Teach For America: What’s Next?

Anyone who has been on a college campus in the past 10 years has heard of Teach for America (TFA). As an elite organization, they recruit students who could easily sign with well-known firms or attend a prestigious law school. However, these accomplished students choose to devote two years to work as teachers.

TFA is concerned with raising achievement by placing bright teachers in under-served classrooms. The long-term goal is to inculcate people, who will work in a variety of sectors, with first-hand knowledge of how education works in many American schools. The hope is that those teachers will become leaders in their industries, using both leadership status and their TFA experience to influence educational policy. Teach for America alumni throughout the country are already living up to that hope.

Adam Bonneau, a TFA alumnus from the 2005 corps, explained that, “Teach For America fosters a number of fundamental professional skills that I think would translate to any field.”

Bonneau came to the organization with a background in engineering and economics. He went on to work as a middle school math and keyboarding teacher. TFA appealed to him because he said, “I figured that I might eventually want to go into politics, and I knew that if I did, education would be my number one priority.”

As planned, Teach for America gave Bonneau the opportunity to “see for [him]self how the educational system works.” As a teacher, he saw how the system works and how it is necessary to “work relentlessly” to solve problems. This is a part of TFA’s training.

He said that, “Teach for America doesn’t really try to train people on specific solutions to specific problems. Instead, they train people to identify problems and … to ‘work relentlessly’ to solve them.” Bonneau found that this work ethic was not about effort, but “solving problems creatively.”

As a keyboarding instructor, Bonneau saw that the software the students were using was poorly designed. His experience in TFA taught him how he could address that problem, but at the time he did not have the programming skills to write software himself.

Now, Bonneau is in graduate school for computer science, so he will learn how to write those programs. Plus, he has the experience of “working relentlessly” with difficult problems to prepare him for the intense level of problem-solving required to successfully program.

“Effort, organization, leadership” are critical transferable work skills that Bonneau learned during TFA. They also happen to be key attributes of political candidates.

The information on the After the Corpssection details all of the employers, as well as graduate and professional programs that recognize the value of experience with Teach for America. Almost all of the partnering programs offer a two-year deferral for prospective students or employees to participate in TFA.

Several companies, such as Google and JPMorgan, also offer summer internships and support during the TFA term. Many graduate programsoffer application fee waivers; some offer special scholarships or extra consideration for assistantships.

Business, medical and other professional and graduate programs also offer incentives. In addition to this help with education, TFA has an extensive alumni network. This “After the Corps” support helps right after the two year term and continues as alumni pursue promising career paths.

The New Teacher Project (TNTP) is a non-profit organization founded by TFA alumni. TNTP runs teaching programs similar to Teach for America in cities throughout the country, including the Philadelphia and New York City Teaching Fellows. These programs partner with school districts to bring both new graduates and mid-career professionals into the district.

The TFA alumni who started The New Teachers Project used their experience to craft a new organization and act as entrepreneurs of education. One of the co-founders, Michelle Rhee, is Chancellor of the Washington, D.C. public schools (a political position similar to superintendent).

Michelle Rhee began as a teacher in Baltimore and is now running one of the country’s most challenged districts—putting into action those transferable work skills. She was selected for the position in large part due to her experience with creating and managing the growing TNTP program.

Unlike most of the previous Chancellors, she has no superintendent experience. However, she does have experience negotiating with school districts across the country and most notably, influencing contract negotiations with the New York City School District. She is the youngest of the recent Chancellors, which also speaks to the power of her experience and her focused work after Teach for America.

Given the intense and instructive experience gained through the organization, Michelle Rhee is just the first of many TFA alumni to gain national attention for her work. After their term of service, they have a supportive network and a status, TFA alum, that says they are well-qualified and can persevere in a tough situation. Such a placement ensures that Teach for America’s hope for their alumni’s future work is not just a dream, but a well-planned reality.

You can contact Erika Owens at eaopmk@gmail.com.

Tim Donaghy Pleads Guilty

Former NBA referee, Tim Donaghy pleaded guilty on August 15, 2007 on two federal conspiracy charges. In his plea, he acknowledged that he used inside information to foretell the winners of the games in which he would be refereeing.

Donaghy was an NBA referee for 13 years; he now faces $500,000 worth of fines. He is set to be sentenced on November 9, 2007. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to transmit wagering information across state lines. Together these two offenses carry a penalty of 25 years in prison.

He was recently released on $250,000 bail. According to the Associated Press, Donaghy said, By having this nonpublic information, I was in a unique position to predict the outcome of NBA games.

The reasoning behind Donaghy’s actions was a gambling addiction. Even though he admitted on betting on games that he officiated, the plea agreement did not include that charge.

With Donaghy and two alleged co-conspirators released on $250,000 bail, they now wait until November 9 to hear their sentence.

You can contact Chris Sherwin at tua28057@temple.edu

To Apply or Not to Apply

If you’re job hunting, you’ve probably heard the advice that “job requirements are a wish list.” However, the person who gets hired for the position most likely does not fulfill each and every bullet point in the job description. How do you figure out which requirements are must-haves and which are pipe dreams?

To begin your investigation, gather up all possible information. The first place to go after reading the job ad is the company’s website. To know if you should even bother applying, check for the job opportunities section of the site (it’s usually connected to the “About Us” section). Many times you will find a more thorough job description listed.

After reading the company’s job description, check to see if there are staff bios. These can help in targeting your cover letter to the contact person or supervisor of your position. More importantly, they can tell you what kind of qualifications and experience the workers have.

With all of the information about this job you can figure out how, or if, your experience fits with the description. Most job ads are divided into four areas: a general description of the organization, a detailed description of the duties of the position, a list of required attributes and a list of preferred qualifications. Check each of these areas for themes. If each section mentions writing, that’s a good clue that if your writing skills are weak, you may not be a good candidate.

Think broadly about your experiences when crafting your resume. Juggling classes and work for four years shows time management skills. Leading a student organization demonstrates leadership and interpersonal skills. It can be difficult for recent graduates to determine how those types of experiences add up to “two years of experience.”

Some ads are specific, using the term “post-college.” The addition of “post-college” was not an accident. It’s a great clue to move on.

If you have fewer years of post-college experience, that puts the focus on your other skills. Give yourself an honest appraisal of how your skills match with the job ad. Be honest with yourself. If you don’t know a programming language or software program, and it is central to the job duties, don’t fake it.

Job ads are often purposefully vague. The interviewer may not have a clear idea of who they want or may want to solicit a large pool and whittle it down with more reliable information. When you do see intensifiers, specifics and repeating themes, take note.

Then, incorporate those notes into your cover letter. It would be impossible to address every single point in a job ad in a short cover letter. The cover letter is a chance to highlight your strengths and demonstrate your research ability by focusing on what are the most important facets of the job. If the job involves event planning, calls for organizational experience and prefers excellent time management skills, connect that with your experience organizing your student organization’s kick-off event.

Be specific about how you managed the event. Explain how it would translate to assisting on the planning and execution of the company’s yearly gala. By patterning your letter after the job ad, you can show your enthusiasm for the company, your ability to perform the job duties, your experiences and qualifications and how they all combine to make you the (nearly) perfect package.

Cover letter writing is a time-consuming process and feeling like you wasted your time applying to a job is demoralizing. By gathering information and closely reading the ads, you can figure out your best matches and avoid some disappointment. As you hear back, or don’t, from those jobs, you’ll begin to craft an idea of how successful your sleuthing has been. This allows you to continue the job search with more information, and hopefully, bring that search to a swift and successful conclusion.

You can contact Erika Owens at eaopmk@gmail.com.

Temple Unveils New Uniforms

Temple University’s football team is reissuing uniform and helmet designs from years past in an effort to create a new “Golden” era. Al Golden, the Owls’ second-year head coach announced the change at the Mid-American Conference Media Day, which was held at Ford Field in Detroit on June 25, 2007.

According to College Sports Television Programming (CSTV), Golden stated at the conference that there were a number of reasons for the change. He explained that “The 2007 uniform brings us back to the most successful team period in the history of Temple football; a time that produced a 10-game winner and a final top 20 ranking in both polls. The second reason is quite simply branding.”

Golden went on to explain that when he was growing up watching Temple football games, the Owls’ uniforms were instantly recognized and he feels that this was no longer the case. Golden wants to make an effort to bring the recognition back.

He declared that the change in uniforms “has to do with our overall football operation. Our goal is to be the first in every endeavor that we believe impacts our football team. We now feel like we have the best uniform, not only in the [Mid-Atlantic Conference], but on the East Coast. We have our brand back and it is here to stay.”

The uniforms themselves were unveiled with the help of Bill Cosby on July 31 at Lincoln Financial Field. Al Golden and former coach Wayne Hardin were also present.

According to the Temple website, the helmets will have TEMPLE on them (the text was featured on helmets back in 1972 to 1988). The website goes on to explain that the jerseys will be “solid cherry or white, with collar and sleeve trim in the opposite requisite color.” As a tribute to Temple University’s founder Russell H. Conwell, the collar will also be trimmed with diamonds, referencing Conwell’s speech, “Acres of Diamonds.” Players’ names will not be featured on the back of the jerseys for the second year in a row.

The decision for removing individual identification from team uniforms is usually done to promote unity amongst the athletes participating in the program.

The uniform pants (white with cherry down the side) will resemble those from the Hardin era (1970 to 1982) when Wayne Hardin served as head coach.

When asked about the new uniforms, art major, Allison Yood said “It’s a lot more clear who our team represents, because lots of schools start with T. I wish that they had the image Temple always uses of the owl lunging on its prey on the helmets though. I think it would be more daunting.”

To see the new uniforms, head over to the photo gallery. The Owls’ season will start on Aug. 31, where they’ll play against Navy.

You can contact Lauren Hard at lauren.hard@gmail.com

Career Checklist: Part Two

So you’re halfway through college as a junior, or, gasp, entering your last year of fun and learning as a senior. Graduation and the real world loom large, but try not to panic. Use this career checklist to make sure you’re on the right track as an official upperclassman.

Junior Year

If you don’t have a resume and sample cover letter yet, now is the time to create one. Sit down and make a list of all your past positions, volunteer work and relevant coursework. Decide what experiences are most relevant to the types of jobs you want to pursue. When you have made your decision, organize these items into a resume and write a sample cover letter.

If you get stuck, try a Microsoft Word resume template or visit your campus career center for a sample resume. Most career centers will set up an appointment with you to critique an existing resume as well.

Many students choose to do a semester or year abroad at this time and it is often possible to do an internship or co-op abroad. If you’re looking to do international work post-graduation, this is a must. Talk to an advisor in your school’s study abroad office about possibilities through your school or in some cases, a neighboring college.

Check out any career fairs or networking nights held on campus. Even if they are aimed at seniors, it can’t hurt to talk to people and see what is out there. The experience of stepping into your first career fair can be overwhelming, so now is the time to practice it when you’re not under extreme pressure to find a job.

Senior Year

As a senior, you are just a short nine months away from the dreaded word: graduation. This means you have to start making decisions about your post-graduation path now: do you want to look for a job, start graduate school or maybe take a year or two off to do volunteer work?

If you’re leaning towards getting a job, you need to brush up that resume you created junior year and start attending school job fairs and career nights with a serious attitude towards networking. Start researching potential companies and reach out to contacts from internships that you enjoyed.

If graduate school is in your future, you will need to sign up for the GRE and contact at least two professors for letters of recommendation. You should start studying for the GRE in the summer, using either a GRE prep book or the software available on the ETS website, www.ets.org.

It is recommended that you download the software, as it best simulates the test conditions, which are now nearly exclusively computerized. Register for the test early; most people take it in October to receive scores in time to apply for grad school.

Maybe you’re not sure what kind of graduate program interests you or you’re not ready to enter the world of work. You might feel the need to travel and meet new people. If this is the case, a year of volunteer work through programs such as City Year, Teach for America, or the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC)might be for you. Student loans can be deferred for a little more than the entire year you are away, so you don’t have to worry about paying up right off the bat.

Whatever you decide, enjoy the challenges and joys of senior year and take plenty of time to reflect on the experiences you have had in college. The path you choose post cap and gown is not a life sentence by any means; your average young worker changes career paths many times before settling down into a line of work. You have your whole life ahead of you to decide what you are truly passionate about and all the resources right now to help you make that decision.

You can contact Clare Herlihy at professional@campusphilly.org

Update on Utley

With a slow recovery from a broken hand, Chase Utley was expected to start throwing yesterday.

He has not been cleared for batting practice, but hopefully we will see him improving and back into former shape as he was before the injury.

According to the Phillies’ website, Utley will be re-examined by Dr. Randall Culp, a hand specialist, on Aug. 20. Afterwards, the Phillies will release another update on the star second-baseman. If it is approved, he will be able to be back into the line up within a week.

With his possible return, Utley could be back in time just for the four game series against NL East rivals, the New York Mets.

Utley has been out for 16 games since Washington Nationals’ John Lannan struck him at the plate. Originally, it was thought that he would be back by Aug.16, but with that date only days away, it has become obvious that it is no longer possible.

To replace Utley, the Phillies scrambled before the trade deadline to acquire Tadahito Iguchi from the Chicago White Sox. Iguchi has done well with the Phillies.

At present, the Phillies are three games back in the NL East behind the Mets and one game in the Wild Card behind the Padres.

With 82 RBIs and second in runs with 79, Utley is second on the team, despite his absence. Fans and teammates are holding their breath for the team; they’re hoping for the return of Utley to be soon and momentous.

You can contact Sara J. Gamble at sportsrec@campusphilly.org

Career Checklist: Part One

It’s hard to believe that the lazy days of summer are giving way to the busy days of fall, but the calendar doesn’t lie. For most college students, school is a mere two or three weeks away. It’s an exciting time for freshmen about to enter college, and a nostalgic time for seniors entering their last year of the “best four years of your life”.

Before the first day of classes, however, it’s important to do a career path checklist. You are, after all, in college to obtain a degree that will help you one day soon to get a job (as hard as that is to remember after all the parties start). The following is the first of a two-part checklist, broken down by class year, of career issues and steps to consider.

Freshman Year

Freshman year is a time to explore and meet new friends as you adjust to the college workload. Most universities don’t force you to declare a major until the end of the year (or even as late as the end of sophomore year), so freshman year is a great time to complete your general requirements and see what sparks your interest.

Many campuses offer workshops on choosing your major, as well as speakers from various fields. Try to listen to a speaker that catches your interest or attend one of the workshops. Your campus career development center may sponsor these workshops and may also offer free aptitude and personality tests that show you what sort of career path might suit you.

A great resource for advice on career moves and just about anything college-related, including scholarships you can apply for while in college, is www.fastweb.com. Sign up for their e-mail list to receive timely advice on career issues and just about everything college-related. They keep track of what year you are in college and your major. The links they send are tailored to that information.

There are numerous opportunities to get involved on campus and many organizations are eager to get freshmen involved right away. Joining an organization is a great way to meet people outside of parties or classes and the friendships are much more lasting. Try one activity in the fall and add another in the spring if you are comfortable with the time commitment.

It is tempting to view freshman year as a time to party and take school less seriously, but if you are considering post-graduate work in law or medicine, your grades count from the moment you step onto campus. Additionally, those looking to go into teaching need to make sure to avoid risking any potential legal trouble, as a clean criminal record is required for teachers in nearly every state.

Sophomore Year

If you didn’t get involved on campus while you were a freshman, your sophomore year is a great time to do so. By this time, you’re much more adjusted to the workload and pressures of life away from home and you may feel like you want to branch out from your freshman year group of friends.

Getting involved with clubs and activities is a fun way to network on campus, which is good practice for the networking skills you’ll need in the work world. Clubs and associations, such as the American Marketing Association or Education Society, help you meet others in your major and keep you informed of professional events aimed at students in your major. Non-professional activities, such as weekly volunteer service, not only look great on your resume, but also help you give back to the community while making friends. Juggling extracurricular activities and your work load is good practice for maintaining a healthy work-life balance in the future.

Almost every school forces you to pick a major by the end of sophomore year, so the pressure of choosing one may feel intense. Most college students change majors several times before graduation, so don’t feel like you’re the only one. When it comes time, pick the major that interests you, not your parents. Don’t feel pressured to choose one only because you think it will be the most lucrative or prestigious; the burnout rate from these sorts of decisions is very high.

Talk to any adult with a college degree and you will find that many of them majored in subjects that have little to nothing to do with their current job. It is important to love what you are studying. The rest will follow naturally.

In the spring of your sophomore year, you might consider searching for a summer internship. Ideally, college students should complete two internships by graduation, so this is a great time to start looking. With two years of college under your belt, you will have more specialized skills that will allow you to find an internship that entails more than filing and making coffee. Check with your campus career center for ideas or visit the website of a company you might like to work for to see if they offer an internship program.

You can contact Clare Herlihy at professional@campusphilly.org.

Bill Walsh Dies at 75

Bill Walsh, the infamous coach who led the San Francisco 49ers to three Super Bowl titles died on July 30 at the age of 75. He left behind his wife and two children.

The former 49ers coach guided what is known as one of the greatest franchises to not only their Super Bowl titles, but also to six NFC West division titles. During his 10 seasons with the team, he went 102-63-1.

Through his creative methods, Walsh gained the nickname of “The Genius” for his creation of what has become known today as the West Coast offense. And while he did not become a coach until the age of 47, Walsh certainly knew how to leave his mark on the game.

He died in his home in Woodside, CA ending a very long and painful battle with leukemia. Walsh was originally diagnosed in 2004 and finally went public with the diagnosis in 2006.

“This is just a tremendous loss for all of us, especially to the Bay Area because of what he meant to the 49ers,” said the 49ers’ Hall of Fame quarterback, Joe Montana to the Associated Press . “Outside of my dad he was probably the most influential person in my life. I am going to miss him.”

The California native has inspired an “army” of coaching followers, who still replicate the disciplines and methods that he came up with. His physical body may be gone, however his spirit lives forever in the way Walsh transformed the NFL.

You can contact Sara J. Gamble at sportsrec@campusphilly.org

Extreme Workplace Stress

It is rare to have a day at work that is completely stress-free. Whether it is spilling coffee on your tie or a project that seems to have no end, there is always a challenge around the corner. No matter what happens, it is important to keep a professional demeanor.

What if you are dealing with something more stressful than one of those everyday challenges? Maybe you’ve experienced a recent death in the family or someone calls you in the middle of the work day with terrible news. Perhaps your boyfriend or girlfriend dumped you the night before or a friend is seriously ill.

So what do you do when you’re sitting at your desk and tears are welling up as a lump rises in your throat? How do you calm down enough to make it through the day without having a breakdown?

If you feel tears coming, quietly get up from your desk, put on your sunglasses and take a short walk outside. The exercise will help you feel better and if you do start to cry, you will be out of sight of your co-workers.

Unfortunately, taking a walk outside isn’t an option for everyone. If you can’t leave your desk or there’s no place to go, try deep-breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, while thinking of a relaxing place like the beach or your favorite cozy chair. Keep a few pictures of friends, pets or vacation spots in your desk and pull these out as you breathe. A trip to the water fountain down the hall may even help a little bit.

If you get a newspaper at work, find the comics section and read a few of them. Laughter will help take your mind off of what is bothering you. If your company allows you to surf the internet, check out philly.com and read the daily comics or complete an online Sudoku puzzle.

Another way to feel better at work is to grab a healthy snack and some water. Almonds are heart-healthy and crunchy; the chewing may help relieve stress. Other healthy, chewy foods include dried apricots, apples and celery (perhaps with a dab of peanut butter.)

A little bit of chocolate can’t hurt either; look for candy bars with the Cocoapro logo, which looks like a hand holding a bean. The Cocoapro logo means that the chocolate in the bar contains flavonoids, which are a naturally-occurring chemical in chocolate that boasts heart benefits. Dark chocolate is most likely to contain flavonoids.

If you’re feeling more overwhelmed with responsibility than heartache, stop and make a list of everything you have to do that day. Even if it’s something small, like buying milk, write it down and check it off as you complete each task. You will feel more organized and accomplished with each item you cross off your list.

Finally, if it’s simply something out of control, ask your boss if you can work from home for the rest of the day. Your home environment may be much more relaxing and removes you from the jarring pace of multiple phone lines, faxes and the chatter of your co-workers. You may find that a few hours typing away at your kitchen table instead of your desk is just the cure for uncontrollable workplace stress.

You can contact Clare Herlihy at professional@campusphilly.org

MessyandPicky.com

One local couple has brought their love of food to the Internet. Temple graduate student Kate Donnelly, 25, and Albert Yee, 27, (a Suny Purchase graduate and American University alumnus) review Philadelphia restaurants on their website, www.messyandpicky.com .

The site was created in August of 2005. We always sort of took notes when we went out to eat, says Donnelly. She adds that the couple, at one point, had briefly entertained the idea of compiling their dining experiences in a book, but opted for a website instead. The name of the site is based on the couple themselves; Yee is picky and Donnelly is messy.

Albert is very meticulous and clean…and I’m careless and messy, says Donnelly, with a laugh. We’re…opposites.

That’s not the only area where these two differ—Donnelly is a vegetarian, while Yee is not. Fortunately, this doesn’t seem to be a problem for the couple, who have been dating for four and a half years. They mainly eat vegetarian meals at home.

Donnelly and Yee name the Valanni Restaurant and Lounge as one of their all-time favorites, giving it four and a half (messy) and five (picky) stars. In fact, they state that it was at Valanni, where they had the meal they’ve eaten in Philly. They just opened up a place called Mercato which we’re dyingto go to, she says.

The Nodding Head is another favorite of theirs, with a diverse menu and great vegan choices. Yee says that they have brought many of their friends there. They can have full vegan meals, and I can have baby back ribs, he adds. Their number three restaurant is Taqueria La Veracruzana, which Donnelly says is a good place for authentic Mexican food.

Yee and Donnelly are often very frank, but they’ve never had restaurants complain about a bad review. Their audience does sometimes e-mail them to refute bad reviews. Cheesesteak reviews, Yee says, will always cause a war. When it comes down to it, though, he chooses Pat’s King of Steaks.

Donnelly and Yee have reviewed numerous restaurants, but they point out that they are not experts. They state on www.messyandpicky.comthat their only qualification is that they “love to go out to eat and do it often.”

In addition to restaurant reviews, Yee is also a freelance photographer. All of the photographs featured on their site are his work. Donnelly is currently working towards a master’s degree in Broadcasting, Telecommunications and Mass Media in Temple, which she will receive in December.

To check out their reviews, make sure to visit www.messyandpicky.com .

You can contact Erin Pollock at erin.pollock@temple.edu.