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Veterans transition to new careers

WASHINGTON — With cold rain drumming down from drab skies one recent afternoon, a light-filled classroom above the warmth of the Dog Tag Bakery was not a bad place to be.

For three years, the bakery in Washington’s Georgetown neighborhood, has hosted the Dog Tag Inc. fellowship program, a five-month-long professional development course designed to prepare military veterans for the transition into the civilian workforce.

The veterans scoop cookies and make coffee, learn knife skills and proper food-handling techniques. But they also get trained in skills like cost analysis, fundraising, marketing and product development, with the aim of equipping the fellows with all the necessary skills and know-how to succeed in the private and nonprofit sectors, said Meghan Ogilvie, the CEO of Dog Tag Inc., a local nonprofit. Come next Thursday, the program will have graduated 57 alums over six cohorts, many of whom have gone on to launch their own businesses.

“The goal is they not only see it, but they feel it,” she said.

And so inside on this day, a group of military personnel, injured veterans, military spouses and caregivers were engaged in a heated debate about a hypothetical case taught by Douglas McCabe, a professor of management at Georgetown University. Should a judge in a wrongful-discharge lawsuit side with the company and uphold the firing of an allegedly subpar employee? Or should he order that the employee be reinstated with full back pay?

———

Tamara Stewart stood in front of the class and made her argument.

The employee in the case study, Jack, was never warned about a potential termination, was never given clear performance goals and should be reinstated, she argued.

No, Stewart’s classmate Lauren Warner quickly shot back. The employee had been with the company for years and should have known better.

The class was at a stalemate, split right down the middle in the decision.

“One thing both groups can agree on with unanimity,” said McCabe, the professor, as he wrapped up the exercise, “is that Jack is a loser.”

The fellows all laughed at the joke. But they also knew that they, too, may soon have to deal with similarly tricky business situations outside the safety of the classroom. They scribbled down in their notepads what the company in the case study had gotten wrong, lest they themselves make the same expensive mistake.

For Stewart, 32, the fellowship program has been a comprehensive course in business as she gets ready for the transition to civilian life after nine years with the Army. Over the weeks, the fellows had worked through an intensive curriculum that covered such topics as management, accounting and communications. They had also gotten on-the-job experience throughout different areas of the nonprofit, rotating through operations and strategy, finance, fundraising, as well as the hands-on bakery operation up front.

Now, Stewart aspires to open a boutique restaurant. And she loved learning about fundraising so much that she wants to volunteer on the fundraising committee at The Dwelling Place, a nonprofit based in Gaithersburg, Maryland, that provides transitional housing for the homeless.

“It’s just opened my eyes to things that I like, and things that I thought I liked, but didn’t,” said Stewart, who now works as a paralegal at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

———

Earlier this week, the fellows had gathered in the classroom for a close line by line reading of Langston Hughes’ poem “Jazzonia.”

Leading the session was Duncan Wu, a professor of English at Georgetown.

Why, he asked the class, has Hughes described the musicians at this Harlem cabaret as “long-headed jazzers”? Why is the dancing girl given “bold” eyes and a dress of “silken gold”?

As the fellows dove into analyzing the poem, which describes a lively scene in a 1920s jazz club, the discussion touched on themes of courage, liberation, power, history and human existence. In the dizzying whirl of music, Wu offered, people felt free, alive and emboldened.

A close reading of 20th century American poetry may not seem directly relevant to the world of business. But it is all part of the larger goal of encouraging fellows to reflect on their military identities and to be able to tell their personal narratives in a way that propels them forward.

“It’s not about being a disabled individual,” but recognizing that you have new abilities, Ogilvie said.

Ximena Rozo, a 2015 alum and an industrial and textile designer, said the fellowship program helped her find her voice. As a former military spouse, she found herself constantly moving from one place to the next.

“You lose your roots every time that you move, and you start losing your sense of confidence,” she said. “I think the fellowship gave me the path to feel confidence” and to feel comfortable with her own vulnerabilities.

For Anne Barlieb, 37, who is transitioning out of the Army after 13 years of service, including an 18-month deployment in Iraq, reading Hughes’ poem prompted questions of her personal identity.

Did Hughes identify as a black author? she wondered. As a writer, she said, she often feels that readers compartmentalize her as a female veteran who writes, whereas for her, those are merely “incidental garnishments of experience.” So how should she go about navigating this terrain?

Wu told her not to overthink it.

“If you’re true to yourself, to your own experience, that is the principal thing,” he said. “The truer you are to it, the more universal your work will be.”

Toward the end of a lunch break on a recent afternoon, Mojisola Edu reflected on the past 20 weeks of the program.

Edu, 36, is a disabled veteran who served five years with the Army. She applied for the fellowship wanting to strengthen herself as a leader, she said, and has since learned a lot about her own limitations and potential.

“It gives you a sense of hope,” she said. “If you didn’t have hope before, you definitely have hope when you come here.”


Business
Avoid falling for holiday hiring scams

Thousands of people count on seasonal hiring to pick up part-time work in the weeks leading up to the holidays. The National Retail Federation says they expect retailers to hire between 500,000 and 550,000 seasonal employees. And, just as the holiday hiring happens every year, bad guys will attempt to lure job seekers into scams.

If you’re looking to pick up a few extra bucks this season, Better Business Bureau urges you to watch for these red flags that job opportunity may be a scam:

Big bucks for simple tasks. Be wary if there is a promise to pay a lot of money for jobs that don’t require much effort or skill.

Job offers out of nowhere from strangers. If they offer you a job without getting an application from you, meeting you, or doing an interview, it’s probably a scam. Don’t hand over your personal information, especially your Social Security Number or banking account information. This could lead to identity theft.

Requests for up-front payments. If someone wants you to make an advanced payment or buy materials to start working from home, this is a red flag. You should not have to pay money to start a job.

You are asked to wire money. If you wire a payment to somebody, assume it’s gone forever. Scam artists will often ask you to wire payments (especially to destinations in other countries) because they know you won’t be able to get your money back.

High pressure to commit now. Don’t be in a hurry to accept an unsolicited offer, or to make a business investment, particularly if the other party is pressuring you to commit and spend money now. Take your time and research the business. If somebody tries to convince you that this is a “limited time” offer and you have to act now, just walk away.

Refusal to give you full details in writing. Ask for complete information in writing. Look carefully at any documentation provided to make sure it answers all of your questions. If the “employer” won’t give details, or doesn’t respond to questions, don’t do business with them.

There is no contact information. Be cautious if a company is trying to get you to accept a job, but does not have a physical location or address available. A cellphone number and website address are not enough to prove the business exists.

Watch for imposters. Bad guys love to impersonate real employers. If you come across a job listing that looks like it’s from a recognizable company, take the time to double check on the company’s official website. If you can’t find the position listed there, it’s likely a scam.

Always check out potential employers’ Business Profiles at bbb.org.


The fastest-growing jobs in America pay about $22,000 per year

The largest two categories of America’s fastest-growing jobs offer some of the country’s lowest wages and weakest benefits.

Over the next ten years, analysts expect to see 1.2 million more jobs for home health and personal care aides, according to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s more positions than the projected job creation in the eight other most rapidly growing fields combined.

By 2026, the home health aide industry will add 425,600 positions, an increase of 46.7 percent, the government estimates show. The occupation’s median annual wage today is $22,600.

The numbers of personal care aides, who handle mostly domestic tasks, meanwhile, is expected to climb by 754,000 jobs or 37.6 percent. They typically make about $21,000 per year.

Solar and wind jobs, which come with larger paychecks, are projected to grow by 105 percent and 96 percent respectively, but the tiny fields will add just 17,400 new positions in the next decade, researchers predict.

Roughly nine in ten caretaker positions are held by females. Nearly half identify as black or Hispanic.

Workers in these roles share one central mission: They care for people who struggle to care for themselves. But many live in poverty, and most have little to no paid days off.

“They’re typically the breadwinners in low-income households,” said Ariane Hegewisch, a labor economist at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research who co-wrote a study last year about low-wage jobs filled by women. “But what they earn makes it hard for them to pay the rent, or get an education to move into better paying jobs, or look after their children.”

Fifty-five percent of home health aides subsist on incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty line, her research found. They tend to rely on public benefits, she said, and lack the resources to set their kids on an economically better path.

Hegewisch said policymakers need to pay attention to this growing group of workers.

“If these jobs work well, the overall health system and social care system can save a lot of money,” she said.

Hegewisch has proposed using Medicare dollars to supplement caregivers’ wages, arguing it would reduce turnover and save the government money by keeping the elderly and the sick out of nursing homes. Nursing homes tend to be much costlier drains on the health system than home care.

Demetra Nightingale, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, a left-leaning think tank in the District, said demand for home health and personal care aides will continue to skyrocket as the population ages.

“We have a lot of these low-wage jobs, and we’re going to need a lot of these low-wage jobs in the future,” she said.

President Donald Trump has said he aims to expand apprenticeships in the United States, and Nightingale said she hopes to see similar opportunities for domestic caretakers. Los Angeles and Seattle both have robust — and replicable — paid training programs, she said.

“We need to provide career ladders for people who can meet the growing demand,” Nightingale said.

Advocates for these workers also push for raising the minimum wage and a national paid parental leave plan, so that aides can afford to take time off to care for a sick child or recover after a birth.

Ivanka Trump, adviser to the president, has proposed opening paid leave to low-income workers through the nation’s unemployment insurance system, but the idea hasn’t gained traction on Capitol Hill.


Business
Time to fuel up? Here's a sample of gas prices around southern Idaho

AAA Idaho cited the following average gas prices for regular gasoline as of Monday:

Twin Falls $2.58

Burley $2.68

Fairfield $2.65

Gooding $2.59

Hailey $2.76

Jerome $2.67

Rupert $2.67

Shoshone $2.75

For more information: aaa.opisnet.com/index.aspx.


Business
These 75 southern Idahoans have unclaimed property worth more than $100

Louise D Pulliam of Bellevue and Jeremy L Stueve of Shoshone have unclaimed property. It’s money in some form, and the state wants to give it back.

The Idaho Treasurer’s Office provided this sampling of 75 people with unclaimed property valued at more than $100 whose last known addresses are in southern Idaho. To check for your name, visit yourmoney.idaho.gov or call 877-388-2942 or 208-332-2942.

BELLEVUE

Robert L Jones

Love Linda Kimbell

Louise D Pulliam

Salesforce Com Inc

BUHL

Deric Novotny

Denise Servin

BURLEY

Clayton Dale Ellis

Cory V Cust Hanks

Debi Cust Hanks

Garth F Williams

Sandra G Williams

DIETRICH

Rashon R Norman

GOODING

Kenneth C Cunningham

Sherry J Cunningham

Velasco Reynaldo Gordillo

Ilse Leal Martinez

HAGERMAN

David E Fish

John Hankel

HAILEY

Kenny Demeurichy

Suzanne K Grant

Robert L Jensen

Yvonne Alee Marsters

JEROME

Joan Michella Appell

Velasquez Maria E Flores

Arturo Guadarrama

Alvarado Manuel Juarez

Vargas Herminio Meza

William J Millenkamp

Haney Silversmith Montana

Tevdora Nava-Arizmendi

Luis G Nolasco

Ana Delia Soria

KETCHUM

Martha R Anderson

Michelle M Bitler

Kenton L Carruth

Marian T English

Estate of Daniel T Hornbuckle

Peter Lewis Enterprises Inc

Gail L Severn

Beverly Walters

Edward J Watson

Sara H Watson

OAKLEY

Garcia Jose A Ledezma

Flores Juan P Martinez

PAUL

Ray G Greer

RUPERT

Dan L Bywater

Javier Arteaga Trucking Inc

Christine Kelley

Pancake House LLC

Luisa Panso

Sawtooth Packaging Inc

SHOSHONE

Jeremy L Stueve

SUN VALLEY

Irina J Dempsey

Shawn K Malarkey

David T Stoecklein

Crispin W Thiessen

TWIN FALLS

Richard D Adema

Vargas Carlos Aleman

Lisa N Alexander

Nancy Argyle

Asc Southern Idaho Pain Center

Linda Leigh Baird

Larry D Bowman

Brockway Engoneering PLLC

Ryan Burgesssteven

Carlos Castillo

Gustavo Ceron

Shardai S Ceron

Christopher Crabtree

Debra J Denny

Gregory J Denny

Laura, Dick

Brooklyn Ellis

Est of Alice E Lord

Estate of Bruce W Hannon