Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Internship Experience at Rebecca Taylor by Nicole Cruz

Ever walk out of an interview feeling defeated? That’s how I felt after I interviewed for the Buying Intern position at Rebecca Taylor, a luxury women’s clothing brand.

I had done my homework on the company and read up on the candidate requirements for the role days in advance. I felt confident and thought I would blow my interviewer away. But once I sat down and my interviewer started to ask me questions, things started to go south—or at least I thought so. She began asking me questions about retail math and Excel formulas that I had no understanding of. It became clear to me that I wasn’t exactly qualified for the position.

Much to my surprise, I got an email a few days later from HR offering me the internship.

My time with Rebecca Taylor has taught me so much about the fashion industry. I have learned the huge role that buying plays and how closely it is related to marketing and sales. In addition to the technical knowledge I have gained, I have also discovered a lot about myself as a professional. I learned that whenever I have a challenging project or am unsure of something, my time at Fordham has provided me with an answer. What do I mean by this? I mean that my Fordham education has taught me valuable life lessons that are applicable to any workplace. I have learned how to collaborate with others, how to analyze a situation or document, how to quickly learn new systems and skills, and how to come up with innovative solutions to problems that arise. All of these things I’ve learned at Fordham helped me to be a stand out intern, even though my technical experience was lacking at first. My supervisor has even asked me to stay on for the Spring semester!

By relying on the knowledge I’ve gained at Fordham, I was able to prove myself to my supervisor and show her that I can handle anything. I hope that all Fordham students can take my experience and apply it to their own lives. Never be scared to apply to a job where you’re lacking in technical qualifications. Rely on your experiences from Fordham and spin them in a way that will set you apart in an interview setting. A Fordham education will always give you a leg up in the working world, especially in NYC! Thanks to the chance my supervisor took bringing me on, I have been able to grow as a professional and I hope that you will all be given the same chance.

Information about Rebecca Taylor and other positions like this can be found here.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Bernie's Blog Week 14: Fordham Futures: Heroic Career Journeys Part I

"A billion hours ago, Homo Sapiens emerged
A billion minutes ago, Christianity began
A billion seconds ago, the IBM personal computer was released
A billion Google searches ago...was this morning."
Hal Varian, Google's Chief Economist

December 20, 2013
      Heroic journeys in the 21st century occur within a Google context - where Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. Google's mission looks to create an environment of purpose, freedom, and creativity that provides opportunities for heroic unguarded exploration and discovery. Laszlo Bock, who leads Google's people function, (which includes all areas related to the attraction, development, and retention of over 50,000 'Googlers' worldwide) states, in his groundbreaking inquiry into the philosophy of work: " Work Rules: Insights From Inside Google reminds the reader that: "Google's bursts of creation and accomplishment are a direct result of articulating their mission as something to keep reaching for, just beyond the frontiers of what they can imagine". This is an epic heroic challenge issued to all its employees from one of the premier organizations of your generation. The folks at Google understand that the most talented people on the planet seek a career aspiration that is also inspiring.
      'Googlers', as they call themselves, believe that they can never achieve their mission because there will always be more information to organize and more ways to make it useful. Google's mission is distinctive in its simplicity and what it doesn't talk about. There's no mention of profit or market. No mention of customers or users. No mention why this is their mission, or to what end they pursue these goals. Instead it's taken to be self-evident that organizing information and making it accessible and useful is a good thing.
      Everyone wants to work for Google, everyone wants Google to be part of their heroic career quest. Each year, Google receives more than 2 million employment applications, of which, they select several thousand each year. Google focuses on creating an environment where talented hard-working people are rewarded for their contributions to a mission that makes Google and the world a better place.
      During times of massive social and economic transformation, (when a billion Google searches occur before noon) the call for heroic action is constant. The heroes of the 21st century are individuals who can 'crystallize the chaos' as they craft their unique career stories. In the classic context, heroes become queens and kings; they utilize the power of their own inner resources; chase holy grails; or slay imposing dragons as they move from their subjective heroic perspective to a 'big picture' perspective that expands their spirits and their horizons within a rich communal dance of connectivity.
      No one has ever spoken more eloquently, or more effectively, about our communal connectivity than renowned mythologist and philosopher Joseph Campbell. He believed that the hero's journey, as told through global myth and metaphor, tell the story that we all make from the dependency of childhood to the autonomy of adulthood. Professor Campbell argued that there were just a few archetypical stories that serve as the foundations that underpin our global myths. Heroes are called to adventure, face a series of trials, become wiser, and then find some mastery or peace. As humans, we live through narrative , viewing history through a lens of stories that we tell ourselves. No wonder that we find common threads in the tapestries of one another's lives.
      Professor Campbell believed that we all have the potential to live out the hero's journey, and all you need to do is to take the first step and enter the unknown of self-awareness and self-knowledge. No mythologist or visionary of the 20th century embraced and celebrated the heroic journey more than Professor Campbell. He used metaphor and mythology as a way of making sense in a senseless world, where myths and stories serve as narrative patterns that clarify and give significance to our experience. Joseph Campbell understood that the imagery of mythology is symbolic of the spiritual powers within us. Myths do not come from a concept system; they come from a life system; they come out of a deeper center. According to Professor Campbell, "The myth does not point to a fact, the myth points beyond facts to something that informs the fact."
      Students always question: "How is it possible that the deeds of figures from stories told hundreds and thousands of years ago, in cultures distinct and distant, have some relevance in my life today ? I remind them that there are dragons to be slain and treasures to be gained in every life. Campbell identifies the motif of the hero's adventure as a map, an outline to follow, where each career traveler fills in the details and circumstances of their experiences.
      Professor Campbell challenges each of us to imagine an inspiring future of hope and promise, and to work to shape our futures, rather than passively waiting and watching our futures happen around us. I encourage you to aim high and focus on something greater than yourselves, while at the same time, attending to the specific details of your experience. In other words, cherish the importance and power of attending to the moment at hand, while always keeping the 'big picture' in perspective.
      History will show that in the long run, one of the most influential books of the 20th century may turn out to be Joseph Campbell's THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES. The text and the ideas inside have had a major impact on writing and story-telling, and most dramatically movie-making. Filmmakers like John Boorman, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Francis Coppola owe their successes in part to the ageless patterns that Campbell identifies in his work. He found that world myths were all basically the same story - retold endlessly in infinite variations. Campbell discovered that all story-telling, consciously or not, follows the ancient patterns of myth. All stories, from the crudest jokes to the highest form of literature, can be understood in terms of the hero myth.
      The theme of the hero is universal, occurring in every culture and in every time. It is as infinitely varied as the human race itself; and yet it's basic form remains the same. These are career journeys that possess an incredibly active set of elements and situations that come together through endless repetition from the deepest reaches of the mind of man.
      Professor Campbell's thinking runs parallel to Swiss psychologist Carl Jung's discovery of a shared human 'collective unconscious' which manifests itself in the constantly repeating characters that appear in the dreams of people and myths of all cultures. Characters that appeared as what Jung called 'archetypes'. Jung suggested that these archetypes serve as reflective aspects of the human mind, and that as we form our personalities we divide ourselves into these characters as we play out the drama of our lives.
      The repeating characters of Professor Campbell's hero myth such as the young hero, the wise old woman or man, the shape-shifting man or woman, and the shadowy antagonist are identical to the archetypes of the human mind as revealed in our dreams. Such stories serve as models of the workings of the human mind, true maps of our psyches. They are always psychologically valid and realistic even when they portray fantastic, impossible, unreal events.
      Stories built around the hero myth have an appeal that can be felt by everyone because they spring from the universal concerns of Jung's collective unconscious. These timeless stories deal with what appear to be child-like universal questions: Who am I ? Where did I come from ? Where will I go when I die ? What is good and what is evil ? What must I do about it ? What will tomorrow be like ? Is there anybody else out there ?
      Professor Campbell has created a mythological and metaphoric landscape and roadmap that has guided my work for the past three decades; as I searched for ways to bring Joseph Campbell's mind and wisdom into my career therapy sessions. As you focus on the heroic nature of your career journey, from the world of education to the world of work, you need to discover that your own heroic path begins with and is vested in your self-awareness and inner transformation. In other words, you need to continually tap into your abilities to reflect and learn from your experiences within an experiential context that enables you to receive, discover, and create new truths for yourself.
      The essence of all mythology is found in the theme of the visionary quest, the seeker follows her dream as she travels the journey of transformation. You live in a dramatic time of personal, professional, and societal transformation. You are actively engaged in moving from a self-identity, largely determined by your parents, extended family, teachers, coaches, and advisors, to a world where you are responsible to discover and actualize the value of your own independent experience, and how that independence contributes to the communal good.

"The heroic quest is about saying 'yes' to yourself and in so, becoming more fully alive and more effective in the world...The quest is replete with dangers and pitfalls, but it offers great rewards: the capacity to be successful in the world, knowledge of the mysteries of the human soul, and the opportunity to find and express your unique gifts in the world."
--Carol S. Pearson, Awakening the Heroes Within

      Professor Campbell and Carol Pearson bring to life this universal human story, told in virtually every culture, of a young person who leaves the security to venture into the world. Along the journey, the hero encounters challenges, discovers the meaning of the journey and returns home transformed. In the THE HERO with A THOUSAND FACES, Professor Campbell outlines the twelve stages of the heroic journey as it appears within the myths and legends of a wide range of world cultures, more about these stages in the next blog. Metaphoric stages that can provide you with a vivid and creative expanded awareness of the ever-present challenges you face in your quest to be the best you can be. Check next week's blog as the heroic journey is described.
      Every story-teller bends the myth to her or his own purpose. That's why the hero has a thousand faces:
The Stages of the Hero's Journey
  • Ordinary World
  • Call to Adventure
  • Refusal of the Call
  • Meeting with The Mentor
  • Crossing the Threshold
  • Tests, Allies, and Enemies
  • Approach to the Inmost Cave
  • The Ordeal
  • The Reward
  • The Road Back
  • Resurrection
  • Return with The Elixir

Monday, November 21, 2016

Bernie's Blog Week 13: Fordham Futures: Critical Thinking

December 18th 2006, Time magazine printed a special issue titled " How to Build a Student for the 21st Century". Time editors declared that to be effective in the 21st century students must think their way through abstract problems, be able to work in teams, recognize good information from bad, be multilingual, and globally sensitive.
In addition students must...
- be critical thinkers
- be problem solvers
- be innovators
- be effective communicators
- be self-directed learners
- be information and media literate
- be globally aware
- be civically engaged
- be financial and economically literate.

      Critical thinking dates back to the days of Socrates [470-399 BC]. The Socratic method focuses on asking the student thought provoking questions. Through questions and answers the teacher guides the student through a critical thinking experience. A process that allows you to examine your beliefs for the purpose of enhancing your understanding and problem-solving abilities.
      A skilled Socratic teacher guides the student's thought process through proper questioning, assisting you in critically evaluating and restructuring your beliefs and knowledge, as you build your confidence and your curiosity. Two elements essential to becoming a critical thinker. Critical thinking can only happen for you if you are motivated and challenged to engage in higher-level thought.
      Critical thinking has its genesis in a rational, logical, and philosophical cognitive thought process that can be taught and studied. Metaphysics and epistemology are the two branches of philosophy that inform and inspire the critical thinking involved in your internal and external career conversations.
      Career metaphysics will assist you in understanding the big pictures that connect your own creative career exploration with the connectivity of a highly complex and competitive world of work. You need to remember that all 'career metaphysicists' share two foundational psychological predispositions: first, a passion for unity, and second, a belief in the hidden harmony of the universe. Career epistemology serves as your unique perspective as you look to discover " you know what you know", an invaluable awareness in an economy where you will be thinking for a living.
      Critical thinking is driven by your desire for knowledge acquisition and action. You observe, experience, reflect, reason, and communicate a process that actively and skillfully conceptualizes, applies, analyzes, synthesizes, and evaluates information and knowledge. Critical thinking is the art of cognitively bringing together the content and context; the theory and the practice; and the action and the reflection.
      Critical thinking needs to be experiential and surrounded by feedback in a quest for understanding how things work and how systems can be improved. A critical thinker takes the time and effort to learn from your experiences. Reflection is an important tool in your critical thinker's cognitive repertoire. Some of the benefits of critical thinking include the promotion of creativity, the better expression of ideas, an enhanced ability in self-reflection, and the cultivation of flexible intellectual skills that you can apply to different areas of your life.
      Professor Peter Facione of the American Philosophical Association led a research group of forty-six experts, from the fields of humanities, physical sciences, social sciences, and education, in determining core critical thinking skills. The experts concluded that there were six core critical thinking skills:
  • Inference: To identify and secure elements needed to draw reasonable conclusions; to form conjectures and hypotheses; to consider relevant information; as well as, the consequences flowing from data, statements, principles, evidence, judgments, beliefs, opinions, concepts, descriptions, questions, or other forms of representation.
  • Explanation: To state the results of one's reasoning, to justify that reasoning in terms of the evidence, conceptual, methodological, criteria, and contextual considerations upon which one's results were based, and to present one's reasoning in the form of cogent arguments.
  • Evaluation: To assess the creditability of statements or other representations which are accounts or descriptions of a person's perspective, experience, situational judgment, belief, or opinion, and to assess the logical strength of the actual or intended inferential relationships among statements, descriptions, questions, or other forms of representation.
  • Self-Regulation: Self-consciously to monitor one's cognitive activities, the elements used in those activities, and the results facilitated, particularly by applying skills in analysis and evaluation to one's own inferential judgments, with a view toward questioning, validating, or correcting either one's reasoning or one's results.
  • Interpretation: To comprehend and express the meaning or significance of a wide variety of experiences, situations, data, events, judgments, connections, beliefs, rules, procedures, or criteria.
  • Analysis: To identify the intended and actual inferential relationships among statements, questions, concepts, descriptions, or other forms of representation intended to express belief, judgment, experiences, reasons, information, or opinions.
      Critical thinking is not an isolated goal unrelated to other important goals in education. Rather it is a seminal goal which when done well facilitates a wide spectrum of possibilities and opportunities. It is best conceived as a cognitive epicenter around which all other educational questions and answers gather.
      As you learn to think more critically you become more proficient at historical, scientific, and mathematical thinking. You will develop skills, abilities, and values crucial to success in everyday life. As you realize and actualize your critical thinking, you will begin to understand that your career is created by your own choices. Also, you will discover that your career will emerge from a personal restless curiosity that focuses on the interplay and the integration of your experience within the context of the world of work.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Bernie's Blog Week 12: Fordham Futures: Listening

     From the Latin, ob audine to listen means to reach out. Therefore, to listen is a response to some outer stimulation to your senses which integrates this new information within the parameters of your inner world. You need to listen in order to be aware of your experience. Listening is very rarely taught in your classes, you sometimes take it for granted as an ability that develops in a unique personal fashion. There is nothing natural about listening, it is an ability that needs to be nurtured and exercised. How you listen to the world around you is as original as your fingerprints.
      During the first ten years of your life you were engaged in a continuous dance between your inner world and the outer world that surrounds your experience. Your senses connect you everything you encounter. As adults, you later learn the skills of centering and focusing, however, as a child you extend and reach out into the world around you with a rhythmic process of experimentation. Consequently, you need to develop the art of being able to observe your abilities to respond to tone, rhythm, movement, music, and language.
      As you enhance your listening abilities you expand the boundaries of your abilities to expand your learning potential. Attentive, effective, and profound listening skills will truly empower your lifelong learning abilities. Your journey from listening to lifelong learning begins with the attainment and development of attentive listening skills and the creation of inner speech and inner listening. Every aspect of your life offers you with the opportunity to listen and learn in an endless journey of discovery and celebration.
      As you listen you are responding, and the first voice you hear is your own inner speech. Inner speech is an internal process through which you hear yourself think and listen, which enables you to use language to regulate your behavior, your reasoning, and your high level cognitive thought process. As your inner voice emerges, it gains strength and clarity building a bridge between your inner and outer worlds. Action, reflection, and reasoning become lifelong experiences of living and learning.
      You need to develop a continuous intention toward your attention. You need to have confidence in your concentration and concentration in your confidence. You need to empower your attentive listening, or risk the possibility that knowledge will become only logical facts.
      Albert Einstein believed, "Knowledge is experience; everything else is just information." Einstein was not a good student in school. At age fifteen, he left school with poor grades in history, english, and geography. For Einstein, the most important classroom was the world in which he lived. There he explored, listened, and experienced his discovery of new connections and paradigms. Einstein lived by three simple rules of work: "Out of clutter, find simplicity." "From discord, find harmony." And, "In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity."
      You listen more attentively when you feel that topical information creates meaning. Attentive listening naturally effects changes within your mind-body relationship. You listen with more attention when you feel that a change will be effected and that you are in some way responsible for the change.
      The intention and focus you hold in learning determines whether you are listening or merely hearing. When you listen only with the intention of being able to replay information for a test you may only hear and register the words. When you listen with the intention of effecting curiosity and discovery, or utilizing information in a creative process, you listen with insight, empowerment, and engagement. The more senses you use the deeper the listening the greater the learning.
      Inner listening plays a critical role in your creative understanding of preparation, illumination, and actualization of your experience. Your experience of inner listening regularly provides you with a sense of joy and accomplishment. Your personal discoveries inspire a contagious appreciation of learning that leads to more learning.
Attentive inner listening can be practiced in any aspect of learning and living: math problems, poetry, painting, music, historical events, and athletic experiences. All these activities can be engaged and listened to with your senses, your mind, your body, and your emotions.
      Attentive listening plays a critical role in preparing for and participating in information gathering, networking, and employment interviews. Listening to yourself and others enables, empowers, and informs your ability to fill the space that exists between performance and the description of performance. Prior to your interview, you need to specifically prepare yourself to be able to describe how your skills and abilities potentially fill the needs of a particular employer. Your assignment as an interviewee is to develop an active interview dialogue that builds an equality of communication between both interviewer and interviewee.
      In order to effectively prepare for your interview experiences you need to listen, first to your self, then to others, and finally to the world in which you live and work. However, before you can learn to listen you need to know what gets in the way of your listening. In order to understand what gets in the way of your listening, you need to pay attention to your senses. Your senses are constantly taking in information, twenty-four seven, three hundred and sixty-five days a year. As you manage this constant flow of information, and in an effort to keep yourself sane, you delete, distort, and generalize this information in order to make sense of your world.
      Failure to effectively manage this mountain of sensory effects you life on many cognitive, emotional, psychological, spiritual, and physical levels. For the past three decades, I have been utilizing and adapting the work of Matthew McKay, Martha Davis, and Patrick Fanning in teaching Fordham students about 'Blocks to Listening' as described in their text: Messages: The Communications Book.

Blocks to Listening:

  1. Comparing - makes it hard to listen because you're always trying to assess who is smarter, more competent, more emotionally healthy - you or the other. While someone is talking, you think to yourself: 'Could I do it that well? You can't let much in because you're too busy seeing if you measure up.
  2. Mind Reading - the mind reader doesn't pay much attention to what people say. Your trying to figure out what the other person is really thinking and feeling. The mind reader pays less attention to words than to intonations and subtle cues in an effort to see the truth. If you are a mind reader you probably make assumptions about how people react to you. These notions are born of intuition, hunches, and vague misgivings, and have little to do with what the person actually says to you.
  3. Rehearsing - you don't have time to listen when your rehearsing what to say. Your whole attention is on the preparation and crafting of your next comment. You may look interested, and your mind is going a mile a minute because you have a story to tell, or a point to make.
  4. Filtering - when you filter, you listen to some things and not others. You filter your listening to see if somebody's angry, or unhappy, or if you are in danger. Once assured that the communication contains none of those things, you let your mind wander. Another way people filter is simply to avoid hearing certain things - particularly anything threatening, negative, critical, or unpleasant. It's as if the words were never said, you simply have no memory of them.
  5. Judging - if you prejudge someone, you don't pay much attention to what they are saying. You've already written them off, as negative labels have enormous power. A basic rule of listening is that judgments should only be made after you have heard and evaluated the content of the message.
  6. Dreaming - you find yourself only half-listening, and something the person says suddenly triggers a chain of private associations. You are more prone to dreaming when you feel bored or anxious. Everybody dreams, and sometimes it takes great focus to stay tuned in. And if you dream a lot with certain people, it may indicate a lack of commitment to knowing and appreciating them. At the very least, it's a message that you don't value what they have to say very much.
  7. Identifying - is all about you taking everything a person tells you and you refer and relate it back to your experience. Everything you hear reminds you of something that you've experienced before. Consequently, you launch into your story before they finish theirs. In this block, you are so busy with the stories of your life that there's no time to really hear or get to connect with the other person.
  8. Advising - you view yourself as a great problem-solver always ready to help with insight and suggestions. Consequently, you believe that you don't have to hear more than a few sentences before you begin to search for the correct advice. However, while you are thinking about possible responses you may miss what's most important. You can miss the feelings and emotions associated with the stated problem or situation, thereby, ignoring the speaker because you wouldn't listen and just be there for the other.
  9. Sparring - this block is all about arguing and debating with other people. The other person never feels heard because you are so quick to disagree. Actually, a lot of your focus is on finding things to disagree with. You take strong stands and are very clear about your beliefs and preferences. The way to avoid sparring is to repeat back and acknowledge what you've heard. Look for one thing you might agree with.
  10. Being Right - means you will go to any lengths [twist the facts, start shouting, making excuses or accusations] to avoid being wrong. You can't listen to criticism, you can't be corrected, and you refuse to take suggestions to change. Your convictions are unshakable. And since you won't acknowledge that your mistakes are mistakes, you continue to make them.
  11. Derailing - this listening block is realized by suddenly changing the subject. You derail the train of conversation when you get bored or uncomfortable with a topic. Humor is another way of derailing by joking it off. This means that you continually respond to whatever is said with a joke in order to avoid what you perceive as anxiety by seriously listening to the other person.
  12. Placating - "Right...Right...Absolutely ... I know...Of course you are...Incredible...Yes...Really?" You want to be nice, pleasant, and supportive. You want people to like you. So you agree with everything. You may half-listen, just enough to get the drift, and you're not really involved. You are placating rather than paying attention and examining what's being said.