Day…I forget.Post Employment Era.

Available for work

I know I typically start these posts with the number of days I have been post employed, but I have now lost count.  Probably about after the 60th day mark, I just kind of gave up on counting.  That is mostly because, not in a million years would I have even imagined that it would take me this long to land a job.  I just assumed that since there are jobs out there, and I am educated and experienced, that I would just easily slide into one of them.  Well, even in this “employee” market, I got nothing.  I am not bitter, or giving up by any means.  I just need a break.  Job hunting is consuming too much of my mental space.  I need to live a little and enjoy my freedom for a while.

Job hunting do to list

So after applying for more than a 100 jobs and talking about myself more than I ever have, in my entire life, I am taking a much needed hiatus.  I have some irons in the fire, and I will continue to work those leads, but I am no longer going to actively pursue jobs.  Not forever, just through the end of  year.  I will start my hunt again in January.

Write write write - PHD humor

Also, I am currently a full-time PhD student pursing what is deemed a terminal degree for a reason.  I’m thinking they call it that because if the dissertation process doesn’t kill you, the review process surly will! So, my new title is full-time student.  I am going to stay active by volunteering around the city and baking cookies with my grandkids.  Who knows, I might be able to parlay that into an actual career.

I really need to give a shout out to all of my wonderful supportive friends and family.  Without them I would be so lost. Please don’t stop supporting me.  And if you see that perfect fit job for me, by all means, still send it my way.  I will apply and give it my best shot.  Thank you all!

 

 

I am the American Dream.

When I was a little girl I always thought that All-American or the Girl Next Door equaled White.  It never occurred to me that it could be me.  Growing up in the 70s, there were very few Black images that represented American culture.  There were Black images that I didn’t relate to and that the media wouldn’t categorize as living the American dream.

Good Times

I saw images of Good Times, a family living in the projects, and struggling financially.  I happened to have loved the show, because the family had two Black parents, just like I did.  But because they were depicted as over-exaggerated characters, it was just entertainment to me.  I never equated those images with the American dream.  James and Florida, working together doing the best that they could to provide for their children, just like my parents, wasn’t what I perceived the American dream to be. To be fair, I was a child, and I thought like a child.  My rationale, at the time was colored by a White lens.  I lived in a little country town in Minnesota.  All my friends were White.  All my neighbors were White.  Most of T.V. was White.  White perspectives were superimposed into my brain.  American meant White.  So, the dream was also White.

Baby CassNow let me be clear, I never, ever wanted to be White. I liked my skin. I always liked being different. I remember in the 3rd grade wearing a big puffy pink skirt to school, just on a random non-important day.  This little chocolate girl, who stood out anyway, was the focus of so many more comments that day.  My mother gave me that confidence, she always made sure I wore the best outfits.  They weren’t expensive but they looked good.  AND, she would let me wear whatever I wanted.  She told me “you are going to be different anyway, might as well look good!”  I loved expressing myself with clothes.  This is because my hair wasn’t like their hair.  My nose wasn’t like their noses. My lips weren’t like their lips. My clothes could be like theirs, but I didn’t want them to be.  Since I couldn’t be All-American or the Girl Next Door, I was going to be me, to the 10th power.

The Mary Tyler Moore ShowAt some point, I started watching Mary Tyler Moore, and I started thinking differently.  Mary Tyler Moore was classified as an All-American girl next door, that broke barriers by staying single, living on her own in an apartment, and working full-time.  She spoke her mind.  At times she put her boss in his place.  I wanted to be like that.  I wanted to be Mary Tyler Moore.  Ironically, I desperately wanted to live an apartment, (something that I still have never done).  I wanted the American dream that I saw on screen, created by a White woman.  She wasn’t a housewife.  She didn’t bake cookies.  She didn’t have a husband.  She had a career.

CDB UpcloseNow, 30 years later, with a much clearer lens.  Living in Milwaukee, with Black people making up more than 42% of the population, I see the American dream differently. While, it may have taken a White woman to get me to see that I could be apart of the American dream, it was my Black parents that brought me back to Milwaukee for it to be fulfilled. I now see that James and Florida were the epitome of the American dream as well.  The American dream isn’t about color.  Or circumstance.  The American dream simply is the freedom to create a life for yourself and your children, even if it is already good.  James and Florida did that.

There wasn’t anything extravagant about Mary Tyler Moore’s life either.  It wasn’t about that.  It was about freedom.  It was about living outside of barriers.  I am not a journalist working in Minneapolis.  I don’t live in an apartment. But I am the girl next door.  A brown girl, in Milwaukee.  Living with her kids, and her grand kids.  Working on finding her next career move.  Freely, expressing herself.  Living beyond the barriers.  I am the American dream.

 

Day 14. The Post-Employment Era.

Available for work

The best thing about not working, is not working. I like the freedom. I like the flexibility to go to Starbucks and have random conversations with strangers.

The other day, I met Ken and Sam.  Ken is really super opposed to Corporate America. A business owner that doesn’t care for much other than making money.  I am of course exaggerating. I am sure he cares about something else.  His advice to me however, revolved around making money.  Enter Sam.

Sam is an older guy, who spent 50 years in various jobs.  He said that every time he got bored with a job, he switched jobs. Like major career changes. Although he is 70, he sounds like a millennial. He cautioned me to find my passion.  He told me his only regret was that he didn’t pick one career and stick with it. (Umm…note to millennials.)

It was nice talking to them. Two people offering help that didn’t know the history of why I was unemployed.  And frankly didn’t care to know.   They simply just wanted to help. AND, by the way, they weren’t flirty.  We didn’t exchange numbers or emails. They weren’t condescending.  Sometimes men give women advice from a protector’s standpoint. They didn’t do that.  It was just a conversation. Simple as that.

FreedomI am truly going to miss the freedom to have the opportunity to meet people like this. Randomly.  At Starbucks. At 10 am on a Tuesday.

By the way, I am still actively looking for employment.  If you have a job you don’t need, I could use one.

Day Seven, The Post Employment Era.

Available for workUnemployed just sounds so negative, which is why I have decided that post-employment better describes my current situation.  In any case, today marks 7 days that I have been job-free. (Haha, can you tell I am somewhat of a Pollyanna?)  I must say it is quite different from what I thought it would be.

First of all, it isn’t as relaxing and freeing as I thought.  I like to work.  Actually, I LOVE working. So not working is weird, to say the least.  I have decided to “work” at least 8 hours per day. 4 hours of job hunting and 4 hours of schoolwork.  That at least makes me feel like I am an active part of society.  (Side note: This comes directly from my childhood and the fact that my dad believed every day, everyone needed to get up and do something. Funny how kids remember things that parents don’t, I am sure he doesn’t recall ever telling me this.)

Good friends

Second, I have had so many supportive amazing people offer their assistance. From friends of friend to relatives, everyone is willing to help in any way possible. I am a people person and have always believed in the good of people.  This is yet another example of how truly blessed I am, and how truly great people really are.   I have thee best friends, and friends of friends.

Third, filling out applications SUCKS. Now, I know that isn’t a positive statement. But it is honestly the truth of truths. I spent 2 hours filling out a 12 question pre-qualification questionnaire for a job where I met every single qualification, that I will probably never hear back from.

 

Job hunt pic

Fourth, I have talked about myself more in the last week than I have in my entire life. I do love me. BUT, I wish I could pre-record the reasons I am job-free and that you should hire me.  By the way, I am great, you should totally hire me.

getting things done

Lastly, I am enjoying the flexibility to get other things done. For example, on Tuesday I wrote a 5-page paper regarding my dissertation topic, created an Excel spreadsheet to track the jobs I apply to, applied for 6 jobs, did 2 loads of laundry, went grocery shopping, cleaned the basement, created the bomb Kirk Franklin playlist on Amazon and caught up on all of the House Hunting episodes I had recorded. Whew. That was a productive day.

Overall, the week hasn’t been so bad. I have had two in-person interviews, a few phone screens, and more are scheduled.  I know this post-employment era is fleeting and I am going to try not to be so fixated on my joblessness, but instead enjoy my time to be free. Trying.

Day one, post-employment…

Available for work

Today is the first day in over 20 years that I haven’t had a job. I am a girl that likes to work. So much so that even when I’ve switched jobs, I would end one on a Friday and start the new one on a Monday.  Seriously, I barely take vacation time because I actually like to work.  So this worker bee is now in a place that she hasn’t been in quite some time. I’m documenting my journey, here’s hoping that this is my last post because I will have a job tomorrow.

Day one post-employment. 8.16.17

On my first unofficial day of unemployment (Tuesday), I spent 13 full hours submitting to job applications. YES, you read that correctly, 13 hours!  Guess what? I still don’t have a job today. So frustrating.

Okay, so now here we are, day one of my official first day post-employment.

6:40 AM: Time to prayI started my day with prayer. I am a praying woman, but I don’t typically start with prayer as soon as I open my eyes. Today I did. I asked the Lord to grant me peace, to guide my steps. I asked that I find a job that that would fulfill my passion AND financial obligations.  I told Him what He already knows, that I am trusting Him in utter faith to take me to the next point in my career. Well my friends, you might not believe what I believe, but I had such a feeling of peace and joy come over me that I had to smile. He’s got this. I’ve got this. Now don’t get me wrong faith without work, is that of a fool. I’m no fool.  So I am working, full-time to find a new job.

7:35 AM: Advisory Board meeting. Today the meeting seemed so much more crowded. All these people with full-time jobs making decisions that would impact other people.  Talking about how to help students succeed, in life, in college and at work. The whole time I was thinking, I wonder if Susie got my email with my resume? Or wait, I need to update my resume to say that I did this. Hmm, did I remember to get my favorite coffee mug off of my desk?  Then snap, someone mentioned my name. Dang, what did they say? I nodded and smiled. I guess that worked because they went onto the next topic. But I did snap out of it long enough to actually add some useful information to the conversation. Finally, the meeting was over. The board president and I discussed my lack of employment, he asked me to send my resume.

9:00 AM: At the local coffee shop. I start making a to-do-list…

  1. Get a job.
  2. Go to see the doctor.
  3. Make an eye appointment.
  4. Make a dentist appointment.
  5. Clean the garage. This has been on my list since May.
  6. Clean the basement. This has been on my list since January.
  7. Clean the kitchen cabinets.
  8. Call my credit companies. I heard that this is the perfect to negotiate.
  9. Do my homework. Oh yea, that’s right, I’m working on my PhD. I almost forgot.
  10. Email Joe.
  11. Email Brandie.
  12. Email Wade.
  13. Look up Account Management jobs.

5:00 PM: I finished my homework. I emailed Joe, Brandie and Wade. I still don’t have a job and my garage, basement and kitchen cabinets are still a mess! Oh plus my teeth still need cleaning and my glasses adjusted. Basically, the only thing I really accomplished was my homework.

8:00 PM: I still don’t have a job. But I have made process, I wrote this blog post.

So that was the summary of my first official day, post-employment.  I hope you get my sarcasm and painfully accurate depiction of humor regarding a subject that is absolutely not funny.

By the way, if you have an extra job laying around that you aren’t using, I could use one.  Seriously, though, link in with me. https://www.linkedin.com/in/cassbowers/

 

The Subprime Mortgage Lending Crisis

The Concept of Sub-Prime Lending

subprime-scoresSubprime lending began when banking leaders realized that there were substantial financial benefits to lending to an untapped market of low credit scoring customers, or consumers looking to gain the monies from the equity of their pricey homes.  By definition, subprime lending is the offering of higher or variable rates to borrowers that do not qualify or even have the means to pay, when or if circumstances change (Gilbert, 2011).

During the height of the housing boom, financial organizations started to lend to individuals without the standards that were used in the past.  Banks are in the business of paying and selling debt (Angel, 2016).  Therefore, many banks took on the risk of subprime loans with the notion of selling them quickly to other institutions.  These other financial institutions were not as heavily regulated or even had underwriters that did not closely review loan documents and consequently more loans were approved, bought and sold.  However, as borrowers stopped paying their mortgages and began to go into default, abandoning their homes, the banks and other lending bodies started to feel the effects of their actions. This lead to the mortgage crisis that hit the United States in 2008-2009, and was a blow to financial institutions across the country.  However, conceivable it was one that they brought on themselves and one that perhaps could have been avoided (Gilbert, 2011).

The Risks

There were risks involved with subprime lending practices, to not only the lender but the borrower as well.  Borrowers of subprime loans were lured in by an interest rate that would enviably be adjusted to a higher rate, and would prove to be nearly impossible to pay.  Other borrowers did not have the credit knowledge, financial knowledge or wherewithal to understand the effects of a variable rate mortgage and how drastically payments could change over time.  This meant that the borrower’s homes became unaffordable and many quickly lost their homes.  As consumers began to leave their homes the housing prices in affected areas dropped drastically.  While the subprime crisis was complex, it is quite clear that the risks outweighed the benefits of financial gain banking institutions had expected.  According to Gilbert (2014), the risks were substantial and included the following:

  1. riskHigh number of defaulted loans
  2. Increased foreclosures
  3. Borrowers being quickly removed from their homes
  4. Entire neighborhoods being abandoned
  5. Squatters taking residence in abandoned homes
  6. Left behind homeowners questioning the value of their homes in abandoned areas

This was in essence the kick-off of what would be the worst recession in many years and what sealed the fate of the downfall of the global economy.  At the height of this crisis there were more than a million homes in foreclosure.  American banks could no longer sustain debt control and the fallout effected the entire financial market, having a ripple effect across the globe (Gilbert, 2011).

Role of Leadership

While the goal of all companies is to be profitable, it seems that the banking industry has an unhealthy obsession with profitability, at any cost (Cornett, Erhemjamts, & Tehranian, 2016).  Culture plays such a pivotal part of what is viewed as ethical or unethical, and because the banking culture is so unique in that they are in the business of making money from debt, it is even more conceivable that issues may arise (Stephens, Vance, & Pettegrew, 2012).  Thus, it is reasonable to consider that this entire crisis sits on the shoulders of the lending industry leaders that made poor, and perhaps even unethical decisions to gain a profit.  It can be argued that the extreme pressures put on financial leaders caused them to make bad decisions regarding subprime lending.  However, it is the role of the leader to use their ethical decision making tactics to overcome misguided or irresponsible situations (Thiel, Bagdasarov, Harkrider, Johnson, & Mumford, 2012).  With regard to the depth of how many homes were lost and the ultimate downfall of the entire housing industry, is it safe to assume that there was a lack of social responsibility on the part of financial industry leaders?

banking-leaders

Social Responsibility  

It would be quite easy to lay all blame on the financial institution leaders that made the decisions to so thoroughly risk it all for the benefits of subprime lending.  However, there were so many others that had a responsibility to protect the sanctity of the housing industry.  We know that lenders were negligent, but borrowers also played a role in the crisis.  Some borrowers were uninformed or uneducated about the process, however others may have lied on applications get loan approval.  Furthermore, some brokers intentionally did not ask the questions needed to deny loans, as a way around the borrowers lack of credit or income. There were also the rating agencies that boosted credit ratings for consumers in the subprime segment, allowing approvals that would not have happened otherwise.  All of these groups played a role in the crisis.  The downfall could have been prevented if the checks and balances put in place by the industry’s policy and government’s regulations would not have been ignored (Gilbert, 2011).

According to Watkins (2011), banks follow the Goldman Rule, that stats the pursuit of profit matters more than how it effects on others.  This is why ultimately, above any other party involved, banking institutions total lack of regard for the welling being of its customers makes them the greatest offenders.  Furthermore, they only began to care when the negative effects of their actions caused harm to their profits and financial stability (Watkins, 2011).  Subsequently, there was indeed a lack of social responsibility on the part of the banking industry.

Preventative Measures

In the aftermath of the housing and subprime lending crisis, we see many lost jobs, homes and profits. The United States’ economy took a major hit, spinning the country into a deep recession (Gilbert, 2011).  With all of this in mind many measures have been put in place to prevent future situations from occurring.  These measures include stringent credit and loan approval processes enforced by lenders, brokers, raters and government agencies.  It is now more difficult to get a home loan and the requirements are strictly enforced and reviewed by several parties.  Other measures include federal regulations limiting the amount of debt a consumer can have.  The new federal rule known as the ‘ability to pay’ rule, reviews borrowers credit as well as how much current debt they have, meaning that despite an acceptable credit score they may not qualify for a home loan (Bubb, & Krishnamurthy, 2015).

All of these measures together will ensure that another subprime crisis is not experienced.  However, the key is for banks to continue to have good self-regulating practices (Turner, 2012).  Even without governmental regulations, the banking industry should not allow unethical methods to dominate its institutions.  Finally, we see that when a lack of social responsibility is coupled with poor decision making and pure greed, things go awry (Thiel et al. 2012).

References

Angel, J. (2016). On the Ethics of Fractional Reserve Banking. Journal of Competitiveness
Studies, 24(3), 164-176

Bubb, R., & Krishnamurthy, P. (2015). Regulating against Bubbles: How Mortgage Regulation can keep Main Street and Wall Street Safe from Themselves. University of Pennsylvania Law Review, 163(6), 1539-1630.

Cornett, M. M., Erhemjamts, O., & Tehranian, H. (2016). Greed or good deeds: An examination of the relation between corporate social responsibility and the financial performance of U.S. commercial banks around the financial crisis. Journal of Banking and Finance, 70137-159. doi:10.1016/j.jbankfin.2016.04.024

Gilbert, J. (2011). Moral Duties in Business and Their Societal Impacts: The Case of the
Subprime Lending Mess. Business & Society Review (00453609), 116(1), 87-107. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8594.2011.00378.x

Stephens, W., Vance, C. A., & Pettegrew, L. S. (2012). Embracing Ethics And Morality. CPA Journal, 82(1), 16-21.e

Thiel, C., Bagdasarov, Z., Harkrider, L., Johnson, J., & Mumford, M. (2012). Leader Ethical Decision-Making in Organizations: Strategies for Sensemaking. Journal of Business Ethics, 107(1), 49-64. doi:10.1007/s10551-012-1299-1

Turner, A. (2012). Credit creation and social optimality. International Review of Financial
Analysis, 25(Banking and the Economy), 142-153. doi:10.1016/j.irfa.2012.09.004

Watkins, J. P. (2011). Banking Ethics and the Goldman Rule. Journal of Economic Issues (M.E.Sharpe Inc.), 45(2), 363-372. doi:10.2753/JEI0021-3624450213

 

Dr. Cassandra Bowers

Future Dr. Bowers
Milwaukee Art Museum

Dr. Cassandra Bowers, or Cassandra Bowers, PhD! Doesn’t that have a nice ring to it? If you ask my uncle, he would tell you that even further back than I can remember, I have always wanted to be a doctor.

So here I am, seven years after getting my Master’s degree, finally working toward my doctorate. I think the ultimate comprise in my childhood dream of working in a doctor’s office is to become a business doctor. It is so very exciting. I am learning so much about my topic (diversity in leadership) and about myself.

Yes, I still work full-time.
Yes, I still am socially active with my family and friends.
Yes, I still relax and have me-time.
It is just now every moment of my day is planned out. It is very rare that I have spontaneous activities. What am I saying? It’s not rare, it never happens.

I dedicate 40-50 hours per week to the work that pays my bills. I am the Director of a college career center. Basically, I help students find internships and employment. It is an extremely challenging but fulfilling job. Imagine helping a student realize their life long goals? Pretty sweet.

My number one focus after work is to get to my parents’ house by 5:30 so that I can have a quick workout and then eat dinner with my family. We eat as a family single every night. I am so completely blessed to have parents that live so close and to have a mom that is willing (and able) to cook for all of us.

When I finally get home around 6:30-ish, I cuddle with my grandson until he falls asleep. Or he decides he would rather cuddle with his mom (sad-face). Then I review my homework, make some notes about my research and watch 30 minutes of a recorded show until I am so sleepy that I can barely keep my eyes open. It’s only 10 o’clock, mind you. Ha-ha.

My weekends are totally dedicated to studying, writing, research and my weekly assignments that are due on Sunday night. Unless I have a pre-planned event to attend, or my other grandson is spending the weekend with me. In that case I work harder during the week to complete my assignment by Friday. My time with my grandsons is so precious to me that I make them a priority as much as I am able.

My me-time comes in the time that I spend in libraries, coffee shops and mall food courts, alone, doing research. I so love research. I go off on these complete tangents about random things that I just have to know more about. Like why we kiss after we say I do, or that we pronounce the “h” in Herbert but not herb. There is also the scholarly research, that I love even more. The things I am discovering about our world, especially the business world, are so fascinating. (I can’t wait to share more about it, stay tuned.) But, I do take breaks, and go to the Art Museum or the movies alone. These 2 hour breaks do wonders for my mental health.

So, that is my little life in a nutshell. Completely filled to the brim more than I ever thought it could be. And beautifully more than I could have ever imagined it would be.