Archive for Business

How to Land an Internship

Over the past week I have tried desperately to network my way into the coveted summer internship. From cold calling employers to searching classifieds I have done it all. Throughout the process I came up with a list that I believe should help my fellow broke college students land an internship.

1.) Go to events where business leaders meet e.g. the Chamber of Commerce and try to network. Everyone loves a real hustler.

2.) Always make sure you use your contact’s name when talking to them. If it is your first time contacting them use their first and last name or Mr. and Ms. when talking with them you don’t want to come off rude.

3.) Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Employers are looking for someone inquisitive who will actually think when performing a task.

4.) Always, always follow-up with thank yous when you are trying to network even if you are denied the position courtesy tends to travel along way and karma is real.

5.) Clear up any bad press–we all have pictures or internet posts we really don’t want future employers to see.  This is especially true of my generation, Generation Y.  My generation grew up with the internet unlike other generations and unlike other generations we posted online while going through puberty..enough said.

6.)  Make sure your Facebook picture is a nice headshot not a body image.

7.) Get business cards.  Let companies know you are serious and you are willing to invest your personal time and money.

8.)  In the first two sentences of your internship pitch mention you are they’re looking for an internship.  You never want to make a contact guess why you are there; this is business and in the business world efficiency is everything.  Your basic pitch should go something like this:

 Hi _______ my name is blank and I am a current student at ____.  I am contacting you to follow-up on an internship lead I got through _____ to intern at _____.

9.)  Dress to impress not like a hot mess.  College kids know that around campus pajamas are the standard dress code, as long as your crotch is covered you are good.  However in the business world people dress to impress not for comfort. You must make sure you are wearing clean dress clothes.  Sources say blue is the best color to wear for an interview.  Psychology majors commonly say you have 7 seconds to make your first impression so it damn well better be a good one.

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What I Learned In Marketing

After spending seven semesters on campus as a full-time student I have been exposed to many things.  From geology to statistics several theories, names and facts have been thrown at me to the point I often tell my peers “If someone were to be able to retain over a third of what they have been exposed to in life they would come out knowing 300% more than other graduates.”  While this may be true for me and the majority of students on campus I still think education is still valuable for the few facts and theories one can come away with from taking a course.  This semester I took Marketing 221.  Like many of my courses before I was exposed to a wide array of material.  From the material three topics covered stick out as theories I can use and reuse throughout my life to help me strive for success.

The first is the Five Pillars of Marketing.  The Five Pillars of Marketing are used from forming an idea to implementing an idea. Throughout the semester the Five Pillars of Marketing was brought up to the point many in class could argue it was over emphasized.  However, I believe they were under emphasized if anything.  The Five Pillars of Marketing are important to and practiced by anyone wishing to form and implement an idea.  In fact before attending the class I was practicing the Five Pillars of Marketing without knowing it, blindly.  However after attending the class and being enlightened on the Five Pillars I could see them clearly and have already used them to formulate a few ideas. Being aware of the pillars and the five individual steps I have been able to speed of my process of creating and implementing ideas, and focus on the individual pillars i.e. steps instead of looking at the idea as an ambiguous mess.  I will be successful at retaining and practicing the Five Pillars because they have been stressed to me to the point I can see them in every practice and I have practiced them a few times unlike other ideas and processes I have learned in class.

The second is the acronym S.U.C.C.E.S.  Over the course we used the book Made to Stick by the Heath brothers.  The main focus on book was on how to go about making an idea sticky.  To tackle the individual components of making an idea sticky the authors used the acronym S.U.C.C.E.S.   This acronym stands for Simple Unexpected Concrete Creditable Emotional Stories.  If you are to look at any stick idea from proverbs to urban legends you find many of these characteristics.  Made to Stick goes through several examples demonstrating how to analyze if an idea is sticky, and through the process of reading the book you learn how to pick apart ideas and judge their stickiness by the acronym.  Personally after reading the book I began to look and judge ads and lectures on the acronym.  Every time I am lectured I focus on going through the acronym and deciphering the central method by going through the components of the presentation.  Additionally I have already implemented using the acronym by making sure all of my presentations and persuasive papers I have written this semester have the elements of the acronym.

In relation to the book, the renowned leadership expert, Cornel Kolditz was invited to speak to our class on August 30th, 2011.  One of the things he discussed with us was commander’s intent.  Commander’s Intent is a mil

Over the course of this semester I was exposed to several key concepts and ideas in all of my classes, including Marketing 221.  Although it would be ideal to remember every concept taught to me I know it is inevitable I will not be able to remember everything taught to me.  While there were several useful things taught to me in Marketing 221 I believe the Five Pillars of Marketing, S.U.C.C.E.S. and Commander’s Intent have and will continue to be a part of my daily thinking as a future entrepreneur and businessman.  When using all three concepts I am know able to clearly form and implement an idea, define and analyze the stickiness of an idea and communicate my intentions of my idea with ease.

 

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How to Protect Intellectual Property

With the innovation of the Internet, the ability to enforce any law regarding the disruption of intellectual property is almost impossible.  Throughout the past decade, beginning the mp3 revolution, the record companies have reported that the digital revolution has cost them nearly $12.5 billion dollars and 71,000 jobs each year.1  With the use of torrent sites and limewire file sharing, digital piracy is getting harder to pinpoint. Recent surveys indicate that nearly ninety-five percent of all music downloaded online is illegal.2  In recent news, a single-mother was ordered by the court to pay $1.92 million dollars for downloading twenty-four songs.3  However, if the surveys are correct, this court decision suggests that there are millions of individuals who owe the record companies millions of dollars themselves.  Clearly, it is nearly impossible to try all of the illegal music downloaders on the Internet. Therefore, the legislature might pass an additional act to help detour people from downloading.

My suggestion is that Congress should pass a new act that would set up an agency for whistle-blowers of illegal file sharing from within the Federal Communications Commission/ FCC. This newly created agency would offer incentives to whistle-blowers, such as offer potential whistle blowers a portion (e.g., 10%) of the money reclaimed by the record companies.  With much stronger incentives, people would be more willing to report their neighbors, co-workers, friends, and even family members, to the proper authorities for illegal downloading activities.  If the government would create a whistle-blowing network, people would become increasingly paranoid about downloading music.

In retrospect, the Federal Government and the recording industry has spent the past decade working with members of the Congress and a small army of lawyers in order to create ways to come up with solutions to the problem of illegal file sharing.  The problem is so widespread that it is illogical to think that it could be solved overnight. Hence, record companies and the Federal Government need to collaborate and create more ways to detour music piracy, such as establishing a whistle-blowing agency.  As the public becomes increasingly paranoid, people will become more likely to download files legally.

Additional Resources (outside class textbook):

1. http://www.dailyiowan.com/2009/06/23/Metro/11797.html

2. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7832396.stm

3. http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10268199-93.html

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Does the US need a tort reform?

West face of the United States Supreme Court b...

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Our nation is considered to be among the top legal systems in the world.  Although there are many great parts of the U.S. legal system, I believe that tort reform is much needed.  Torts are generally defined as a civil wrong, which is not caused by a breach of contract.  Every year billions of dollars are being spent to protect business owners from tort claims.  One small error in advertising a product or failure to warn people of a product’s dangers, including such dangers that arguably border on basic common sense, can cause a company to go bankrupt from exorbitant legal fines.  For instance, a gun manufacturer failed to warn its users that long-exposure to firing guns can damage hearing and was found liable for causing hearing loss injuries.

Product liability cases, such as the one just highlighted, account for over 10 million cases filed in the U.S. annually.  Cases such as these have created a world full of disclaimers.  For instance, back in 1992 the “McDonald’s Coffee Case” was making national headlines. Officially known as Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants, the case was eventually settled giving Liebeck $160,000 in compensational damages and $2.7 million in punitive damages.1 Since that case, McDonald’s has placed warnings on their coffee that can be seen today.

In more recent news, on June 15, 2009 USA TODAY published an article dealing with tort reform.2  In this article, President Obama reportedly is trying desperately to curb malpractice liabilities in order to help him create universal health care.  Due to the fear of medical malpractice liabilities, the nation spends an estimated $600 to $700 billion each year on necessary care due to physicians practicing defensive medicine.3 This staggering sum is a huge factor for those who argue in favor of universal health care and a major contributor for the prohibitively high cost of health care coverage for so many Americans.

While torts are a problem for businesses, in recent years certain measures have been taken to ensure tort reform, such as the Supreme Court case of BMW of North America, Inc. v. GoreIn this case, the Supreme Court held a 5-4 verdict that limited punitive damage awards.4 While this is a far cry from total tort reform of the U.S. system, this has given tort reform advocates hopes for the future of more substantial tort reforms.  I believe that limiting product liability cases and medical malpractice cases could lead to billions of dollars in savings each year to Americans for monies spent on disclaimers and frivolous cases.

Resources:

1. http://www.lectlaw.com/files/cur78.htm

2. http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2009/06/68120137/1

3. Ibid

4. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3811/is_199810/ai_n8812153/

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Communication

A wise man once said, “If you can master communication you can master the world.”  When communicating it is important to do two things: be concise and effective For many putting these two things into practice is nearly impossible.  The following is a list of some useful tips and suggestions I came across recently concerning effective communication.

Communication Enhancers

  • Concerned Silence—This is probably the most difficult technique to carry out. Many people are uncomfortable with silence and feel that someone should always be talking.  Silence is golden, especially when important information is being shared.  Allow time for silence, along with supportive actions such as intermittent eye contact, leaning forward and handholding (if permissible).
  • Encouragement—Often people need permission to share thoughts and feelings.  Statements like “I’d like to hear more about that” and “If you would like to share that with me, I’d be glad to listen” show interest and willingness to become involved in the conversation.  This technique can also be useful if the conversation is bogged down.
  • Prompters—This technique lets the speaker know that you are still listening, that you understand, accept and empathize.  Short phrases such as “I see,” “Yes,” and “Uh-huh” often encourage additional conversation without interrupting the speaker’s train of thought.
  • Restatements—To help in understanding thoughts and feelings, it is often useful to feed back what you have heard or thought you have heard.  The sender states, ”I’m so sick and tired of working long shifts.”  You can say, “You are tired of working long shifts.”  This helps the sender understand the impressions conveyed by specific choices of words and helps to clarify feelings.
  • Leading Statement or Question—This technique is used to help the sender move on to additional thoughts. It is especially helpful in problem solving.  The sender says, “I really don’t know what to say to my boss.”  You may say, “What are some of the things you have thought about saying?”  This will encourage listing of options by the sender.
  • Observation of Non-Verbal Behavior—Being sensitive to feelings increases the amount of information available from a conversation; however, it is sometimes helpful to validate your observations.  If you notice the sender is frowning and sighing, you can say, “You seem to be anxious and upset.”  This allows the sender to verify of dispute your assessment.

Things To Remember When CommunicatingTips and Tricks!

  • Always, always ,always! Use the right word choice with the right audience.  Remember different groups of people communicate differently.  For instance when you are trying to communicate to a group of kindergarteners you might use a less extensive vocabulary than you would if you were to try to communicate with a group of professors.
  • When practicing communication focus on your audience rather than your self.  Self-centered speakers tend to be less effective when communicating.  This can lead to a lack of interest in your audience.  Think when was the last time you enjoyed hearing a speech involving me, me, me.  You can better engage your audience and communicate more effectively if you focus on them.
  • “If you will first help people get what they want, they will help you get what you want.” Zig Zigler
  • Connecting begins when the other person feels valued.
  • Most of communication is based off of actions.  Or as the old saying goes “Actions speak louder than words.”
  • Speaking words is never enough, you must believe the words you speak to be an effective communicator.
  • Your message must be valuable—you have to deliver on the promise of your words.
  • Most of communication is visual—how other’s perceive you is important

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Tips for the Business World I have Learned as a Consumer

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I will update this list each week with a new tip starting on June 15th, 2011.  ADDITIONALLY if you have any suggestions or criticisms of listed tips feel free to comment them and I will add YOUR TIPS along with your name when I update my post weekly.  Thank you!

Tip #1 Always follow-up with costumers every step of the way.  If you fail to keep tabs on your customers deals WILL slip through the cracks!

Tip #2 Make sure your costumer understands your  mission statement.  Customers are more likely to give you business if they believe and see you practicing a mission statement.  A good example of this is Apple Computers.

Tip #3 Always think business senerios through from the costomer’s point of view.  If you want to sell someone a product you have to be able to know their every thought and get in their heads so you can connect with them enough to convince them to buy your product.

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Privatization of Prisons and Public Administration Implications

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I. Introduction

            Private Prisons have existed on U.S. soil well before the Constitution was drafted.  Dating back to 1607, Virginia convicts were transported by private entrepreneurs across the Atlantic as a condition to be pardoned if they agreed to be sold into servitude to private enterprise.  Later in the 18th century, modern prisons were formed as an alternative to the death penalty and servitude. During the early years of the United States, privately operated jails were commonly utilized.  Privatized correctional institutions such as these trace their roots back to medieval England.  Over centuries of corruption the public’s attitude would change towards mixing the words private and prison together.  Then much later in modern times, in the second half of the 20th Century, the private industry and prisons began to mix again to the modern age with more and more prisons falling to privatization1.

Privatization occurs when the government outsources its responsibilities and services to the private sector.  In recent years, presidential administrations such as the George W. Bush Administration have tried to increase the amount of privatization that occurs at the federal level.  Services such as waste management, public education, and even prison and jail services, are starting to become increasingly privatized.  Over the past decade and into the heat of the current economic recession, the concept of the government privatizing more services has been a widely supported idea.  A major contributing factor for the strong support of privatization is the widespread public perception that the government typically spends more money than is necessary to carry out services than do private industry businesses.

Generally, private businesses carrying out a government task are more likely to exercise more fiscal restraint into their budgets and not overspend to max out profits as well as improve services to get more business.  Some proponents of privatized prisons claim that private correctional facilities can save up to 20 percent of the cost to run normal public prisons; yet, the U.S. Department of Justice conducted a study and found out private prisons generate very little savings, estimated at just one percent, of the cost when compared to public prisons.2

It is believed that through privatization, the government not only can save money but also may improve the quality of the services through privatization.  While this general conception is true for most industries in which services are performed by private businesses, privatized correctional facilities have come under increasing scrutiny. A myriad of studies and reports have indicated that privatized prisons and jails have an increase in all assaults: inmate-to-inmate, guard-to-inmate, and inmate-to-guard.  In addition, studies also indicate the health of private prisoners versus government prisoners is significantly worse.

While some states hardly rely on privatized prisons to hold their inmates, others such as Texas house nearly a quarter of their inmates in privatized prisons.  The Bureau of Justice Assistance reports that the number of privatized prisons are likely to increase in the U.S. due to the growing rate of individuals incarcerated.3 Just how big of an increase is to be expected? The U.S. jail and prison population was around 750,000 in 1985. In 1997, it was an estimated 1.7 million and growing.4

II. Literature Review of Public Administration Concepts

            Brian Gran and William Henry recently published an article in Social Justice that focuses on holding privatized prisons accountable.  According to Gran and Henry, one major problem that privatized prisons face is that they experience significant turnover among staff members, which prevents the staff members from gaining requisite experience and prison-specific knowledge and skills that public prison employees carry.5

Gran and Henry focus on whose responsibility it is when assaults occur in prison.  In general, it is the government’s fault for assaults in the public sector, but when it is in the private sector the business is at fault.6 The government is conducted in a way that is much easier to reform, such as hiring/firing new government officials and changing the bureaucratic atmosphere.  Businesses, on the other hand, are much harder to reform.  While the public and government can sue privatized prisons (such as for assaults and escapes) but suing the private prisons is not an effective way for helping them increase security measures.  Privatized prisons are “profit-maximizers” with a strong incentive to make as much money as possible.7  Private prisons generally cut down on the amount of money that is spent by the government on security measures to prevent assaults. For example, when a private prison is successfully sued for a million dollars, that money comes directly out of their funds that they might otherwise use to provide inmate safety and other measures – which could very well lead to increasing assault incidents in the future.

Funds are considered when drafting up budgets.  Budgets in the private correctional institutions sector come from two sources: the government and private investors.  The government is a steady source for funds, generally each fiscal year public agencies have to submit and draft budgets.  Although funding can vary each year, it is considerably steady in comparison to the stock market, where some privatized prisons gain significant portions of their funds.  The following example demonstrates the potential vulnerability of investor funding of privatized prisons.  Suppose that the stock price of a large privatized prison corporation such as Corrections Corporation of America suffers a sudden and dramatic decline of 50 percent of its value due to speculators’ concerns over a pending lawsuit.  Company-owned stock that would be used to help fund Corrections Corporation of America would be thwarted or at least adversely impacted.  Private investor attitudes do not impact the budgets of government-operated prisons.

Gran and Henry’s article further discusses the contracts that privatized prisons must abide by.  The contracts try to set the standards of private prisons to the same level as public prisons, through giving specifications about maintenance, formation, and liability. For example, in a contract the government has with the Correctional Corporation of America’s Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, the government stated that the prison must maintain a system of records identical to the Bureau of Prisons.8 It is through contracts such as these, that the U.S. Government and pro-privatization proponents use to argue that privatized prisons are just as effective as public prisons.  However, based on other readings, that is only a theory.  In 2001, the U.S. Department of Justice found a 50 percent higher rate of assaults by inmates on staff, and a 65 percent higher inmate-on-inmate assaults in private prisons when compared to public prisons, based on self-reported data figures from the prisons throughout the U.S.9

A Bureau of Justice Assistance study entitled Emerging Issues on Privatized Prisons documented the reasons for both in favor and against the government privatizing prisons, with the issue of safety among them.  One of the surveys in this study indicated that privatized prisons functioned as well as public prisons with the exception of three crucial categories: (1) staffing levels; (2) management information system support; (3) critical incidents (i.e. assaults on staff).10 Another study cited in the document was the “Silverdale Study.”  The Silverdale study was a 1988 survey conducted at Silverdale Detention Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Inmates were asked to rate the prison on various aspects, and to compare the Silverdale facility to other prisons that they had served time at.  The inmates marked the facility highly on most issues such as: physical improvements, cleanliness, staff fairness, work assignments, request and grievance procedures, counseling, religious services, visitation and telephone privileges.  However, the inmates put negative marks on: security, classification, medical care, food, education, and legal access when compared to other (public) prisons.11

III. Case Analysis

            In 1995, a juvenile center found its self-making headlines.  The Coke County Juvenile Justice Center, a Wackenhut/Geo Group privatized institution, was under fire when male guards were found to have sexually, physically and mentally abused the female inmates.  It was found that some of the guards, including a man who had a prior conviction for sexual abuse of a child, were manipulating a “demotion/graduation” system by making the young adolescent girls give them sexual favors.12

If the prison had a more rigid screening process, this problem might have been avoided.  The main problem private businesses run into when trying to take over a government business is to know when to draw the line and separate government processes and procedures for private processes and procedures.  My review of multiple government and private prison websites revealed that individual applicants were required to complete more lengthy and extensive screening information when applying for government positions. Therefore, my suggestion is that privatized prisons should require more rigid employment restrictions and implement these screening procedures.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons requires prison guards to complete a four-year bachelor degree, three of more years of working in the role of a supervisor or counseling role, and guards must complete 120 hours of training within the first sixty days at a special U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons training facility.  In addition to the degree and training, correctional officers have to undergo background checks, drug screenings, physical fitness test, and complete a written test.13  As just one comparison of the job application prerequisites at federal prisons versus private prisons, consider the application requirements at the Winn Correctional Center, located in northern Louisiana.  Winn Correctional Center is ran by the Corrections Corporation of America, which is part of the largest private correctional corporation in America.  The application gives some general guidelines — all applicants had to meet the following; possess a high school degree, or GED equivalent, have a valid drivers license and be at least 18 years of age.14

With such substandard requirements for privatized prisons, prisons are more likely to attract and hire substandard guards.  Substandard guards may not know how to handle situations with inmates as easily, likely resulting in more prisoner and guard attacks.  Additionally, with less rigid screening and requirements, some applicants with former convictions and criminal backgrounds can fall through the cracks.  The government might pass a federal law to have privatized prisons check their applicants’ backgrounds more thoroughly.

The government takes several steps and measures to prevent these incidences such as these from happening.  Generally speaking the government uses its legislative oversight power to investigate into public government entities such as the U.S. Post Office, welfare, or public prisons.15  However, the government uses less oversight with privatized prisons, for a major reason, private businesses are protected from the government searching through its records without probable cause.  By the time the government has probable cause (i.e. escapes, assaults, inmate deaths) the government is too late and cannot prevent the situation from happening.

IV. Conclusion

            The U.S. prison population is continuously growing, and as a result the government needs to decide how to house the growing number of incarcerated.  For the last few years the U.S. economy has experienced a deep recession, leaving capital resources tighter than ever for government entities and agencies.  Over the years, the government has looked to save money through privatization.  Privatization of government entities can heed great results of private businesses by using less money while improving the service the government once provided.

Whether or not the government should privatize prisons is highly debatable.  Some surveys indicate that the United States government could only save about 1 percent of the money while some proponents argue that privatizing prisons could save the government up to 20 percent of the money the U.S. spends on incarceration of inmates with other studies.  Privatized prisons have been shown to have a higher maintenance levels, better counseling, low cost labor, and are cheaper to house inmates in.  But on the other hand, private prisons have been shown to have higher assault rates, lower health, and food quality and a substandard staff.

The legislation should pass acts to give the government more power into giving the legislature more oversight with privatized prisons.  In order to decrease the number of assaults, privatized prisons should implement the government’s qualifications for prison guards on the federal level into their qualifications.  Privatized prisons should adapt as many of its policies of the public administration as they can before they start losing money.  Their job is to replicate the U.S. prison system, a system that has centuries of history that have better created it over time.  Private companies that cater to running correctional facilities need to work in close ties with other public prisons to learn how to run a prison correctly so they do not end up with incidences, such as the one that occurred in Coke County Juvenile Justice Center.  Privatized prisons have a past, recent, and debatable place in America.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

1. Austin, J., & Coventry, G. (2001). Emerging Issues on Privatized Prisons, page 11. Retrieved July 5, 2009, from www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/bja/181249.pdf

2. Ibid, page iii.

3. Ibid, page 14.

4. Ibid, page 1.

5. Gran, B., & Henry, W. (2007/2008). Holding Private Prisons Accountable A Socio-Legal Analysis of “Contracting Out” Prisons. Social Justice, 34 (3-4) 173-191.

6. Ibid, page 183.

7. Ibid, page 173.

8. Ibid.

9. Bourge, C. Sparks fly over private vs public prisons – PrisonSucks.com. page 2. Retrieved June 25, 2009, from http://www.prisonpolicy.org/scans/sparksfly.shtml

10. Austin, J., & Coventry, page 24.

11. Ibid.

12. Price, R. Texas Prison Bid’ness. Retrieved July 10, 2009, from http://www.texasprisonbidness.org/

13. Prison Guard Career Requirements. Retrieved July 10, 2009, from http://www.careerrequirement.com/prison-guard.htm

14. Application Details. Retrieved July 4, 2009, from http://www.correctionscorp.com/careers/openings/2213/details

15. Denhardt, R. B., & Denhardt, J. V. (2009). Public Administration: An Action Orientation.

Belmont: Wadsworth Pub Co., pages 64-65.

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