Friday, October 24, 2014

Chinese: Mark Zuckerberg studies it. So should you!

Or any language. NU offers a handful: Spanish, French, ASL, and introductory Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Italian....

Why study a language, especially if you're not going to become radically fluent in it, and travel to a country where that's the primary language?
  • Studying a language in college can get your feet wet with the basic. Study now and you can pick up more later without as steep a learning curve.
  • Studying a language will help you learn other languages. Understanding how language works teaches you what you need to know.
  • Languages other than English help you understand English better. You'll understand what syntax, grammar, word order are and do. Your English will improve.
  • You'll pick up at least a few social niceties in your chosen language. They'll stick. If you find yourself in China, Mexico, etc., that "Xièxiè" or "Gracias" or whatever will roll off your tongue without your scrambling for your phrase-book or app.
  • Movies with sub-titles won't be quite as much as a mystery. Books with a phrase or two from your target language won't seem as opaque.
  • If you choose American Sign Language, you'll be able to talk with your mouth full, underwater, and at a distance in a crowded area with your friends who also know ASL.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Gender: It’s Not Just for Women Anymore!

Okay, so Niagara University’s minor in stuff relating to gender is still called “women’s studies.” But it’s “men’s studies” too. And “transpeople’s studies,” for that matter. You don’t have to have gender to enjoy what we’ve called Women’s Studies here!

Dr. Hope Russell is an amazing adjunct faculty member who has been at Niagara University for a goodly amount of time. She’s a great teacher, and well worth taking if you need distribution courses (left side of the card) tagged “Cultural Diversity” (CD) or “Humanities” (H). Here are your options:

Spring 2015, TTh, 11:10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
   WMS 200A: Introduction to Women’s Studies
   What is Women’s Studies? Contemporary social issues
Spring 2015, TTh, 9:40 – 11:00 a.m.
   WMS 350A: Special Topic, Women & Music
   Music, music videos, films about women and music

And while later catalogs aren’t out yet, here’s a sneak peek:

Summer 2015, all online in two different summer sessions
   WMS 200: Introduction to Women’s Studies
   What is Women’s Studies? Contemporary social issues
Summer 2015, all online in Summer Session I (5/26/15 – 6/18/15)
   WMS 350: Special Topic, Gender and Sports
   Gender issues in sports; sports and social justice issues
Fall 2015, TTh, 2:10 – 3:30 p.m.
   WMS 200: Introduction to Women’s Studies
   What is Women’s Studies? Contemporary social issues
Fall 2015, TTh, 3:40 – 5:00 p.m.
   WMS 350A: Special Topic, Women & Music
   Music, music videos, films about women and music

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"Its the Economy, Stupid!" And Now It's Fun!

  • What do My Little Ponies, Neanderthals, foreign aid and the Pilobolus dance company have to do with each other?
  • Can you tell the difference between the Federal Reserve and Fresh Lemonade?
  • Are you terrified a prospective employer is going to talk way over your head about market economy, stuff you know you should know, but all you can think of is Shakespeare quotes?

Learn and have fun watching We The Economy, a series being compared to "Schoolhouse Rock."

Head to the website (or the iOS or Android apps, or Netflix, or YouTube… or just about any platform  you can think of that delivers movies). You’ll find a series of 20 short films (average 5 minutes), produced by an eclectic mix of Important People in the film industry, assembled by Morgan Spurlock (Academy Award nominee for the fast food documentary “Super Size Me”) and Paul G. Allen (Microsoft co-founder). In a radical departure from standard media distribution practices, the film package is being distributed free, across platforms and venues.

Free. And you don’t have to watch cheesy advertising to get at the funny, intelligent, entertaining content.

On the web, go to:, the home site.

If you want to read what others are saying, visit any of these links as a starting point:

Monday, October 20, 2014

Stalking the Wily Job Opening with Research

Job-hunters are told they should research companies they want to work at. But what does that mean?

Here’s a quartet of articles that provides tips for pre-interview information-gathering:
  • What kinds of information you need, and what’s less important;
  • Where to look for this information;
  • What to do with the information once you get it, and blunders to avoid in using it.


But since today’s market is so competitive, you’ve probably figured out that waiting until after you get the interview to do any research might not be such a good idea.

Instead, think about setting up a separate folder for each job you apply to, using your computer’s desktop or your web-browser (or even a real, paper folder if that’s your style). Or, use one of the internet clipping services like Instapaper, Evernote, OneNote or others—the ability to review information on your phone or tablet could come in handy.

Look up the basics of the employer before you apply so you can fine-tune your pitch about why you would be a great employee. Then, if the employer shows interest, you can add to that information to prepare for the interview.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Pixar's 22 Rules and Your Resume

"Pixar's 22 Rules For Telling A Great Story" is a compilation of wisdom from Emma Coates, who worked as a Pixar employee. She tweeted items from the list about a year ago; and various blogs have picked it up over time. It remains as fresh as the first time you saw Toy Story, Finding Nemo, or Wall-E.

But what does that have to do with your resume or cover letter?

When you apply for a job, you tell where you’ve been, and how you’ve gotten to be the perfect person to fill this job. In other words, you tell a story about yourself. (And as an English major, you should be really good at understanding story!)

Pixar’s 22 Rules can help you think creatively about what you tell, and how you shape the plot line of your life in your search for a great job.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Of Karma Whores and Raises

On October 9, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wedged his foot firmly in mouth at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference.

He told women in the tech industry not to ask for raises, promotions:

  • It's not really about asking for the raise but knowing and having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along... Because that's good karma. It'll come back. Because somebody's going to know: 'That's the kind of person that I want to trust. That's the kind of person that I want to really give more responsibility to.' And in the long-term efficiency, things catch up.'
You can google Mr. Nadella's name to read more about the firestorm--and about his apologies and backtracking. I've supplied a few starting points above.

If you think that women (or men, for that matter) are going to be paid what they're worth just because they sit quietly and smile sweetly--well, I'd like to ask if you're interested in buying the Brooklyn Bridge for a very good price.

This comment made a lot of headlines. It was surprisingly naive, but it offers an opportunity to publicize a truth of the business world. Instead of playing Sleeping Beauty, waiting for the Salary-Increase Prince to come along and kiss you, brush up on basic salary negotiating skills, like the ones offered here:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dracula's LinkedIn Profile

In the spirit of Halloween, I was able to find this lovely description of the ever-popular Count Dracula's LinkedIn page. It contains helpful hints so that you too can avoid having a LinkedIn profile that sucks!