West Virginia Higher Education: Many Colleges But Little Learning Or Income

West Virginia State Capitol in Charleston, West Virginia, USA. (Getty)

A legendary former four term governor of Ohio, James Rhodes, once bragged that he was placing a state university within 30 miles of every resident of the Buckeye State. The goal of providing access to colleges dominated American higher education policy in the mid-20th century, but we are now reaping the consequences of a system of too many mediocre colleges teaching too few things of value to too few well trained students at too high of a price.

To make the point, let’s talk about West Virginia. The Mountaineer State has barely 1.8 million persons; population has fallen in the 21st century, and attendance has similarly declined at state universities in recent years. West Virginia has 11 public four year colleges and universities, only two fewer than neighboring Ohio, a state with six times the population. West Virginia has the highest unemployment rate of the 48 contiguous states, the second lowest per capita income and the lowest percent of those over 25 years old with four year college degrees or more. Therein lies a paradox: public colleges are everywhere — roughly one for every 2,000 square miles and 160,000 persons — but relatively few graduates.

Most of the public schools are very small — six have fewer than 2,500 enrolled. Only two schools have at least 5,000 students, of which one, West Virginia University (WVU), is the only true comprehensive university, with over 28,000 students and a decent if not spectacular reputation in many academic areas, being ranked 406 on the Forbes list of 660 best colleges (the only other true university, Marshall, has about 13,000 students and is better known for football than academic prowess; Forbes does not even rank it). West Virginia is one of four states (Alaska, New Mexico and South Dakota are the others) with no school listed in the top 500 college list of the Wall Street Journal.

Data from the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard show that West Virginia higher education has often been a very poor investment for students. Only one school, WVU, has more students who actually graduate rather than dropout (or at least don’t graduate within six years). It is also the only school where the average annual earnings after leaving the university exceeds $40,000. At two schools, Bluefield State and West Virginia State, average earnings are less than $30,000 a year — less than what a recent high school graduate making $15 an hour earns.

Questions abound. If higher education is a key to economic prosperity, why does a state with so many publicly supported colleges have such low incomes and relatively few job opportunities? What is cause and what is effect? Is West Virginia poor because it has relatively few college graduates? Or, does it have few graduates because it is poor? Or, more provocatively, is the poor quality of higher education, especially at the non-flagship (WVU) schools, contributing to the state’s ranking at the bottom of states in terms of economic opportunity and quality of life?


TNTRB Assistant Professor Answer Key Released, Check Here

TNTRB Assistant Professor Answer Key Released, Check Here

Tamil Nadu Teachers Recruitment Board (TNTRB) conducted the Written Examination for the Direct Recruitment of Assistant Professors/Assistant Professors (Pre-Law) in Government Law Colleges from October 13, 2018 to October 16, 2018. Now the board has released the TNTRB tentative answer key for all subjects for the examination, based on the recommendation of subject experts. Candidates can submit their representation in prescribed format given (to be downloaded from TRB website) if any, regarding objections on the TNTRB answer key published, along with the relevant proof from authenticated text for the disputed answer keys.

The TNTRB Law Assistant Professor answer keys have been released on the website, trb.tn.nic.in.

According to a statement from TNTRB on the answer key, the representations may be sent through post or may be dropped in the Box provided at Teachers Recruitment Board’s information centre to reach this office on or before December 10, 2018 up to 5.45 pm.


Schools can’t be substitute parents, Ofsted chief warns

Amanda Spielman
Amanda Spielman: schools ‘cannot be a panacea’ for all social ills. Photograph: Graeme Robertson/Guardian

Parents must not “abdicate their responsibility” by expecting schools to solve all the major problems children face, the chief inspector for schools will warn this week.

In a robust intervention attacking the increasing burdens placed on teachers, Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman will say schools “cannot be a panacea” for all social ills and will criticise some parents for neglecting some of the “most basic of parenting tasks”, such as toilet training.

While teachers “can play a role” in educating children about the dangers of knife crime and obesity, primary responsibility for these complex problems lies elsewhere, she will warn. When it comes to keeping to a healthy weight, she will say, “schools cannot take over the role of health professionals – and above all parents”.

In a speech marking the publication of her second annual Ofsted report, Spielman will say: “Our education and care services don’t exist in isolation from the local areas they serve. They are and should be a central part of our communities. But being part of a community means being very clear what your responsibilities are, and what issues, however worthy, can only be tackled beyond the school, college or nursery gates.”

Knife crime will be singled out as one of the most recent issues to place an additional burden on schools. “Most of our schools are safe, and we fully support measures, including zero-tolerance policies on the carrying of knives, to keep them that way,” Spielman will say. “But beyond that, while schools can play a role in educating young people about the danger of knives, they cannot be a panacea for this particular societal ill.

“Instead, preventing knife crime requires all local safeguarding partners to work together to protect children from harm while the relevant agencies tackle criminal activity and bring to justice youths and adults who cause harm to children.” Spielman said the obesity crisis was also “an issue which sits largely beyond the school gates”.

“Schools can and should teach children about the importance of healthy eating and exercise … their PE lessons should get them out of breath.

“But beyond that, schools cannot take over the role of health professionals – and above all parents. The answer to the obesity crisis, particularly among younger children, lies in the home, and parents should not abdicate their responsibility here.”

By the start of primary school, almost a quarter of children in England are overweight or obese, and the proportion rises to more than a third by the time they leave for secondary school. However, research by Ofsted has found no pattern to suggest that, on their own, interventions at school can be linked to a direct and measurable impact on weight.

Spielman will also chastise parents who allow their children to reach school without being toilet-trained. It comes amid growing evidence of children arriving at reception unable to use a toilet. “This is difficult for teachers, disruptive for other children and has a terrible social impact on the children affected,” she will say. “This is wrong. Toilet-training is the role of parents and carers, and should not be left to schools. Only in the most extreme cases should parents be excused from this most basic of parenting tasks.”

Spielman’s comments represent a blunt message to ministers keen to tackle topical issues by placing more responsibilities on schools even as they face cuts to resources in the face of austerity. Over the summer the Home Office issued lesson plans for children as young as 11 about the dangers of knife crime, which would involve them being told it is a “myth” that they will be safer with a weapon.

Plans were also announced to educate teachers on related slang.

Children’s minister Nadhim Zahawi said the lesson plans would “help illustrate the real impact of knife crime on young people’s lives” and that schools “up and down the country are taking advantage of them”. With evidence that the average age of knife crime victims is falling, some NHS doctors have called for school exit times to be staggered to reduce the chances of clashes.

There have been major concerns about teachers’ workloads and the impact on the numbers staying in the job. The Department for Education recently pledged to ease pressures on teachers in England after a report blamed an “audit culture” for causing stress among staff.


Maharashtra Approves 16 Per Cent Quota For Marathas In Education, Jobs

Maharashtra Assembly today unanimously passed a bill proposing 16 per cent reservation for Marathas under socially and educationally backward category.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who tabled the Bill, thanked Opposition members for helping in passage of the Bill unanimously.

The Bill provides for reservation of seats for admission in educational institutions and posts in public services to Marathas who have been declared as socially and educationally backward class of citizens.

Earlier, Mr Fadnavis also tabled the action taken report (ATR) on the State Backward Class Commission’s (SBCC) recommendations for reservation to the Maratha community in government jobs and education.

He also tabled the recommendations of the SBCC’s report on social, educational and financial status of the Maratha community.

Marathas have been declared as socially and educationally backward class of citizens (SEBC) and have inadequate representation in services under the state, the panel report said.

They are entitled to reservation benefits and advantages enshrined in the Articles 15(4) and 16(4) of the Constitution, it said.

The panel had suggested that looking at exceptional circumstances and extra-ordinary situations generated on declaring Marathas as socially and educationally backward and their consequential entitlement to reservation benefits, the government may take appropriate decision within constitutional provision to address the emerging scenario in the state.

The Bill to provide for reservation of seats for admission in educational institutions and posts in public services in the state was tabled thereafter.


3 Ways To Jumpstart Your Career This Summer

Summer is the prime time to get a jumpstart on your career. Work is slower and the days are longer, leaving you with more time to invest in yourself and your development. Whether you’re looking for a new job, working towards a promotion, or happy in your current role, you should always devote time to building your career.

Summer is usually a bit slower for most businesses, which means you have more time to build connections. Reach out to at least one person in your network that you haven’t been in contact with recently and set up a coffee meeting or phone call. Send a catch up email to someone from the last networking event you attended to touch base with them. You don’t always have to have a specific agenda to meet someone. It can be nice to just touch base and stay at the top of someone’s mind.

If you’re looking to change careers, reach out to someone at a company you’d like to work for. Learn about their role, their bosses, and what they like and don’t like about their job. If you’re working towards a promotion, find someone in the role you’re aspiring to. They don’t have to be at your company. Talk to them about how they got their job, and see if they have any recommendations for skills you should learn or ways to position yourself as the right candidate for that role.

In general, reach out to at least one new person every week. If you’re job searching, aim for connecting with five people each week. Remember that you won’t hear back from everyone. It’s not personal – perhaps they’re busy, the email you have isn’t one they use anymore or check often, or your message got lost in the sea of hundreds they receive daily. It’s always good to reach out twice. Wait about a week and then send another message with a friendly response checking to see if they received your previous email.

Learn a new skill.

A foolproof way to move your career forward is by learning. This can be done in a formal way by taking a class, or informally by studying on your own. Taking a group class or workshop is also another great way to expand your network and meet new people. What better time than the summer to learn something new? Take advantage of the slower pace of work and the days it’s too hot to go outside and fill them with something productive.


These HR Startups Are Using Tech To Optimize Recruiting For Some Of India’s Biggest Companies

India is one of the fastest growing nations in Asia, with a burgeoning workforce to match. According to the India Employment Report, more than 460 million people above the age of 14 years were employed in 2015-16, which is nine million more than a decade ago. India alone produced 6.3 million graduates and 1.4 million post-graduate students in 2015.

And those numbers are only increasing. In the next decade, India will account for more than half of Asia’s workforce. So how do corporates cope with this ever-increasing influx of skilled candidates? Are these skilled workers landing jobs that are suited to their skill sets? A wave of Indian startups are tapping into technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictive analytics to build plug-and-play platforms for large companies with the aim of assisting large companies to address their recruitment needs and simplify complex hiring processes.

Customizing the perfect job for the perfect candidate

Belong.co, a Bangalore-based SaaS startup is bullish on outbound hiring, which taps into social talent data and predictive analysis to engage the right candidates for a job, flipping the conventional way of hiring where recruiters wait for the most suited candidates to apply. Co-founder Rishabh Kaul says, “There are some broad trends we have witnessed in the market today and one is that people are not reliant on job portals as much as they were earlier. There are more choices available while job hunting and the main question is–can someone find a job that they actually like? This has led to candidates having varied expectations from jobs.”

Belong’s machine learning algorithms analyze publicly available data of talent on online community networks and social media to intelligently match candidates to relevant opportunities. Being data rich, Kaul hopes to bridge the gap between human resourcing and business goals. Belong works extensively with enterprise companies such as Cisco, Paypal, Adobe, ABB, Tesco, ThoughtWorks and Tavant Technologies among others. Some of their other clients include Flipkart, Myntra, Ola, InMobi and Directi. “Initially, we started hiring in product management, IoT and data science streams. Now, we have moved on to hiring for larger engineering roles as well as sales and marketing,” says Kaul.

Since 2015, Belong has doubled its number of mid-market and enterprise customers, and has seen a 411% year-on-year increase in the number of offers generated on its platform.

Hackathons have proven to be an unbiased, and skill-driven method to hire quality coders for large enterprises. (Photo By John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Another startup that exclusively taps into advanced HR technology to make precise recruitment decisions is Darwinbox. According to cofounder Jayant Paleti, technology can be used for more strategic business purposes such as understanding human behavior, seeking talent and overall, driving a workplace culture. Paleti says, “We have been able to develop multi-layered insights to employee behavior based on the immense amount of data analyzed on our platform. Our AI engine allows a recruiter to analyze a job description and employee profile, and picks keywords to arrive at a certain ranking metric. So, if there are 400 applicants for a job, the system will shortlist about 10-15 applicants for the recruiter to talk to. Cost saving, increased productivity, better talent acquisition and higher talent retention has resulted in 40% RoI for our clients.”

Darwinbox, an end-to-end HR technology platform, serves more than 100 clients, including PayTM, Nivea, Myntra, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, Swiggy, eKart and Times Internet among others.

Grooming coders for India’s technology needs

Given the critical and centralized role played by technology in companies today, there is a growing need for qualified coders and software engineers. This is where Hackerearth is making a difference in an unconventional way–by inviting coders from across the country to its hackathons to display their skills. This has given rise to a pool of highly skilled coders, many who have been recruited by companies based on their most relevant software skills.

The idea for Hackerearth originated in IIT Roorkee, one of India’s premier engineering institutes, where Sachin Gupta and Vivek Prakash, cofounders of Hackerearth, were students. “Campus recruitment in India can sometimes be subjective and biased, which is detrimental to technical hiring. If you’re a good coder and can prove what you know theoretically, it doesn’t matter where you study or how you come across during an interview at a certain time. Technical hiring has to be bias-free and skill-driven,” said Gupta.

This led Gupta and Prakash to create a platform that allows coders to develop a browser, whose codes could be evaluated by a skilled hiring panel based on a SWOT analysis. This automated skill assessment is intended to reduce hours spent by recruiters manually searching for coders, and screen the right candidates for companies based on their requirements. Hackerearth has helped companies like Amazon, Intuit, Walmart Labs, Honeywell, IBM Nasdaq OMX and Societe Generale. Recently, the company initiated a platform called Startup Connect that connects early stage startups with large companies in a bid to foster innovation and help enterprises solve business challenges. Currently, more than 500 startups have signed up on this platform and Hackerearth aims to have around 50 companies on its platform by the end of 2018.

Keeping the “human” in human resources

While it may appear that these hot tech startups could quickly replace the role of a HR professional, the three cofounders strongly disagree. Paleti says, “Research has shown that recruiters spend 38-40 hours per week just to schedule interviews. With big enterprises, this is a mammoth waste of time. Since our platform computes a lot of data quickly, recruiters feel their productivity levels have gone up by 30-40% and incidentally, they are able to spend more time being more human on the job, instead of wasting precious hours chasing operational tasks.”

Gupta believes that technology has played a huge role in identifying the right employees for companies, and eliminating poor fits as well. This results in better employee retention, reduced attrition and improved company morale.


11 new talent recruitment teams set up ahead of Beijing 2022 Winter Olympiad

Image result for 11 new talent recruitment teams set up ahead of Beijing 2022 Winter Olympiad

A new Talent Action Plan for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympics has been released, confirming that 11 talent recruitment teams will be started ahead of the upcoming Olympiad.

With the Winter Olympic clock having switched to Beijing Time, the Plan aims to strengthen the specialization and internationalization of China’s talent recruitment efforts.

The plan was released after approval by Beijing Organising Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, and will be jointly implemented by the State General Sport Administration of China, the China Disabled Persons’ Federation, Beijing municipal government and the Hebei provincial government.

Yan Cheng, the human resources director at the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, says a global vision of talent recruitment is needed ahead of the Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

A professional and internationalized team of talents is considered crucial both for the Games themselves, and also for China’s long-term economic and social development.

Each of the 11 teams will perform different functions related to the development and training of talents.

Seven of them will be led by the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, including the International Talent Gathering, the Construction of Staff Team, the Development of Competition Management Talents, the Training of Professional and Technical Personnel, the Development of Competitive Sports Talents, the Voluntary Service and the Liaisons Training with Contractors.

Several special projects are also included, among which is the International Talent Gathering special plan, which has achieved remarkable results.

A special team of 14 experts has been establishedt to address technical difficulties in stadium planning, track design, competition organization, and snow work.

In addition to the training work, four special plans, including the development of a talent team in urban operation, youth Olympic education, mass sports and the development of entrepreneurial talents are also being put into motion, aiming to retain talent resources for the long-term development of China’s economy and society.


Working with drones: Still not a career for most?

Karan Kamdar, president, Indian Drone Racing League, hopes the government will relax norms; and Bhavesh Sangani (below) sees drone flying only as a part-time job. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint


While studying at an engineering college in Tumkur, Karnataka, in 2009, Bhavesh Sangani bought a small toy: a remote-controlled helicopter. Before he started flying it, he tied it with a thread, just like a kite, scared it might land somewhere else. Something worse happened—the flight crashed and the toy was wrecked. What remained with Sangani, however, was the desire to fly something with a remote control. The same year, he started a club in college that made DIY remote-controlled flights or drones. “By the time I graduated in 2011, we had built 36 remote-controlled electrical planes, all self-taught through the internet,” says the 28-year-old. The hobby helped Sangani land a job as an engineer with Quest Global, an engineering services company based in Bengaluru, straight out of college.

It has been nine years since Sangani picked up drone-flying as a hobby. In this time, he has seen it evolve from a geeky pastime to a fledgling, yet promising, career option that is in demand in several sectors—from movie shoots and public sector undertakings to mining companies and survey agencies.

Bhavesh Sangani with his drones. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

“Since I have a lot of experience flying these birds, I can easily choose to become a full-time test pilot for new products for mapping or surveying in a few years. There is a lot of scope for future growth of this technology,” says Sangani.

Globally, the market for piloted drones is forecast to more than double by 2022, according to a European Commission impact assessment report released in December 2015. The report estimates some 150,000 jobs by 2050 in Europe alone. According to an estimate last year by the non-profit body, Consortium of Unmanned Vehicle Systems India (Cuvsi), there are 40,000 drones in the Indian sky and Indians have spent more than Rs40 crore buying civil drones, even though their civilian use is illegal.

Karan Kamdar, 33, president of the Indian Drone Racing League (IDRL), which organizes drone-racing events in colleges, moved from the US to India in 2014 to explore a start-up experimenting in drone photography, DIY drone kits and robotics. When the Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar approached him in 2016 to conduct a First Person View (FPV) drone race (in which a pilot can view video feed from a camera attached to a drone through a headset or goggles) on its campus, he knew this would be big. “When this offer came to us, there was just a small group of Bengaluru hobbyists who did FPV racing. I decided to put up a website to request for teams,” he says. Within 24 hours, Kamdar and his team had hundreds of inquiries. The Gandhinagar event was India’s first competitive drone race; it was won by Sangani.

Soon, Kamdar started getting inquiries from institutes, drone pilots and students who wanted to make their own drones, and teams and individuals interested in participating in the races. “Since the first league, I haven’t had time,” he says. “We’ve conducted 17 events across the country in one and a half years, have grown to a community of 800 pro pilots who are training others on how to build and fly their own quads or drones, have a dedicated team of designers who create challenging tracks for their pro pilots, and have even held a night race. And this is just racing drones that I’m talking about.” Kamdar has also launched a marketplace for drone spare parts, runs workshops on drone-making and piloting, and is the go-between for projects and corporate events for the pro pilots in his community. Kamdar charges Rs15,000 for hosting an IDRL event, on top of actual cost. Most pilots work part-time since it’s a niche career. “Our pilots have a career in aerial photography, mining industry, testing for drone start-ups and many other undeveloped fields,” says Kamdar, adding that he hopes the government will relax its policies so that the hobby can become a lucrative career.

In October 2014, the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) imposed a blanket ban on all civil operations of drones in the Indian airspace, with permission possible on a case-by-case basis. “If I’m shooting a film and need government permission for drone flying, the law says that I have to get the permission for that day and time I plan to fly 90 days in advance. What if the weather that day doesn’t permit me to fly?” asks Raisin George, a documentary maker and digital communications professional at a Bengaluru-based start-up who has been practising drone flying since March 2016.

Using his DJI Phantom 4 drone, the 31-year-old has made films on treks in the Himalayas, of a few monuments outside Bengaluru, and beaches like Kaup in Karnataka’s Udupi district. He even managed to convince the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC)—after chasing them for six months—to make a documentary on Bengaluru buses. In March, the documentaryWhat Bengalureans Think About BMTC Buses won an honourable jury mention award at the Indian World Film Festival in Hyderabad. Now George regularly gets inquiries from prospective clients for aerial photography and videography, but the moment he tells them about the permissions required from DGCA, they say, “Okay, some other day.”


Women’s Careers: From Problematic To Futuristic


Companies have grudgingly adjusted to the fact that women have babies – far fewer have adjusted to the fact that men have them too. Overwhelmingly, the language of work flexibility is still seen as the purview of women, and the fight for balance is largely led by women, like Anne-Marie Slaughter’s famous article on why women still can’t have it all (as though men can). These voices are still often dismissed by those who see themselves as really serious about work, career and performance, despite a decade worth of research correlating gender balance in leadership to better bottom line results. Executives have never worked so hard, nor put in so many hours. Extremism is the new badge of the serious. But most women can’t succeed in these conditions. And two new segments are refusing to – millennials and perennials. We are about to discover that women’s choices weren’t the problem, they were an educational introduction to the future.

There is a bit of flexibility in some systems, with tech companies and millennial-founded startups in the lead. But the majority of companies will prefer services that keep people at work, rather than encouraging them to invest in the personal. Apple’s spanking new flagship headquarters offers everything but daycare. They are not alone. A new report by Indeed Hiring Lab shows that only 3.6% of U.S. job postings include language about family-friendly or flexible work policies – that’s only one in 30 jobs, says economist Andrew Flowers.


Traditional Career

The default model about careers that most companies and managers still have in their minds – and in their corporate talent management systems – is the tried and true linear-vertical-up or out picture of a hungry, ambitious, hard-working youngster. Big companies spend millions recruiting and training smart graduates in their 20s, identifying high potentials and developing them in their 30s and then promoting them into leadership in their 40s and 50s, and trying to shed their high salaries in their 60s.

The first people to disrupt this model were women. The key decade for companies selecting and propelling talent has traditionally focused on the 30s. This has proven precisely the worst possible decade for the majority of women who still choose to be mothers – not to mention the men who choose to be fathers. Because today’s working women have delayed both marriage and child-bearing, the decade of the 30s ends up concentrating in a very few, short years all of our weightiest personal moments – marriage and becoming a parent. The competing calls between the company that wants to promote you to a “stretch assignment” or sends you to China inevitably clashes with the babies who aren’t quite sleeping through the night or the spouse who is getting sent to China. This has caused decades of trying to “accommodate” women, usually by orienting them into staff roles that they then end up never getting out of.

Companies used to be able to ignore the personal side of life because men had wives at home taking care of life. They rigorously taught that “professionals” compartmentalize between personal and professional. This mindset is still strong among the baby boomer men running companies. Now that the majority of people are in dual-income couples, juggling work and family has become as much of an issue for men as it is for women, potently argued by people like Josh Levs in his book All In: How Our Work-First Culture Fails Dads, Families, and Businesses.

But many companies and managers have been reluctant to embrace this shift. The U.S. still has no federally mandated paid maternity leave (the only developed country in the world not to). The idea of parental leave being introduced in several countries is a distant dream. Companies everywhere still frame flexibility as a “women’s issue” and flexibility is often positioned as part of a women’s initiative. In our interviews of thousands of managers in companies across the globe, the number one reason they cite for the fact that there are few women in leadership in their companies? Women have children, and “choose” to prioritize them above work. There is almost never a mention of the fact that most children have two parents, not one mother.

The companies that first introduced flexibility in where and when people work – the tech companies – usually did it for cost-cutting reasons, not people engagement. People working from home and hot-desking saved billions on office costs. It also allowed the old limits of separating personal and professional to disappear. We are all connected 24/7 via a myriad of gadgets more intrusive than any boss ever was. But work has been allowed into the personal sphere far more than we’ve allowed the personal entrance into our professional worlds.

This may change thanks to the addition of two weighty new segments – the millennials and the perennials (a.k.a. us boomers). Women are no longer the exception. It’s the old, rigid models that are fast becoming obsolete.

Millennials: Younger people, particularly the brightest and best, aren’t buying the old corporate career model. It doesn’t attract them, and it doesn’t retain them. They aren’t as ready as their parents were to put their heads to the grindstone for a decade in the hope of earning a plum promotion. In addition, a lot of companies are flattening their hierarchies, so vertical promotions up a fast-disappearing hierarchy may be hard to design. They are looking for companies that recognize this, and offer them learning, variety, mobility, flexibility and work/ life balance. Underline flexibility. Millennials just can’t breathe without it.


Flexible Futures

Women: Women have long been penalized by the traditional career path’s over-focus on the early 30s as a time of high-potential identification, acceleration and potential-testing through bigger and more visible roles. The clash between traditional corporate timelines and women’s traditional parenting pressures has for too long eliminated many women from the leadership pipeline. This has resulted in the first-ever dip in women’s participation in the U.S. labor force. The only time when women are less likely to be working than in previous generations: their late 30s and early 40s. They hang on as long as they can, then drop in frustration. Increasingly, younger men taking their parenting roles seriously are also bumping into this mostly unaddressed conflict. But as careers stretch out across the decades, the relative weight of parental roles will shrink, and straight, unbroken career trajectories will no longer be the norm against which all others are compared.

Perennials: Lengthening careers will see the number of people working into their 70s and 80s grow. For the moment, many companies still have mandated retirement ages, sometimes as young as the now-youthful 65. Ageism is alive and well, and the value and knowledge of experienced employees are often thrown out as expensive luxuries during restructurings. This is not helped by some pension systems still based on final pay, which discourages end of career flexibility. Talent shortages in aging societies will mean that more companies will want to retain older staff, and the likelihood is that we will see late-career phases develop with more part-time, consulting or advisory roles. Many senior staffers want to stay involved, they just don’t want to continue the relentless 24/7 pace of their younger years.

The sum of these three segments is now the majority of the U.S. workforce. Their preferences and need for greater flexibility, in a tightening and aging labor market, will blow the old models away. Since 2015, millennials represent the largest share of the U.S. labor force. Women are 60% of today’s global university graduates and 52% of management and professional employees in the U.S. Seniors have decades of experience and organizational knowledge.

For managers, my advice is usually to check their own language and framing of flexibility. Drop the talk about “women and children” (no matter how well-meaning you think it is). Instead, inclusively address “people and their personal priorities.” Talk about your own balance, your own choices, how you manage the personal/ professional equation, especially if you are a man.

The greatest challenge is among men. When the older generation of boomer men can acknowledge and facilitate the millennial generation’s increased interest in balancing work and family, they may just find that the younger people coming into power over the coming years will give their seniors a flexible consulting contract.


You Need Help: Taking the Leap to Study Abroad

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I’ve been accepted to study abroad in Oregon for a year, and while I would love to go I’m worried that I’ll crumble once I’m away from home. I got sexually assaulted by my (now ex) house-mate and fellow student in October, and I have surgery for endometriosis soon that’s bringing back lots of trauma. I was already on the fence about staying in university — I’m a mature student and would prefer to be able to distance learn, as most of my life and friends are in a different city to my university. Moving to Portland would be a dream come true, but I’m scared about being away from my support network, and finding people to live with who I can trust. Should I go? Should I take a break from studying? And if I do go, how do I find people to live with in Portland when I’m currently in the UK?


Congratulations! Studying abroad, like most other adventures, is both very exciting and very challenging at once — even without the stresses of trauma or health issues on top of everything. My time as an international student (twice, in Australia and in the US) were longer-term than your study-abroad program, and I didn’t go to Portland specifically, but there are similarities in strategies and resources.

Trauma, whether very recently or in the past (or even upcoming!) need not be a barrier for pursuing opportunities like study abroad, as intense as they can be. A major reason for my move to San Francisco was indeed to escape and heal from years of trauma that had built up in Brisbane: sexual assault, burned career and personal bridges, dealing with uncomfortable epiphanies about my identity and what I needed from life. Going to San Francisco was near-literally life or death. It was tremendously difficult to organise my trip in a fog of exhaustion and deep depression, but a lifetime of experience with visas and the knowledge that a fresh start in my most favourite city in the world would be beneficial for me in the long run helped me power through.

Your university’s study abroad program (both the one in the UK and the one in Portland) would have a lot of resources on the logistics of study abroad, including managing visa paperwork, housing, and health insurance. This is what the International Students Services Department is for, but feel free to ask the other departments too — including Financial Aid, Disability, Student Services, and much more. Also, have a poke around the student clubs of the Portland university you’re going to — including any clubs for international students, LGBTQ students, female students, and others. At the very least, if they don’t know the answer, they can direct you to someone who does, and you’ll have made some connections that you can tap into once you arrive.

There are a lot of resources online for international students going anywhere around the world, especially studying in the United States from the United Kingdom. The Fulbright Commission can provide advice on preparing for study into the US, even if you’re not going to Portland as one of their scholars. College Choice has a massive resource for LGBTQ college students and the US State Department has resources specifically for international LGBTQ students coming to the US.

Finding somewhere to live while abroad was tricky. When I moved to Brisbane I first lived in a residential college (think a mashup between a dorm and a frat/sorority house, though ours had significantly less hazing) called International House, geared towards international students. International House has a few chapters around the world – if your UK university is near one, that could make a good first step. (They’re generally affiliated with specific universities but you don’t have to go to that specific university to reside there; for instance, IH in Brisbane was connected to University of Queensland but I went to Queensland University of Technology). It looks like this kind of dorm housing is called “halls” in the UK; perhaps you can look for some halls near your university and see if they accept applications (again, the International Students department at your incoming school can help with this).

Housing in the US was trickier. I could have also gone to International House there (there was a branch attached to UC Berkeley) but it would have been pretty far from my school in downtown SF. I joined a stack of Facebook groups related to housing in the Bay Area and found my first apartment there. Vanessa suggests the groups Portland Queer Housing and PDX Queer Exchange at least as starting points. Padmapper helps sort and filter out Craigslist housing ads based on location, price, and other factors — really useful especially if you are looking for places accessible geographically from your school. I found that being upfront about who I was (especially that I was an international student) did help — there were a few people that were down for giving me Skype tours. Also, if you have friends of friends who are in Portland, or even those student groups suggested above, they may be able to connect you or give slightly more personal references.

Health matters in the United States, as an international student, can frankly be a nightmare. As an international student you’d be required to get some form of health insurance; sometimes the school already has a system in place (such as their own insurance or even their own clinics) but sometimes you’ll have to get your own, and good God there are so many scams out there. I was lucky enough to be covered under the ACA/Obamacare, since at least in the Bay Area they don’t really care so much about your visa status – I don’t know if this holds true for other states. FreeClinics has a listing of free or low-income clinics in Portlandand Planned Parenthood could also be a good start for medical help; I got to see them in SF as an international student.

There are options available for help with trauma and mental health stresses, including affordable therapy options (useful if your insurance doesn’t cover psychotherapy). The Portland Therapy Centre, Wise Counsel & Comfort, and Portland Psychotherapy have published lists of therapists that offer sliding-scale or reduced-fee services. The Oregon Coalition against Domestic and Sexual Violence, Oregon Attorney-General’s Sexual Assault Task Force, and Sexual Assault Resource Centre also have resources.

I found that when it came to resources and options that were hyper-local, it can be hard to ask about them because you don’t even know it’s an option for you. It was a medical emergency that led to me signing up for Obamacare; when I told the social worker in Oakland that I wasn’t a citizen, she told me it didn’t matter. This is where connecting with the student groups in particular could be most useful; they’d be your peers, they’d likely know local non-institutional sources of support, they’ll be able to figure out secret options that even the official school departments don’t know about. Don’t assume “oh I’m an international student I’m not going to qualify for anything;” I found that the US were much, much more flexible about access to services and support regardless of visa or nationality, especially if it’s not something the Federal Government organises.

Building a support network when you’re away can be very very hard. Coming in SF was hard despite having been there before, because it was a whole new context. Being part of a study abroad program means that you should be linked into some support networks already, but don’t be afraid to branch out! Check out local events, go to whatever looks interesting, attend meetings in your school or neighbourhood, join clubs. Also, maintain the relationships you already have in the UK or elsewhere; even if your only contact with them is online, that’s still something to lean on when you feel alone. If your UK friends can start connecting you to Portland friends, great! See if anyone’s willing to take you around and keep you company. I had old friends of distant relatives get in touch and take me out. I feel like we underestimate acquaintances sometimes — we may not be close or familiar to them, but they can sometimes be the strongest sources of support just because they were there at the right time giving you exactly what you’re after.

Ultimately, it’s your decision on whether or not you want to take up this study abroad opportunity. If you wish to defer to recover from surgery, or decide not to go at all, or decide to go somewhere else, that’s totally fine! Your chances of making your Portland dreams come true won’t disappear forever if you decide to let this one go for whatever reason. But don’t let the possible stresses scare you away. You may find, like I did, that Portland will give you the resources and space for you to heal and grow in ways that you couldn’t find in the UK. There are more resources out there than you necessarily realise; ask around and see what you can find.