Sunday, July 15, 2007

Thinking Blogger Award

I'm far over due for posting my awardees for the Thinking Blogger Award. Why do I get to pass out this award? Well, because Jenn found me interesting enough to award my blog with it. The reason that I have not yet fufilled my duty is simple. The majority of blogs I read have been awarded (so I won't be contributing anything by awarding them) or their written by professional writers/bloggers. I don't want to award them, because it just doesn't seem right. They make a living out of making us think so it would actually be a disappointment if their blogs didn't follow through. I've spent the past 2+ months searching for blogs that I consider worthy of an award. I definitely ended up with more blogs that I read regularly, but they all already had the before mentioned issues.

Here is what I've decided to do. There is one blog that I knew I wanted to award the moment that I was privileged enough to receive my award. I will award that award, share some of the interesting blogs that I've been reading, and save my other four awards for future blogs that I discover.

And now, I award the Thinking Blogger Award to Random Pointless Ramblings. I doubt he would realize the value that I find in his blog, I find it deeper and more insightful than he would ever give it credit. This blog is a commentary on our generation. He makes his observations both as an insider and an outcast, and I find it fascinating.

Here are some other blogs that I would recommend if you haven't checked them out already:
I can't sew at all but I love A Dress a Day
Collin Vs. Blog
Rathbone Images is the blog of our wedding photographers. I love their photography so much that I keep up with their blog. They just got back from a trip to Mexico and took some fantastic photos.
Neil Gaiman's Journal
Barbara's Blog is written by Barbara Ehrenreich
The Yarn Harlot makes me laugh on a daily basis and has some of the most beautiful creations I've ever seen.

Here is more information about the Thinking Blogger Award and the rules that I am doing a horrible job of following.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Generation X Work Ethic

This article has become a flaming debate on an issue that I've been thinking about for a long time. This is the first time that I have ever looked at it in the light of a generational difference, and not just a difference between me and others. Let me start with the article, I think that Jennifer Epstein got one major thing wrong. She shouldn't have equated the use of technology with the differences in work habits. We can discuss work ethic as a generational difference, and we can discuss technology use as a generational difference, but we can't link the two of them.

Now for the things that I've been mulling over for a while now. I don't brag on myself often, but I have found it to be continually true that I have a uniquely strong and dedicated work ethic. I find it very difficult to claim because it is my work ethic. It is part of me, and it seems normal. I don't try to have a good work ethic, it is my mindset and it is difficult for me to understand people thinking about these things in a way other than I do. Before I build myself up too much, let me say that I am not all work and no play. But I do separate work and play. They each have their own time and necessity, but work does fund and fuel play.

The reason I've decide that this is a unique view, is because of how easy it is for me to be successful. I have always immensely impressed my supervisors by showing up on time, dressing appropriately, and doing my job efficiently. I couldn't figure out why they they were so impressed with me. Then one day, I listened as a co-worker explained to me how to balance out the tasks she was given with MySpace, Facebook, and text messaging so that they are not too tedious or boring. The task she was referring to took her three days to accomplish, and I could have done it with the better part of the afternoon. In my opinion, it would be much more tedious to do a mundane task sporadically for three days than nonstop for an afternoon. I also know the definition of time theft, and it would bother me to spend that much time not working when there was work to be done.

This is the situation that lead me to think about my work ethic as unusual. I started trying to pay more attention to my peers and how they are doing their work. I remembered the student in my thesis class that were up in arms about the need to turn in progress reports on their projects, the co-workers who avoided projects and tasks, and my fellow graduate students who demanded an extra day off of class. I decided that I was different.

Now, with my example, I've gone and brought technology into the conversation by mentioning MySpace, Facebook, and cellphones. I have and check my Facebook, MySpace, and Freindster accounts, I (poorly) manage two blogs, and I'm an active lurker on three online forums. I listen to podcasts, audiobooks, and music on my iPod. I have a cell phone that I carry around with me constantly, and a PDA that I use to carry around all the time until I started using Google Calendar. I don't think that technologically savvy necessitates nor leads to the difference that I'm seeing. Studies have been done on the positive effects of music in the workplace. It is not bad to have music at work, the iPod is an issue because it blocks people out. It closes the user off from the people they may have to interact with. I'll admit that it is bad customer service, and probably bad coworker relations, but it is not bad work ethic.

So If I don't think technology has anything to do with it, who do I plan on blaming? I agree with the comment posted by Dan Close that it is a maturity issue and not a generational difference. However, I am starting to think that my generation is not held to the same standard and isn't forced to maturity as soon. For that there are probably an uncountable number of causes. As far as education is concerned, I think that grade inflation plays a huge role, and the fact that being a student is no longer a full time job promotes this. I just got back from three weeks in Europe. I spent some of that time touring universities to learn about student services overseas. One of the most remarkable differences I saw happened when we would ask our hosts what kind of student services they offered and how the supported different student needs. Their response was almost always a more appropriate form of We don't do that at the university; if you baby them forever, they will never grow up.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Love it or Hate it

Since I've started my internship at the advising center, several people have asked me if I love it or hate it. I've been assured that it is a very polarized option. Now that I am in my final week, I can make the assessment, and I am definitely in the realm of love it. That said, I think that I am with in the spectrum and not on the polar end.

I know that it is not over, and I shouldn't get all nostalgic yet, but this has been a great experience. Every day I get to meet a half a dozen new students and talk with them about what they want to be when they grow up. I get to give advice both as a past student and a current professional. The best part about it, is that in each one of them I can see the excitement about getting to go to college. Some of them are overflowing, and others it is just a twinkle in the eye situation, but all of them are radiating that anxiousness and energy.

I would like to spend some time in the advising center when it is not a peak period before I make any commitments, but I think I could happily do this for the rest of my life. It is a big deal for me to say that considering all the second guessing I've been doing lately. I love meeting the students. I love hearing about their aspirations. I love talking with them about their potential when they haven't decided on their aspirations. All of that appeals to my human interaction side, and then I get to work out their schedules which appeals to my problem solving side. Each student brings along an new little puzzle for me to solve. I have to fit all of the pieces that are their classes, their work schedules, and their study patterns (or sleep patterns) together to make a first semester course load that will promote their academic success.

You must be asking why I'm reluctant to put myself all the way to the end of the love it spectrum. Part of it is probably because of the questioning that I've been doing lately. Part of it is not knowing what the rest of the semester is like. The final part is that I'm not sure it will challenge me in the way that I read about in Maslow's Self Actualization. A friend was trying to explain to me that it is a drought or flood situation. Part of the year there is seemingly nothing to do, and then pre-registration comes and you are seeing students non-stop. I think whether or not I love this job hinges on that drought period and my supervisor. If I had the freedom to fill that drought time with research and projects that inspire and motivate me, it would be incredible. If I felt like that time was spent improving education, it would be everything I could ask for. However, I see the possibility that my personal higher ed interests can not be pursued during that time. Just because there are not students here, doesn't mean that there isn't anything to do. It is that time that will determine how much I love this job.