Advice from the South

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My family has a habit of cutting out articles and mailing them off to whomever they believe will find its contents most interesting or useful. So it wasn't surprising when I received a clipping the other day from my mother, and since its information is so relevant to what we've learned in LA 200, I thought I'd share.

The article is part of an advice column written by Joyce Lain Kennedy from our local newspaper, the Virginia Pilot. In it, she answers questions about pursuing a Ph.D., the horrible interview question, "describe your greatest weakness," (really, does anyone else hate that question?), and what to do when the salary that is offered is not desirable. Ms Kennedy's advice reflects what we learned from many of our speakers is LA 200, and offer some new suggestions.

Concerning the question about Ph.D.s, Ms Kennedy argues that no, it doesn't guarantee a job. In fact, she states that because the amount Ph.D.s out there outnumber the amount of available jobs, many people are actually hiding their education in the belief that it is actually hindering their possibility of being hired. Without statistical evidence or proof of study, it's hard to know if this is completely true, but I am now interested in asking some of my friends who are pursuing a Ph.D. what they think on the matter. About the interview question - great news! According to Ms Kennedy, " The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) newsletter suggests the greatest weakness question be replaced with another that's more likely to provide concrete data to aid the hiring decision." Cheers SHRM! That question shall not be missed. Ms Kennedy's advice to the question about accepting an favorable pay rate I found to be most relevant to us as students. With the economy still down and the job market slim, there's a high possibility that we're not going to be making the figures we want right away with our first job. We're put in the position of either settling, or going for more. Ms Kennedy makes a good point, however, when she reminds us that a job would rid us of the unemployment status - a leper spot amongst other candidates in the corporate colony. She suggests that you take the job, and 1) assume that the company's loyalty to you will be ancient history the moment the going gets tough; 2) always always always outperform your peers, and 3) keep your mouth shut around coworkers - competition and under-funding are always looming, and if you reveal too much information to others it could be your head on the chopping block.

These bits of advice are probably ones that most of us have heard before, and they reflect the basic ideas of what the speakers try to get across to us in class. But if anything, Ms Kennedy provides timeless advice that is always good to be reminded of, and if anything, reminds us that we are all in the same boat together.

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