Thursday, October 11, 2012

Eliminate poverty and affirmative action would be a thing of the past.

One cannot talk about affirmative action without considering the effect of poverty on the type of education that one receives. Affirmative action simply alleviates the symptoms while doing nothing to eradicate the root of the problem. What is happening today is the unwanted side effect of affirmative action. Therefore, we now need a much stronger medicine -“the Supreme Court”- to tackle the problem once more.  I can guarantee you, whatever the Supreme Court’s decision, nothing much will be done. Nevertheless, eliminate poverty and affirmative action would be a thing of the past.

I have decided to write this post just to respond to a claim that I have read in multiple news media.  I find this one from ABC News: "She (Abigail Noel Fisher) said she was denied admission, even though her academic credentials exceeded those of some of the admitted minority candidates."

I do not think that admitting minority students would have affected her admission to UT. The fact that Abigail Noel Fisher didn't meet the requirements to be among the admitted top 10 percent, it just becomes more competitive for Fisher because the admission committee would have to consider other factors to admit her. I am certain that the top 10% is not only composed of White students. There would be some minority students who fall under this category.

On the basis of race, Fisher would have to compete against the other 90% of non-top-10-percent applicants. I do think it is a mistake to say that her credentials exceeded those of some of the admitted “minority” candidates. It is important to mention that Fisher credentials, for certain, exceeded those of some of the admitted “White” students.

Let us now consider an admission committee reviewing Fisher’s application and that of another White student. Let us now assume the other student grew up in chronically underprivileged community. The admission committee could have used that parameter to admit that White student over Fisher. The university could also decide to grant admission to a minority student over Fisher because that student came from a community where the school system is well known for its mediocrity.

Whether a student is White, Black or Hispanic, financial hardship does affect the quality of education that he or she receives. As a result, a student who grew up in poverty might not perform well in standardized exams just because his school did not have access to certain pertinent academic resources. Folks, poverty is a real weapon of mass destruction. Studies have found that poor students perform 13 percent lower in mental tests than those living in affluent communities. We also must not ignore the fact that poor students do not have access to affordable and adequate health care and do not eat a well-balance diet.

I am patiently waiting for the Supreme Court ruling. I do believe that the University of Texas has the right to opt for a diverse student body. I am siding with UT because I do believe that it wasn’t their intention to reject Fisher’s application. The university is simply trying to promote racial diversity. Fisher should also understand that not all the non-top-10% applicants are minorities. The media should also avoid referring to this statement because it is a claim of fallacy. Regardless of the Supreme Court decision, we can all agree that diversity is healthy and does belong in our schools.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sorry, Not Enough Skills

I have come to the conclusion that one cannot live well without knowing the basics of the financial market. That's why I have made it a priority to begin each morning with reading the New York Times Business section or spend a few minutes watching CNBC.

This is what I frequently hear: "there is plenty of jobs, but not enough skillful workers". Whether you like it or not, it is true that there are plenty of jobs out there. At the same time, there are plenty of college students who graduated with massive debts who have been long struggling to find a job. Can't you see that there is something wrong in here?

Now I am asking who should we blame for this?
Neither Romney nor Obama is responsible.
I blame the schools because program directors do have the rights to monitor and amend their school curriculum as they see fit. To me, it seems that those program directors don't read or simply choose to ignore the reality of the current job market here in the United States.

I am hoping that someone soon recognizes that an overhaul is needed in the current undergraduate curriculum. Perhaps, we can learn from the success of the work that Siemens has been doing in Germany. For years, Siemens has been investing in training German students ( When students do graduate from these training-intensive programs, they are equipped with the skills that they need to succeed in their career.

I can guarantee you that most school would be ashamed of themselves if they survey students about their job experience or status one to three years post graduation. It is hard to imagine or even see a student struggling to find a job while companies are outsourcing jobs overseas because of our unattractive workforce. Before we went to college, we were advised that a four-year degree was a visa to a good life once one graduates. Given the challenges that our students face today, can this statement still hold?

The time has now come for the university system to put student first. Instead of fighting over increasing tuition fees, you (school officials) should instead devote similar energy at designing curriculum that would prepare our students for a successful career.

Our students can no longer afford to be part of the $1 trillion student debt statistics. Going forward, school officials will need to focus on integrating intensive internship programs in their curriculum. When this is done and if properly done, companies would no longer need to outsource science and engineering jobs to foreign markets. Those jobs would instead stay here in the United States thus putting more Americans to work.

Looking forward to your comments.


W. Sainval

Monday, October 1, 2012

Holiday Hiring Season and College Students

The 2012 Holiday season is finally here. For you college students, this merry season brings along a lot of job opportunities. Many department stores will need to hire new employees to service the large volume of customers who are expected to shop this holiday season. Many retail stores have already prepped for that excited season. Therefore, the earlier you can submit your application, the better your chance of being invited for an interview and ultimately offered a position.

According to Reuters, this holiday season, Wal-Mart is expected to hire 50,000 seasonal employees. Las year, Target hired 92,000 employee for the holiday season. Thirty percent of those employees were given permanent position thus making this year estimate to be at around 80,000 to 90,000 employees (Atlanta Business Chronicle). Kohl’s and many other giant department stores are also hiring. There are many ways that you can inquire about new employment opportunities in you locality. You can do so by visiting the actual store website, calling the human resources department or simply take a trip to that store. You will need to be careful on whom you ask about current store vacancies. Some store associates simply aren't current on recent or new openings; others simply would not encourage you to apply because of the competitive nature of today's job market.

From my experience, when you walk into a store don’t make the mistake of talking with only one store associate. Before leaving that store, try to at least talk with 3 to 4 employees.  You need to be certain that one of those employees is a supervisor or someone who works in the human resources department. I remember 6 years ago, I approached a supervisor at a major home improvement store and asked him if the store was hiring. He quickly responded me with a “Nope….we are not hiring at this time…as a matter of fact, my department  has recently taken measures to cut on some employee hours”. I replied “thank you sir” then I walked to the customer service desk and stood in line until my turn was up. When the associate asked if she could help me, I said: “well….obviously, I don’t have any return but I live just 5 miles from the store and I would love to work here”. She responded, “You came right on time because our store is accepting application for receiving (warehouse), cashier and appliance sales associates. One week later, I was offered the position of appliance sales associate but I rejected the offer in favor of a much better position that I had on campus.

Since many students do go back to their home cities, it is important that you plan your holiday schedule ahead of time so that you don’t risk loosing your new job. Plan as if your career with that company will go beyond the holiday season. As a matter of fact, many stores will retain a small percentage of their seasonal employees. There is a high chance that you might be one of the few that they choose to keep. I refer to that as the "seeing the glass half full instead of half empty" attitude. If you don’t have a permanent job, don't be afraid to approach your supervisor or human resources personnel and express to them your desire to become a permanent employee with their company. You need to show them that you are interested in their company. Most importantly, you will need to show your immediate supervisor that you are someone who is reliable, respectful and customer oriented. If you are hired as a sales associate, try to be the best sales associate that you can be. Don’t be afraid to seek advices from senior and top performer associates.

I hope this holiday season brings some extra bucks in your pocket.

W. Sainval