Archive for January, 2012

Tips for Effective Parent-Teacher Communication

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

It is said that teachers lay the basic foundation in building your child’s successful future. Probably that is why teaching is known as a noble profession. Apart from educating pupils, a teacher’s professional duties extend way beyond just formal teaching. They have the ability to influence a student’s perception. Parents no doubt are equal partners in shaping the future of their kids. Moreover, parental involvement can boost a child’s motivation for learning and develops a positive attitude about the school in general. When parents form an effective partnership with a teacher, they can definitely help their kid do well academically as well as professionally. So, how do you develop a great rapport with the teacher? From the teacher’s perspective, how do you react if a overwrought parent shows up? Given below are tips for both teachers and parents respectively to effectively communicate with each other.

Parent-Teacher Communication Tips

Tips for Teachers

  • When you call on your student’s parents, make sure you are cool and composed. Don’t make it sound serious or like something is really wrong, we need to talk. Remember they are parents they are sure to panic and might scold their kid, after they hang up the phone. Don’t discuss the issue over the phone, but give them some hints so that they are mentally prepared when they come to see you. In the meeting too, slowly unveil the issue, discuss it and come to a conclusion, which is approved by both of you.
  • After you call up the parents, there is every possibility that the parent might rush to the school to see you. Make it a point to not entertain them at that time, even if you are free. Stress on scheduling a meeting later on the same day, or the following day. This will give you a chance to prepare yourself for the meeting and the parent will cool down too. It is important that neither of you are excited or paranoid about the issue, a cool head can bring out the best results from a discussion.
  • It is not easy for any parent to digest the fact that their child is a “problem child” and as teachers it is important you don’t encourage such thoughts in parents. No doubt it is important for you to address the issue related to the child, however don’t just put forth the problems, at least come up with some concrete ways to tackle the problem. Let the parent know they can trust you! Explain the strategy, ask for their inputs, if any, and together reach to a conclusion. And make sure the parent too is equally involved in addressing the issue concerning their child.
  • Sometimes, when parents come to meet you even when they are not called for, it is because they want to make sure that their kid is performing well at school. Hear them out, probably they want someone to hear them out, or want to voice their concerns. Assure the parents about their kid’s performance and be positive. Teachers should never communicate negative news about the child as that is more likely to discourage parents. Tell the parents about their child’s learning activities, accomplishments if any and tactfully tell them how they can improve their child’s learning at home.

Tips for Parents

  • The most common mistake parents make is that they sit back and wait for the teachers to come to them with issues. If you know your kid is a little weak at grasping things, make it a point to communicate with his teacher regularly. Keep a weekly or monthly track of his/her improvements. The teacher in such a case will definitely understand your concern and help you in all ways she can, to resolve the issue.
  • When you are called by the teacher, don’t panic. The teacher in the first place called you because she is concerned and wants to see her students do well. Realize the purpose. Go with a cool head it will only help you to come to a better conclusion. Be open to strategies and ideas the teacher introduces you to. Together work on the same, it will only help you raise the kid better.
  • Your child’s teacher may be younger or older to you, whatever the case may be respect her. Because a teacher can handle something with your child in a better way than you can, since they are trained that way. She is definitely concerned about your child, the reason why she is helping you out with the same. Everyone likes to be praised. If the strategy drawn by the teacher is working, or you see your child favorably responding to the problem, let the teacher know it. Thank her for the same, or at least acknowledge her efforts.
  • There will be cases when neither of you would want to agree on some common point, in such cases don’t storm into the principal’s office individually, make sure both of you approach him/her together and sort out the matter. It’ll help both the parties to maintain cordial relations amongst themselves, which in turn will be beneficial for your child.

by Divya Bichu.

Read more @ http://www.buzzle.com/articles/tips-for-effective-parent-teacher-communication.html

Teaching Children to Make Good Choices

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Every man builds his world in his own image. He has the power to choose, but no power to escape the necessity of choice.” ~ Ayn Rand

One question often comes to our mind, as worded in the famous soliloquy from Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ To be or not to be: that is the question and often enough, we are baffled by the choice we make. We seldom give a thought, on what children go through especially when we constantly daunt them for the choices they make. But hey, they are kids and need a guiding hand while taking decisions that will affect their life. Even as a grownup, I adhere to my mom’s words of wisdom originally borrowed from Dr. Shad Helmstetter – “No one else can ever make your choices for you. Your choices are yours alone. They are as much a part of you as every breath you will take, every moment of your life.” As a parent, teaching your child how to make a wise decision, is an advice, that goes without saying. Besides, the future of your child lies partly in your hands, as much as it lies in his/hers.

Teaching Kids to Make Good Choices

Are you a parent who gives in to your child’s demands, even though your kid is only a year old? Stop before you go any further and regret your pampering later in life, when your child becomes spoiled for choice.

Start Early: Don’t Let Them be Spoiled for Choice
Kids apparently find a way to get things done according to their wish and being a parent, you should be wary of their demands. Begin teaching your kids to make choices early in life, it will help save you from pesky teenagers in the future. Making decisions should be taught when the child learns how to walk; in short, as soon as the child learns to stand on his/her own feet and talk. Your child will respect you more if, as a parent, you teach him/her to differentiate the right from the wrong. Remember, your child is an individual and sooner they realize their responsibilities, the better.

Simple Things Matter
Your child will grow up to be a mature individual, capable to make the right choices, only if you as a parent, will allow them to discern the right from the wrong when they are small. Teach your child the importance of making decisions by setting the right example. Explain the difference between a good choice and a bad one and support it with your actions. Nothing beats a reward; not necessarily material things but a simple pat on the back can do the trick, especially when they follow your instructions well. Think from the child’s perspective, you wouldn’t want someone constantly bickering over you about your choices, would you?

Learning from Mistakes
Children will be children and are bound to make mistakes; chances of your child learning to make the right choice through their faults is high, as long as you take time to make them realize that their actions are wrong. Be patient and compassionate about their choices, they might come to you asking for help in deciding, it’s invariably your duty to guide them well. Ask your child questions instead of simply burdening them with suggestions. Besides, if giving them a choice allows them to learn and gain a sense of control, then what’s the harm?

Responsibility Comes from Doing
Imagine if your parents never permitted you to enjoy the freedom of choice, and restricted your every move, would you have turned out to be a responsible citizen? If the choices that you made in your childhood have molded you to be just who you are, then why hinder your child’s ability to take up responsibility. Give your child an option to choose from, make it a point to consider his/her views as well. Taking up responsibilities like helping out in household chores, or caring for pets will enable your child to develop self-worth and a sense of contribution.

Be Compassionate
Your child will develop his/her ability to make good choices if you as a parent genuinely support and encourage your child. Positive encouragement received from an elder, puts the child in the right stead to make a correct decision. Do not judge and doubt your child on one wrong choice, for as most grandparents say, listen with an empathetic ear and judge with a compassionate heart. It is advisable that you encourage positive friendship and choices, and make them aware about negative choices and their impacts.

Learning by Imitating
Have you ever observed your child closely? If you have, then I’m sure you might have noticed your child’s inclination to imitate every action performed around him/her. Your child learns more from imitating than from any other source. Be prudent in your actions, your child is observing every move you make and every decision you take. Your child will learn from you, and your choices will definitely affect his/her future choices; besides making good choices will only help develop your child’s character. Think twice before you ask your kid to lie on the phone to your boss, he/she might do the same one fine day and no guesses who will be at the receiving end!

Love Unconditionally
Finally, do not forget to love and trust your child and his/her decision-making powers. If you put a lifetime in trusting your child, in making the right decisions, the possibility of him/her making a right one is a surety.

by Cheryl Mascarenhas.

Read more @ http://www.buzzle.com/articles/teaching-children-to-make-good-choices.html

Another 15 Get ‘Cluster Schools Of Excellence’ Status

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

PUTRAJAYA: Fifteen schools received the Cluster Schools of Excellence status from the Education Ministry Monday.

The recognition was under Phase Six of the programme which has accorded the same to 167 schools so far, said Education director-general Datuk Seri Abdul Ghafar Mahmud.

“All schools which have received the recognition will be given a special allocation to excel individually,” he said in his speech at the award ceremony here.

He said, with this concept, any school which performs well both in academics and co-curriculum would be provided with the recognition, assistance and best educational opportunity from the government.

The group of 15 comprised seven secondary schools and eight primary schools.

The secondary schools were, Sekolah Menengah (SM) Sains Sultan Muhammad Jiwa, Sungai Petani, Kedah; SM Sains, Dungun, Terengganu; SM Kebangsaan Seafield, Subang Jaya, Selangor; SM Sains Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah and SM Kebangsaan Alor Akar, both in Pahang; and SM Tinggi Kluang and SM Kebangsaan (P) Sultan ABu Bakar in Johor.

And the eight primary schools, Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Convent Infant Jesus 1, Melaka; SK Taman Bukit Maluri Kuala Lumpur; SK Agama Sibu Sarawak; SK Seliau Rantau Negeri Sembilan; SK USJ2 Subang Jaya, Selangor; Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan (SRK) Seri Indera Kangar Perlis and two schools in Penang SK Minden Height Gelugor and SRK Cina Kwang Hwa.

BERNAMA.

Read more @ http://education.bernama.com/index.php?sid=news_content&id=642912

Teaching critical thinking

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Critical thinking, as it pertains to teaching and learning,
can be considered an open-minded process of

  • discovery and understanding
  • analysis and application
  • synthesis and evaluation.

These three groupings and their six components reflect B. S. Bloom’s (et al-1956) hierarchical taxonomy or breakdown of cognitive educational objectives.

Teaching students to be critical thinkers presumes an environment
where learners, building upon their knowledge and experience set, strive to understand how data and information can be used to develop, recognize, and/or critique general patterns of knowledge. The facility to work in patterns may be affected by the learner’s “intelligence” as defined by Howard Gardner in three groupings:

  • object related: visual/spatial, body motion/kinesthetic, naturalist
  • symbol-related: verbal/linguistic, logical/mathematical, musical
  • person-related: interpersonal, intrapersonal, existential

What does the application of critical thinking look like in the class or school room?

  • New learning is introduced with what is already known
    (Ausubel 1968)
  • Goals and objectives, and their framework, are clear
    for considering and acquiring new material
  • Generalization and conceptualization are integrated
    into the learning process; and are frameworks for understanding what is taught
  • Internalization of knowledge is a goal,
    and a risk
  • Learning not only draws upon the teacher,
    but also fellow learners and content in many media formats, and can follow non-traditional avenues
  • Inquiry and questioning are teaching tools;
    as is lecture
  • Demonstration of learning is integral to the learning process
  • Standards of evaluation are clear at the outset

What does a typical class period look like?
(accommodates 20 minute attention spans)

  • Introductory phase
    Review previous day, homework assignments
    Bridge new material with advanced organizers
  • Lecture or content presentation
    Perhaps through Socratic method of questioning
  • Small group discussions and tasks
  • Period of reflection or exercises in applying new material,
    or review
  • Reports
  • Summaries/exercises/developmental/application/demonstration activities

Helpful Techniques & Guides related to teaching critical thinking

  • Questioning
    Strategies for using questioning in the classroom
  • Socratic method exercise
  • Problem-based learning
    An active learning technique
  • Thinking aloud
    Demonstrate thinking through problems, also that answers are not always readily available
    Model the process of developing ideas, solutions, etc.
  • Active listening
  • Cooperative conflict resolution
  • Concept mapping
    As an alternative to outlining or environment for brainstorming
  • Learning portfolios/records of progress
    Develop opportunities for individuals and groups to develop documents
    that reflect learning progress over time (minutes/journals; blogs/media productions; speeches/presentations)
  • Classroom space accommodates interaction
    between small and larger groups of students as well as the teacher
  • Seize the moment/Gestalt/ah ha
    Intentionally attack a current controversy or issue
    Strive to develop mutual understanding of the issues on both sides
    as well as the alternative processes of arriving at resolution(s)
  • Illustrate concepts
    with examples out of the students’ own experiences to correlate concepts and applications
  • Provide feedback to the learner; considerations:
    Were the objectives and standards understood?
    What external events influenced behavior/outcome?
    What will feedback contribute to the learner’s self-understanding and development?
    Is feedback based upon the results/answers/etc. or how they were developed (process)?

Read more @ http://www.studygs.net/teaching/crttch.htm

The Importance of Extra Curricular Activities in School

Monday, January 30th, 2012

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!” ~Anonymous

Isn’t this age-old proverb rightly put? A student’s school days are some of the best days of his life. These days can never be complete without a little bit of sporty excitement, a bit of adventure and the crazy strokes of a painting class. Some of the best talents around the world, attribute their extra curricular activities as the roots of their academic and career success. If you are eager to know the secret of their success, then you should definitely read my article.

Why are Extra Curricular Activities Indispensable?

Help as Stress Buster
It is humanly impossible to be fully energetic with a single activity all through the day. Nowadays, the educational curriculum is vast and ever-expanding. This can create a lot of mental and physical stress as well as a mental block to take up a study routine day in and day out. Extra curricular activities like sports, music, arts, etc., exposes students to a variety of lighter activities that help let go the mental tension and stress of studying for a short period of time. In activities like sports, there is known to be a high rush of adrenaline which soothes the strained body even as it experiences physical exertion.

Improve Health
Schooling often tends to be sedentary in nature. The load of school schedule and heaps of homework often keeps students glued to their desks. Young children need a lot of physical activity to keep them physically fit. Extra curricular activities help curtail tendencies of obesity and health related issues amongst young children while improving the child’s immunity. Also, when students are engaged in outdoor activities, they are prone to receive sufficient quantity of Vitamin D which is essential for their physical growth and development.

Help Develop Multitasking and Time Management Skills
There is no better lesson than to learn the art of balancing studies and work along with other activities. Opting for multiple responsibilities from a young age creates an acute sense of time management as well. These skills accumulate over a period of time and mold the student’s mind for a brighter future.

Search Hidden Talents
Studies do have the capacity to improve a student’s skills. However, when students are actually exposed to new and variety of activities at a very young age, they may develop their own taste for the activity and thus, parents as well as teachers can search for student’s hidden likings and talents.

Develop Team Spirit
Most of the extra curricular activities like sports, debating, etc., can never be completed without the involvement of a lot of team members. When exposed to such teaming with like minds, there is seen to be an active exchange of creative ideas and the ability to work together as a team. This creates a sense of belonging, a sense of loyalty towards the team, and development of sporting spirit. Friendships thus formed, have often survived for a lifetime.

Develop Interpersonal Skills
Activities like public speech, social service, sports develop a student’s interpersonal skills so as help them be the masters of communication in their adult life. Crucial arts such as listening skills, leadership skills, stage confidence, negotiating skills, oratory skills and logical reasoning get developed in the students from a very young age.

Create Social Responsibility Sense
Exposure to activities like social service and volunteering helps students understand true social problems since a very young age. This is known to stir the humane side of students creating a sense of social responsibility and social justice in these young minds. Students might be guided by their teachers to help senior citizens and young helpless children by organizing social visits to old ages homes and orphanages respectively. Students with previous experience in social work have reported that they feel an acute sense of owing some of their precious time and energy to the welfare of the less advantaged people.

Help in Making Dual Careers
Bookish knowledge can never be complete without its actual application. Schools stress that students must engage themselves in lots of extra curricular activities for which they are awarded grades. Such work experience goes a long way into shaping the student’s career. The nurturing of a liking for these activities from a young age, may encourage these students to take up dual careers in their adult lives. e.g. – A student who had taken up painting as part of her extra curricular activity since early age, may balance her life between a professional career and painting as an alternate career during her adult life.

by Anuja Marathe Kanhere.

Read more @ http://www.buzzle.com/articles/the-importance-of-extra-curricular-activities-in-school.html

Team Building Activities for Students

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Sometimes, in your school and professional life, you may be asked to work in a team of students or professionals. There is a lot of difference in working individually and in a team. While working in a team you should be able to respect the knowledge and abilities of your fellow team members. You should have the ability to make a compromise, sometimes as only one suggestion will be finally accepted. Tolerance is the key to success in a teamwork. Professionalism is important in the sense that you should not favor any particular team member just because you have a friendly relationship with him. Punctuality is very vital because the project on which we are working can get delayed if all members are not present at the decided time for work. This will ultimately result in the loss of all members of the team. All students should equally contribute in the process of completing the task. If a certain student remains as a mere spectator while working, he will not learn the basics of the task and will face serious difficulties while working on complicated tasks. Team leadership should be entrusted to a responsible and talented person who has exceptional leadership qualities. Students should learn to keep their personal life and professional life apart. Frustration and feeling of hatred for fellow team members, can seriously affect the quality of the output.

Team Building Activities For School Students
Students will be able to work efficiently in a team in their respective careers, if they have good experiences of the same in schools. Here are some activities which can help in achieving our goals:

Obstacle Game
The obstacle game is widely used in the physical training sessions in schools. It is a good example of team building activity. In this game, different items referred to as ‘obstacles’ are arranged and students are asked to jump over, walk around or duck under them. At least two teams of students play this game. One member from each team is blindfolded and he receives instructions from the other team members about how to proceed. Team leaders should give specific and precise instructions after studying the exact height, length and width of the obstacles. The team which does the task correctly for more times wins the game. Teachers are expected to supervise the game and give suggestions to the students to improve their game. This brilliant athletic course will help the blindfolded participant and supporting members to develop the qualities of interpreting information, presence of mind, concentration and stamina.

Participating in Cultural and Extra Curriculum Activities
Students should be encouraged to participate in the different cultural and sport related activities. Participating in a drama or stage play is a good platform for the students to prove their talents. Making a good drama or short film requires a good understanding between the scriptwriter, director, technicians, and all other people associated with the project. This helps to inculcate values like hard work, team spirit and perseverance. Sports like cricket, basketball, football, hockey make the children pay careful attention and visualize things in a proper way. Performing practices in a group, participating in school decoration during festivals, conducting research, visiting a place as a part of an educational tour, develop team building abilities of students.

Some More Team Building Activities For Students
Tug of war is the classic example of team building exercises. Some mental exercises, like concentration games in a group of four or five children, will help in developing ability to remember things.

Team Building Activities For College Students
College students of engineering, medical and management colleges need to work in teams during their college days and later as employees. Engineering students should participate in quiz, paper presentation programs and project presentations. Science students should attend seminars of reputed organizations and institutes together, and get their doubts cleared from the faculties available. These activities develop the overall personality of students. Teamwork makes the process, of completing the allotted work, interesting.

by Charlie S.

Read more @ http://www.buzzle.com/articles/team-building-activities-for-students.html

Let Hang Tuah legend live on

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Like Robin Hood and Sherlock Holmes in England, Hang Tuah could be cleverly promoted as a tourist attraction in Malacca.

THE current debate over whether the legendary warrior Hang Tuah actually existed or is merely a figment of imagination should be taken positively. At least there is a renewed interest in history, a subject many Malaysians regard as boring.

Our students have bad memories of studying History, which will be a compulsory subject in schools, because of unimaginative and uninspiring teachers who turned their classes into tedious note-taking exercises.

They did not inspire their students with stories of how we could learn from the past and how relevant history is to us. History is not about forcing students to just memorise dates and signing of treaties.

History is about his story, and teachers should respond with lively accounts, even personal trivia, of the personalities involved to spice up their classes.

With a short remark, Prof Emeritus Tan Sri Khoo Kay Kim restarted a debate on the existence of Hang Tuah, who is said to have lived during the reign of Sultan Mansur Shah in 15th century Malacca. Hang Tuah is believed to be the greatest of all of the sultan’s admirals and was described as a ferocious fighter.

Certainly, he has been and is still held in the highest regard in Malaysian Malay culture, and so when our eminent historian said he did not exist, many Malaysians felt let down, even cheated.

Many remember learning in school that Hang Tuah was a hero with a steadfast sense of loyalty who readily sacrificed his friendship with his best friend Hang Jebat after the latter rebelled against the Sultan.

Furthermore, we are also being told that Princess Hang Li Po, who was supposedly married to Sultan Mansur Shah, is probably fictitious as well.

But to be fair to Prof Khoo, he is not the first historian to dispute the existence of Hang Tuah or Hang Li Po. It has long been the subject of conjecture at university level. At school level, however, students seemed to be just happy to swallow what their teachers taught them.

The conventional method of teaching history could be the reason for this, but lack of critical thinking in our education system is another factor. Most students rely entirely on notes given to them and they don’t do their own research on the subject.

Teachers could address this shortcoming by, for example, stating specifically that Hang Tuah is a subject of myth and legend at the start of lessons. Students should also be informed that the location of his tomb, if it exists, remains in dispute.

by Wong Chun Wai.

Read more @ http://thestar.com.my/columnists/story.asp?col=onthebeat&file=/2012/1/29/columnists/onthebeat/10546272&sec=On%20The%20Beat

Room for reflection

Monday, January 30th, 2012

A sacred space is vital for spiritual protection.

CREATING and recognising a sacred space is important for every individual not only for spiritual purpose but also for protection and power.

Such a room is vital because it prevents the person from being affected by dark forces which can come in the form of sight, thoughts, words, gestures and negative activities of others.

Building the space is simple but it requires concentration, clarity of purpose and the ability to withstand any distractions in your particular situation.

Ideally, there should be a room dedicated for the specific purpose but owing to space limitations, switching the space between ritual and physical practices would be best.

Although the dual role can be challenging at times, it is recommended that the switch be done mentally in any space you occupy, whether at work or at home.

The first step is to choose a space where you will not be disturbed during the therapy and purify the area with incense smoke or cleanse it with salt water.

Next, sit comfortably on the floor in the middle of the room facing north and draw a circle using white chalk starting from the east clockwise.

Place five candles in these positions: yellow in the east, red in the south, blue in the west, green in the north and purple in the centre. Light them while saying, “Banish my fears and provide me with power and protection.”

The candles, which represent the sacred elements of air, fire, water, earth and spirit, must be invoked after the circle is drawn to welcome the energies associated with it to the space.

Acknowledge the presence of the elements and seek help for whatever purpose and show appreciation to their powers after making the declaration by thanking them.

For instance, when requesting for protection from negative energies, ask the subtle vibrations from the elements to provide you with an invisible shield when faced with such entities. Spend about an hour inside the circle and respect the space throughout the ritual for protection therapy to work effectively.

Follow the various phases of the moon to see better results. The waxing or growing moon is seen to be suitable for any action for growth and attraction, while the waning or shrinking moon symbolises banishment and repulsion.

The dark moon, also known as the new moon favours new projects and building protection. The full moon is symbolically linked with reflection, revelation and wholeness.

You can also use the planetary influences on each day of the week for better results.

Monday is linked with mysterious powers of the moon and favours dreams, mystical activity and money.

Tuesday is ruled by Mars and it is a fierce planet of courage, will and defence.

Wednesday is governed by Mercury, the planet of communication and knowledge.

Thursday is the day of Jupiter, the generous and luck planet.

Friday is dedicated to Venus, which is associated with love and peace.

Saturday is linked with Saturn, the disciplinarian and Sunday to the Sun, bringer of joy and success.

by T. Selva.

Read more @ http://thestar.com.my/columnists/story.asp?col=vasthusastra&file=/2012/1/29/columnists/vasthusastra/10545387&sec=Vasthu%20Sastra

Weed out the mean insurers

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

TAKING out an insurance policy against illness or death is an important decision for any individual.

Since many people tend not to consider such unwelcome outcomes, the result is often a neglect of such precautionary measures.

Yet that inattention does nothing to minimise the need for proper and adequate insurance coverage.

It in fact attests to and compounds the glaring lack of personal coverage among Malaysians.

The insurance industry is only too aware of this lack, so it is expected to do what it can to overcome that by improving the appeal of their policies.

Nonetheless, the conduct of some insurance companies leaves much to be desired.

Through their fine print and technical jargon, they often leave their clients in the lurch when the particular nature of the illness is somehow excluded from the coverage the insured persons thought they had.

For this to happen when the costs of medical care and hospitalisation are rising is unconscionable.

For it to also happen when these insurance companies’ clients have only just suffered life-threatening illness is unpardonable.

Where are the laws and other safeguards to prevent paying clients from being outfoxed by mean-spirited insurers?

The Financial Mediation Bureau and the Life Insurance Association of Malaysia are doing a share of damage control.

But evidently more needs to be done, since many disappointments continue to occur.

Surely insurance companies do not need to go this low to stay in business?

To prevent future abuses of insurance practice, a list of such contentious cases should be available online for public reference.

Read more @ http://thestar.com.my/columnists/story.asp?col=thestarsays&file=/2012/1/29/columnists/thestarsays/10558228&sec=The%20Star%20Says

Snob job hunting

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Looking for a chance to be an intern can be as hard as finding a job but for one lucky lass, her stint as a research assistant taught her that landing a dream job is not impossible.

I STILL remember this time last year when I was in a frenzy e-mailing professors around Canada enquiring if any of them would be hiring in the near future because I was graduating in a few months. While it was heartening that many replied and were very encouraging of my efforts, the answers were mostly the same: “We already have a research assistant, or we don’t have enough funding, or we will contact you in the Spring when we know if we got the grants.’’

Such is the reality of academia. Spaces are sometimes non-existent, funding is limited (so be prepared for low pay), competition is high, and finding the right lab fit (e.g., research interest, skills, and personality) was an arduous task.

It did not help that the number of qualified people was increasing. My situation was further complicated by the fact that I was emailing people as an international student, and one with only an upcoming undergraduate degree. Most research positions wanted at least a masters, or more years out in the field. Priority is also always given to Canadians and landed immigrants in any case. Fair, of course, but neither worked to my advantage.

I skyped with my parents almost every week with the same worry: What if I don’t get a job upon graduation? They listened to me every single week and my mother’s advice was always the same.

She always said “just work hard and everything will happen in due cause.” Dad would agree, and add that “it’s still early, so it’s okay, don’t worry”, his way of calming me.

As the date of the last day of classes approached, my concerns increased. I had two interviews lined up, but neither were in a research field I was actually really passionate about. My supervisor-mentor snorted into her coffee and assured me “you’ll get a job, trust me”.

My cousin was more realistic. She reasoned with me that since I was being a “snob” (I wanted a research-related position and wasn’t willing to settle for anything else because I wanted a job that would further prepare me for graduate school), I had to be patient.

The economy was not the best and unemployment rates were higher than usual. She cautioned me that I should give myself a year. I raised my eyebrows but knew she was right: Most of my seniors who did not apply to graduate school took about that time to find a job, many longer.

Frustration

I spent hours every day after graduation combing university, hospital, and research websites looking up possible openings. It came to a point where I spent about as long as a work day doing that. And almost gave up in frustration.

But you know what? Mum was right. Things did happen in due cause. I had sent an e-mail to a professor (let’s call her A) asking about joining her lab. I received an email two seconds later informing me she was out of the office. I was very intrigued with A’s work and made a note in my calendar to follow-up with her upon her return. Two weeks after her return, I still heard nothing from her, so I sent her a polite reminder about my e-mail.

And was pleasantly surprised to receive an encouraging reply within a few hours. She apologised for not getting back to me sooner for she had been down with pneumonia and offered me an interview the very next day because she had an opening.

Read more @ http://thestar.com.my/education/story.asp?file=/2012/1/29/education/10180522&sec=education