Making the Most of Sudden Unemployment

unemploymentSomeone close to me was recently fired from her job. In today’s volatile global economy it can happen to anyone. I know people being laid off, fired, or counseled out of their positions. It’s a horrible reality and definitely grounds me when I become frustrated with the daily grind of my job. While I’ve never had to deal with sudden unemployment, I came up with some ideas to help my friend overcome this tough period. In case anyone else is facing this situation, here are the tips:

1. Volunteer: With this new found free time, get out of the house and do something that gives back to others or the community. It’s good karma, gives you something to put on your resume, and can be a great place to network and meet people who may have job leads.

studying_at_library2. Hit the books: Most of us don’t have the time while working to go back to school and learn something either for our own personal benefit or something that can help us in our career. So take advantage of this time—whether it’s gardening 101 or computer skills, there are either affordable or free options available to you. Local community centers and libraries are one place to look for these classes/courses, the Internet is another. Online, your choices are endless and usually free. There’s www.coursera.orgwww.udacity.com, and www.edX.org, as well as www.class-central.com and www.coursebuffet.com, which both compile and review the majority of free online courses available. There is also www.lynda.com, a site that can help you learn anything from how to blog to how to update your resume. Unlike the other sites, this one is not free, (although on www.youtube.com there are plenty of free clips from this company) but it is well worth the fee.

3. Be appreciative and have a positive attitude. There’s something called the law of attraction which basically says that your attitude and mindset are what attract positivity or negativity. So take some time to be grateful for what you do have in your life and try to have the best attitude going forward so that you can attract greatness and abundance.

4. Do odd jobs and freelance work. You can earn a few bucks and develop your talent through website forums seeking people to take care of quick jobs, such as www.craigslist.orgwww.elance.comwww.behance.netwww.fiverr.com, and www.99designs.com.

unemployment exercise5. Exercise. I know so many people who turn to comfort food during tough times (I’m one of them). Getting active, however, can improve your mood significantly, while helping you keep in shape. For those who have been too busy with work to reach their athletic aspirations, now could be a perfect time to get active. While you may not have a job at the moment, you do have the chance (and free time) to have robust health, which is just as important.

6. Relax and enjoy. As worker bees we often lack the time to enjoy the things we love to do. Whether it’s writing to loved ones, catching up on your favorite TV program, visiting friends, traveling, reading, or volunteering, take advantage of this opportunity and enjoy your free time.

With that said, I wish everyone success in their careers and for those job hunting, I hope you land your dream job soon!

Facebook Profiles: Public or Private?

Data security, privacy, and ethical issues of collecting data online are the themes of this week’s class session. I think this is a pretty salient topic for our class whose participants all have several social media profiles. I think it’s even safe to say that we probably have more than the average person given our affinity for online communication (the focus of our master’s program) and the fact that classmates regularly share new social networking platforms (glossi.com and flavors.me ring a bell?).

While we are all eager to post the latest photo of party shenanigans or a status update on what we thought about a political debate, we don’t often think about the repercussions. That’s because, for the most part, our social media profiles are limited to the people we share information with. However, according to this week’s readings, found here and here, employers are actually asking applicants for their Facebook account passwords or requesting that they open their profiles there on the spot. I’ve never been in this type of situation but would not even know how to respond if I was asked to share my social networking profiles to strangers who might actually employ me. Not to say that my profiles’ content is alarming, but it’s certainly not something I’d like to share with an HR recruiter.

On the other hand, what about mobile applications that mine data of users surreptitiously? Some of the apps I’ve downloaded actually have asked me to “agree to” certain conditions. They can be apps that can determine my location, mine data from my social networks, and track my online behavior—all while I’m using the application’s function. Our reading on mobile privacy sensing took a closer look at this emerging technology and its implications. The authors of the study pointed out that developing a lay public understanding of mobile sensing privacy, security and risk is critical to a vision of participatory privacy regulation. But casual technology users often underestimate or misunderstand data sharing and security risks, which I believe affects many of us users.

Questions to readers:

-Have you ever had to share your social networking profiles to an employer or potential employer?

-What measures have you taken if any to protect your reputation online?

Web Analytics: A Closer Look

ImageWeb analytics, like SEO, is something I have little knowledge of. So I was happy to see that is the topic of this week’s research methods class. I’m not completely unaware of this subject. I have heard of robots crawling pages and collecting data, but I never understood how important the measurement, collection, and analysis of Internet information is in making a website effective. This week’s reading was a primer on how Google discovers, crawls, and returns searches of web pages.

Basically, Google finds new pages by using robots that scan, or crawl, previous crawl pages which reveals newer ones that have appeared since its last crawl. The information is then indexed, using words and tags. This information then allows Google to match a user’s search terms with the most appropriate websites. For example, if I search “Naseem Ferdowsi”, my name, I will get a return of about 2,000 search results. Indeed, they are not all appropriate and often times unrelated to me. However, there are several that are accurate and directly relate to me. Some of these include my LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ accounts. This means that Google robots have performed a crawl on these pages, indexed my information, and stored it so that anyone who types in my name will receive a return with the applicable websites, plus a few random ones for good measure.

There is certainly a lot more to web analytics than what I have described, but for now this will do. I think a salient question would have to do with privacy. What pages should be up for crawling? And who gets to choose this? For instance, my Google+ updates are published for the entire world to see. However, I do not remember this being something I signed up for. Nor is there a way for me to undo this. Another question is how can a page that has been indexed be removed from the data base? Today, it seems that anyone with access to an Internet connection can find out too much information about any given person. This has its advantages and disadvantages but for some it is more the latter.