The Buddy System for Job Seekers

When I was in Girl Scouts many years ago, we practiced what we called the “Buddy System.” It was simple: you never went anywhere away from the main group without a buddy. Whether it was a regular meeting, a day trip, or a weekend at camp, you took a buddy along for safety.

Now comes evidence the same thing works for job seekers. If you want to get a job, it helps to have a job—but if you don’t, you definitely need to have friends who are employed.

The first evidence came from Italy, but now American researchers have reached the same conclusion. (There’s a $5 fee for that article, so I haven’t read it.) Naturally, there’s a certain advantage to having employed friends when you’re looking for a new job: they might know of a position with their own employers and recommend you. But I suspect there’s a bit more to it.

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I’m Telling You This for Your Own Good

We interrupt the holiday merriment so I can get something off my chest. Back in October, Seth Godin wrote a blog post titled “Do You Need A Permit?” The gist of his piece is that we do not need anyone’s permission to change the world—in Godin’s words, “make a dent in the universe”—or at least to take a stab at it. But the thing that struck me and gnawed at my brain was this:

It’s safer to tear them down (with their best interests at heart, of course).

Have you ever known anyone like that? I sure have! He takes shots at other people’s opinions for sport. The debates are fun at first, but after a while it gets tiresome. He’s forever pointing out problems that don’t exist and warning people of conflicts that haven’t happened.

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The Most Re-trained Generation

It always amazes me that young people today (those in the developed world, anyway) are growing up surrounded by computers and don’t even realize how recent this is. Yet I can sympathize; I felt the same way about the space program, until I realized that the first unmanned spacecraft had been launched only a few years before I was born, and the first American in space (Alan Shepard, in a sub-orbital test drive) when I was a baby. As youngsters, we tend to assume that whatever existed in our earliest memories has always existed.

I majored in English, but dated a Computer Science major. One evening he knocked on the door of my dorm room and found me banging out a term paper on a manual typewriter. “You’re living in the Dark Ages!” he announced, and a few days later he again turned up at my door, this time with a little card that said I had an account at the computer center. He taught me word processing–very primitive–on a terminal hooked up to a mainframe. But I was probably the first English major to turn in a paper composed on a word processor. Being able to edit without retyping a page or using Wite-Out was huge.

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Answer E. All of the Above

When I was in school it seemed like every multiple-choice test included at least a few questions for which the answer was “E. All of the above.” Once you get the hang of it, it’s not difficult: if you’re absolutely sure that at least two of the answers above are correct, “All of the above” is the right choice.

Moore's Law Graph

It’s been a while since I graduated high school. The intervening years have seen the rise of the Internet, the availability of smaller, faster, cheaper computers, and a sometimes bewildering choice of mobile communications technology. Along the way I’ve become a huge fan of Moore’s Law, which in 1965 predicted that “The number of transistors incorporated in a chip will approximately double every 24 months.”

If you think that the number of transistors on a chip doesn’t matter, think again. You many not know what goes on inside your computer, but because Gordon Moore turned out to be right the laptop you’re probably using right now could run rings around ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), the world’s first general purpose computer, which weighed 30 tons. And your laptop is much, much cheaper. Continue reading