Tuesday, February 10, 2009
The Joys of Networking
WARNING: This is a rant.
So I decided to offer up going to "Networking" classes through DHHS as a part of my ASPIRE program requirements.
Basically, I'm required to seek work for 20 hours per week and do 20 hours per week of schoolwork to account for the Cash Benefits and Daycare I receive while trying to get back on my feet. Not a bad thing, considering I need to find a job anyway and I've been putting in MORE than 20 hours per week looking and I've been doing my schoolwork on top of it all. To me, the requirements for getting into ASPIRE and your "payback into the system" for the help you get is a GREAT idea. It teaches responsibility and it teaches "career welfare recipients" that it is NOT a free ride after all.
Now, most people are required to take the "Networking" classes. I, however, was not. Why? Because I have a child under 1 year old. But, nevertheless, I opted into the class for a few days per week. It's only an hour per day (for the most part, sometimes they double whammy you with a 2 to 3 hour workshop right after the class).
In any case, I went to the first class yesterday. It was nothing that I thought it would be. Someone needs to seriously tell the instructor (who's contracted by the way, they do not work for DHHS) to pull that enormous stick out of her ass. I understand she has a job to do, but the majority of people in this particular class are over the age of 35, they are parents who've never had to go on the "system" in the past, and they are parents who are desperately trying to find a job. What they are NOT is pre-pubescent teenagers in a 9th grade science class who'd rather talk about how many texts they sent the night before.
I don't envy the woman her job (hey, at least SHE has one), I do believe she's got her plate full, especially with the unemployment rate in Maine topping 7.6% but, c'mon! Being an ever loving raging bitch is not the way to get cooperation.
I argued with her for a full 20 minutes after the class yesterday. See, she sat there and tried to tell me I was required to put in 40 hours of job search and that I was required to attend all workshops (some of which didn't start until 3pm and didn't end until 6pm). She also informed me that I was required to attend "Networking" 5 days per week and that if I was absent without good cause, that I would be sanctioned. Three sanctions = loss of benefits.
I bit my tongue until after class because I didn't want to dress her down in front of everyone.
Honestly, it got so bad that I had to have my ASPIRE supervisor come in and reiterate to her that I was there of my own accord.
Why am I writing this? Well, I'll tell you. I think the program concept is pretty decent. What I would expect to be going on is actual networking. Talking to other students, sharing information on job openings you've seen that another student may be qualified for, use of the computers and the job bank that DHHS is given on a daily basis, resume writing courses, interviewing skills. Now these are all things that are listed on the brochure so, silly me assumed that's what the classes would entail. However, there's so much that this woman does that is an utter, total waste of time. For instance:
1. EVERY SINGLE MORNING she goes over the "expectations" list. Honestly, once is enough. If you feel the need to have to reiterate things you've either a.) not done your job appropriately to begin with or b.) haven't a clue how to fill that hour with networking skills. It's understandable when there's a new student, but when it's the same people that have been there for a couple weeks, where's the benefit?
2. EVERY SINGLE MORNING she has each student recite a portion of the "expectations." There's 30 bullets on the list. There's 20 students and she will have each student read a bullet until they're all read. Lazy much? If it's something you feel needs to be done daily, please do not waste my time that could be spent NETWORKING while you re-read the same dry list of rules to abide by.
3. EVERY SINGLE MORNING she feels the need to explain how to fill out the paperwork, where to go to use the computers, phone, or how to go through the job leads. Seriously, WTF? We have ONE HOUR to get what we need to get done, done. When she fills the first 40 minutes of the class with a review of the same old-same old, she's taking away from the class.
And, if this isn't bad enough, she had the students vote on what the next workshop would be about. The class voted for "financial preparation." She wrote on the schedule: "Financial stuff." Stuff? How unprofessional can you be?!
Now, for the reason why I wrote this...our workshop today, regarding "Financial 'stuff'" consisted of a 2 hour presentation on....are you ready? How to use a check register.
Not how to cut corners to save money, not how to find programs that work with you to reach a financial goal, not even how to SET a financial goal. It was, literally, how to use a check register. A room full of over-30 yo students, all of whom KNOW how to fill out a check register, being instructed on how to fill out a check register. Complete with the passing out of "blank registers" and calculators, and her detailing a fictitional "week's worth of expenses" and how and when to "add or subtract"...which culminated in her actually CHECKING everyone's check register to make sure they wrote down everything she said.
I can think of so much more I could have accomplished in that 2 hour period. Like the emailing of a couple dozen resumes.
But, hey, at least I can be assured I've been filling my check registers out correctly for the last 25 years.
The penny has lost its shine. Big time!