a great list of organizations that are accepting donations to the Japanese relief effort and are trusted internationally. These include the American Red Cross, Save The Children, and World Vision. Do what you can to help, but be wise in the channel you choose to donate to. We all want the best for those who are suffering and with a little responsible research, we can do a lot of good.

Wonky Warlock

Are you winning? Has Charlie Sheen inspired you to be the best you can be? With the constant bombardment of information about Charlie Sheen and his utterly chaotic life, its hard not to bring some attention to what the media is having a field day reporting. While it might be fun to poke fun at this ridiculous self-proclaimed warlock, it really is a tragedy the amount of amusement America is getting from such a tragic situation. Instead of giving Sheen the attention that he so desperately craves, it would be much more worthwhile to address his addiction and mental instability, finding a way to get him help for the problems that he presents.

As a product of three failed marriages, Sheen has five children. His life unarguably out-of-control and his children being taken out of their father’s custody, Charlie Sheen should be much more concerned about being a good parent and doing everything he can to be a positive role model. Instead, it appears that he is doing everything to prove to America what they already know: Sheen is a victim of substance abuse and narcissism. Promoting Charlie Sheen’s infamous bad boy behavior is the fact that he has set a record in getting the most amount of Twitter followers in the shortest amount of time. Currently with almost 3 million followers on the social networking site, Sheen posts constant updates of his irrational way of thought, constantly insisting that he is “winning,” regardless of the fact that he is no longer employed and separated from his estranged wife, Brooke Mueller.

For the past few weeks, we have grown accustomed to getting our daily dose of Sheen, whether it be on the Today Show or whatever news outlet we turn to for our intake of the celebrity. Some might have been disappointed when greater news stories took over the Charlie Sheen segment of our daily newscasts, but quite frankly, I couldn’t be more pleased. By profiling the downward spiral that Sheen is uncontrollably falling into, we are almost glamorizing his substance abuse and crazy outbursts. By no means is this nearly as entertaining as the media is making it out to be, and really people should be feeling a genuine sense of sorrow for the disarray Charlie Sheen currently finds himself in.

Call it a midlife crisis or a mental breakdown, there is no exception to the outrageous antics that Sheen takes great pleasure in showering us with everyday. This is not the first time that a celebrity has gone through a crisis of such nature; the tabloids have always been first to report the disruptive behaviors of Britney Spears, as well as the breakdown of Michael Jackson. Under constant scrutiny of the media, every action of a celebrity is an event and one that must be heavily analyzed by America, deciphering what each action means. In the case of Charlie Sheen, his actions indicate a man who is in dire need of help. Clearly the love and support of his family nor the motivation of his children is what he needs to conquer his problems and he now turns toward the greater nation for encouragement, not realizing that his inflated fan base is more entertained with his off-the-wall statements more than anything else.

As is the case with anyone dealing with substance abuse, it’s a shame to see Charlie Sheen throw away his life and succumb to an addiction that rips his best talents away from him. Next time Sheen announces another episode of his webcast “Sheens Korner” resist the urge to tune in. The more supporters he has, the less likely he is to actually get help, instead being encouraged to crazily rant about tiger blood and whatever under nonsense he comes up with during the airing. This only encourages him to continue doing what he’s doing, which is clearly not working. Charlie Sheen, stop trying to redefine “winning” and be a REAL role model for your children and America alike by getting some help.