Monday, April 21, 2008

Advice to Eng 304 Students

My advice for future English 304 students with Angie would be to stay on top of your work. His class is very manageable, and the assignments are interesting but not too tasking. The work load is distributed equally throughout the semester, so as long as you complete assignments on time, there should be no build-up of work. The blog is a great tool which enables you as a student to express your ideas and opinions about a lot of aspects of the business world.

I benefited greatly from a lot of the activities and assignments in this class, particularly when we were required to create and then revise cover letters, resumes, and follow up letters. I suggest especially making the most out of those assignments, as I have already used the knowledge I gained from these in applying for internships. It will be invaluable to your professional life. Also, for the group assignments, I would definitely plan ahead for those as well. You do your biggest assignments with your group, so it is a good idea to meet in advance of deadlines, as your group will probably have very different schedules than you.

Lastly, the second life program that you meet through for class is very interesting and a really great foresight into the future of technology and perhaps business. I advise you to explore second life before your first class meeting in the program, as you probably have never seen anything like it. It is fairly easy to use, but it takes a little getting used to. Explore it and the different features and places it offers. A lot of it is really crazy!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Watergate Scandal

The Watergate scandal involved a series of political scandals during Richard Nixon’s presidency. It started with five men being arrested after breaking and entering into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate hotel complex in 1972. The scandal was traced to the top levels of the government, and the cover-up ultimately led to Nixon’s resignation. Investigations of this crime resulted in a reveal of other crimes and abuses by Nixon and his staff, including campaign fraud, political espionage, illegal break-ins, improper tax audits, illegal wiretapping, and a secret slush fund in Mexico. The investigation lasted two years. It finally came to a close after a taping was discovered of Nixon which proved he had obstructed justice and attempted to cover up the break-in.

This is one of the most notorious political scandals in U.S. history. Clearly, the actions of Nixon and his staff were highly unethical and illegal. In my opinion, history has proven that the more power someone has, the more likely they are to commit ethical lapse. The most serious ethical offenses seem to occur within the highest levels of the government and corporate world. It may be also, however, that these are just more known to the public because of their prestige. I tried to find documents from the Watergate scandal, but most of what I found was legal documents from after the scandal, and during the time of conviction.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Ethical Lapses

I found this article on ethical lapse in the workplace to be very interesting and also pertinent to my studies right now. I have completed two assessments of ethical cases for my accounting class this semester in which I had to analyze two situations that were violations of ethics and then suggest a course of action.

I believe there are many unethical situations that occur in the workplace, and not just in a corporate environment. I have witnessed several in the place that I used to work during the summer, a conference center where I was a server. I witnessed sexual harassment, theft, favoritism, and more. I did not address the situations, although I am a little ashamed to say, because they did not affect me personally or I did not view them serious enough to cause conflict. I do believe, however, that in a corporate environment these ethical issues become more serious.

When I start my career and enter the corporate world, I will definitely be aware of maintaining a sense of ethics in the office. If I were put in a situation where I felt as if I had to address an issue, I would try and confront the person creating the ethical problem directly first. Then, if the issue continued, I would address it with upper management.

These ethical issues can be small, but they can also amount to huge scandals, such as the notorious Enron scandals, to name one. What many employees might fear is that reporting an ethical problem could result in job loss or pay cut. These employees should be notified that their job is protected by SOX, an act passed to encourage good character in the workplace.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Web Writing vs. Paper Writing

Writing on the web and writing on paper have several stylistic differences and similarities. First, in both writing the writer should write concisely, because readers are always looking for useful information quickly. A reason that conciseness is important on the web and not necessarily for paper, however, is that prolonged reading from a computer screen can strain the reader’s eyes. Reading on the web is also 25% slower than reading on paper, which adds to the length of time. Both types of writing typically also require that you state the most important information first, and go into detail later in the piece. It is important in both types of writing to cite sources accurately.

When you write on the web, paragraphs should not be indented and instead separated into blocks of text. Writing on paper should be separated into indented paragraphs. Another difference is that web writing allows the creator to use links to other text or images, and writing on paper does not. Bulleted lists are also an effective tool to use in web writing because it puts important information into lists and easy to find. This is normally not recommended, however, for paper writing. Web writing often involves directional cues and key words to let the reader know where to look for certain information. Web writing is more informal than paper writing, and the writer can be more creative and get away with more because the reader is looking for something to catch his or her eye and needs to kind information quickly.

To submit a formally written document onto the web, there are a few things to remember. You must inform the site users if the web paper is abridged or different from the paper version. If the text or graphics are copywrited, the creator must obtain permission to publish that work online. It is also a good idea to observe the work on the web before posting it to check for errors. If the document is long, it is a good idea to provide a printable version option in case the web users wish to print it.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Spring Break Interviews

This past week during spring break, I went on three interviews. It was interesting to see the different ways each company or organization conducted their interviews. The first was for a financial consulting firm called Primerica. They are located in Northern Virginia and advise families and individuals on how to manage their finances so that they can retire. This interview was very formal, they taught me about the company, and actually offered me a position at the end. At first I told him that I was interested, but a few days later I sent Primerica an email respectfully declining the offer because it is not what I want to do. Next, I went on an interview at a medium-sized PR and marketing firm called Allison and Partners. They are located in Washington, DC, and I really enjoyed this interview. It was really laid-back, and Sonia, the VP of the DC office, was very nice and she seemed like she genuinely wanted to get to know me. I believe this is reflective of the PR and marketing sector of business, because I think that people skills and personality are very important. I think it went well and I would love to get an internship there because I think the people there would be fun to work with and it seems very close to what I want to do eventually. I would also love to work in DC. They did not offer me a position on the spot, but they spoke as if I would have some kind of position at the firm, because they asked me about travel, my schedule, and told me they would let me know about pay soon. The third interview I went on was Media Research Center, which is an organization in Alexandria, VA, whose goal is to balance the news media, so that it is not so liberally biased. The organization itself is not directly related to my intended field, but I interviewed for a marketing internship position where I would be in charge of researching and reaching the target market of a new website they have created, which will be similar to facebook. I would also be responsible for advertising this website. I enjoyed this interview as well and it definitely seems like it would be interesting, and I would be treated like a regular employee and have my own responsibilities. The woman who interviewed me, Lee Taylor, seemed to like me since we have similar educational backgrounds. She has her MBA in marketing and an undergraduate degree in French. They told me it seemed like I would be a good fit for the position, and that they would contact me in a couple weeks. I am definitely more comfortable now in interview situations even after just those three. I realize the importance of an interview in selling yourself and that it is a vital tool in showing what you have to offer that other people do not.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Lying on Your Resume

I found this article about lying on a resume to be very interesting. My mom helped me a lot in high school with my resume, and, although I never even thought about doing it in the first place, she was always repeating never to fabricate things on a resume.
The story about Mary, a woman who lied about having a master’s degree, was unbelievable. I knew that people tweaked made up small things here and there on their resumes, but I had no idea that individuals would make up such great lies such as having a master’s degree. Besides the ethical part of the issue, I would never lie on a resume because I am a very bad liar, and if asked about the job or credential I had fabricated, it would be obvious I didn’t know what I was talking about.
I also thought it was interesting how Isaacs noted that the more high up and prestigious the position, the more likely a person is to lie. I think this is very revealing of the corporate world today. It seems that a person have an impeccable, shining record to hold high up positions in companies. In addition, from what I hear, it is becoming more and more difficult to find jobs. This definitely increases the incentive to lie on a resume.
I am glad more and more companies are becoming more thorough in doing background checks pre and post hire, because, as I will soon be searching for jobs, it levels the playing field for everyone and makes it more difficult for people to embellish about their professional and extracurricular selves. I would be furious if I learned that someone beat me out of a job because he or she made up something on their resume.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Second Life Interview

The interview conducted in second life was very helpful. I am going on several interviews for internships during spring break (in about a week), so, although my interviews will be face-to-face, it was still good practice for responding quickly to questions.
One challenge I faced was that I was trying to come up with responses quickly and type them fast, and at one point I noticed a typo, which would not have happened in real life because I would have been speaking. Doing an interview in second life was definitely a lot less pressure because having to type a response gave a little extra time to think about what you wanted to say. Obviously, I also didn’t have to get ready, at least physically for the interview, which made it easier.
The interview made me realize that I still need to practice on responding to questions quickly, as when I go on my real life interviews I won’t have as much time to think. At the end of the interview, I tried to quickly think of a question to ask the interviewer because I think that shows interest in the job.