planning for the future

The Girl in HR Speaks to Students about College and Career Planning

This past Thursday I had the extreme pleasure of speaking to a wonderful group (3 to be exact) of middle schoolers. My Guy’s mother is a science teacher and has been asking that I come to speak to her students, many of them in a program that helps to prepare them for college. .

The timing finally worked out and I had SO much fun. Although I wasn’t all that sure what I might say that might that could further inspire them — other than maybe some fun swag and the opportunity to have a guest speaker — after all, their teachers are TOP NOTCH and clearly committed to the success of their students.  It was a small gesture, but I made Friday “Thank a Teacher” day on the Facebook page – and pleased to say that its my highest viewed post (ever!).  I can’t say enough awesome things about the group of teachers who were at the session — truly, they are remarkable. (… and so proud that one of them is my “MIL”.)

I was honestly a little nervous about the speech — not in speaking — I can do that all day every day, but that they kids would hate me or think that I was “not cool.” While I feel like middle school was not that long ago and I can relate – the truth is that I can’t. My Guy and I had a “laugh” the night before the speeches and joked that we’re about as cool as the kids’s parents — and then it hit us that it really wasn’t a “joke” because we COULD be about the age of some of their parents (easily) — aside: which freaked us out a little bit because we don’t have kids yet.

I didn’t chance not being cool, so I brought gadgets and stickers to give away. Anyhoo, I digress.

I spoke about careers that would be growing about the time that they would enter the workforce – which, no surprise are largely in the STEM areas.  What’s crazy is that in the preparation of the speech I came across some great research! Long story short — the careers and jobs are in the STEM areas, but we don’t have the interest AND the skillset to accommodate the skill gap in the future. Furthermore, its not enough to get students into STEM degrees, they need to go work in those areas. I found a stat that 50% of students who get a degree in a STEM area don’t go into that field of study. While I’m happy to be an HR professional, I also have a twinge of guilt as someone who LOVES math and science, has a degree in a science field, but does not actively use it. Another stat, only 16% of HS seniors have the skills AND the desire to get a college degree in a STEM area. 😦 Yet the growth of jobs, all in STEM areas … and the highest growth areas are actually in biomedical sciences.  So the real question — how do we get more people into these areas?  What can we do NOW to get some of these students ready and really interested? How do we move the needle from 16% to 25% or 35% or even more? Are there things that we can do to get students more STEM ready out of HS? STEM isn’t about magnet schools, which is how I got exposure, even my niece who is now a freshman in college. We are past that approach– this stuff has to be the basics now… for every student.

I am not sure of the answers, but I want to find out and I want to help. I’m just not sure how yet.

I also spoke to the students about some of the things that they should thinking about to get ready for college. They seemed to have a lot of questions in this area and some real concerns about getting in, picking the right major, and finding a job once they graduate. Clearly its on their mind and they have some folks in place to continue to prime the pump. I must say, that I was VERY impressed with the students — they were mature, engaged, and had clearly given this some thought even prior to the session. Education is KEY and I hope that every child who wants to go to college finds a way to do it. I didn’t paint it as a cakewalk — because its not — but I hope that they took away that if they have the will and desire, they maintain focus, there IS a way to make it happen. I also spoke a bit about trade school, associate degrees, and apprenticeships– which I don’t think enough people talk about… but I think that we should.


I may have overdone it with the resources and research, but I wanted to know that I was credible :). I’ll be adding in some of the resources that I put together for the presentation. I think that they are helpful for everyone, not just middle school students.

I know that this isn’t one of my normal posts, but you bet there is an HR connection to be made here. Its huge and staring us right in the face. How do we help get them ready? Many of the seem willing and interested, but will need help to be successful!

EDIT: here are the materials that I prepared for the students

… and these links I found helpful for researching and preparing

Making the HR Connection, yours,


Jobless Claims on the Rise

Doesn’t seem like its a good start to the year off with a rise in the jobless claims — especially when a decrease was forecasted.

Jobless claims increased by 8,000 to 339,000 in the week ended Feb. 8 from 331,000 in the prior period, a Labor Department report showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 52 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a decrease to 330,000.  —

I am not sure that I can say that I am all that surprised — many news reports seem to make connections between the soft retail sales in December — that might have something to do with it — but I don’t think its the whole story. Ultimately I think that this is going to be slow to turn around and that there are not quick fixes or miracles.

I’d like to see more people talking about skills-mismatch vs the jobs that are in demand and how to get those better aligned — for the current workforce as well as the future workers.  I think that is the bigger piece that we should be solving for, not just waiting on things to turn around with the economy.

Just my thoughts — what are yours?

Making the HR connection, yours,




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Big Debt on Campus – Make it Worth It

Its back to school time and so many college students have scrimped and saved to go to college — including taking out some student loans. I knew that college loans was up — but holy smokes — up “310% more than a decade ago.” All I can say is WOW.

I’m an HR person — my degrees are in Biology (I was pre-med — long story, I’ll have to tell you about it another time) and I completed another degree in English and I went back to grad school for a degree in business. My advice — choose your major wisely, work you arse off, get good grades, intern, network. Have fun and know that you don’t have to figure it out — but know that in your 20s (early career) you are laying the foundation for the rest of your life.. err, your working career at least — no pressure right?You can make changes and adjust, but get the foundation right.

The explosion of college tuition and student debt is leaving more grads with big bills and doubts about their futures. Some back-to-school stats:

1. College costs a lot more than it used to.

The good news: College grads earn 84% more than high school grads.

The bad: Getting that sheepskin is getting a lot more expensive.

via Charts: How Big Debt on Campus Is Threatening Higher Ed | Mother Jones.

I love learning, I love the class room setting — just make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck — I’m not saying pick money over passion — I’m saying be strategic and think about short term goals and long term gains.

Making the HR connection, yours

On The Minds of Your Employees: Rising Education Costs and Student Loans

I don’t have kids yet and I feel like I’m already behind in saving for their college education.  If its on my mind — I KNOW its on the mind of my employees and colleagues with kids. I was a scholarship kid and going to college would have been difficult for me without it.  I finished undergrad debt free — but can’t say the same for my graduate studies.  I mentor high school kids and I know that the process has changed. Not only is it more competitive to get into school, but its hard to find the money to fund it (hard but not impossible).  Scholarships are harder to come by and the financial aide process continues to evolve with complexities each year.

Okay – so I haven’t told you anything that you don’t know yet. But this is something that you DO need to pay attention to. On July 25, 2013, the US Senate Senate approved a student loan deal:

The bipartisan proposal would link interest rates on federal student loans to the financial markets, providing lower interest rates right away but higher ones later if the economy improves as expected.

Undergraduates this fall would borrow at a 3.9 percent interest rate. Graduate students would have access to loans at 5.4 percent, and parents would borrow at 6.4 percent. The rates would be locked in for that year’s loan, but each year’s loan could be more expensive than the last. Rates would rise as the economy picks up and it becomes more expensive for the government to borrow money.

via Senate Approves Student Loan Deal : NPR.

Rates as high as 6.4% for parents who could undoubtedly get larger loans than their students who could borrow at 3.9%.

If you were saving for a child’s education you might have to sock away a bit more.

There are TONS of strategies for funding a child’s education – I hope that we can explore some of them on this blog — but your big call to action is to look at your plan. If you don’t have a plan, you need to get one (yes I’m even talking to those of you like me who would like kids, but don’t have them yet). But don’t go it alone — involve your student. You pick the age, but I will say that at a very young age I understood the connection between my academics and my opportunities to go to college. I don’t exaggerate when I tell you that I was thinking about this at 7 (which totally explains why two words that never describe me are “laid back” – I’ve always been a little “intense”). Maybe its not 7 for you and your family but, IMHO, 17 is probably too late.

Don’t forget to consider your retirement plan and emergency funds in the mix. You’ve got to take care of yourself too. I’m not a financial planner, just calling out some of the big pieces that you want to consider and evaluate.

Don’t freak — take a breath, get some information,  and get a plan.

Making the HR Connection, yours,

Millions of Americans Have Inadequate Means to Retire. Get the Retirement Facts.

Despite the Dow hitting all-time highs, millions of Americans still have a dismal outlook when it comes to their own ability to retire.

Consider these five statistics:

46% of Americans have less than $10,000 saved for retirement. (Employment Benefit Research Institute)

40% of baby boomers now plan to work until they die. (AARP)

36% of Americans say they don’t contribute anything at all to their savings. [CNBC]

87% of adults say they are not confident about having money for a comfortable retirement. (

Expected retirement age is up to 67 from age 63. (Zero Hedge)

via Millions of Americans Have Inadequate Means to Retire. Get the Retirement Facts..

Congrats Eva Longoria and the girls in STEM careers

Eva Longoria graduates, earns master’s degree in Chicano Studies from Cal State Northridge - NY Daily News

I think that this is a great story — here thesis was  “Success STEMS From Diversity: The Value of Latinas in STEM Careers,” STEM standing for science, technology, engineering and math.

What a timely and relevant topic — I know I’m always interested in how do we get more girls into the STEM careers.

I happen to work in a tech industry — AND — I have an undergraduate degree in a STEM field — yes I know, the ironies that I work in HR are not lost on me – but that’s a different blog post — so I think that this is an important topic for diversity, talent, and developing the youth of the future.

Way to go Eva! — plus OMG, LOVE those shoes (you can be academically accomplished AND still girlie and into fashion — girls need to know that its not one or the other)!
Making the HR connection — and totally wanting to go shoe shopping… yours, thegirlinhr!

Eva Longoria graduates, earns master’s degree in Chicano Studies from Cal State Northridge

After three years of studying, the ‘Desperate Housewives’ star graduated in a ceremony Wednesday night as her proud parents looked on.

The 38-year-old actress graduated Wednesday night from a Master’s program at California State University Northridge.

Postal workers worry about job security

There could be 22,500 jobs eliminated nationwide under the plan that the Postal Service says would save it $2 billion annually. The Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said he will not lay off any workers and accomplish the cuts by cutting overtime and part-time hours and offering buy outs to current employees.

First class mail, the most profitable product for the postal service, has fallen by a third since the peak in 2001 amid the rise of email and electronic banking. But the key culprit for the Postal Service’s financial woes has been a 2006 congressional mandate, under which it has to pre-fund healthcare benefits for future retirees. The USPS has been borrowing billions of dollars from taxpayers to make up for the shortfalls.

There could be 22,500 jobs eliminated nationwide under the plan that the Postal Service says would save it $2 billion annually. The Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said he will not lay off any workers and accomplish the cuts by cutting overtime and part-time hours and offering buy outs to current employees.

via Postal workers worry about job security – Feb. 6, 2013.