The Value-Added Graduate School: Proceed with Caution

July 28, 2010 · Filed Under Guest Posts, Nutrition, Pop Culture

MBAs are starting to become a dime a dozen in the United States. And with the job market’s continual downfall, how can you be sure that investing in graduate education will provide you with an stepping stone into outstanding workplaces? Let’s take a look at what is happening, rankings that can help you find the right match, and why ‘the creatives’ are the rise.

Graduate School Isn’t For Everyone

Now this first question is critical before considering going back to school. Do you really want to go? First, do you have the drive and determination to do homework again (if you take your work home with you…this may not be so different). Second, do you have adequate experience in the field to bring a working perspective to the classroom and your learning? Now this is something that is underrated in many graduate programs, but knowing your field, the players, and how it presently works can help you get a lot more out of school than if you are fresh out of…well, school. Lastly, will having your graduate degree position you to get jobs that you really want? Masters are typically for people who still want to work with other people, but require a specialized knowledge in a particular field. PhDs will typically place you in more Siloed environments that depend largely on knowledge  and academics (not in all cases of course). Now some graduate degrees will overqualify you for positions, others will prepare you for them, so knowing the level, not necessarily the position, that you want to work at and grow from can help you decide.

Now those words of caution out of the way, graduate school can be a phenomenal learning adventure for people of all ages, and help propel you into your career and life goals.

Graduate School Rankings for MBAs, The Social Way

So who is really doing what? How do I pick a good school? What if I want the University’s values system to match my own? Well, if you are looking into MBAs then check out the Aspen Institutes Rankings titled “Beyond Grey Pinstripes“. They rank schools by relevant courses, student exposure, for-profit impact, and faculty research. So you can get a glimpse into the more “social responsibility” aspects of the schools and know what they are noted for with a few clicks of a button (and lots of search features). This is one of the few social rankings developed for graduate schools, so MBA perspectives should definitely give this the once over. There are other rankings available for other disciplines through various bodies, but this was the only site that focused on lifelong learning to prepare students for their whole career.

MBAs are Good, MFAs are Good, and M.#$@s are Good Too

In Daniel Pink’s Book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, he stated that MBAs were a thing of the past and MFAs and other Masters Degrees are just as valuable at today’s top organizations. So don’t feel like an MBA is your only option if you are more creatively inclined. This book speaks about the transitions that our society has undergone over the course of civilization. Our latest phase ruled by the Knowledge Worker (think IT development and the like) is now being shipped overseas and can be replicated by computers and the life, so it is pushing us into a new phase ruled by the Conceptual Worker. These workers are more artistic, intuitive, and creative with skills that cannot be exported or replicated. So follow your instincts, not the market if you are considering going back to school.

There are also a great deal of certificate programs, executive education programs, and other untraditional graduate-level learning courses available that are worth looking into if the ‘piece of paper’ isn’t the main thing you are after.

Why all this talk about school?

Because today’s economic climate has resulted in a huge spike in returning students with no where else to turn. With such high rates of unemployment, many people are seeking the X Factor skills, the skills that will make them invaluable and in-disposable within an organization. Yet being sure that your skills, your passion, and your gut instinct are all aligned for this major decision is important, otherwise you could become just another MBA graduate who is overqualified for entry-level work, underqualified as a mid-career professional, and perfectly qualified for Knowledge Worker ‘work’ that has already been shipped overseas.

So proceed with caution, passion, and a whole lot of instinct. Best of luck to all currently in graduate school, those considering going, and those who have made it through! And remember that social values, environmental justice, and economic equity are not so far off for some ‘business’ schools out there, so take time to find just the right match to lead you toward your goals.

The Same Dress for 365 Days…

July 8, 2010 · Filed Under Clothing, Environment, Events, Green, Guest Posts, News, Pop Culture

A brilliant demonstration in social entrepreneurship and the fact that not all things need to be shiny and new came about through The Uniform Project. A female entrepreneur, Sheena Matheiken, decided to design a plain black dress to wear for 365 days in a row as a statement about eco-fashion, creativity, and to bring awareness to education. She designed a tunic-like dress that was reversible with a friend, made seven copies, and then made a blog and awareness campaign.

Goal: To wear the same dress for an entire calendar year.

Of course she spiced it up a bit with accessories and other pieces of clothing, but all of it was recycled, donated, or reused. Her goal was to raise money and awareness. Awareness around sustainable living, the uniqueness that a Uniform can encompass, and to support the Akanksha Foundation. This foundation is a grassroots movement that is changing education throughout India, and the money will specifically go toward funding uniforms and education expenses for children living in the slums of India.

She has fundraised over $103,000, in large part toward EBay matching all money donated during the holiday season. This is equivalent to the cost of sending 287 Indian children to school every year. Donations are still being accepted. Now that’s what I call a positive impact!

Check out her “uniform” transformation:

Check out her blog to watch the video of all 365 and beyond and to learn more!

Celebrate Earth Day with an Environmental Film!

April 22, 2010 · Filed Under Environment, Events, Food, Pop Culture

The Tribeca Film Festival premieres on April 23, 2010 in my neck of the woods, and reading previews and promotional materials about the festival and its offerings has gotten me very excited about film – and specifically about environmental films.

Food Inc

If you are going to be in Manhattan during the next week and a half, then you might want to check out one of the two environmentally-themed documentaries being screened at the Festival:

  • Climate of Change (2009) – From the producers of An Inconenient Truth comes a new story about 13-year-olds protesting the use of plastic in India, “hillbillies” campaigning against strip-mining in Appalachia, and a host of other eco-activists around the world.  Directed by Brian Hill.  Narrated by Tilda Swinton.
  • Into Eternity (2010) – Danish writer/director Michael Madsen explores the symbolism, significant, and potential consequences of a subterranean tomb being constructed by the people of Finland to house 300,000 tons of nuclear waste.

Of course, checking out an environmental film does not required a plane ticket to New York City – or even a movie ticket or cable television.  PBS will be broadcasting Food, Inc. – a great documentary about corporate farming in America – as part of its POV (“Documentaries with a Point of View”) series through the end of April.  Check your local listings for dates and times.  PBS will also be streaming Food, Inc. in its entirety through April 29th via this link.

Battle For Terra Movie

April 27, 2009 · Filed Under Pop Culture

Battle for Terra is a 3-D animated film about a peaceful alien planet which faces destruction from the last surviving members of the human race.  It will be premiering in theaters Friday, May 1, 2009.   The following is the trailer and gives a great overview of what the film is about ( for better quality, be sure to see the movie’s main site ):

History of the Movie

Terra, it’s original name, first aired as a short film in 2003 named All She Wants is the Truth.  The film receive positive review and several accolades, it was made into into a full feature film that aired at the Toronto International Film Festival  on September 8, 2007.  After winning a wide array of film festival awards, Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions attained the rights to the move early in 2009 and set to release to release the film in America.  The film’s director and writer Aristomenis Tsirbas’s has been part of many short films in the past, but this is his first full length film.

Battle for Terra

Battle For Terra

The typical sci-fi movie involving aliens taking over a planet usually involve other races trying to take over Earth.  What happened if humans destroyed Earth and needed a new planet to inhabit?  Battle of Terra is  based off of the premise that Earth has been destroyed and the only way that humans can survive is to take over another planet.  It really makes you think that we could be the aliens that we are so scared of.

One of the major themes of the movie involves the negative impacts humans have had on Earth and how we essentially destroyed earth because of our wasteful and war driven ways.  This theme does not seem to far from reality seeing how we are dwindling away our natural resources and constant disputes among our nations.  Terra on the other hand lives peacefully and in-sync with nature.  Instead of attempting to communicate with the inhabitants of Terra to live peacefully with them, humans instead want to wage war and take over their planet.

There are many major stars in this moving including Evan Rachel Wood and Justin Long playing two teenage Terrians ( not sure if that’s correct ).  Evan’s character Mala becomes friends with a human pilot voiced by Luke Wilson who was injured in a plain crash.  Other major characters in the movie are voiced by celebrities including Brian Cox, Dennis Duaid and Amanda Peet.

Even with the underlying messages of environmental and social change, this movie is for all ages.  Everybody from kids to adults can enjoy this beautifully constructed CG animated action film.  State of the art 3D animation techniques were used give the movie a true 3D effect.

National MY TERRA Contest

The National Wildlife Federation is teaming up with the Battle of Terra to have a contest for children in grade 3-8 to write about a special place in nature to them.  The goal of this contest is to remind families of how beautiful our world is, even right outside our homes.  I urge parents with children in these grades to participate in this contest.  It’s a great opportunity to express how they feel about our natural setting and hopefully encourage them to go outside more. Winners will receive:

Grades 3-5

  • 1 child will win a digital camera and get the opportunity to participate in a Outdoor Photography Workshop.
  • 4 runner-ups will win a year subscription to National Wildlife Magazine and a Set of DVDs.

Grades 6-8

  • 1 child will win a 2 week California Community Service Adventure.
  • 4 runner-ups will win a year subscription to National Wildlife Magazine and a Set of DVDs.

To find out more details and to sign up visit Battle of Terra’s Content Page.  The contest ends May 30th, 2009.

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