Weekend Reading: 3/5/2017

Trump’s wiretapping accusation may backfire:

Schumer: ‘The president is in trouble’ (Politico): President Trump’s wiretapping accusation seems poised to backfire. Though the claim is likely false, it seems like a no-win situation for the president even if it is true. Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer:

If it’s true, it’s even worse for the president. Because that means that a federal judge, independently elected, has found probable cause that the president, or people on his staff … have probable cause to have broken the law or to have interacted with a foreign agent.

President Trump’s tweet seems to be driving further divides between him and his allies in congress as  congressional Republicans were caught off guard, though they seem to be willing to investigate the matter.

Preliminary reports from CNN also say that the FBI has asked the justice department to refute President Trump’s claims, according to unnamed sources.

 

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Weekend Reading: 3/4/2017

We have lost our sense of normality (Axios): Donald Trump accuses Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower during the election, possibly stirred on by this Breitbart story. Evidence:

The allegation is bizzarre, and leads to a point that BBC Newsnight’s Evan Davis made to Trump’s deputy advisor Sebastian Gorka: Does president Trump realize he won the election?  

Trump fumes over Sessions’ recusal from Russia probe (Politico): More evidence of disorganization among the current administration, also evidence of the challenges of a  non-politician faces when ascending to the highest office in the land. Jeff Sessions’ recusal, regardless of whether he had inappropriate contact with Russian diplomats, was a conventional move for an established politician – however there’s overwhelming evidence suggesting that Trump’s governance style is anything but.

US suspends expedited processing of H-1B visas (CNN): The first concrete move (that I’m aware of) around the Trump’s administration’s rumored efforts to curb  the number of H1-B visas administered to foreign workers. ( H1-B visas are typically given to highly skilled workers). The move eliminates the expedited processing program, where applicants can pay $1,225 to ensure a response from the US Citizenship and Immigration services within 15 days. Supporters of the the move will point to outsourcing firms that flood the system with applicants who who take home lower wages then their  American counterparts.

The Curious Case of Sebastian Gorka, Trump’s New Terrorism Guru (Foreign Policy): Interesting analysis of Sebastian Gorka’s (deputy adviser to President Trump) role in the White House, as well as the numerous ways he seems to contradict himself when he gives interviews. Gorka  seems to have underwent a significant policy shift over the past decade: In a 2007 doctorate dissertation, he called the use of the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” deeply problematic in the fight against extremism; now, he berates the media for not using it.

Author Colin Kahl, former adviser to president Obama, also wastes no time throwing shade (“When I was a deputy assistant to President Barack Obama and national security advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, I didn’t have a lot of time for media appearances or keeping up with my Twitter feed [we had a lot of meetings]. That doesn’t seem to be a problem for Gorka”)

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Not Another “Don’t Go To College” Post

Getting a college loan to go to school could be the best investment of your life. A degree can lead to a career, meaningful connections or a new way of thinking you would have been otherwise not exposed to. Also, degree holders earn more over their lifetimes on average than non degree holders, although that gap is closing. 

It can also be the worst. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 25.5 percent of recent college graduates are unemployed, and the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau says those grads are burdened with an average debt of $27,000 (up from $15,000 in 2000). Speaking from personal experience, that debt can be crushing when trying to find a job. 

There are literally hundreds of articles on the Internet about why going to college in this economy is a bad idea. I don’t think most of them are useful. Instead, I think prospective students need to take a careful and thoughtful approach to whether college is right for them. I’ve included a couple of things to consider below, hopefully they will be helpful.

Go to college if:

You Have a Clear Objective

Too many college students follow this formula:

  1. Get into college
  2. Pick a degree that sounds interesting
  3. Graduate
  4. Try to find a job

It doesn’t work, and it’s a major reason why students graduate with tens (hundreds in some cases) of thousands of dollars in debt without a job.

A much better approach is to come up with a plan that makes your degree actionable. For example, a small business owner may get an MBA to better understand how to run their business, a history professor may get a Ph. D in European History to teach at a state university, ect.

Don’t get a degree in Business Administration because the coursework is easy, and don’t get a degree in physics because it sounds like it will get you a job. Find a degree that will advance you in a career that you want, or at least find out how you can make your degree get you a job. Become a regular in your university’s career center until you know and can take action on how your degree will advance your career.

Your Ideal Job Require a Degree

I got my degree in public relations because most PR/Marketing agencies require a bachelor’s degree of their entry-level job candidates in PR, English, Journalism or a related field. Jobs requiring knowledge of the hard sciences (doctors, chemists, ect.) fall under this as well.

Many jobs, however, value relevant experience over college degrees enough that having a bachelor’s is not important. When starting out on a career, it may be worthwhile to see what relevant experience can be obtained without having any advanced education. Some careers that most would normally think require degrees, such as app developers/software engineers, actually value experience over a formal education. (If you make meaningful contributions to an open-source project on GitHub, that’s a major gold star on your resume that will beat out most degrees).

 You Are a Self Starter

If you do the above, you are likely already a self-starter. But I put this in here because nobody comes to you as a recent graduate and says “great job with your degree, please interview at my company.” In fact, job hunters are often surprised to see that a college degree is just one of many requirements to get an interview. Heck, sometimes a degree isn’t even mentioned.

Those who succeed after college are self starters, people who take action when presented with an issue before the issue becomes a problem. They identify where they want to go, find out how to get there, then take action until they get there.

You have tons of scholarship money

If you have a free ride to college, you should go. In fact, I say that if you’re going to make it out of college with less than $5,000 in loans, it’s worth it. Even with an unsubsidized loan, it’s possible to pay off within 5 years by doubling what you pay on your principal.

Every single cliche filled article on why college is great (the people you meet, the memories you make, the personal growth you experience, ect.) are true, but those experiences come at a cost. Go to college with a good plan, and don’t get killed by debt.

Coding

I’m re-learning how to program, and it’s a blast.
 
When I was younger, I studied simple programming. I bought introductory books on C and C++, and I took a BASIC class in Jr. High. But around 9th or 10th grade, I stopped once I learned that writing a game, which is what I really wanted to do, would take forever.
 
I’ve decided to give JavaScript a go. It’s easy to pick up and it’s pretty similar to C. What’s surprised me most is how many free resources are available for aspiring programmers who want to get fluent in JavaScript. Code Academny and Kahn Academy both have excellent free courses, and there are many YouTube channels devoted to teaching people how to code in JavaScript.
 
I don’t blog much so I won’t promise any updates on my progress, but I’ll try to link to any noteworthy programs I write in the future.
 

Did it

December 21, 2012.
 
3 years after I graduated college.
 
6 months as a freelance writer, 2 teaching jobs, 2 internships and a short stint as a hotel receptionist.
 
I’m finally employed full time at a PR agency.
 
It was one hell of a journey.

Up-and-coming PR practitioners: Learn Tech

When we think about the technology revolution, we think about Bill Gates’ vision of a computer in every home. But the revolution extends far beyond that; technology has so radically changed business that David Kirkpatrick believes that every company is a software company. Beyond that, technology has changed the way that businesses can impact society for good.

Areas in technology such as Big Data, SaaS and and Information Technology may not have the same appeal as consumer tech, but the need for good PR in these areas are just as big. Up-and-coming PR practitioners need to understand these areas because these areas are becoming less about technology and more about life.

As the lines become more blurred, the stories we tell our audiences become less “tech” and more “human.” We stop talking about what the cloud is and start talking about how companies such as MobileWorks are increasing the accessibility of technology to low-income households. We stop talking about the amount of data we can store and access remotely and start talking about how doctors are using  information from other hospitals to save people’s lives. These stories are not “technical” stories; they’re human interest stories that have appeal to everyone. As practitioners, we need to be able to know tech well enough to tell these stories to our audiences.

How to Start Over [Career]

Your career is in shambles. You have no money. You’re living with your parents. Where do you go?

Step 1: Make a plan

Head to a coffee shop and write out the steps you need to take to be successful. Too broke for a coffee shop? Brew a pot at home and write out how to get where you want to go. You need a plan for when depression hits. Plus, a plan will make you feel a lot better.

Step 2: Perform Step 1 of your plan

It sounds simple, right? But it’s strange how procrastination, depression or other external factors can get in the way of starting over. Build up your courage, psyche yourself up, kick yourself out the front door; whatever you have to do, make sure you do perform the first action item on your plan. You’ll be surprised the amount of confidence you gain from making the first step.

Step 3: Create a side-goal

Odds are that your plan will take some time to come to fruition. So set a side goal that will fill the time between steps. Finish a book, set a fitness goal, or make it a priority to finish your spring cleaning. Don’t let yourself mope about where you’re not, and don’t let yourself daydream about the future too much.

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