Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do. : Oscar Wilde

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Compassion Fatigue: Even in the Strongest

I have no idea how work in career development might rank as a potential source of stress that would lead to compassion fatigue. On the other hand, I would expect that some individuals would have rendered themselves almost immune to it as a result of long and successful practice and of learning ways of coping.

Apparently not.

Here's an account of some of the experience of Dr John Bradford a psychiatrist who lived with some of the aftermath of the gruesome activities of Air Force Colonel Russell Williams. It's worth being kept aware that we are all built to feel.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Study Advice from Top Students

Someone on has asked:

"How do top students study?
"If you went to or are going to a top school like MIT, Harvard, Columbia, IIT, Berkeley, Stanford, Cornell, Caltech, Princeton, Yale, Brown, what is your studying method?"

There are about 41 responses so far. Some of the responses contradict each other, and I would not be able to follow some of the advice that is offered myself. But maybe you're a student and could use at least some of it.

Here. (You might need to join quora, which is easy.)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Doreen Kimura, On Ada Lovelace Day

This is the day in the calendar year when one is supposed to write about a women in a STEM occupation whose contributions one admires—a woman who does or has done something admirable somewhere in Science, Technology, Mathematics, Engineering or Mathematics. The day is named for the first woman to write computer code, Ada Lovelace.

I'm going to write a tiny bit about Doreen Kimura who was a professor and neuroscientist at Simon Fraser University. She died in February at the age of about 80. Some of her research had to do with how cognitive abilities differed between the sexes. When I read about research like that I usually think how little it matters for individuals. Simply put, there's overlap in every ability between the sexes.

However, at least in the articles I've read about her on the 'net, Kimura is resolutely forthright and honest. She opposed affirmative action. In her wikipedia article it says that she thought this demeaning to women. In the article on I understand her to say that forcing people into unsuitable careers can make them miserable. (And career developers could hardly disagree.)

So, Kimura found differences but didn't think that this meant that society should try to make up the difference—or something like that!

I cannot say that I admire Kimura for the results of her research. I really don't care whether men are better at dealing with mathematics and three-dimensional shapes, or whether women are better at spatial arrangements for that matter. I have enjoyed reading about someone who seems to separate issues clearly and to speak their mind about them. (I would like people to have the freedom and the resources to pursue possibilities of their choosing.)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

OECD International Survey of Skills

If Canada is to do more than install machinery made in other OECD countries, drive cars made in other OECD countries or ship petroleum that we dig out of the ground in Alberta then we will need to do better by our own people. Here's a glimpse of how we stand in comparison with the other OECD countries. It includes OECD opinions favouring the provision of counselling and good information about career opportunities. Wouldn't that be nice?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Selecting a University? (MBA Schools)

This time from The Economist magazine, their opinion of the best 100.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Improving Your Mind Reading

David Kidd and Emanuele Castano of the New School for Social Research have evidence that reading literary fiction (not pop fiction and not nonfiction) can improve our ability to understand others by exercising our intellectual engagement and creative thought. See Reading Literary Fiction Improves 'Mind-Reading' Skills for an introduction.

Selecting a University? (Item II)

This time it's The Times Higher Education Rankings. There are rankings by continent and by subject area as well as of the world's top 100. Definitely of interest.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Selecting a University?

It's almost certainly too late to do so this year. I'm only prompted to mention this topic by the appearance of an item from The Guardian newspaper: The world's top 100 universities 2013 - the full list.

Five universities from Canada appear, with the rankings indicated:
17 University of Toronto
21 McGill University
49 University of British Columbia
92 Université de Montréal
96 University of Alberta

The top rankings went to MIT, Harvard and Cambridge.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Yesterday Mindset, Today This

I had the distinct feeling that Dweck is right about one source of my difficulties with so-called higher education. But how sure can one be that Dweck's interventions are effective? Here's a credible article that calls much of current psychological research into question.

Placebo Effects: Psychology’s Fundamental Flaw? Why active controls are not enough

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Mindset: How Many of Us Defeat Ourselves

This speaker could have been talking about me.

I am one of those many millions of people who somehow grew up thinking that if I had to work hard at university it would prove that I was not intelligent enough to justify my being there. This kind of thinking is not only weird, it's fatal as far as academic success is concerned.

The speaker in this video, Professor Carol Dweck of Stanford, describes the results of some of her numerous studies of this pattern of thinking and what can be done about it—and perhaps more importantly what can be done to prevent inculcating it in our children.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Ending: My 'Jobs for Career Developers' Listing

I have been using the facilities of Scraperwiki to glean job advertisements from various sites and to list them for people in career development and related occupations. Until now these facilities have been free of charge to use. Scraperwiki have just announced service upgrades together with charges for their services; they will also withdraw the free services I have been using at some time in September. Since I have no revenues to cover my costs I will be withdrawing the job listing whenever Scraperwiki withdraws their free services.

I hope it has been of use to some.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Friday, June 14, 2013

Computing & Big Enterprises

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned the availability of an upcoming, free course, at Doubts About How Exciting Math & Computing Can Be? It's about discrete optimisation. Today, as a bit of a co-incidence I noticed an article about an application of these methods: The astronomical maths behind UPS' new tool to deliver packages faster. It shows how important these applications are.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Social Context of Mental Health and Illness

Free and on-line from coursera, by a senior Canadian university instructor and researcher. Thus, likely to be of value to career developers, given that we inevitably work with difficulties relating to mental health.

"Learn how social factors promote mental health, influence the onset and course of mental illness, and affect how mental illnesses are diagnosed and treated."

Led by Professor Charmaine Williams: The Social Context of Mental Health and Wellness.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

On Payoff from Career Investment

Almost all of us could pursue any of a variety of occupations with similar levels of enjoyment and satisfaction. There is no single occupation or job that is exactly 'right' for you or me. Whether we are aware of it or not, we choose from a set of alternatives. In fact, part of a career developer's job is to help clients simply become more conscious of the career choices they are making.

It's natural to ask, "Which alternative will afford the best payoff?" Canadian economist Professor Frances Woolley offers some interesting advice right in the first couple of paragraphs of Men, women, and law school tuition.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Doubts About How Exciting Math & Computing Can Be?

Then you must watch this. This is an introduction to a free course that Professor Pascal Van Hentenryck is offering on Coursera: Discrete Optimization.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Jobs Listing for Career Developers

I have just made some corrections, so that it's running again. Feel free to tell me when the thing is not working. Here's the link: Jobs for Career Developers.

I'm still unable to scrape entries from the Charity Village site using the method software system I'm using for the other sites.

Women Undervalue Themselves

Curiously even the lead author of this study was surprised to find that the results apply to her: read Study: women undervalue themselves when working with men. And I know very well that men undervalue the contributions of women too.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Transferrable Skills

Career developers often work with clients to elicit lists of marketable transferable skills. These are skills that the client has developed in one setting—not necessarily in a job—that would be useful to an employer in a different setting. Many jobs can be done by applying clusters of transferable skills right from 'day one' of the job, without significant initial training.

Here's someone who may have transferred skills as a magician to an occupation that appears quite different.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

To Succeed Remember When You Were Powerful

Asking people to remember a time when they were powerful enhances their appeal in interviews.

See "Wear a Feeling of Power" in WSJ's Week in Ideas for a little bit more and a pointer to the original research paper.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Emotional Intelligence Important for Dentist Success

Makes sense, doesn't it? See Emotional Intelligence Trumps IQ in Dentist-Patient Relationship in Science News.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Market for PhDs in Economics

Professor Frances Woolley of Carleton University offers some useful information and advice for people considering the advanced degree in economics, in The (slowly) changing face of Ontario economics departments.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

BBC Woman's Hour: Women in Math

Starting at the 6:50 point in this BBC "Woman's Hour" podcast, "Professor Gwyneth Stallard and Dr Eugenia Cheng on why there aren't more female Maths Professors".

As far as I'm concerned this is not just about why there aren't more women mathematics faculty, it touches on the vital issue of providing the proper support for people in society.

WHNews: 16Apr13: Measles; Women in Maths; Power Politics Marriage

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Learning styles: myth

Those of us who took our training at certain schools got this as gospel. This is not the first time I've read that there is no basis to this idea; time to register the point on this blog.

The myth of learning styles

If you want to be happy ...

If you want to be happy for the rest of your life ... at work anyway. First of all, you might watch this.

Professor Ariely's recommendations seem to be meant mainly for managers and supervisors, yet it's obvious that the human needs he has investigated have importance for those of us who work for others too. If you want to be happy and successful at work then you must try to identify someone to work for who will have the sense to acknowledge what you do for them. Your own 'passion' for what you do might not be enough to sustain you.

What can you do?

  • When you're in a job interview ask the person who will be your likely supervisor what she does when people finish tasks and projects.
  • You should be asking for an opportunity to meet future colleagues. (Be wary if prospective employers are unwilling to do this in a second interview.) Ask them what happens when they finish tasks and projects. Ask them how they are likely to feel about starting the next project.
I can't offer you scientific evidence for this advice at this point but you might get some worthwhile feedback, even if it is somewhat guarded.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Did Canadian Employment Rise by 51,000?

In February, as reported by Statistics Canada?

No-one really knows, eh? For several reasons, amongst them the following: It would cost too much to poll all Canadians for information about their employment statuses, and each person's employment status is more or less fluid. Consequently, StatsCan draws a sample of Canadians, asks them about their employment situations at some point in time and then applies statistical methods to estimate the overall population figures. Since a sample can never exactly represent a whole population (even allowing for the care that StatsCan exercises) there is inevitably some statistical error in these estimates.

If you peer carefully at the StatsCan report for February you will find that they say that there is, in some sense, a probability of 0.95 that the actual employment rise in February was between -6,400 and 108,400. In other words, it's possible that there could have been a small loss in employment or a more substantial gain.

I read this here first.

Monday, March 4, 2013

University Course of Likely Interest to Careers People

It's being delivered under the auspices of, and it's free. I've just watched the video segments that constitute the first lecture by Professor Mitch Green of the University of Virginia, and I'm very excited. I think many career developers might agree that this will turn out to be a very interesting and useful course for people in our field. It just started today so there's no catching up to do if you're interested.

"An investigation of the nature and limits of self-knowledge from the viewpoints of philosophy, psychoanalysis, experimental psychology, neuroscience, aesthetics, and Buddhism.  Readings are drawn from classical Western, non-Western, and contemporary sources."

Most of us get it wrong.

Do take a look: Know Thyself.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

It's a Wonder I've Ever Learned Anything

... because I've tended to depend on re-reading texts and summarising when it comes to many subjects. Apparently there are much more efficient methods to use that can save the learner time and provide better results. Needless to say, in wandering along almost any career path nowadays it's practically inevitable that some learning will be involved. Best to do it as well and easily as possible.

Here's a nice article about how learning techniques stack up.