Tag Archive: School


Welcome to the fourth edition in the series of the Water Cooler. This feature will highlight what’s hot, topical and up for discussion.

A section below is titled Photography. This section will be interactive for all my visitors. Your images with your credits (linked to your blog) can appear on the next edition of the Water Cooler. If you have taken photos (artistic, unique, related to travel, scenery, landscapes etc) that people will find interesting to look at, share it with us every Sunday on the Water Cooler. Your images may be emailed to blog.corvedacosta@gmail.com Go ahead send in those images your photo could be featured here.

Here we go.

Others in the series: Water Cooler, Water Cooler Ed. 2, Water Cooler Ed. 3

Politics

This week a video uploaded to YouTube showing children singing a tribute to the American President Barack Obama was very contentious. The children who were of all races by my eyes sang two songs dedicated to Barack Obama – one done to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Now, there is certainly nothing wrong with anyone showing their love for their Prime Minister or President. However, this tribute that was done to commemorate Black History Month took a turn for the wrong; it was on the borderline of worshiping Obama. We cannot ignore that Obama has made his presidency all about him. He has taken a lot of time to create an image that is respected by millions. So respected he is that opposing Obama is seen to be racist. The position he has as the leader of the free world must be respected. I get the impression from Obama that he wants to be talked about and wants to be seen as the greatest of all – the saviour. He works so hard creating an impression that with this video you cannot forget the speech he made to the children in schools recently.

Below are words the students chant to Obama:

He said that we must take a stand

To make sure everyone gets a chance

Barack Hussein Obama

He said red, yellow, black or white

All are equal in His sight

Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm

Barack Hussein Obama

The lyrics in the video are not only shocking but to see underage children without the consent of their parents sing to Obama in this way makes you flabbergasted. This tribute or act of worship does not in anyway congratulate or give credit to the black people who fought for what we have today. It serves to worship; sing the praises and rhetoric that Obama spews on the networks daily. I am saddened that these children were misled by lunatics who are not appreciative of democracy and prefer personalities over substance. I would rather here the children sing of how much the country has grown to elect a black president than to sing “All are equal in His sight”. Do we realize these children are being indoctrinated? This is what we see of Hitler and North Korean leaders and it makes us cringe in our seats. So why doesn’t this make us wonder?

We have all been ‘Obamarized’. We have fallen in love with Obama where to oppose him is racist and to disagree with him makes you a supporter of the right. What those kids did in that video is wrong. Singing Obama’s ideologies to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic makes me disturbed, a little. It does. I am not sure the President would approve it but parents for the most part should be outraged especially if you support Obama and found the video okay. It is given that mainly republican parents are going to be annoyed by it and they should. Supporters of this video should imagine their child singing praises to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I think then you will understand how crazy and absurd it is of teachers to be directing such an activity.

Love and Relationship

Have you ever seen a couple together and wonder how cute they look together? Uhhhh. When we say they are perfect for each other is it because we love their interactions and chemistry or is it that we love how attractive they are together, how well they compliment each other?

Rihanna & Justin

Rihanna & Justin

Rihanna and Justin

Rihanna and Justin

It is something that I have noticed with myself. More so, because sometimes I am asked to find potential partners for people – my own circle of friends. I do not know if it should be called judging but we tend to have our own conclusions based on one look. It is true first impression lasts but do we need to step back and observe couples longer before making our own final predictions.

They say opposites attract. I am not sure how people respond, but what if you saw a couple out and you think they don’t match. Are we ending a couple’s relationship in our psyche before giving them the time to date – before finding our own conclusions?

Julie Henderson & Simmons

Julie Henderson & Simmons

Rihanna is making the news again and it is rumoured that she is secretly hooking up with beau Justin Timberlake.  These are some photos taken on a video shoot recently. What do you think, what makes two people right for each other – keeping in mind we are looking in from the outside? The jury is out on this one.

Inspiration of the week

Last week I had an encounter that I will always remember. I went on an interview for a job in my field. After the interview session I had the opportunity to have a discussion that really moved me. For this week the inspiration has to 2072865350015798315S500x500Q85deal with focusing on what others say. This is tricky because people will tell you things that will hurt you in the future. As an individual you have to discern between what is good for you and what is bad. Sometimes people tell us good things and because we have a mental block against taking corrections or suggestions we totally ignore what they have to say – for our own detriment. This week we are going to think on the positive suggestions we get. You may not think they are good for you but consider them, evaluate the ideas and see if they make your life better or worse.

Photography

We start this week with photography from Craig A. Bloomfield from Jamaica. Click here to view his blog.

Sunset in Negril Jamaica

Sunset in Negril Jamaica

Caribbean Sea

Caribbean Sea

Scene from Mikuzi - Portland, Jamaica

Scene from Mikuzi - Portland, Jamaica

So You’ve Graduated

graduate3After attending college/university you expect to land the perfect job or have an internship at a top company using all the skills and the knowledge you have learnt. As graduates we expect the economy to provide constant jobs and the business environment to be healthy for the creation of new businesses. Are our expectations too much? In today’s economy, it is not advantageous for graduates as fewer jobs are left vacant and the vacancies created are as a result of layoffs from companies both huge and small. University/College graduates should therefore prepare themselves for a period of unemployment. How can we all prepare our minds and psyche for the stressing times ahead? This blog will seek to provide tips for recent graduates who are in the market looking for a job.

Be Patient

After leaving school the job market will be very competitive. All the students from all the universities across the world are graduating students who have studied the same area you did. You cannot ignore all the applicants who will be entering the same market from high school and other areas. You must be patient as companies review hundreds of applications and resumes all in a bid to say you are the best candidate. In this time I will advise any applicant to remain calm. Never blame yourself for not finding a job fast enough; you did your part by getting that solid education. That’s a start!

Keep Searching

We all have our favourite companies and dream jobs stuck in the back of our minds. In this economy and with a world wide melt down of countries, there is no way you can limit yourself as to the places you apply. This is the time to expand your scope and apply to various places.

For example, you have graduated with a Marketing Degree. You cannot expect only to work in Marketing Departments and Advertising Agencies. You would have to apply for jobs in Customer Service, Teaching, Management Roles, Sales and Banking etc.

It is critical that as soon as you graduate or even before graduation it is advised that graduates apply for a host of job opportunities. You cannot go wrong in applying as you may never know the company may be looking for you, a candidate in Sales & Marketing but you studied a Finance elective. Never as a graduate limit yourself, this is a huge mistake that people make. Research employment websites, company websites, newspapers, and classifieds for any job posting and never forget to apply.

Be Optimistic

Life goes on; bills are to be paid, your activities etc. Life will become stressful as the months roll on and the need for a job becomes your ultimate goal. It is critical that at this time you remain calm. There is nothing you can do (unless you will be starting a company) about your job prospects once you have applied. At this moment potential employees must remain positive, thinking that better will come in due time. Moments will however arise where you are at your end where job searches are concerned. It is advisable that you remain optimistic and never stress; this may have you developing health complications which you may never want to have.

Network

It is so important that as graduates look for jobs that they rely on the present network they have. This is crucial because the contacts you have within your circle may prove to be beneficial. It will be in your advantage to email or hand copies of your resume (multiple copies) to those in your network. This is good as your friends in the companies will hand deliver your resumes to the Human Resource Department or to hiring Managers. These people are your hands and feet to the managers directly. Ensure that they say a word on your behalf ‘Carol is hardworking and great with the databases’ etc.

But what if you do not have a network? It is advised that you ask around your family and friends and investigate who they know and who they can connect you with in companies. If you are at a disadvantage in having a good network then walking in to companies may be your next move.

Family/Resource Team

It is important that in this time of looking a job in a jobless market that you have a team around you that will keep you positive and one that won’t blame you for not having a job. Starting with family and real friends, rely on them for emotional and financial support and always let them know how important they are while you are in this predicament.

Today, being unemployed is never easy. Being unemployed and actively looking a job is even worse. I hope these tips that were explored will give you insight and assurance that as you look for job, it may be hard but remember there is a rainbow after the storm.

2Land that Job. Yeah!!

Leadership

Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things. – Peter F. Drucker

leadership-risesmart

Universities and work places are trail blazers in regards to team work. Many companies have teamwork as a pillar of success in their organizational structure. One cannot leave undergraduate school or any school at all these days without taking part in teamwork activities. I have been on many teams in and since leaving university. Working with others can be a hard deal for some people. This happens because a team member may want to complete all the tasks and not share the duties to accomplish the goal. Teams can be misguided and can lose focus on the end result. That’s where leaders come in. They take charge and lead the team in delegating roles and duties and ensure that deadlines are met. If budgets are involved, a leader is critical to ensure that funds are allocated to specific areas and that spending isn’t out of hand.

The absence a real leader can be felt by those who know the purpose of one. When a leader is not on a project the team members are left to their own discretions. This can be fatal to the success of a project. There is a fundamental gap that a leader fills. When a leader is present, his/her presence is felt and if the leader is effective, the project will be successful. But not all leaders are effective. This drives the discussion whether a leader is born or made. I cannot decide because leaders are born with characteristics that makes them great leaders while proper leadership skills can be taught. Education plays a critical role and education changes attitude and people’s lives.

In the life of any project, there is a period known as ‘crunch time.’ Crunch time is that period where all the different aspects should now be coming together to make one, to achieve that one objective. At this point, no mistakes can be made. If mistakes are made and are hard to be corrected then it puts the purpose, the project in limbo, great jeopardy. Projects sometimes face this critical moment and having a leader is important. That one person who can remain calm when the storm is at its peak, that level headed individual who can call the shots and ensure team members remain focused on the gaol. It isn’t easy as a leader because at this moment you can lose it and become angry at team members who are slack and are not pulling their weight. There is a thin line to tread because leaders should know how to communicate to team members so that team morale isn’t lost and the synergy remains at its highest point.

The attitude a leader shows to the success of the project speaks volume. Team members want to know that the same passion they have for the success of the project the leader has that or even more. There is a popular phrase that says, attitude determines your altitude. That is relevant for a team because the attitude, that drive, the positive energies shown towards the project by the leader and some team members will inspire those who haven’t got the idea that hey I should be working hard to make this a success. Within the attitude of team members there is an important variable called personality.

Each team member is different and must be treated differently. Team members all show different qualities; some are shy, introverts, extroverts, creative etc. A leader should be able to create that balance that will allow the group to feel like one team. The leader’s role is very crucial as the team member who is shy should be able to express him/herself so that the team can benefit. Who knows? That shy individual could have a creative mind that will make the concept amazing. The leader cannot isolate persons because of his/her attitude. That may turn people away or restrain them from playing a positive role. Conflict resolution is an aspect of teamwork that is a pain. Members of the group should not always have conflicts but apparently if conflicts don’t arise there is no group. Traditionally, we have come to expect that at certain moments team members will be upset with each other. Leaders should never have to comment on every conflict that arises but those that will develop into bigger issues must be tackled from the start and resolved.

Using the best talents on a project can be an equation for failure. But leaders should be able to use these resources at their advantage to create a wonderful outcome. If the project is to perform, produce a presentation etc the final output must be flawless. Group work is designed to get the best out of more. Majority of persons will admit working in a group is certainly better than working on your own. However, a group can be a disaster. Groups must believe that achieving perfection is important.

Leadership isn’t for anyone. It takes a great deal of work to be good at it. Your communications ability, organizational skills, leadership, analytical skills are all tested to produce a product that all can be proud of. The best leaders for sure are those that are able to take directions. If your attitude is always against those in charge, leadership may not be for you. If your attitude is to see things run in order, achieve perfection you may want to improve on your skills to make outputs greater.

This article was inspired based on prior experience working with people on various projects. It is not easy and can be very difficult. Team members all have a role to play in a project. But one cannot isolate the effectiveness or the relevance of having an effective leader.

The Work Environment

Fantasy:

Closeup portrait of happy business group

I want to work in an organization where everyone is one big happy family.

Is that too much to ask for?

Many people will end up working in organizations all functioning in different roles to improve the company’s bottom line – profit or to achieve an objective. Having employee synergy in businesses and teams are critical to the success of the business and the team. But what happens when a team member’s focus is clearly not on the final result, what do you do?

Students

Students

University students will tell many experiences where they had team members who did not participate on projects. Most times committed team members are burdened with the task of doubling up on duties to ensure the job is completed. It is horrible to think that these same individuals will be joining huge organizations. Only if management knew the background of the persons they were hiring. It is important to note that these are the same individuals who have all the links and networks to land them good jobs after graduation.

Most times in school I do not know how but I ended up being the project leader on many projects. I am not a confrontational person, so it is interesting to note that a person like this would lead groups with these issues. There is something very critical in team leadership and that is communication. How you say things out loud, your non-verbal actions are critical in communication. Communicating to delinquent team members that their participation on team projects are critical can be traumatic but doing so must be done carefully to ensure that the team member although being reprimanded still feels important and apart of the team.

Present Project

SuperStock_1487R-54847I happen to be working on a project with a team and it has shown me that communicating can be the biggest challenge for most people. When team members make disparaging comments on the workplace and you know they are making references to you, do you comment automatically?  I wouldn’t and I will tell you why. I do not believe in damaging the work environment. Responding to an employee’s insensitive and stupid comment will only lower you to their standard. I would advise to walk the high road and just ignore and avoid having any confrontation with employees/team members whose aim is bent on making other team members upset. It is a pity they live a sad life and I would not advise anyone to respond to employees who exert behaviours like this. Live your life happy and I’m sure they will fade away when they become obsolete.

Each employee/team member has a crucial role to play in ensuring that the workplace environment is healthy and productive. Anytime the work environment is degraded and becomes unhealthy and unproductive then more conflicts will arise. Management primarily must ensure that employees who are set in their ways to disrupt the work environment must be managed and supervised to ensure that unnecessary attention are not focused on these culprits.

After leaving university graduates are normally on edge waiting for that faithful call to invite them to an interview. I was interviewed for a job recently and it went well. I was further invited for a second interview, which I was thrilled about.

But, there are certain tips that any interviewee can use to help them ace their interviews. Below I will mention some tips that individuals may use to be successful.

job-interview

Research

Companies want to know that you know the relevant information about the company. This shows your interest and also proves the fact that you did prior preparations. In the interview I was not asked about specific details as to what areas the company operated in but with my answers to different questions I highlighted the different areas the company focused on and this will prove you clearly know the company’s operations.

Be Relaxed

Being nervous in an interview is most times inevitable. However, practice mock interviews with friends or in mirror to get you acquainted with responding to the interview questions. We are in 2009 and information is at your fingertips. Check videos on tips on answering interview questions at www.youtube.com and www.google.com. It is important to add your own dynamic to the answers to make them your own but it helps for interviewees to have an idea of how to respond to a question. Ensure you communicate well, this will show you are able to bring across your points clearly.

For example: When the interviewer says ‘tell me about yourself’, it is not the time to mention what are your likes and dislikes.

Be inspiring

Job interviews can be dreadful so ensure the panel is interested in you. You can achieve this by being charismatic, cheerful, emotive and inspiring. Therefore, show interest in the position and show them that ‘wow-factor’. If you studied Marketing, Customer Service, Sales, Insurance this should not be difficult.

Punctuality

There is no given rule on how many minutes you should arrive before an interview. I would advise applicants to arrive at the establishment at least 20 minutes before your interview is slated to begin. Punctuality shows your employer great business skill and your respect for time.

Dress Code

Depending on the job you are applying for will determine in some way how formal you will be dressed. For middle to upper management a suit in my view is a must. For entry level employment your attire (shirt, tie, pants – for men) will be accepted. Dressing professionally for any interview is critical, first impressions typically last and you will want to introduce your best image to the panel.

Non Verbal Communication

When at the business location please note that you are judged the moment you step in. Please show respect to the receptionist, and any other employee you encounter. When I arrived at the business place I greeted the receptionist even other interviewees in the lobby area. You never know who is sitting where and who is watching. More than ever companies are equipped with CCTV cameras so be very careful. In the interview remain focused, keep eye-contact and have an interest in what you are doing.

An interview is the closest you will ever get to the actual job. You will have one moment to show the panel interviewing you that employing you will make their company so much better affecting its bottom line – profits. I hope the tips offered above will make you more prepared. I followed those tips and I was granted a second interview.

Now it is on to the second!

Corve DaCosta

Earlier this week, I wrote an article responding to an article that bashed a recent condom campaign in Jamaica. Today, my response was published in The Gleaner, a local Jamaican paper.

Have a read.

Jamaica Gleaner News – Embracing sex education – Letters – Wednesday | June 10, 2009

Shared via AddThis

F_317522_c6KHZ1f7HreolYV5FYUQNSGhVw1gLnThe recent campaign by the Ministry of Health in Jamaica with the tagline ‘Pinch, leave an inch, roll’ has come under fire from certain sectors of the society. Esther Tyson, principal of Ardenne High School in Kingston, Jamaica wrote an article in the Sunday Gleaner condemning the campaign calling for serious adjustments to the message. Her new tagline for the campaign would state ‘value self, value others; self-control and true love waits.’

We live in a society that is over sexualised with not only images but also heavily present in our music. The fact remains that our young people are having unprotected sex and the Ministry of Health recognizes this.  Any campaign that is geared towards educating and influencing the use of condoms with the youth must be embraced. The youth globally not only unique in Jamaica are faced with choices daily and most times the values we would ideally want our youth to accept are ignored upon. Societies today are not projecting the conservative values we are told of. Instead, young individuals are bombarded with the acceptable behaviours of promiscuity and unsafe sexual habits.

The Jamaican society has been characterized as a Christian one. However, one would think the church would be vocal on certain issues but on the contrast they are numb and quiet leaving a sector of society to be leaders teaching our children that unprotected sex is real love. Our youth today has taken that message as gospel preaching it to those who they come in contact with, developing a culture where we have accepted sexual activities among young individuals as a norm.

How do we now combat this problem? The advertising campaign suggested by Esther Tyson to promote value self cannot work. Young individuals are battling low self-esteems, no confidence within themselves and a society where they are searching for role models. Valuing Others? Jamaica is currently one of the murder capitals of the world. We have no respect for life or anyone’s life in this country. True love? If a research should be conducted I am positive the percentage would be high of children born out of wedlock. Therefore the campaign that Tyson suggests is nonsensical, and cannot work in this society. The fact is, the campaign suggested by Tyson would be looked down upon and revamped to change its message simply because it would not be current.

The Ministry of Health’s campaign was spot on. Recognizing that young people today are participating in activities like this, arming them with the correct information can only assist. The campaign teamed up with popular show Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall and it was a perfect match because the target audience were fans of the popular show.

It is a pity that Tyson reminds me of Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin as a conservative believes that sex should be solely between married couples. However, Palin’s daughter Bristol Palin got pregnant at only 17 years of age. Sarah Palin as a republican politician has been preaching for all her political life of the sacredness of sex and marriage; when in her own household her daughter was ignoring this message. Esther Tyson serves as principal of Ardenne High School, a top school in Kingston, Jamaica. One would think she would have on the ground experience of what is happening to our youth today. However, Tyson still chants from her high seat that the campaign should be ‘value self, value others; self-control and true love waits.’ One thing is for sure, her students are chanting a different message of ‘Pinch, leave an inch, roll.’

It is time we accept the world we live in presently and start accepting the truth. We live in a society where sorry to say sexual promiscuity is a current trend which is very attractive to our young people. We need more innovative campaigns that will challenge stats quo and be different. After all we are in 2009 and not the 1960’s.

Corve DaCosta