Saturday, January 30, 2016

Module 4

Part I.

Setting specific, measurable, achievable, rewarding and time-bound (SMART) goals is a powerful process that brings one a sense of direction and purpose, feelings of motivation and dedication, as well as a proper focus on results begot by gradually increasing self-confidence and organization of time and resources.

My current educational goal is to complete a BS in Computer Science, Software Engineering (concentration), at California State University, Monterey Bay in December 2017, which is in approximately two years' time. In order for this to happen, I must pass six eight-week courses per year, comprising a Pro-Seminar, Multimedia Programming (Python), Internet Programming (PHP), Database Management (MySQL), Intro. to Computer Networks, Service Learning, Algorithms (C++ or Java), Software Design (Java), Software Engineering, Ethics and a Capstone class, in addition to a handful of pre-requisites in Maths and Computer Science: Calculus I and II, Discrete Maths, Computer Architecture and Data Structures. This quarter, I already know that successfully passing Data Structures will bring me a tremendous level of satisfaction and reassurance, as it has thus far proven to be a formidable challenge; however, I am pleased to report that the challenge becomes somewhat less with each passing week in the way that my Java skills generally improve. Similarly, my goal to excel in my first course at CSUMB, the Pro-Seminar mentioned above, will be the best possible way to begin the program. With each new quarter, week by week, my immediate goal must be to stay motivated and focused, plan my schedule, ask lots of questions and for help when needed, all so as to turn in quality assignments on time. Today, I must accomplish my goal of completing one quarter of this week's assignments before dinnertime! Remembering my ultimate goal of attaining my degree will help me with these aims.

Part II.

The decision to pursue my degree was closely related to my career goal of becoming a senior software engineer, one who has built some quality apps that reach the top of Apple Store or Google Play rankings, within the next five to ten years.  I would be happy to work at a start up or an established company, so long as I am a part of a great team, and in San Francisco, where I reside with my husband.  In order to know what such employees are worth, research informs me that salaries for a software engineer in SF are upwards of $100K.  In order for this to happen for me, it would be immensely helpful and valuable to first obtain an internship, whether through application to a school sponsored program or my own search through jobs boards, by the beginning of summer 2016 at the latest.  Today, I'll begin my search and apply for internships, and continue on a monthly or weekly basis, depending on supply of opportunities.  The earlier I can obtain one, the sooner I can apply for jobs, provided I have the qualifications required.  I would be delighted to begin working as a software engineer, perhaps in a junior capacity, as soon as possible, even before I obtain my degree.  Strong proficiency in target company's relevant languages would benefit me to this end.

Part III.

Reviewing my colleagues' blogs, I can see they have a clear understanding of the importance of time management and useful strategies for doing it.

In particular, Wayne's blog succinctly and effectively discussed concrete tools for achieving visibility over one's schedule -- his decision to utilize both Google Calendar and hardcopy calendars is a strong one, in my opinion, because the latter provides long-term perspectives that may be difficult to duplicate on a screen with hidden or minimized text.  To avoid overlooking anything important when very busy, having two such tools is worthwhile.  Additionally, I really liked and appreciated the way Austin's blog mentioned the satisfaction of striking through a to-do list item.  It's really important to give oneself a moment to reflect on what's been accomplished and keep up motivation, before moving on to the perpetual next item...!

Well, it's good to be busy, as long as one uses one's time wisely....

Part IV.

In this week's article on career goal setting, Hopkinson writes that networking is how the vast majority of job seekers find a job in the United States.  To be honest, I consider this to be rather disappointing because we are purported to be a meritocracy.  Does it not follow that students and young people are then generally misled into believing a myth that hard work and talent, and even some luck, are sufficient for success, remaining enchanted until it’s time to seek out their careers?  If so, unfortunately, students can’t make smart, realistic decisions about their career prospects and aims when they’re unaware of this reality, so it’s best that articles such as “The Salary Tutor: The 7 Career Goals You Need to Succeed” bluntly divulge it (Hopkinson, n.d.).  Nevertheless, networking must be a known and practiced career goal of the modern job seeker.  Networking at its best is simply to demonstrate and share one’s experiences, talents and skills with influential people one has come to know.  I'm certain that success is achievable when one puts oneself out there, networks well and leans in, as it is said.

Hopkins further writes that self-assessment should also be a career goal of those who wish to succeed — the acts of stepping back and perceiving where one is and where one would like to go.  Still another goal, he writes, which I already know from experience is great advisement, is to keep track of one's accomplishments as they occur, whether it’s in note form, a portfolio or personal webpage.  It is very much true that it is difficult to impossible to quickly recall the details of one’s accomplishments when it comes time for one to update a resume, complete a performance review or ask for a raise.  This is especially true for the humble or as many months pass by.

Negotiating is a critical skill of the successful, Hopkins goes on to share, as is asking for promotions and raises as if they were a business transaction.  Fortunately, legal progress is being made in this respect, however slowly, so that discrimination in pay on the basis of race, gender or other factors is outlawed, and all may be successful on the grounds of their work output, rather than a status. Apart from this, one should set the goal of knowing one’s worth in the marketplace, according to Hopkins, and continuously improve upon and update one’s skills, as times and markets change.

Finally, Hopkins argues that the successful should strive to achieve perspective and balance throughout their careers by always continuing to enjoy other parts of life, be it family or hobbies or other items of value.

On Ethics

According to Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, ethics are seldom easy for people who do not study the matter to define.  Velasquez, Andre, Shanks and Meyer write that this is the case for a variety of reasons: firstly, ethics may deviate from what one’s feelings inform is right or wrong, and, indeed, doing the ethical thing might on the contrary give one a terrible feeling.  Neither is ethics the sole prerogative of the religious or religious doctrine, they write, as an atheist may certainly be an ethical person.  Similarly, laws or common beliefs may also deviate from the ethical.  For example, pre-civil rights movement US law were often unethical, and a majority opinion may not be predicated on substantive deliberation.  Velasquez et al. then write that “ethics refers to well-founded standards of right and wrong that prescribe what humans ought to do, usually in terms of rights, obligations, benefits to society, fairness, or specific virtues.”  Importantly, ethics also enjoins the continuous “study and development of one's ethical standards… As mentioned above, feelings, laws, and social norms can deviate from what is ethical. So it is necessary to constantly examine one's standards to ensure that they are reasonable and well-founded.”

In chapter seven of Living Issues in PhilosophyEthics and Morality, Nolan et al. write that "Modern usage of morality refers to conduct itself and ethics (or moral philosophy) to the study of moral conduct. We speak of “a moral act” and “an ethical code”” (1995, p. 120).  As human beings we exist within a moral situation, a world and life in which we must choose to act and behave in a way that is right or wrong according to our beliefs, our moral standards, with consideration and obligations to rights and duties, which go hand in hand (Nolan et al., 1995, p. 117).  Virtues and vices are qualities and characteristics that are either approved and respected by people or society or, on the contrary, detested, respectively.  Subject to the realm of time and space, a society may codify laws or uphold customs to protect rights.  The stage of social development, intelligence and knowledge of a society affects its moral practices (Nolan et al., 1995, p. 119).  Nolan et al. write about the variety of philosophical standards expounded by philosophers across time, such as pleasure or happiness (Epicurus), happiness or utility (Bentham, Mill), absolute, rational moral law (Kant), self-realization and humanism (Plato, Aristotle), and religious ideals/natural laws (1995, p. 121-129).  The approaches to morality are either absolutism, to hold belief by an authority; relativism, to have no verifiable standards or X-Files-style 'truth out there' meaning to discover; and situation ethics, wherein norms are applied to a unique situation (Nolan et al., 1995, p. 130).  Nolan et al. write that many values and principles may guide a practical, working, every-day ethics in our society: respect for persons; autonomy; beneficence; non-maleficence; justice; honesty, and more (1995, p. 132-133).  Ultimately, the authors argue, in deciding what to do, if it is not readily or entirely clear, one need not be crippled by moral relativism; to do the right thing, one may choose to look with the utmost care and reasonableness upon a variety of "thoughtful, contrasting interpretations of moral matters" (Nolan et al., 1995, p. 134), in a moral pluralism dependent on reasoned frameworks and moral discourse.


References


Hopkins, Jim. (n.d.).  The salary tutor: the 7 career goals you need to succeed.     
     Salary.com. Retrieved from http://www.salary.com/7-career-goals-for-new-year/

Mind tools: online management, leadership and career training. (1996). Retrieved from
     https://www.mindtools.com/

Nolan, R., Titus, H. & Smith, M.. (1995).  Living issues in philosophy, ninth edition.  
     New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Velasquez, M., Andre, C., Shanks, T. S.J. & Meyer, M. J.. (2015, August 18). What is ethics? In
     Markkula Center for applied ethics. Retrieved from https://www.scu.edu/ethics/ethics-
     resources/ethical-decision-making/what-is-ethics/

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