Showing posts with label job skills. Show all posts
Showing posts with label job skills. Show all posts

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Cheer Up! A Liberal Arts Degree May Enitle You to Work on a Cruise Ship

I recently returned from a river cruise down the Rhône River in France. Most of the cruise-ship workers hailed from eastern and central Europe--Bulgaria, Romania, the Balkan states, etc.

I had many opportunities to watch the crew members at work, and I was impressed by their efficiency, courtesy, and professional demeanor. The ones I talked with spoke English well, and I concluded that most had the skills to work in professional jobs instead of waiting tables and cleaning passenger cabins on a cruise ship.

Why, I asked myself, were so many crew members from eastern Europe? And why were they stuck in such menial jobs? After all, working on a cruise ship might be described as living in a floating purgatory--long hours, low pay, and cramped living conditions.

The answers are obvious, of course. Most cruise-ship workers have limited economic opportunities. Few have college degrees, community ties, or family connections that could help them get better jobs.  Their primary qualifications are their language skills and willingness to work under challenging conditions.

If you are an American college student squandering your youth in a liberal arts program at a mediocre college, you should think about these European cruise ship workers. 

What skills will you bring to the workplace after you obtain your bachelor's diploma? Will you have learned how to work under stress, meet deadlines, and communicate well?  Will that degree in medieval literature help you get a professional job that pays well enough to buy a home, raise a family, and save for retirement?

If not, your career prospects will be like many hardworking eastern Europeans--not very good. In fact, you may be worse off than the young Romanians and Bulgarians busing tables on cruise ships.

At least the eastern Europeans have a strong work ethic and an ability to work cheerfully for long hours. You may not have picked up those skills at the frat house, the student rec center, or the bullshit sessions that masquerade as academic courses in the liberal arts.

And the eastern Europeans will have one more advantage if you compete with them for low-skill jobs. They won't be burdened by student loans.

Life as a cruise ship worker.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Is Monday is the new Friday? Let's get back to work

When I was fifteen, I "hoed peanuts" one summer, weeding the peanut fields of Caddo County for one dollar an hour.  Oklahoma summers are brutal, and temperatures were above 100 degrees Fahrenheit for weeks at a time.

Hoeing peanuts is hot, tedious work. If a government agent had offered me $1.25 an hour not to hoe peanuts, I would have accepted that offer.

Thus, I sympathize with American workers who prefer enhanced unemployment benefits to frying burgers for $8 an hour. Who would willingly take a pay cut for the privilege of working a menial job?

Nevertheless, I think it is time for Americans to go back to work. Why?

First, it is well known that the likelihood of getting a good job goes down the longer someone is out of the workforce.  And that is true whether you are a fast-food restaurant employee or a lawyer. 

People lose work skills if they are unemployed for an extended time, and long periods of joblessness are hard to explain to a prospective employer.  A "gap year" is easily explained; a "gap decade," not so much 

Second, the longer you stay away from the workplace, the more likely your employer will discover that it doesn't need you. In fact, I think a lot of employers realized during the pandemic that they were overstaffed.

Finally, unemployed people miss out on the nonmonetary benefits of going to work.  Employed people learn all kinds of skills that are transferable to other jobs. They learn time-management skills, people skills, and various mechanical skills as well. 

Besides, you are more likely to meet Mr. or Ms. Right if you have a job--another nonmonetary benefit of working. Who wants to form a long-term relationship with someone who watches television all day?

You may be saying to yourself that it is easy for me to urge people to get back to work because I am retired.  And that's a good point. 

But I have made my living as a writer, and I still write every day, and I still work as a volunteer editor for a couple of research journals.  I think I am healthier--both physically and mentally--due to having daily work tasks.

Besides, I never took up golf.

Do you want to tell your mom that you are in a serious relationship with Jeff Lebowski?