Friday, December 19, 2008

Should students want stability?

I taught a third year class to administration majors, the majority of whom wanted to work in the civil service. A large part of the class involved job interview questions, a bit challenging for my students and of questionable value, but the answers, at least to me, were interesting.

One answer, in fact. The question was, Why do you want to work here? It is, as those who have studied interview questions, a trick.

My students answered the question honestly, in acceptable English, and terribly. The overwhelming majority said, almost verbatim, A government job is stable and safe. I want stability.

Again, the English is fine, the question is correctly answered, but the answer is job-killing.

An old man like me, with a young child and serious responsibilities might reasonably want stability and maybe, might mention this in a job interview, but probably not.

A young person, with energy and few responsibilities, should take chances, should want to make changes, even.

It is the make changes part that interests me and that I feel should charge youth with energy. Obama and his movement are one thing, an American thing, but most youth, I thought, have some political fire. Those wanting to work in the government should especially want to not merely work, but be involved.

I am now going to make a connection that solely exists in my mind, in stereotypes. I dont think that my students are now interested in or ever will be interested in bribes or corruption, but I see so clearly a relationship between working in government without desire and sampling helping oneself, in taking the bribes, in asking for bribes.

Here are two articles old and I hope the links work about corruption in Korea.

From the Herald:

According to the survey, 50.5 percent of respondents said Korean civil servants are corrupt, whereas only 17.5 percent described them as free of corruption. The perception worsened from last year, when only 45.5 percent answered that Korean government workers are corrupt.

The foreigners' corruption index lowered to 4.05 from last week's 4.16. The index scores are out of 10, with zero being the most corrupt.

And the Korea Times (probably reporting on the same study):

Foreign professionals also gave low marks for the governance of Korean companies ― 40 percent said local companies' governance level remains ``low.'' More than 20 percent said the local business environment still favors chaebol over small- and medium-sized companies, while 25 percent argued conglomerates need to further clean up their ``cozy'' relationship with government officials. About 20 percent also criticized the lack of transparent accounting practices and said the chaebol management structure needs further reform.

They offered up several possible explanations for the corruption problems ― 35 percent argued that the local culture tolerates corruption behavior; others said administrative rules and practices encourage such behavior. Some also cited the legal system, which they described as being lenient toward those charged with corruption.

Oh, I noticed that I called the "Why do you want to work here?" question a trick. The answer should have, and I had trouble explaining this to my students, information about the company looking to hire. "I want to work here because I really like the way your organization does this, works on that, has XXX mission statement, etc." The applicant should research the place s/he wants to work. The applicant should also make a connection between him/herself and 'work on that', 'XXX mission statement' and the like. Anyway, again, statements that sound like, "I want to move into a cubicle and never leave it." should be avoided.

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