Entries for September 2005

Missed opportunities...

I attended an undergraduate-focused faculty meeting this morning and learned that the number of employers who participated in the Career Fair was up 20 percent, and at least 35 percent of employers were accepting applications from management and accounting majors. This is a great sign that the economy is improving and Case's Career Center is excelling in attracting new interest in Case's newly minted BA and BS graduates.

Unfortunately, undergraduate attendance was down 20 percent compared to last year, and only 18 management and accounting sophomores handed in their resumes at the door. Talk about missed opportunities! Students who did not attend the fall fair should put February 16 on their calendars now.

I hope that many of our students will take advantage of employer information sessions being hosted by the Career Center during the year. Those sessions are good opportunities to learn more about specific companies which hire graduates, and explore opportunities for internships and full-time jobs.

There are also some great sessions coming up next week (scroll down) on long-distance job searches and networking, and the week after on internships.

measuring your self (or, how not to be reduced to a box)

Students' reactions to the two psychometric measures they have completed as part of the MGMT 250 module on self-assessment have been varied. Some, like Joe Tichar, found it difficult to answer the LSI and MBTI questions, but still worthwhile. Others, like Daniel Jurek, struggled with the forced-choice format of the questions. Others were concerned that the measurement schemes seem to invite putting people into boxes; for instance, Trevor Clatterbuck expressed a great deal of skepticism about both sets of measures, and made a good point about the need to adapt learning styles to suit different situations.

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learning the presentation of self

We are wrapping up our discussion of self-assessment and impression management in MGMT 250, and the students are practicing introducing themselves. Last week, many students conducted mock interviews on campus, and today, most of them will attend the Career Fair. (Trevor probably won't, though, because he got a job offer for next summer at the end of his mock interview!)

All throughout this first part of the course, we have talked about the tricky balancing act of promoting ourselves and our strengths while remaining authentic.

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the illusory trend to return to traditional women's roles, and what we can do about it

Poor Louise Story. The young Yale graduate who wrote a story for yesterday's New York Times which landed on the front page is getting pummeled throughout the blogosphere (even in the comments), in Slate, and probably, by "many" of her friends. Yes, I pity her, even though I know that the critics speak the truth, because I remember being just out of school and having the sense that the trends among my peer group were newsworthy, without realizing how circumscribed a peer group I had constructed around myself.

I do not remember talking much with my college friends about our plans for marriage and family. I just assumed that I would work and raise a family with my husband. I knew that I needed to stay employable, in case of divorce or an illness that might incapacitate my husband. I had the sense that my mother had not been happy when she was not employed (she returned to the workforce part-time when I was 10 or 11), and I couldn't imagine living a life without a public role of respect. The problem is that parenthood is still not seen as a role of public respect in our society.

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employee benefits

In his column this week, David Batstone writes about employer-paid healthcare and suggests that the current rates of increase cannot be sustained. How do you think that businesses should cope with the possibility of needing to cut back on employee benefits in order to keep their finances in balance? What advice would you give to CEOs like Howard Schultz of Starbucks?

Music, anyone?

Jill Miller Zimon writes that there will be a free concert tomorrow night (Tuesday, September 20) at 7 pm at the Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights. Donations will be collected to benefit individuals and families affected by Hurricane Katrina. The musicians sound like they have stellar reputations (the lead performer is the Director of the Cleveland Institute of Music) so you may want to drive out to listen... if you make the journey, I hope it is enjoyable.

Sunday reflection from ee cummings

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any -- lifted from the no
of all nothing -- human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eys of my eyes are opened)

- e.e cummings

Case: participating in the region's renaissance

I'm delighted to read Sudhir's post on REALNEO about the unfolding events of the Voices and Choices initiative of the Fund for Our Economic Future. I'm saving the date of November 12 so that I can attend the Town Meeting for the region, which will be held in Akron, but that event is only the culmination of lots of work which is going on right now. Community leaders are being trained to conduct interviews with citizens, to build an online database of positive images for our region's future which come from a broad swath of its residents.

I hope that Case students are among those who will conduct interviews and funnel what they learn back to the Voices and Choices website. (It's wonderful that Sudhir is involved, especially since he is a Weatherhead MBA alumnus, but one person can only do so much alone.) I hope that students will interview each other, and share their ideas about what Northeast Ohio can do to keep more of our young college graduates in the region. Just as the Facebook group says, "Case Can Be Enjoyable If You Stop Bitching About It And Find Stuff To Do!" and the same goes for Cleveland and the surrounding region. (If you don't want to sign up for a free Facebook account, I'll just note that there are 310 members of this group at Case, and 17 groupies, which is not bad considering that there are less than 3000 undergraduates at Case and some of them avoid Facebook on principle.)

I also hope that Case students will take the initiative to leave campus and do some interviews with citizens in surrounding neighborhoods, because I think that would do a lot to counteract outdated perceptions of the university. We used to turn our back on the surrounding city, but as yesterday's third annual Case for Community Day and the ongoing efforts of the Office of Student Community Service and the Center for Community Partnerships demonstrate, we have made considerable progress over the last several years in changing how we relate to the neighborhoods and the city around us.

For students who don't want to leave their dorm rooms to volunteer, perhaps you'd like to collaborate with OneCleveland and Case's ITS department on putting together a proposal to host the next Wikimedia Foundation international conference in Cleveland? I think it could be relatively easy to do better than the draft proposal that is coming together for Toronto as a host city, and Lev Gonick put me in touch with Mark Ansboury at One Cleveland and John Russell here at Case. If you have suggestions about how to galvanize Northeast Ohio Wikipedia editors and readers to bring Wikimania to Cleveland, please let me know... it would be a great way to continue to build a positive image of Cleveland among techies and internet geeks around the globe.

how was MGMT 250 designed?

I am seeing evidence in the first blog entries made by this fall's MGMT 250 students that the course is having some of its intended effects. One of the things I wanted to accomplish when we began redesigning our curriculum for management and accounting majors was to give students a sense, early in their undergraduate career, of what the lives of managers are like.

(Click to read more, including some links to student posts.)

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for MGMT 250 students...

Here's how to read the entries made by other students that have been tagged for "MGMT250" (no spaces)....

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testimonies to human resilience

I really only have three flashbulb memories. The first is of the explosion of the Space Shuttle "Challenger", which occurred soon after my seventeenth birthday. The second is of 9/11/01. The third is of listening to this NPR segment on the way to work last Friday. Yes, this was ten days after Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 shaped the memories of Jacob Lawrence and Bessie Smith, enough that they were inspired to paint pictures and compose music about the incredible floods and their aftermath.

My first two flashbulb memories are associated with television images, but this newest one is associated with radio instead. One of the reasons that I continue to listen to NPR is that the radio programming is so powerfully evocative, perhaps even more so than television images. On the same morning that the story about Randy Newman's song was aired, there was also a very memorable commentary by Chris Rose, a columnist for the Times-Picayune. It's worth a listen, because it captures the range of emotions we feel about this disaster and the road ahead, away from it -- from profound despair to deepest humility to poignant hope.

I think what these three memories of mine have in common is that they mark events when my faith in humanity and in progress was tested. My fundamental optimism about life was challenged when the shuttle exploded, and indeed, my whole choice of future career was put back in question (I studied physics in high school, and at the time I had been thinking about a career in space exploration.) My sense of financial and personal security was challenged when the Twin Towers came down, and I knew that the lull in world history since the end of the Cold War was now behind us, replaced by the churning international political scene which has come to be known as the War on Terror. My belief that America was a powerful country which could prevent natural disasters and bring aid rapidly to those displaced by storms and floods was shattered by the uncoordinated early responses to Katrina.

I spoke with my parents in Switzerland earlier today, and they noted that the European coverage of the American rescue efforts has been short on praise. Apparently the French and even the Italians feel that their evacuation routines in anticipation of floods are much more effective than ours, and certainly the prediction and prevention of floods is much more finely tuned in the Netherlands than it was in the American South. Still, it seems that we knew, before the storm even began to form in the Atlantic, that the levees in New Orleans needed reinforcement, and there was a mandatory evacuation plan on the books, even if it had never before been invoked. Perhaps what allowed this disaster to occur is the same thing that will allow us to recover from it, eventually -- that is, the awareness of (and perhaps the hubris about) the tremendously powerful human will to survive and bounce back.

MGMT 250 discussions of equal employment opportunity

Yesterday we handed out the assignment instructions for MGMT 250 students who are selecting the onling journaling assignment which will use Blog@Case this fall, and I did a little demonstration in each section of how to set up a new blog, make a new entry, edit an entry, add the "MGMT250" tag, and read others' entries using the Topics feed that Jeremy Smith has been working on.

I did not stay to listen to the class discussions about the EEO (equal employment opportunity) case, but I'm curious to hear students' responses to the minicase that Professor Powley discussed with the students. I want to know what students took away from the case discussion -- was the way that the manager handled the interviewing of a job candidate in a wheelchair legal? Was it ethical? (The first question has much more of a black-and-white answer than the second question.) I hope that students might also share their personal reflections on how they would like to handle such a situation when they encounter a similar dilemma in the workplace. When you become a manager in charge of interviewing and hiring new employees, what will you want to keep in mind about the Americans with Disabilities Act? How might your behavior be different if a job applicant arrives at an interview not in a wheelchair, but with an apparent pregnancy, or wearing religious dress or jewelry, or speaking English with a heavy accent?

Some students have already made entries reflecting on the class discussion of the EEO case; see:

who are your management mentors?

As I have been meeting with new MGMT 250 students one-on-one, I have had some interesting conversations about the kinds of experiences that influence people to choose a major in management or accounting. Often, parents have a big influence on students' choices, both because of the hopes they express for a child to do prestigious work or to gain financial security. The thing is, parents often have indirect influences, because of the way they have talked about their work while their children were growing up. I came across this interview with the author of a new book today and it really struck home that I may have helped my parents develop their own management skills, just because they had to negotiate and motivate me through my childhood and teen years!

I have definitely felt my skill base expand over the last few years, as I have confronted the challenges of raising a daughter. It's wonderful to see that personal investment I have made being recognized by other managers as something that has benefits for my peers in the workplace as well. For me, the biggest skill gain that I have made since becoming a parent is taking a longer view of the future. I now have a personal interest in thinking about what my community will be like in 10, 20, or 30 years, and in shaping it so that my daughter will encounter desirable opportunities.

The fury of nature

Until yesterday, I had limited my exposure to news and information about Hurricane Katrina for my daughter's sake, since she is still young enough to be very frightened by a garden-variety thunderstorm. Then I received an email from the dean's assistant reminding me that our former dean, Scott Cowen, is now president at Tulane University, which was in Katrina's path. Here's a link to his messages to the Tulane community. Their campus does not seem to have sustained as much damage as other areas of the city, but note that his last message was on August 30; yesterday, on August 31, Tulane University Hospital was evacuated due to flooding from the levee breaches (according to CNN).

Of course, these are not the only effects of Hurricane Katrina; they're just the ones that happened to hit home the hardest for me. I was drawn into reading firsthand reports yesterday when I came across this collection of links in my Bloglines folder.... and I eventually had to wrench myself away, because the tales were too vivid, too raw.

At Worldchanging, there was commentary yesterday on the human drives which lead people to build the port of New Orleans on shifting mud; indeed, it seems to be built into the American DNA to choose short-term financial gains over long-term safety and sustainability. Nevertheless, at least the devastation of Katrina helps to underline this pattern, which has been identified before, but which has negative effects that are now powerfully underscored.

I'm reading a book called The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths Toward a Moral Economy, which gives me some hope that we may be able to reprogram ourselves, no matter how massive an undertaking that seems right now. It will be interesting to see how decisions are made about rebuilding vs. relocating.