Posts Tagged ‘education’

Where will the jobs be?

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

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Most experts believe the economy is showing signs of recovery. Officially, the Great Recession ended in June 2009. But if you were one of the 8 million people who lost their jobs or if you’re a recent college grad, the picture doesn’t look that bright, does it.

It’s not only that companies are hiring at a slower speed but also that whole industry sectors have been destroyed and certain jobs just won’t come back. In the global economy some manufacturing jobs, for example, have been lost to other markets with cheaper labor. So have jobs for people with less than a high school diploma or even for high school graduates without any college.

According to a Moody’s Analytics for TIME magazine, in the next couple of years, 37.6% of jobs will require a Bachelor’s degree or higher; 10.2% will require an Associate’s degree and another 17.5% will require some college. How are you positioned to get or keep your job?

One of the greatest problems we are facing as a nation is the mismatch of labor needs and workers’ skills. Even during the worst of the recession there were companies that couldn’t fulfill their open positions because there were few candidates with the right skill-set. People who work with technology: engineers of all kinds, artists, designers, programmers are at the top of the list for companies across the globe.

Opportunities in the professional services are also growing because as large companies have downsized they are now looking to outsource the capabilities that they don’t longer have in house. So, you may need to consider setting up your own consulting firm to serve several clients rather than seeking a full time job.

And looking beyond your own city and state may be more of a necessity than a choice as well. When you think that North Dakota has the nation’s lowest unemployment rate (a mere 3.8%) you realize that you may want to move from Detroit were the unemployment rate is anywhere between 30-50% depending on who you believe.

It’s a great time to leverage your Latino nimbleness: To become independent if you were used to full time employment, to get extra certifications and higher degrees if you notice that the available jobs require them, and to move wherever the jobs are. Keep in mind that you were raised with the ability to adjust to change, to try new roles, and to think out of the box. This is the time to make those traits work for you!

Scholarships year-round

Monday, November 8th, 2010

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I know lots of top students who graduate with huge student loans and sadly, the main reason is not that they were turned down for financial aid or for scholarships while they were in college. No. The main reason is that they didn’t know where to find the money! So, let’s get a few things straight so that you don’t carry the same burden on your shoulders when you graduate.

1. Every year, you must fill out the FAFSA as soon after January 1st as possible, so the government and your school can establish how much grant money you’re eligible for.
2. Visit the Financial Aid office regularly and befriend the staff there. Explain your situation and ask for tips on scholarships you can apply to (sometimes they know about local scholarships that few people know about,) special programs they are familiar with, etc. I know many students who got most of their scholarships this way, by making their presence felt at the Financial Aid office.
3. Use a few different Search Engines and Websites to look for scholarships. For example, use www.fastweb.com and www.scholarships.com. Fill out the form with as much information about you as possible. These engines will find all sorts of scholarships available to your situation: religion, geographic location, major, labor affiliation of your parents, etc.
4. There are scholarships available after Freshman year as more corporations are interested in supporting students entering their industries and make money available for Engineering, Math, Science, Medicine, Business, Agriculture, Green Technology, etc. The secret is for you to continue searching.
5. Ask locally. Many small businesses want to support their local college and offer scholarships that are not listed on the search engines. Your librarian or Financial Aid person in your school should know. In addition, many alumni set specific funds for certain students. For instance, I know of someone with different colored-eyes who set up a fund for students with her same condition.
6. Consider applying for scholarships as an year-round sport. Schedule time to research, write your essays and put your packages together. Make sure you calendar any deadlines. When you look at the alternative, it’s time well invested!

Like Latinos in College on Facebook to take advantage of a wonderful community that is always there to give you ideas and support your growth!

What they don’t teach in college

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

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I just finished writing a short essay for an Anthology of Latinas in Higher Education. It was an interesting piece to write as it made me focus on my college years and the fact that often times I feel as if I had forgotten lots of what I learned. I relive this feeling every weekend when I participate in a Spanish book club in Manhattan and I realize that my peers freely quote from all sorts of novels and poems and even though I have read most of them, I can’t.

I used to think that I suffered from some kind of memory loss. It was worrying and also a bit embarrassing to be one of a small handful of writers in the group and to keep quiet at critical parts of the discussion.

Writing the essay forced me to think about what I learned in college during those six years while I worked on my Masters in Philosophy and Literature. (In Argentina, you enter college and graduate with a Masters degree.) Yes, I read more novels than I can count, and I took four years of Latin and ancient Greek; yes I took Linguistics, Semiotics, History of Philosophy, and all those interesting courses you’re supposed to take when you work on a Liberal Arts degree. But if you ask me to sit down and explain the basics of Parmenides theory, I’d be hard press to come up with the answer.

And yet I know that it was during those formative years that I learned how to structure my own thinking and writing and to create layers of meaning. It was thanks to the hundreds of books that I read and the hours spent interpreting them that I developed the ability to translate complex thoughts and topics into simple ideas for large audiences. These are things you don’t go to college for, when in reality they are the main reason why you do. They are almost a side effect of doing all the hard work in school. The Vitamin D you get from being in the sun when the only thing you were after was a good sun tan.

The experience of spending those years exploring my interests was not only critical to shaping my thinking and worldview, my inner voice and reasoning skills; but in addition, it was instrumental in building my confidence. Those years shaped me, they gave legitimacy to my talents, and they opened up a world of opportunities only available to those who are able to express their ideas clearly.

Would I sound smarter during our book club discussions if I remembered my literary periods better? Probably. Would that make me more effective in my chosen career? Very unlikely.

So I made my peace with the fact that, even though on the surface it seems as though I should be good at something I’ve gone to college for (such as literary analysis, for instance), different people learn very different lessons from the same teachers.

The fact that I have some strong memory loss when it comes to remembering the characteristics of a particular literary movement doesn’t mean that I’ve wasted my education. It means that I selectively remember skills I learned which were not even in the syllabus and that to me are far more aligned with my goals and passion.

Generation Y in the workplace

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Abercrombie & Fitch Gen Y employees present at ALPFA regional conference in DC

Abercrombie & Fitch Gen Y employees present at ALPFA regional conference in DC


When it comes to younger employees in the workplace, I’m fascinated by the resistance that so many managers are experiencing. I was at a conference last week where we heard a great presentation by a Gen Y woman about Gen Yers. She was dressed with jeans, a cut off T-shirt and a short, informal jacket. Not your regular business attire but very appropriate for the issues she was discussing: “Gen Yers are different; they don’t dress like their older colleagues; they don’t think like you, so deal with it!” She was very vivacious, smart and funny and brought home various ways to get along with this generation that outnumbers the two previous generations of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.

After the 45-minutes long presentation about why the Millennials are the way they are and how to best deal with them, you could sense a distinct split reaction in the audience. Some of us loved the presenter. Some disliked her so much they wished they could wipe the grin off her face and, while they were at it, wipe the grins off the faces of all the members of this new generation that they don’t understand.

However, if many in the audience could actually hear some of the points that this woman raised regarding the creation of this generation — namely that they’ve been raised by over-indulgent Baby Boomer parents who provided everything from Kindergarten consultants to Math Summer Camps and volunteer opportunities in Guatemala, bought them every electronic gadget under the sun starting at the tender age of three, and encouraged them to be inquisitive and stand up for what they believe in — maybe they’ll identify with those parents and realize they bear some of the responsibility for the outcome.

And if they could step away for a minute from their “I’m right; you’re wrong” way of thinking and hear the presenter’s wise observations regarding how to manage this generation (among some of her tidbits she emphasized explaining why things need to be done in a certain way, allowing for work flexibility, offering Gen Yers the electronic gadgets they consider vital to functioning, and understanding that they welcome coaching and guidance from adults), perhaps they’ll learn some strategies that will help them better deal not only with their employees but with their kids as well.

It’s always difficult for one generation to welcome a new one in the workplace. But the Millennials have so much to offer in terms of creativity, energy, social entrepreneurship spirit, intrinsic understanding of technology, and leveraging the power of a flat world that we should all make an effort to help them transition into the workforce seamlessly and to develop the skills that are still necessary to succeed. They are inheriting a less than ideal world with plenty of major crises to attend to, none of which they helped create. I, for one, want to make sure they are well prepared to deal with what’s facing them.

Putting STEM on the Latino map

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

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On April 1st, top thought leaders from the public, private and non profit sectors got together for the Latino Education conference organized by Latino Magazine in Washington DC. The conference featured great speakers and panelists who are experts and practitioners in the space.

The main theme of the conference was furthering the involvement of Latino students in the STEM fields. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.) You wonder why is this so important as to warrant a conference on the topic? Well, thirty years ago, the US was number one in graduating high school and college students. We were leading the world in science and math scores. Thirty years later we are near the bottom half of the developing world. Given that 25% of our country’s Kindergarten students are Latinos, and our community has a 50% dropout rate, the situation presents a huge challenge for the United States future.

These are some of the key learnings I’d like to share with you:

  • Eight out of the top ten jobs of the future are STEM field related
  • There are no lack of programs that are helping students succeed in high school and pursue a college education with emphasis in STEM
  • There is no shortage of talent in the Latino community but institutions, organizations and companies need to learn how to identify it better
  • Training teachers to teach STEM subjects is critical to the success of students
  • Taking an AP course and passing an AP exam increases a Latino student’s chances to graduate college from 15% to 65%
  • Passing Algebra by 8th grade is a great predictor of college success
  • It’s critical to scale up programs that work and to work with partners
  • We need to continue informing Latino parents and students of what’s available in terms of resources, opportunities, organizations, etc. so they can take advantage of all these.

    My question to you is the following: Are you doing anything that is related to this field that others need to know about, or are you aware of resources, initiatives, organizations that help students engage in this important field? Let me know!

    I’d like to continue to give visibility to those who are working in this field to help Latino students succeed.

    Non traditional ways to pay for college

    Saturday, March 13th, 2010

    mariela-in-cnn-newsroom

      I was recently interviewed on CNN’s Newsroom about paying for college and I decided to tackle this issue from a different angle. Instead of talking about loans and scholarships, as I often do, I talked about students conducting their own fund raising efforts (via raffles, concerts, parties, email writing campaigns) and exploring micro lending.

      The idea is to encourage the Millennial generation that is so technologically savvy and so adept at social-networking to think about paying for college from a different perspective.

      At our Latinos in College initiative we’d like to start a conversation about what you are doing to pay for school other than taking out a loan or getting a job. We’d like for you to share with the world ideas that might help students become empowered when it comes to paying for college.

      Here are a few more ideas for all of us who are interested in this issue to consider:

  • Start thinking about micro-lending to fund individual student loans
  • Engage college alumni in micro-donating to students at their Alma maters. A group of Harvard grads has started a company to lend money to Harvard students and are looking to expand soon.
  • Support websites like Lily’s List that function as wedding registries where students can list their loan and provide it to their family and friends to help them repay it
  • Open 529 plans for young children and provide the number to friends and relatives so that they can deposit money over the years in lieu of expensive gifts. (Here’s a question for you: wouldn’t it be better for your daughter to have a good education paid for, rather than a huge Quinceañera or Sweet Sixteenth birthday party?)

    I’m looking forward to hearing what you are doing that is working. This is just the beginning of a larger conversation!

  • Obstacles Welcome

    Thursday, February 11th, 2010
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    More often than not, the difference between leaders and less successful people resides in their interpretation of one word: “obstacle.” Whether you interpret the word to mean a barrier to achieving whatever it is you wish to achieve or as an opportunity to create an alternative solution to attain your goal, you act accordingly. In the first case, you tend to give up your goals and in the second case you find a way to turn that obstacle into fuel for your new approach, strategy, point of view, and so on.

    Ralph de la Vega, President and CEO of AT&T Mobility, is a firm believer in turning obstacles into opportunities. He started early — when he was 10 years old and his parents decided at the airport, about to board a plane in Cuba for the US, that Ralph would be the only one in the family to travel while everyone else would stay behind to resolve some documentation issue. Thinking his parents would join him in a few days, Ralph left for his new adventure. The only problem was that he didn’t see his family again for the next four years. Since then, Ralph has had an incredibly successful career in this country and is now one of the highest ranking Hispanics in Corporate America.

    I recently interviewed Ralph about his new book, Obstacles Welcome.

    Mariela– What makes your personal story unique and, at the same time, an example that others can follow?

    Ralph– My story is unique because although I got here as a 10-year-old without my parents, without money and without knowing the language, I’ve been able to reach the top of corporate America. Also, what makes my story relevant to others are the lessons I learned along the way, which I share in my book, Obstacles Welcome, as a guide for them to overcome their own obstacles and achieve their goals.

    Mariela–How did you turn the concept of obstacle into “opportunity”?

    Ralph– Once I succeeded in overcoming the obstacles I encountered during my first years as an immigrant I realized that these difficulties led to bigger and better opportunities. That was a huge lesson for me and one that I’ve applied ever since in business and in life.

    Mariela– What suggestions do you have for people who are frustrated by the bad economy and the long time it is taking them to find a job? How can they turn this big obstacle into an opportunity?

    Ralph– We are living in one of those turbulent times I describe in my book where the old status quo is no more but also where opportunity is being created. My suggestion any time you are faced with adversity is to turn it into opportunity. Right now, even as some fields are being shrunk, others are being created: green jobs, smart grids, digital healthcare records, hybrid cars, and many others. I tell people to look for those opportunities and to develop new skills so that they can compete successfully. This is a great time to put into practice the four pillars that are described in detail in my book.

    1. Develop a plan for success. Hope is not a strategy.
    2. Take calculated risks
    3. Recognize opportunities
    4. Overcome obstacles

    In times like this it’s easy to let a word like “obstacle” run our lives, to use it as a justification or an excuse for not moving forward. If you think of it as just a word, however, you can create your own interpretation. And who knows, you may chose to define is a your next great opportunity!

    Women leading women

    Sunday, November 15th, 2009

    dsc06735I’ve just presented at a Latina Empowerment and Development conference organized by Latinas Unidas de Harvard, a group of unbelievable young female leaders helping each other become our leaders of the future.

    Many of the organizers and participants are the first in their families to attend college. When you add to that the fact that they are in Harvard, one of this country’s most prestigious universities, (and other top universities represented by many attendees such as: MIT, Wellesley College, Brandeis University) you can imagine the impact this has on their families and in our community at large,

    I interviewed several of the students and here are a few tips they shared with me.

    1. Although students admitted at Harvard have a strong academic profile, that is not the key element that admissions officers take into consideration. They look at the individual and in their quest for a diverse campus that offers a rich experience to their students, they admit students with unique and interesting life experiences.

    2. Many students, both US citizens/residents and foreign students have taken advantage of Harvard’s Middle Income initiative and are getting a full free ride! You’ll hear them talk in upcoming clips we’ll post. Which means, these students are getting a 200,000 education for FREE. Leaving college with NO DEBT. How many of you, are either making the decision to attend or already attending a community college or state university because it’s less expensive than a private school?

    I met several students who work at the Undergraduate Minority Recruitment Program and the Admissions office and they are willing to help any of you who is interested in finding out more about how to apply to Harvard, to give you feedback on your essays or anything you may need to consider attending a top school.

    I hope you take advantage of their generosity and post comments here and through www.latinosincollege.com so we can connect you with them. It doesn’t matter if others say you are not cut for a Tier 1 school. It’s up to you to create a remarkable future for yourself.

    Interships available

    Sunday, July 5th, 2009

    cover-latinos-in-college-small

    Are you a high school senior or college student looking for an internship? Get involved with the Latinos in College initiative!

    I have recently helped launch this nationwide public awareness campaign to help increase the number of Latinos/Hispanics who graduate from college. Yes, it’s not just about getting into a university but graduating with a four year degree. And although right now there are opportunities out there for people with great technical skills and lots of experience, keep in mind that the unemployment rate for people without a college degree is three times higher than for people with a college degree.

    So, here’s a great opportunity: Latinos in College is looking for interns to help us with Internet marketing. What does it mean? That you’ll be using Internet tools to make other students aware of our initiative and website. You’ll be using Twitter, Facebook, Myspace and all the other Social Networking sites to drive traffic to our site.

    We are looking for a team of committed students. Here’s how you’ll benefit:

  • You’ll be in touch with experts in various industries who can open doors for you now and in the future
  • You’ll gain experience in a critical field that will give you an edge when you look for a job
  • You’ll have a wonderful internship experience to add to your resume
  • You’ll be in touch with other students with a Latino background who can support you in your own path to college

    We are looking for people who:

  • Are high school seniors, college students and recent college grads
  • Are very well versed in Social Networking tools and on how the Internet works
  • Are motivated, self directed and enthusiastic about education
  • Are interested in developing their leadership skills
  • Are interested in helping other Hispanic students

    Although this is an unpaid internship, you may be able to get college credits for it. Check with your school.

    If you are interested in becoming a part of this exciting initiative, contact us today at: mariela@latinosincollege.com

  • How to write a scholarship essay

    Saturday, April 18th, 2009

    As one of the judges for the RMHC/HACER national scholarship I have the opportunity to read a lot of student essays. Considering that we are talking about 4 scholarships of a $100,000 each, you would expect students to put their best efforts into writing a fantastic essay. Well, unfortunately this is not always the case and students who would be perfect to win this huge award miss out on the opportunity.

    I’m not going to focus here on what you need to do during high school to actually qualify for a scholarship, (I’ve written plenty about that in other posts) but on how to write your essay once you have what it takes.

  • Consider each scholarship application separately from others so you can understand what the goal of the scholarship is. Does it focus on a specific area of study? Does it focus on leadership skills? Or on community involvement? Once you identify what aspect the scholarship donors wish to reward, you’ll be better able to choose the topic and focus of your essay.
  • Think about a topic that corresponds to what the scholarship is interested in. In the RMHC/HACER case, the emphasis is on community involvement, so in your essay you should talk about how you have been involved in your community and how you plan to continue having an impact in the future.
  • Write the essay and re-write it until it sounds good to you. It should be a compelling story about you that lets readers know what kind of person you are, where you want to go in life, what kind of impact others had on you, what kind of leader you will be, how you have overcame adversity, etc. Judges don’t want to read “a list” of things you’ve accomplished but how those things define you as a person; they don’t want to read a sad story but how that sad story has made you stronger or has helped you make a certain decision for the future. They don’t want to read your ramblings about your heritage but how that heritage has helped you commit to do something for your community in the future.
  • Ask your English teacher, or an English speaker who is a professional to review your essay and give you feedback. Ask them to help you with your grammar and spelling. It is inadmissible that having time to have someone review an essay that could help you get money for college, you don’t so.
  • Re-write your essay until is perfect. Make sure that if you are using this essay again for another scholarship application, you go through step one again: carefully read the requirements for that award so that you adapt the essay to the program.

    These simple steps should substantially increase your chances of getting lots of money for school!