Work Week

Work Week: Local jobs -- 150 years ago

albany lumber district 1875

Maybe there would have been a job for you in Albany's booming lumber district.

By Carl Johnson

Some folks have argued that our area, now christened Tech Valley for its apparent boom in nanotech, computer chips, and pharmaceuticals, has been a tech valley all along, going back to the introduction of an amazing bit of transportation technology called the Erie Canal. But it's fair to say that the job options brought about by the current boom, most of which seem to involve lab coats and neoprene gloves, are a far cry from the job options brought about by any earlier boom in the Capital District.

Imagine it's 1863, and you're a young Albany resident ready to join the workforce. You might have had some schooling, if your family could afford it; school rates weren't abolished until 1862. You probably didn't have any high school, as the city's first free high school didn't open until 1868.

Did it matter? Not much -- very few jobs of the day required anything by way of schooling. They were more likely to require some form of apprenticeship, a medieval form of on-the-job training (and a bit of serfdom) all but lost now.

So, what might you have set out to be, 150 years ago?

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Work Week: My job as an EMT

work week EMT

It's Work Week on AOA. We'll be talking with people about their jobs and working. Part of that includes anonymous conversations with people about what it's like to do their jobs.

Next Up: The EMT.

This Capital Region EMT talks about gray areas, problem drivers, and being woken up in the middle of the night...

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Work Week: My job as a high school teacher

work week high school teacher

It's Work Week on AOA. We'll be talking with people about their jobs and working. Part of that includes anonymous conversations with people about what it's like to do their jobs.

Next Up: The High School Teacher.

Or, to be more precise, the former high school teacher. The High School Teacher retired in 2011, but is currently teaching teachers in a UAlbany graduate education program. He taught for more than 30 years in Saratoga and shares some thoughts on how education, students, and the job of a high school teacher changed in that time.

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Work Week: Capital Region entrepreneurs on what they wish they'd known at the start

work week entrepreneurs

It's Work Week on AOA, which is pretty much what it sounds like -- we're talking with people about their jobs and working.

Starting something new -- making your own job -- is hard. Especially if it requires leaving a steady paycheck, an eight-hour workday and weekends off (though there seem to be fewer and fewer of those jobs these days). It means risking security, time, and often cash. It means being prepared to learn, and sometimes, to fail.

And the further you get into a new venture, the more you'll learn things you probably wished you'd known at the start. We talked with a handful of Capital Region people who took a chance and started something of their own -- to create a job for themselves -- and asked them one question: If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself before starting your venture?

Here's what they said...

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Work Week drawing: For a day off

day off drawing composite

It's Work Week on AOA, which is pretty much what it sounds like -- we're talking with people about their jobs and working.

Drawing's closed!

As part of Work Week we figured it'd be fun to also include something for when you're not working -- whether it's a weekend (whenever your weekend might be), or the rare day off.

So, we pulled together three things that could go toward making a sweet day off:

+ A $50 gift card to New World Bistro Bar
+ Two tickets for a movie at the Spectrum
+ A $20 gift card to Crisan

To enter the drawing, please answer this question in the comments:

If you could have any job in the Capital Region, what it would be?

This could be an actual job -- or something you make up. We'll draw one winner at random.

Important: All comments must be submitted by 10 am on Friday, October 25, 2013 to be entered in the drawing. You must answer the question to be part of the drawing. (Normal commenting guidelines apply.) One entry per person, please. You must enter a valid email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. The winner will be notified via email by 5 pm on Friday and must respond by 5 pm on Monday, October 28.

Work Week: My job as a restaurant server

work week restaurant server

It's Work Week on AOA. We'll be talking with people about their jobs and working. Part of that includes anonymous conversations with people about what it's like to do their jobs.

Next up: The Restaurant Server.

While she currently divides her time between restaurants and a teaching job, the Restaurant Server has been in the restaurant business for 30 years, most of that time here in the Capital Region.

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Work Week: Con Job

megan fulwiler and jennifer marlow, directors of con job

Megan Fulwiler and Jennifer Marlow, producers and directors of the Con Job project. Marlow on the way higher ed uses part-time professors: "I think we like to think of higher ed as protected from or different than that corporatization. ... But ultimately it's here and it's happening in the same way it's happening in many other sectors of the economy for the very same reasons."

It's Work Week on AOA, which is pretty much what it sounds like -- we're talking with people about their jobs and working.

When most of us think about the people who teach at colleges, we probably think of faculty with PhDs and tenure (or working toward it), teaching a few classes a semester, good pay, great job security, maybe a sabbatical.

In many situations, though, the reality of the higher education workforce is much different. Depending on how things are counted, somewhere between half and 3/4 of the people teaching in colleges and universities don't fit in that category of tenured or "tenure-track" faculty. They're part timers, "contingent labor." They're adjuncts.

Modern academia floats on a huge pool of people in this situation. In some cases, that's not a problem -- maybe it's a person teaching a course on the side of their regular job. But for many adjuncts, trying to piece together a full-time job and career, it can mean teaching multiple classes at multiple campuses for pay that approaches minimum wage levels with no benefits.

Prompted by growing restlessness by people in these jobs -- and in part by stories like this one recently in Pittsburgh -- there's a rising call to address the situation surrounding adjuncts in higher education.

Part of that attention is a documentary project titled Con Job: Stories of Adjunct and Contingent Labor, by two College of Saint Rose English professors: Megan Fulwiler and Jennifer Marlow. It aims to tell the stories of the adjuncts who teach first-year writing classes at many of the colleges in the Capital Region and beyond.

What they've found: people who say they feel invisible, living paycheck to paycheck, even as their labor makes the current system of modern higher education possible.

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Work Week: My job as a retail clothing store manager

work week retail clothing store manager

It's Work Week on AOA. We'll be talking with people about their jobs and working. Part of that includes anonymous conversations with people about what it's like to do their jobs.

First up: The Retail Clothing Store Manager.

She's worked at six retail stores during the past 16 years. And she has lots of stories -- about the good and bad of working with the public, a flesh-eating zipper, and people who have sex in the dressing room...

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The US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) in Albany takes that type of thing. I did an internship there and it's a really great organization and the refugees who receive the items are super grateful.

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