Folks, this time of year we are busy with many new decisions and changes. As graduates, you continue to move forward to another phase of your life.
Pre and post-graduation time is filled with decision making opportunities. Pre-graduation time can be filled with questions such as: What do I want to do? Do I move into my career of choice and secure employment? or Do I continue with my education qualifications and move to graduate studies?
If decisions are not made and a plan developed to implement, then post graduation time can be stressful, as "the clock is ticking"
Below are items for consideration to help explore and focus options so that you can develop a action plan. These can be considered at any time and not limited to pre or post graduation.
What do I want to do? This may not be a simple question to answer as there could be additional options and considerations pertaining to your specific situation. However, we will focus on the two general options most graduates are challenged with: career or education.
To keep your options open there is no reason the both options cannot be pursued at the same time; following the old adage of not "placing all your eggs in one basket" However, if for example, you do wish to move into your career by securing employment then a vast amount of your effort needs to focus on this goal.
Having a focused professional and personal mission statement will help you focus on your wants and needs. Following from your mission statement develop goals using the SMART goals and objectives approach (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound). An example of a SMART goal is:
I will secure a job with a [name companies or career field] business. I will contact [number] potential employers each [day/week/month]. In addition I will network and reach out to [number] of personal/professional contacts each [day/week/month] and complete/submit [number] of applications each [week].
By [date], I will be working in this new employment opportunity.
[ ]: You will insert the appropriate information
A job search should be treated as a full time activity; meaning that you should actively work on your search on a regular and frequent basis; for example every 2 days for 3 hours per day. Plan in advance how you will spend time to get the most from your efforts; for example: conducting research, completing applications, writing cover letters, modifying your resume, networking via phone, or f2f network meetings.
The same approach should be taken when deciding on options for continued education -- treated as a full time activity.
Focusing and implementing your action plan early in your final year of college does allow you to modify your plan proactively -- you will not rushing into decisions.
Submitted by Sal Mirza, Midway College Business Faculty
Deduction. A very common word used when the topic of taxes is discussed. But what does it actually mean?
First, it matters whether the deduction reduces taxable income (the correct use of the word) or whether it reduces the amount of tax to be paid (actually called a ‘tax credit’; however, the terms are often used interchangeably). Conceptually, though, the idea is the same: reduce the amount of taxes actually paid by the end of the calculation.
Our current tax code includes a seemingly vast number of these deductions. Why? Wouldn’t the process of paying income taxes be simpler without them. Undoubtedly. In fact, several noteworthy individuals have suggested such a system, typically called a ‘flat tax’ system. To file one’s taxes, write down the amount of income, multiply it by a standard rate (15% to 20% has been suggested) and voila! the taxes are done.
But deductions do serve a purpose. They are granted by Congress via the tax code to encourage certain behaviors. For example, mortgage interest paid on one’s home can be deducted. This encourages home ownership by ‘rewarding’ homeowners a reduction of taxable income for the amount of mortgage interest paid. Giving to a recognized charitable organization is also ‘rewarded’ by allowing that donation to be deductible.
However, sometimes the reason for the deduction isn’t as clear as these examples. Consider a recent controversy over deductions for the purchase of small jets. This, at first glance, seems an odd choice for a deduction. Only the ‘rich’ can buy such items; why grant them another deduction? But consider the reason behind this. While the average household will not purchase a jet, even if deductible, the purpose is to encourage the behavior of building jets.
That is, by benefitting those who buy the jets, more jets are bought, and more people are hired (or keep their current jobs) to build the jets. So the intent is not necessarily to reward rich people who buy jets; the intent is to have more jets built and employ more workers in that industry. It just happens that because jets are expensive, fewer people can do so. Were the deduction for buying PCs or televisions, we all could do so.
It’s human nature: we like deductions we can use (mortgage interest and charitable contributions); we sneer at those we can’t.
So next time, consider which behavior a deduction is meant to encourage.
Submitted by Richard Hale, Midway College Business Faculty
Dr. Frank Fletcher, Midway College Business Division Chair, shares this link from Peter Diamandis discussing optimism.
Summary: Peter Diamandis makes a case for optimism -- that we'll invent, innovate and create ways to solve the challenges that loom over us. "I’m not saying we don’t have our set of problems; we surely do. But ultimately, we knock them down.”
You are nearing the end of your degree completion program and have starting applying for your first job or if you are employed you may be looking for a promotion or a change in employer. While interviewing for a job can be frightfully stressful, it doesn't have to be. In fact, with proper preparation the anxiety levels can be reduced several significant levels.
The reduction in stress and anxiety can be linked to how informed you are and hence your confidence. As you have been asked to interview it means you're qualified for the job; the interview is the opportunity for the interviewer to see how you present yourself in person and how you will fit within the team and organization. Below are several tips that will better prepare you for your interview.
Information, Information, Information
The saying “information is power” is never truer in this case. The more you can learn about the company and the position you are interviewing for, the better positioned you will be to respond to interview questions.
- Take time to review the company web site. Make a note of company values, organization culture, services/product offering and any sales data.
- Research for news or journal publications about the company.
- Research specific published articles that cover your work area –authored by company employees
- If your opportunity is an internal position, network with managers and peers to learn about the position and department
Responding to Questions
How you respond to questions and the information provided conveys much about you as a potential fit for the department and the company.
- Manage your body language. You do not want to slouch in the chair, be aware of any habits you have that can distract the interviewer ( finger tapping, bobbing knee, chewing nails, wandering eye)
- Dress to impress: Do not over dress. If possible drive by the company at day start/end time to see how employees dress. Your dress and appearance should not attract undue attention –this will detract the interviewer from the interview purpose
- Take deep breaths. To make time for you to think, clarify the question again with the interviewer –you can do this by asking the interview to repeat the question or you can re-state the question.
- Do not respond with single word answers (yes or no). Respond to questions with specific examples that demonstrate your experience in successfully working in the questioned environment
- The dreaded salary question: What are your salary expectations?” This is a question that can be answered in a different ways. The key is that you have done your research to identify salary ranges for the position, company and location
- Avoid responding with a numeric value –as this can too high, too low.
- Response can be avoiding: The total compensation is negotiable and depends on the position responsibilities
- Do not bring up compensation in these interviews –you have no power in these stages. Your power is at the highest when you have an offer from the organization, then is the time to review compensation.
- Ask questions of your own. Take the approach that you have already been hired and focus the direction of your questions to possible projects ad how your skills can quickly add value for the organization
Active Listening: Make sure to listen to the interviewer -- this by your body language and verbal acknowledgment. Do not let your mind wander to other things during the interview session.
Practice, Practice and more practice: take the time practice answering potential questions. Do this in front of a mirror and then with a friend to act as the interviewer
The few days before your interview can be hectic. Take time to relax, your state of mind will be very different after a relaxation session.
Identify what works for you to be able to relax. Relaxation approaches can include but not limited to physical excursion such as going to the gym, yoga, jogging, walking swimming, playing or sport. Other approaches can include listening to music, reading or just sitting in a quiet room.
Authored by Dr. Sal Mirza, Business Faculty, Midway College
My niece is a grade school English teacher. One evening after a family dinner, we got talking about the parts of speech. Those of us from older generations could still proudly spout off all of the prepositions in alphabetical order. My niece looked slightly confused as to what a preposition actually was. That led us to the parts of speech and sentence structure. She seemed OK when we talked about nouns and verbs, but when we got to objects and predicates, she looked lost. That led to a favorite back of the napkin activity - diagramming sentences. The older generation handily whipped the younger generation who are still puzzled as to why we'd find this to be amusing and important post-prandial fare.
There are many reasons grammar is suffering a sad fate. The ever increasing use of electronic devices has created a communication short hand in which grammar plays little part. And then there’s the issue of our education system. My niece got her primary education in the era of descriptive learning. I got my education when prescriptive learning was still the norm. Memorizing grammar rules has largely taken a back seat to other forms of learning. That’s too bad. It’s too bad because grammar still matters – in school, in life and in business.
In business, grammar matters a great deal. Whether you're trying to impress a new customer or convince your boss you need a raise, good grammar helps. This is true for both writing and speaking. If you want to be taken seriously in any business setting, arm yourself with good knowledge of how the language is structured. This will help you get your message across clearly and concisely.
Consider the case of a customer who receives two proposals on his or her desk for a new marketing strategy. The two proposals are generally comparable in terms of cost and overall approach. One has a few typos, misused words, and problems with punctuation and grammar. The other is typo-free and written in clear, concise, correct English. Which proposal is the customer going to chose? Presentations and proposals (both written and oral) are a reflection of the work quality that the customer can look forward to during the project itself. Attention to detail and precision in the proposal gives the recipient confidence that the project itself will receive the same level of care.
Using good grammar communicates knowledge, know-how and attention to detail. These are all essential traits that customers, bosses, and instructors need to know you possess. You can’t convince them without a good command of the English language. Understanding how the language works improves your academic and professional image. Using good grammar and punctuation helps build authority, validity and power. It’s an important tool that can lead to more customers and more business.
Laura D'Antonio - Midway College Business Faculty
As seems to happen every presidential election cycle, the topic of income taxes has again become a topic of conversation. The most discussed version is the 9·9·9 plan put forth by Republican candidate Herman Cain.
However, for the moment ignoring whether a President can change the tax laws (since this is primarily a function of the Congress), more fundamental issues are to be considered. The first is whether the tax code does, in fact, need to be changed. A commonly-held opinion is that the current tax code is excessively complex; simplifying it would be welcomed by many.
However, there is a second issue: tax fairness. This particular issue is currently the object of fierce debate between the major political parties. But what constitutes a ‘fair’ tax system? To help with that, here are the three ways taxes can be described by the impact they have on the constituents.
Progressive taxes impose higher taxes as the tax base rises. With regard to income taxes for example, a higher rate is imposed on the taxpayer as they earn more income.
Regressive taxes work in the opposite way; they impose higher-than-proportional taxes on those with a lower tax base. A poll tax (even sales taxes) might be considered regressive, as are many taxes that levy a fixed amount per person, as such a fixed amount represents a higher percentage of income for those who make less.
Proportional taxes, as the name suggests, requires the same proportion of tax relative to the tax base no matter the size of the tax base. For example, with a proportional income tax system, everyone pays the same percentage, regardless of income.
The current income tax system in the United States is progressive; the current tax codes for calculating income tax requires a higher tax rate as net income rises. Any new or adjusted system has to be one of these three. So what is ‘fair’? For most people, ‘fair’ means that my taxes don’t go up.
A third issue in this debate is whether a changed system should be revenue neutral or not. By this, we mean whether the revised tax code collects the same amount of taxes as the previous system did. Some, of course, believe too much is already being collected; others believe that more should be collected.
I will tackle the issue of deductions in my upcoming blog entry.
Frank Fletcher, Ed.D., MBA
Chair, Business Division
Most people, I venture to say, begin each day following their own personal routine, looking more or less the same as the day before, going through a common morning ritual of preparation, and following a comfortable pattern of behavior. However, once on the job, especially in a dynamic business environment where high customer contact is prevalent; specialized products and services are rendered; and relationships among stakeholders are complex, the routine for the business day is anything but predictable. The high level of activity coupled with an uncertain nature of the demands that will unfold each day may give rise to near-crises, if not actual crises - intense situations that managers must address.
I am not thinking about the types of catastrophes or disasters associated with events like fire or severe weather. Most businesses have emergency-response plans in place that managers can reference and follow. My concern is with the unimagined issues that may arise in the broad base of the business, for example, an irate customer whose protests become dangerous or a malfunction within the infrastructure that abruptly brings sales or operations to an indefinite halt. Often, such situations come as a combustible moment, taking staff and administrators by surprise. At these times, managers may look for policy or a blueprint for action, yet find none. In fact, crisis management researchers have found that businesses are, as a majority, unprepared and untrained to address critical incidents in their businesses. Having a procedure to anticipate and respond to unexpected conflicts will assist administrators in dealing with the resolution and aftermath of such conflicts. Having an open and straightforward communications plan is cited by experts as the most crucial element in crisis response. Finally, ensuring that managers and employees know in advance how to provide safety in any situation and how to communicate a calm resolve is of utmost importance.
A word of caution to managers: never look at the misfortunes of another business and think, “Ah that could not happen here.” It can happen, may happen, and the stigma of the event can last a long time. Nothing just happens; look for signs, and, as a result, in the future, you may avert crises. But, if a crisis does occur, remember this as well. Crisis management studies warn that every action that the business takes in the time of crisis will be viewed as a reflection of the business’ character and values. Know this and be prepared.
Authored by Wendy E. Hoffman, Midway College Business Faculty/Athlletics Director/Tennis Coach, November 27, 2011
Authored by Karen Clancy, MBA – Midway College Business Faculty
American Health Care: Navigating the New Frontier
Contemporary health care administrators are leading and directing an exciting and challenging new era as we discover innovative and revolutionary ways to heal. Our work involves making decisions about life-saving technologies, planning and delivering services to meet growing demands, struggling to contain costs, and preparing for health care reform. We’re navigating the new frontier of American health care.
Never before have we had so much technology available at our fingertips. Recent technological developments used to diagnose and treat illness include innovations like micro-invasive surgery, digital imaging, telemedicine, a host of effective new medications, gene therapy, and electronic medical record, just to name a few. Offering these new technologies is transforming the way we provide health care.
Internet-based social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, blogging, and text messaging are also changing the way we seek and deliver health care services. Health care organizations are using social media tools to provide health and wellness education, disease management, health and services information, and even scheduling and registration access.
While technology is transforming health care, the aging population is increasing demand for services. The Administration on Aging projects the population over 60 years of age will grow from 16% of the population in 2000 to 25% in 2050. On average, aging consumers are hospitalized more often and have longer lengths of stay. (Administration on Aging, 1900 – 2050) They need and use more health care.
Health Care Administration Career Outlook
What does this mean for someone who is interested in a health care administration career?
Innovation and dynamic changes in American health care will require the leadership and direction of health care administrators more than ever before!
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the future job market for Medical and Health Services Managers (Healthcare Administrators or Executives) is promising. The job market is expected to grow “faster than average” for all other occupations. The most recent Occupational Outlook Handbook projects job growth of 16% between 2008 and 2018 (from 283,500 to 328,800 jobs). (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010 – 2011)
There are many different types of health care administration or health care manager jobs in hospitals, physician offices, community and public health, government, insurance companies, managed care organizations, mental health and long-term care, medical rehabilitation and post-acute care.
Health care administrators typically like to work with others and are good at planning, organizing, evaluating, and leading. They also enjoy learning new things about their dynamically changing profession. Standard education includes a bachelor’s degree followed by a master’s degree.
If you would like to learn more about how you can earn a Bachelor’s degree in Health Care Administration at Midway College, visit www.midway.edu.
Karen Clancy, MBA – Midway College Business Faculty
Authored by Dr. Marla Ashe
According to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics for 2011, the unemployment rate in the U.S. is 9.1%, and in Kentucky, 9.5% (US Department of Labor Statistic, 2011). Figures of this magnitude naturally raise concerns for those of us in business education. How does one provide students with a competitive advantage in the global and domestic employment arena? This question requires an examination of teaching methodology.
As a marketing practitioner for consumer packaged goods and products for over twenty years, my teaching philosophy is based on my experiences in the corporate world.
An environment should be created that allows learners to gain skills and knowledge through practical application of classroom concepts. My goal is to provide the opportunity for them to improve their critical thinking and application skills by using techniques that engage the student, such as case study simulations and student multimedia presentations. Also, learners participate in facilitated lectures where both the professor and students share real life business experiences.
My teaching method reflects service learning pedagogy. Service learning enables students to integrate textbook concepts in a real life business setting where they solve business issues in local communities and/or businesses (Giles & Eyler, 1994; Kielsmeier, 2011). This methodology is supported and encouraged by business leaders because it equips students to solve global business problems (Zlotkowki, 1996; Manolis & Burns, 2011).
The leading international business school accreditation body, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), requires the inclusion of service learning methodology in business curricula and focuses on the schools by utilizing measurable outcomes (Ames, 2006).
In addition, colleges and universities can implement this methodology through business organizations such as Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE). Its mission is to bring together the top leaders of today and tomorrow to create a sustainable world through the positive power of business.
I introduced SIFE to Midway College in 2010 as the official business club. The purpose of the organization is to provide opportunities for students to apply classroom concepts in a real business setting through problem solving. At the same time, Midway students are exposed to Fortune 500 companies that have partnered with SIFE.
The SIFE team works with organizations in the Lexington area as business consultants in project management, marketing, advertising, fundraising, and global sustainability. Their first year of competition earned Rookie of the Year and second runner-up at the 2010 regional competition. That is the result of the students’ ability to apply what is learned in the classroom in the real world.
Midway College has begun the curriculum paradigm shift by its creation of, and support for, SIFE.
If you would like to learn more about Midway College’s SIFE team, have business problems for which students can be of assistance, or provide financial or in-kind support, please contact Dr. Marla Ashe at email@example.com.
Organizational leaders make decisions every day, which is what they get paid to do. They get evaluated on the quality of those decisions, and their decisions impact others either intentionally or unintentionally. Professor Paul Nutt of Ohio State University has studied many organizational decisions and why they didn't work out as planned. He notes that two out of every three decisions use "failure prone practices." Also, poor decisions are made because of a "rush to judgment" resulting in premature commitments and "wrong-headed investments," often to carry out and support "an idea someone is wedded to, trying to show it will work."
In order to make good decisions, organizational leaders have to work at becoming "critical thinkers. The first step is to figure out the goals for the decision-making process. Professor Nutt said one needs a clear direction for the decision process. This mean being able to address: "Where is the decision going? What is it meant to accomplish — in other words what the expected results are?" Also, throughout the process you must continually re-articulate your goals and purposes.
You need good information to make a good decision, so the second step is to seek out and uncover the stakeholders' concerns. This requires hearing opposing concepts and fully understanding each party's concerns and ultimately finding a common theme in making a diagnosis of the problem.
The third step is carefully analyzing the information you receive, constructing solid inferences. Then you figure out your options and evaluate the pros and cons for each. Next you can adopt a strategic approach and follow through on your strategy to address the problem. Lastly, one needs to monitor results, and when necessary, change the strategy based on sound evaluation.
Being an effective, critical-thinking decision maker requires working the process while being aware of the traps and pitfalls described above. Most of all, one must strive to ensure the process adheres to the universal intellectual standards of clarity, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth and logic.
Find out more about how Midway College incorporates critical thinking into our curriculum through our business program at www.midway.edu.
Authored by Frank Fletcher, Ed.D./MBA