Thursday, February 28, 2008

New Move

I'm so excited I could clap my hands but haven't yet because I am dreading packing. I will be out of my place in no less than two days!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

College Versus University Versus Neither

This is the new campaign that has been launched on our website, here at Obay is (a fictional drug that parents prescribe to their children in order to control them?) the brainchild of Smith Roberts Creative Communications. There have been posters, billboards and radio ads launched with it as a new communications campaign geared towards debunking myths about college and encouraging applicants towards making the next step towards a brighter future. :)

Although I give the campaign credit for its creativity, I'm not sure I understand the intended outcome of the campaign. The other thing I don't like the kinds of praise that some parents are giving about their children's experience in college while belittling university in comparison. This mother for example, commented on Universities being "big" and "impersonal".

Possessing both a University and a College diploma, I found benefits to both College and University however, I disagree that any generalizations can be made about either. I disagree that college is more "hands on" as is argued pervasively, or that Universities are "impersonal". Actually I had some very small, intimate classes in University, and some very theoretical (not hands on at all) classes in college.

To get back to the add campaign and its usefulness, I've had many comments from applicants that they are very impressed with it and relate to it. The one good experience about both my college and university experiences was the fact that my parents never pressured me to take a specific program. They realized that higher education was important but also that it's the experience of learning itself that needs to be appreciated.

I realize that I am a bit of a statistical oddity, in that although I went to college and university, my current position has nothing to do with my education! But is this really that strange in current times? If we were to credit the skills gained through school as what jet-propelled me into my current career(s), we could but we have no way to prove whether these skills came about as a result of school, or whether they would have been instilled in me otherwise (education moves in mysterious ways). I am reminded again of the graffitti I saw recently that states "My bike takes me places education never could".

I look at the statistic 90% of graduates who enter the labour force are employed within six months, and 93% within two years" with some disdain as it seems to mask the fact that that could be in ANY profession. Although I am part of this 90% I still had to experience being laid off and I am STILL looking for work in my desired field almost two years after completing both a university degree and a college diploma!

Things could be worse. I could be addicted to Obay.

Or, my parents could have tried to control every aspect of my life since I was a baby...

Friday, February 22, 2008

We Are All People Every Day

There I was, sitting in a cab again.

I have been taking cabs a lot lately...which is starting to run up my costs. It's more than a $20 cab ride to work, because it's so far away from where I live. That means that in essence, for part of my shift, I'm working for free.

I try to catch the bus but our bus system is probably the worst on this planet. You have to go right downtown if you want to be sure to catch the bus. If you try to catch it along one of its routes you never know when it will come. There are numbers on the signs that you can call that are supposed to give you time estimates based on the GPS systems in the buses of when the next bus will come. You punch in the bus stop code and then an automated voice is supposed to tell you when the next bus is coming by. It's a good idea in theory but the automated service only lasted about a week before the GPS systems in the buses stopped giving the system accurate times and the automated voice went haywire. It sounds like someone melted the voice machine tape (I realize most machines are digital these days. The voice became all garbled and incoherent. I called it once and it told me the next bus was in 72 minutes. Disheartened, I walked a little off only to see the bus whiz straight past me. On the other hand, when the bus is on time, sometimes it's full so all the bus driver can do is wave as they go by, and that's no fun for anybody (well, maybe it is for the bus driver).

So there I was this morning, sitting in an exceptional position: on the bus downtown. I was so impressed with myself that I had showered, shaved, made myself breakfast (it's usually just 50 cent coffee from the machine) walked downtown and made it on time. My day was going to be perfect, I thought, I was set for work. Then the bus pulled away, did a three sixty and headed in the opposite direction from that which I intended. So there I was morning, sitting on the WRONG bus. I pulled the cord to be let off and dialed the familiar taxi number.

Despite my best intentions and strongest resistance, there I was, at the whim of Red Top Taxi. The worst part is: I couldn't blame the buses. It was I that failed to read the outside of the bus before onloading. At least I wouldn't be late considering the taxi takes a mere 10 minutes compared to the bus' 45.

When I got to work one of my first calls lasted not the usual minute or so, but ten minutes! This is a sample of the caller's concerns:

"My question is I study in George Brown college for a year and a half, and I pay $85 for the application, I paid already, I pay thousands of dollars for school and now they ask me to take English assessment test. I am not beginner. I take many courses in English, all my courses in college in English. What is the reason for this? I pay $8 for my transcript, what is the reason? Now my transcript is not worth anything? Who protects us, that is my question. Who protects us? I think maybe I talk to this person, I talk to that person, it's all for make money. My question is why? Why is my question. You understand I already take college. I am not beginner. Why Centennial college ask me for English test?"

Her voice inflected up and down like a wild rollercoaster, and the questions all flooded my ears before she would give me a chance to respond. She went on and on. I explained that in order for the colleges not to request an assessment test, they need to see the grade 12 English mark, for which they need a high school transcript submitted. The caller obviously didn't want to submit the transcript on moral grounds, arguing that it would be impossible to get into college anyway without high school and therefore that the college should assume applicants like her had grade 12 English if they had submitted college transcripts. When I explained that the application process doesn't work that way; that the college needs to see the transcript as proof, the applicant's response was: "That is no good. I think that answer is no good" and started at the very beginning again. Eventually, I asked them if they would like me to have someone else give them the same answer that I did and they said "Yes". So that's what happened.

Reassuringly, the next applicant was a young man with a medical degree from Iraq who had provided all of his documents, including a landed immigrant card and his transcripts. I was proud to tell him that his international assessment of academic credentials was complete and that all he had to do now was wait for a response from the colleges. He was anxious to get online and check whether they had accepted him or not, right away.

People all come from different walks of life and this is what I see on a daily basis. There are those who argue with the system and seem to get nowhere, take me nowhere, make me feel nothing but frustration. There are others who through hard work and empathy, inspire me with their determination and excitement for new opportunities.

Diversity is what keeps me going though. I know that not every caller is going to be a treat to deal with, but we're all just people and the most I can do is make a consistent effort to do my best. I tell everyone to have a great day at the end of the call, no matter whether it started with them shouting at me or not. That way there's always the hope of improvement. So here's wishing you improve too. Hopefully your day turns out better than mine started. We are all everyday people. I'll credit the Smarties commercial for that. It's brilliant!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Just a Note on Valentines Day

If love hurts then should you avoid it? Well, according to the band the Smiths: "I am human and I need to be loved...just like everybody else does." So love is unavoidable? It's part of Maslow's needs. We grow through its challenges and its upsets. There are libraries full of song lyrics about love, Petrachian poetry, Sex for Dummies etc. and we can see its proposed expression through the purchase of everything from a set of roses to a diamond ring. We can see why this holiday is a commercial success. For some, this is enough of a reason to boycott it.

If you're one of those guys who is unsentimental perhaps you'll make it through the day without having to do very much at all. But if you have a girlfriend, watch out. She may pretend not to make a big deal about it, but she's expecting a bit of extra love. My roomate's girlfriend just showed him her love by bringing him Tim Horton's coffee (but he's still sleeping). Loss of points? We'll see.

As for me, last night I was walking alone and I saw that someone had written "LOVE" in the snow. It was a nice idea but it reminded me of the pressure of loving at this time of year when everyone is particularly vitamin D deficient. I walked a couple steps further and then I saw the word "CALM" so I breathed. I'll be having a calm, casual, light-love occassion, listening to Roy Orbison...and possibly treating myself to a tan the salon.

Who Links Here