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Archive for 2009|Yearly archive page

Guatemala, drowning in algae!

In Places I Love, Young unemployed professional on December 24, 2009 at 8:21 PM

The following writing style might not make sense or follow the commonly accepted style of writing and communication, you might get confused and want to pull your hair out. I don’t intend to offend, inspire, or sell anything. I am just typing!

After a long year of career struggles, working day and night, I finally make it home for the holidays. I wanted to relax, enjoy the nature, my mother’s food, and all the drama Christmas with the family can bring, but I can’t!

Home to me is one of the most interesting places in the world, Guatemala.

What makes Guatemala so interesting is that despite it being a rather small country, it holds some of the most important history and culture in Latin American heritage. It is the birthplace of the Mayans and one of the major Spanish capitals during the colonization.

Most vividly, Guatemala is one of the most physically striking places in the world. It’s never-ending blue skies, and eternal greenery make you smile all the time. Every where you look you see a volcano, and the temperature seems to change only mildly.

Because of its political and criminal struggle, Guatemala, unlike Cost Rica or Mexico, has not been able to establish itself as a tourist destination, to a larger extent. Yet, one of the jewels of Guatemala has kept thousands of people from around the world returning to this exotic land, and that is lake Atitlan.

Lake Atitltan, according to scientists was a large volcano that caved in and filled with fresh water. It is now an eternal blue lagoon surrounded by numerous volcanoes and mountains. Un fortunately the ignorance of people in the area, and the irresponsibility of the Guatemalan government has taken its toll on this natural wonder.

In 2009, lake Atitlan suffered a dramatic growth of algae in it waters. This algae feeds on the waste coming from the drains, and the waste that the rains wash down from the mountains. Today lake Atitlan is packed filled with bacteria, algae, and the intoxicating smell has kept tourists, visitors and residents away from the waters.

This does not surprise me at all, it usually takes an event like this to steer people into action, right? Apparently not!

Not the government, not the residents, not the tourists, no one has started organizing and planning the repair and cleansing of this world marvel. WHY? Are Guatemalans stupid? Do they understand what this means to our economy, to our geography, to our history and future? It saddens me that my friends in the United States that keep asking me to take them to Atitlan might never see it, it saddens me to think that I might not be able to bring my children to Atitlan and watch their faces as my father watched mine, just before I said, “it looks fake, like a picture!”.

It is time to start talking about it my fellow Guatemalans, travel enthusiasts and naturalists. What is the plan? What are we going to do?

Guatemalans, we have already lost one of our lakes to our ignorance. Lake Amatitlan is the most recent victim of Guatemalan irresponsibility. As a kid we had a small house by lake Amatitlan and I remember playing in its white sands, and swimming in its clear water. Fast forward about six years, and the algae has taken over its sands, the deep green tone has replaced its clarity, and the ungodly smell keeps us from visiting.

We need to start by educating the residents of this lake and re directing the sewage and waste channels. We need Guatemalans to understand that every time we loose a lake, a forest, a quetzal, a child, we loose our nation, we loose our identity, we become invisible.

Check this out:

http://www.americasquarterly.org/node/1129

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Miami! So beautiful, so much fun, but where is the MONEY?

In Where should I live? on May 25, 2009 at 5:55 PM

The following writing style might not make sense or follow the commonly accepted style of writing and communication, you might get confused and want to pull your hair out. I don’t intend to offend, inspire, or sell anything. I am just typing!

I found this not to long ago:

http://www.forbes.com/2008/07/09/cities-professionals-young-forbeslife-cx_mw_0709youngprofessionals.html

And while it is a little dated, it seems to still run true today.

Miami’s industry is too limited and, for there is no better word to describe it, POOR! There is no money here. I heard once that Miami is the biggest poor city in the United States. Don’t know if this is true, but I believe it. For so much hype its created around the world for its GLAMOUR, this is truley the least glamourous city in the world. You don’t come to Miami to make money, you come here with money to spend. So what is it like for the millions of us trying to make a living in this concrete, over p0pulated, jungle? It has always been and will always be a struggle. Because of Miami’s direct dependence on Latin America, it is continouslly suffering economically, for Latin American economics are very unstable. Miami depends on banking, real estate and tourism, and all these idustries suffered monumentally during this recession. So what to do? Leave Miami? Maybe not to soon, its to much fun. That is exactly the problem here; we all have to much fun, and really are not investing the time and the money where we should be.

People in Miami need to get their spending priorities in check. Remember, 6 dirty martinis at Mansion are not an investment, and just because you can use your credit to take out a Hummer from the dealership doesn’t mean you should.

Cities like Houston are not doing to bad, and a lot of people have moved there in search of opportunities. Texas has oil! We, we have cocktails!

The young professional woman

In Young professional woman on May 23, 2009 at 7:38 PM

The following writing style might not make sense or follow the commonly accepted style of writing and communication, you might get confused and want to pull your hair out. I don’t intend to offend, inspire, or sell anything. I am just typing!

Having grown up amongst the four most dynamic women in the world, I incautiously have become the most feminist man on this planet. Since my birth my two older sisters and mother bossed me around, played with me, fed me, entertained me and kept me in awe of their talents, strength and beauty. Few years later my little sister came into my life, and immediately became the center of my universe. I dragged her around everywhere, and forced her to play with my toys, dig holes in the garden with me and let me use the barbie I wanted to use, (yes, I played with barbies, most men do, it is very fun, I miss it) and she gladly obliged. As she got older it started getting harder for me to get her to play with me. She wanted to play with her toys, not share her new barbie with me and  not go out to the garden and dig holes. I did not know what was happening, until I realized she was coming into her own and she was going to do it weather I liked it or not. She was now an individual. She was like my older sisters now, in charge and responsible for her own happiness. She became a “modern” woman.

Having been brought up in such a feminine atmosphere made me incredible successful at starting friendships with women, and so throughout my life I have collected several lady friends from around the world, each different, each beautiful, and each have enthralled me into a stir of admiration for their passion, ambition, and ability to relate to everyone around them.

Women are brought up to be emotionally intelligent; men are brought up to be mechanically intelligent. This practice in child rearing, has lead me to believe that since women have been developed to become more intellectually able, they are able to succeed more often then men when it comes to finding a career and an opportunity of their liking in this day and age. Think about it! A few months ago I was meeting up with a client from Guatemala. We had been working together for about a month and he wanted to take me out to thank me for all the hard work. So we met at a sports bar and had a few too many beers. We laughed all night and talked about the things boys talk about; sex, money, drugs and music. We got closer as friends and that has helped us business wise, but yet there is something I could not really read about him.

A few days later I had a seminar to attend and was going to meet up a friend of a friend (she was the only person I knew someone knew was going, so we thought we would be each others protection blanket around all these corporate types). She immediately agreed to join me when our friend told her I was going, and she quickly called me introduced herself, and we hit it off!

The seminar was boring, very boring (all these seminars about internet marketing and email marketing are all about the same thing, there is just so many people you can listen to talk about the benefits of us paying $30 a month to a company to write emails for us, not my cup of tea), but she was funny and pretty and talkative, which I love in people; well of course “My name is Tarek and I am an talkaholic”.  We later went to lunch together and talked and talked and talked. We covered our careers, our jobs, or lack there off, our families, our dreams, our love life. We spoke on the phone a few times after that, and emailed links, blogs and videos we thought the other would find interesting.

I think about my meeting with my Guatemalan client and compare it to my meeting with the friend of my friend (wait is she my friend now to? what is the protocol?), and I have concluded that as an individual she was more memorable and trustworthy in her demeanor because she was not afraid to ask certain questions, and in general be her self. The guy only started talking about more intimate subjects when he was well through his seventh beer.  Both are young professionals, and both talk and meet with people every day that might better and enhance their careers. From my judgment, she would be getting a lot more callbacks then he would just because she let her guard down. And that’s what women have been learning these past few years; how to let their guard down, be them selves, and go for the killing.

And while I do have a certain relate ability that most men don’t, I still wish I had the fearlessness that I see so many women display. Mind you not all women are like the ones I am describing, but lately all the women I have been surrounded by have been really inspiring. This present generation of young professional women has been bombarded with messages of independence, and self-sufficiency. It is the words I would hear my mother tell my sisters; and apparently those same words were being used all across the globe. I am so happy for these ladies, its time that they were give more importance and respect (this is were the devoted brother in me comes out).

What happened to all the men? It seems that while women were being taught to be more independent, men across the globe were being told, that it was ok for them not to be in first place, and not be the provider.

Have you watched television lately? One of my guilty pleasures is The Real Housewives of New York City. While other seasons of the show like the Real Housewives of Orange County and Atlanta really do not spike my interest, as I started to watch the New York City show I was mesmerized by all of them being so hard working and ambitious. They did not need anyone to do anything for them; they did not need a man! Not that I am surprised of course, but having grown up in a very conservative country, I was constantly infuriated with so many girls giving up their dreams and careers because they thought, or were told, or pressured to think, that while they can be doctors and entrepreneurs, they are still not complete without the company of a successful guys guy next to them making the “Real Money”. It is not just the women on the Bravo network. It is on every channel: Oprah (so many people talk crap about her, and while she can get a little annoying, she is the first African, women, billionaire in history, and no one gave her the money she made it herself), Tyra (again annoying, more then Oprah, but the girl knows what she is doing), Lauren Conrad (so annoying, have never watched a single episode of The Hills or any brain damaging program she has been featured on, I simply know her through magazines and TV news reports, but have you noticed how much business she runs?), and the list can go on and on.  

There is nothing wrong with being a stay at home dad, I believe there is nothing wrong with doing whatever you want to do with your life; the only person you have to justify it to is yourself, but I can’t help but notice how the stay at home dad is becoming a trend. John from the TLC show John and Kate plus 8 was fired and then later gave up his career to become a stay at home dad, while wife Kate has started a new career as an author, public speaker, and full out brand so many moms are spending their money on. Fabreeze now has men spraying their products in commercials, not just women! WOW, we have come long way.

The times are changing! These days are going to go down in history, and while I think a lot of the changes in our parenting norms are positive, I can’t help but think that women are now better prepared to face the challenges of starting and maintaining a career.

My sisters are more successful then me at so many things: profession, fashion, friendships, etc. I am proud of them, but I am so jealous. Come on people let’s inspire both sexes during these times. Let’s balance it out!

I don’t think I have reached a point during this piece yet, so to clarify, I guess what I have to say is, Men, take a look at the ladies around you, maybe they can help you with your crappy resume, or un creative cover letter, not just your fashion and food choices.

You go girls, SNAP!

P.S. I miss you cup cake, track #4 on the concert CD reminds me of you, “Its such a perfect day!”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTb8FVo9q1w

“A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.” Chinese Pro Verb

In Young unemployed professional on May 21, 2009 at 6:41 PM

This quote represents how I feel about my blogging. In a very corny way, but it does!

I hate cover letters!

In Young unemployed professional on May 21, 2009 at 2:55 PM

WARNING: The following writing style might not make sense or follow the commonly accepted style of writing and communication, you might get confused and want to pull your hair out. I don’t intend to offend, inspire, or sell anything. I am just typing!

So another day sitting on my dinning room table answering stupid question after stupid question on all these online job applications. Great, one of them wants a cover letter.

I loathe cover letters. I think they are stupid, and don’t really say anything because what they ask you to include in them or what your taught to include in them is the same stupid information the lazy HR lady can find on your resume. Or is it suppose to state how passionate I am about the job I am applying for? Or prove to the organization, somehow, that I could be a great choice for the incredibly lucrative position of “Administrative assistant”? I don’t get it.

Let’s see, how should I begin? I am a trustworthy, multi tasker (how do you spell that?), problem solver, polite, effective, efficient, intelligent, clean, have nice suits, know how to use most computer programs; and if I don’t I’ll pretend to and then Google instructions or you tube a tutorial when you are not looking, (I hope the person next to me is nice, if I get the job, because I totally know how to use Photoshop but I don’t, if you know what I mean). What else can I say that will get me an interview, or could possibly not bore the HR lady, or most probably the unpaid intern, reading this?

Ok, I am going to try something new today I think. But what?

What has gotten me an interview in the past before? I don’t know! No one tells me. I once asked and interviewer what got me the interview, and all she said was, “I have no idea, you’re going to have to take that up with HR.” Another time I asked another interviewer, a friendlier one, what got me the interview and she said, “Probably your great personality.” I don’t know what face I looked at her with at that point but I am sure the words idiot were spelled with my eyes, for how could this lady possibly judge my personality through a piece of paper. I had not even spoken on the phone with her. Truth is she had no idea, and she didn’t want to think about it, and she really didn’t care, and it was 11:30 AM so she was probably getting hungry and thinking of the big burger special down the street and how she wouldn’t feel guilty eating the burger since it was a Friday and diets only get started on a Monday. 

Truth is no one cares, and 99% of our resume and cover letter submissions are thrown away and ignored, even if we think they were eye catching and different, most people working in offices today are so under paid, under motivated and to financially stressed to actually give a rat’s ass and take the time to thoroughly asses wether the person whom wrote the letter in their hands would be the right candidate for an interview. I truly and passionately believe that the only way to secure an interview today is CONTACTS.

Don’t waist your time sending out expensive print outs of your portfolio and catering every resume submission according to the company. Most, if not maybe two, of the maybe fifteen interviews that I have been on, have not been inspired by a connection I had within the company.

I say screw the cover letter, and go to happy hour today. I have met so many people under the influence of alcohol, which have allowed me to interview without submitting a stupid cover letter or a specialized resume.

Ok, got to get back to the cover letter. I think I have an idea. I am going to try and be as honest as possible on this one and if someone bothers to actually read it then I’ll let you know if I get the interview.

So:

Dear bored HR lady or unpaid intern, who is too hungry or hung over to really give a crap about what I am about to say ….

Unemployed! Did I just waist four years in school

In Young unemployed professional on May 20, 2009 at 10:53 PM

WARNING: The following writing style might not make sense or follow the commonly accepted style of writing and communication, you might get confused and want to pull your hair out. I don’t intend to offend, inspire, or sell anything. I am just typing!

Someone, I don’t know who, once said something like, “The three best investments are travel, education, and real estate”. Ok, I get it, travel makes you smarter and more worldly, and fulfills you emotionally. Real estate, although not necessarily in the current market, is always reliable. But education?

I know, I know, my education has been monumental, it has changed me for the better, and allowed me to develop skills and an all around understanding I would not have had otherwise. But I am mad, so please allow me to be negative and bash my degree. 

Yes I know, a college degree does not ensure a job or necessarily prepare you to make any money. Going to college is more about the experience, (experience here is code for drinking). But why then do we find  so many posters, ads on TV and the radio, brochures and even professors in classes all promoting education as a means to find a better job and in doing so make more money. Why do they get us to pay absurd amounts in tuition by promising us a financial gain in the future? All these marketers trying to tap into our emotional need to be successful and RICH.

Has anyone seen the ITT Tech ads on TV? Or receive endless emails promoting MBA programs? Have you gotten the one that compares the bank account of an MBA graduate and that of a non graduate?

I am sick of it, the only thing I have gotten out of my degree is an excuse I use every time someone asks me what I have been doing with my life for the past few years. I want my money back! Miley Cyrus hasn’t even finished high school, will be a billionaire soon, and she didn’t have to spend long nights trying to memorize the accounting and taxation process of stock sales and gains in the European continent. 

Bill Gates is a college drop out, Madonna is a college drop out, and several family friends and members of mine, whom are “well of” or fianancially successful, didn’t even finish high school. I feel like if I would have started trying to make money instead of having gone to college I would be rich, or stable, or on the path to success.

All my friends with good jobs and businesses are either not in school or, yes you guessed it, drop outs! They didn’t waist four years and thousands of dollars. They understood the concept of “climbing the corporate ladder”. They are experts in their fields now, and most importantly they are irreplaceable, for they have become integral parts of the compnaies they work for or run.

I have been to at least fifteen interviews since I graduated, and most have ended by the interviewer stating that while I have a great resume, I just don’t have the necessary experience. Apparently all those internships I did instead of going home for the summer, or drinking in honor of my mear existence with my firends, yes my friends with jobs, didn’t pay off. Of course I don’t have the experience, just like you, no one will give it to me. And no I don’t have the experience, because every company is an experience of its own, and this I have learned through experience.

Where do you expect me to start? Most corporate types will respond by listing a series of jobs my college professor once listed after a student asked for examples of jobs one could skip in corporate America by obtaining a college degree. Ah how ironic!

The second worst answer you can get as a college graduate after an interview is, “We don’t want some one with a degree, we just don’t want to pay that kind of salary.” What kind of salary? The $25,000 dollars a year that are suppose to cover my rent, car, food, gas, and maybe even a few dollars I can place in a savings account with a pathetic interest rate and monthly maintenance fee, so that when you decide the only way for the company to save money is by firing me, I wont starve. Yes, that is the salary they are talking about.

I guess my point is, educational institutions and corporations, seem to have no communication what so ever. Although some state they do, and some seem to, and some might even bridge you to the other, they have no idea what the other is saying or looking for.

Or maybe my point is that education might not be for everyone. Was it for me? I always wanted an education. I am a serial learner, will probably get my Graduate degree too. Or maybe I should stop learning in a class room and learn the way my father did, experience. I want to pick brains, I want to build the bridge between my degree and the real world. I want to become an adult.

School is cool, we all know that. It takes dedication, focus, ambition, and great friends whom share their notes and sign the attendance sheet for you when you don’t feel like going to class. Again I am just mad.

I find it funny when people tell you that college doesn’t make you money, or set you up with a stable job. I find it funny because its true, but you hear it the minute you graduate, and the people saying this are recent college graduates that learned it the hard way.

Is it the recession? Is it my personality? My strategy? All I know is I’ll keep looking and interviewing and trying to use my degree to get me places. Why? Because I am a college graduate, and my degree is all I have.

Me! A confused and ambitious young professional. Anyone out there feel this way?

In Young unemployed professional on May 20, 2009 at 7:17 PM

The last few months have left me with plenty of thoughts regarding my current circumstance, and in an effort to find my way through this complicated world, I have decided to start a blog.

This blog is about the struggling young professional and the trials and tribulations that effect him/ her everyday. I am confident that there are several of us out there eager for answers and support. 

Who is a young professional? Recent college graduates? Graduate students? The hard working 18 to 30 year olds that are bombarded with ideas, opportunities, lack of opportunities, closed and open doors, and the continuous thought that their is something better out there, that we are not producing enough, that we are not helping anyone in the world, that we are not making a difference, that we are not good enough?

Anyone can be a struggling young professional, not necessarily 18- 33 year olds; I don’t like setting boundaries and imposing limits.

Being a young professional is a state of mind. Being a young professional is the feeling of confusion, anxiousness, and ambition we all feel when we are about to embark on our professional journey or a new professional venture. What I guess I am trying to say is anyone is welcome to write comments on this blog, I look forward to it, I hope the comments help me better my blogging capabilities and challenge me.

This is my first blog, so don’t judge please. Instead help me out. Let me know if my grammar is atrocious, if my topics are boring or if my writing style is pathetic. Remember I am a young professional and I need all the help I can get.

What do you think defines a young professional? 

Tarek