Tag Archives: employment

Judgment & reputation online – and off

This week, I’m blogging and launching new web resources based on my experience in October as the Duvall Leader in Residence at the University of Kentucky’s Center for Leadership Development (CFLD), part of UK’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

Monday, I blogged about one of my workshops regarding Democratizing Engagement. Specifically: has the Internet democratized community, even political, engagement. Tuesday, I launched a new web page about online leadership. Wednesday, I blogged about things I learned while in Kentucky for this program and presenting separately for the Kentucky Network for Development, Leadership and Engagement (Kyndle).

Today, it’s about a comment made repeatedly in student evaluations for one of the classes that invited me to lecture, one that’s given me pause ever since.

My visit at the University of Kentucky was focused on leadership development, and community development and engagement, as both relate to the use of online media. And as guest lecturer in CLD 230 Intrapersonal Leadership, my topic was “How to use social media and online collaborative tools to demonstrate leadership and to support a team.” During my lecture, I noted that text-based online communi­cations, unlike video conferencing, hide our weight, ethnicity, hair color, age, and other physical traits from each other online. That means, online, people are judged by the quality of their online performance, not their physical appearance or regional accent. As Susan Ellis and I note in The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook: “Today’s preference to actually see and hear each other online is a double-edged sword: it can make electronic communication more personal and personable, but it can also inject offline prejudices evoked by how someone looks.” I pointed out that, online, via text-based communications, I can’t judge people regarding how they look but, rather, by the quality of the character they show through their words.

The comment ended up on many of the students’ “guest speaker reflection” form the instructor, Grace Gorrell, asks all students complete during class. The comment struck a chord with many of these students, most of them in their teens or 20s. And that’s given me pause: about society’s obsession with appearance, and about stereotypes. Young people are quite aware of those two factors affecting people’s lives, including their own – and probably quite worried about such. There are advantages, and disadvantages, to being perceived as attractive during a job search, and even a Harvard degree doesn’t level the playing field for African-American graduates in the job market, a study by a University of Michigan researcher found. It’s likely that these students have experienced first hand or witnessed first-hand preferences given because of someone’s appearance, perceived ethnicity or age, accent, etc., or discrimination because of the same. I think these students really like the idea of being evaluated purely by their work and communications skills – by their character.

Are we giving young people the information they need to portray themselves online as worthy of employment, of being involved as a volunteer, of inclusion? Are we teaching them how to build trust among people they work with, with their neighbors, and with those they will encounter online – and why this is important?

And are we continually exploring our own prejudices that may be affecting how we work and interactive with others?

Also see:

How will you leverage World Youth Skills Day?

I love leveraging (exploiting!) days designated by the United Nations for my own program use. Why?

  • Many of the days have a lead agency that builds a marketing campaign around the day’s theme. Any press or others paying attention to that campaign might, as a result, stumble upon whatever it is I’m trying to promote if I’ve aligned my messaging with the day.
  • The lead agency marketing the day often creates a Twitter tag to go with the day, such as #humanitarianheroes for World Humanitarian Day on 19 August. I can use the tag on my own tweets about the activity I want to align with the day and any press or others paying attention to that hashtag might, as a result, stumble upon whatever it is I’m trying to promote.

So, for instance, those that promote volunteer engagement / volunteerism might want to pay attention to this: the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, that addresses issues relating to a range of social, humanitarian affairs and human rights issues that affect people all over the world, proposed 15 July as World Youth Skills Day. “Recognizing that fostering the acquisition of skills by youth would enhance their ability to make informed life and work choices and empower them to gain access to changing labour markets, the General Assembly would, by the terms of the draft text, invite all Member States and international, regional and United Nations system organizations to commemorate World Youth Skills Day in an appropriate manner.” Here is the full text of document A/C.3/69/L.13/Rev.1. The UN General Assembly has now approved the designation, though the UN web site doesn’t reflect this at the time of this blog’s publication.

Millions of youth worldwide are unemployed, uneducated and un-engaged: 74.5 million in 2013, the majority of whom live in the developing countries. Teens and people in their 20s aren’t just bored – they are frustrated at how they are locked out of local decision-making as well as economic and life opportunities. These disengaged, disenfranchised youth are a growing concern of governments and various international organizations. For instance, you might recall that, in 2013, I was part of the ICT4EMPL Future Work project undertaken by the Information Society Unit of the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, a European Union (EU) body, to produce this paper: Internet-mediated Volunteering in the EU: Its history, prevalence, and approaches and how it relates to employability and social inclusion. As part of this project, I created a wiki of all of the various resources I used for my research, including a list of “>resources related to volunteering as a contributor to employability.

How could your nonprofit, non-governmental organization (NGO) or government program that involves volunteers or promotes volunteerism leverage this day?

  • Start asking teens and 20 somethings that have volunteered at your organization, or various organizations, if volunteering has taught them skills or given them experience they were able to use to get a job or to advance in their careers. Ask them if they have ever been asked about their volunteering experience in a job interview. Put together an article to publish on your web site about the comments from these young people. And hold on to this data: maybe you could use it in a grant application to get more resources to help you involve even MORE youth volunteers. Compiling this information would be a wonderful task for a volunteer or group of volunteers – maybe even youth volunteers?!?
  • Be on the lookout for a Twitter tag that might develop in conjunction with this day. I’ll certainly share such as soon as I know about it here on my blog. You can use this hashtag for tweets leading up to World Youth Skills Day that relate to youth volunteering at your organization that are learning skills they need for the work place and adult life.
  • Publish a blog for World Youth Skills Day talking about how and why your organization recruits and involves teen and 20 something volunteers specifically, and how this involvement not only benefits your programs, but communities as well – today and in the future.
  • Think about an event you might be able to host at your organization related to World Youth Skills Day.

Pay attention to the UNESCO-UNEVOC International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training and to the United Nations Volunteers programme, part of UNDP, on Twitter and Facebook – those are the two most likely candidates to be the lead agencies for World Youth Skills Day. Even if it turns out to be another UN agency, I suspect UNEVOC and UNV will somehow be involved in activities related to the day. And I’ll share here on my blog what I learn.

When to NOT pay interns, redux

A US Federal judge has ruled that against the company that made the movie “The Black Swan” for not paying interns.

In the ruling, U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III said the film’s producers should have paid the two interns because they did the same work as regular employees, provided value to the company and performed low-level tasks that didn’t require any specialized training. In ruling for the interns, the judge followed a six-part test outlined by the Labor Department for determining whether an internship can be unpaid. Under the test, the internship must be similar to an educational environment, run primarily for the benefit of the intern as opposed to the employer, and the intern’s work should not replace that of regular employees.

“Undoubtedly Mr. Glatt and Mr. Footman received some benefits from their internships, such as resume listings, job references and an understanding of how a production office works,” Pauley wrote. “But those benefits were incidental to working in the office like any other employees and were not the result of internships intentionally structured to benefit them.”

I tried to warn you! I did! I tried to warn you in my blog When to NOT pay interns and my other blog Are Interns Exploited?.

Note that this was NOT a matter of the organization being volunteered for being a for-profit. That this was a company, a business, rather than a nonprofit, NGO or charity, was NOT the problem for the judge. The problem was the nature of the work these unpaid interns (these VOLUNTEERS) were doing and the reason these tasks were done by volunteers (to save the organization money!).

Nonprofits, NGOs, charities: WAKE UP. This kind of lawsuit could happen to you. Especially if you keep harping on the dollar/Euro value of volunteer hours, the way UN Volunteers, IFRC, ILO & others are encouraging you to do.

Here’s a better idea: create a mission (and a mission statement) for your volunteer involvement and live it! State explicitly why your organization reserves certain assignments for volunteers, to guide employees and volunteers in how they think about volunteers, to guide current volunteers in thinking about their role and value at the organization, and to show potential volunteers the kind of culture they can expect at your organization regarding volunteers. It will also help to prevent exploitation – or perceptions of such – regarding your involvement of volunteers. Let it be an answer to this question: “Why do volunteers do these tasks rather than paid people” but without the answer, “Because we can’t afford to pay people to do this work.”

My previous blogs on this subject:

Note that the links within these blogs may not work, as I moved all of my blogs from Posterous to WordPress a few months ago, and it broke all of the internal links. Also, some web pages on other organization’s sites have moved since I linked to such, and I either don’t know or haven’t been able to find a new location for the material.

Can virtual volunteering lead to better employability?

Can engaging in virtual volunteering, particularly by individuals in the European Union, lead to better employability for those individuals?

The ICT4EMPL Future Work project is exploring “pathways to employability mediated by ICTs – Information and Communications Technologies.” For the next few months, I am working on part of this project, specifically regarding internet-mediated volunteering or virtual volunteering, including microvolunteering. 

I – and my fellow researchers – are seeking specific information for this project, such as:

  • Individuals, especially those living in Europe, who have volunteered in any way, onsite or online, for charities or NGOs, and believe that, because of this experience, they have improved their inclusion in society or difference communities, had an interview for a paid job, been hired for a paid job (as an employee or a consultant), created an entire career, or become more employable in some way.
  • Organizations, especially those based in Europe, that have used volunteering, onsite or online, as a way to help their clients, volunteers or others gain skills that improve their employability (this does not have to be a primary mission of the organization).
  • Organizations, especially those based in Europe, that help train unemployed or under-employed people in computer and Internet-related skills in order to improve their employability.
  • Organizations that involve volunteers online, in whole or in part, and would be willing to be interviewed for this project, and would be willing to encourage their volunteers to be interviewed for this project as well.
  • Resources and research related to Internet-mediated volunteering (virtual volunteering) that is specific to a European country or Europe in general.
  • Resources related to telecommuting, virtual teams and remote management that is specific to a European country or Europe in general.
  • Any research that relates to any of the aforementioned (it can be USA-centric, or from any country outside of Europe, but it needs to be a resource that will help inform this project for possible applications in Europe).

Update April 12, 2013: I am ALSO looking to connect with individuals / organizations that have:

  • Evaluated a virtual volunteering/Internet-mediated-volunteering-related initiative in a European country and would be willing to share the evaluation with us.
  • Evaluated a volunteering initiative in a European country that related to volunteers developing job skills for paid work or career advancement and would be willing to share the evaluation with us. 
  • Hosted or lead workshops on virtual volunteering/Internet-mediated-volunteering for NGOs, charities and other organizations in a European country, with the goal of these NGOs, charities and other organizations involving volunteers via the Internet in some way (virtual volunteering, crowdsourcing, microvlunteering, etc.) or expanding such involvement.

If you would like to submit information for this project, edit content for the wiki for this project, or ask any questions, send an email to me, Jayne Cravens.

Información en español es aceptable

Informations en français est acceptable

Informationen in Deutsch ist akzeptabel

DEADLINE: I’d prefer to get information before June 1, 2013, if at all possible, but I will continue to accept information through early August, 2013, if I haven’t gathered enough information by that point for the end of my part of the project (actually, I’ll probably always accept information related to this project, since I’m forever identified with virtual volunteering, and am always interested in the subject, particularly outside the USA).

For more information, check out the wiki for “my” part of this project.

The ICT4EMPL research project is in the context of of implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy and the Digital Agenda for Europe.