Items tagged with 'working'

Resources for dealing with possible labor violations?

one dollar bill closeup

Anonymous emails:

A friend of mine, who is a salaried employee for a local small business, is running into some pretty serious difficulties with her boss that she feels could be infringing on her rights (forced unpaid overtime, threats to slash salary, verbal abuse, etc). Do any of your readers have any experience dealing with this kind of thing or know of anywhere she might be able to turn to learn more about her rights as a worker and find an acceptable solution?

This sounds like a stressful situation, even more so if you don't know where to start in figuring out how to address it.

So, have a suggestion for resources, strategies -- maybe even an attorney -- for Anonymous and their friend? Please share. And including sentence or two about why you're recommending a resource or person can be a big help.

Troy Innovation Garage

Troy Innovation Garage interior

The Troy Innovation Garage -- a new co-working space "aimed at the Capital Region's creative entrepreneurs" -- opened last week in a renovated building on Fourth Street in downtown Troy.

The project is backed by Tom Nardacci, the founder of local PR and marketing firm Gramercy Communications, which also has offices in the building. And it's probably the largest-scale attempt so far to open a co-working space similar to what you find in large cities.

Here are a few more details, along with a look around...

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Where the commuters are from

albany commting inflows map clip

The city of Albany draws commuters from a wide area.

Each weekday in the Capital Region a large tide of people wash into the area's urban centers for their work days, and then stream back home. So large is this tide for the city of Albany that its daytime population during the week rises by 2/3.

So, where do all these people come from? Well, thanks to some recently released Census data, we can some sense of an answer to that question. And to extend the water metaphor a bit further, we can map out the "commuter sheds" that drain into each of the Capital Region's urban centers each weekday.

So let's have a look.

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My job as a barista

on the job barista

We got the impression that a lot of people found the anonymous job interviews we did for Work Week interesting, so we've decided to continue them as an occasional series.

On the job with: The Barista.

This person has been working in coffee for a decade -- as a barista, shift leader, and manager. The Barista talks about dealing with a stream of caffeine-seeking people, interpreting esoteric coffee lingo, and the people who camp out all day with their laptops...

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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: 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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Do you tip at food trucks, the coffee place, counter service?

six dollars a five and a one

There are a bunch of different conversations that could spin out of this post over at the Awl about a guy who was fired from a food truck after he complained on Twitter about not getting tipped on a complicated order. But we're most interested in this question:

Do you -- yes, you, the person reading this -- tip on orders at food trucks, the morning swing through the line at the coffee place, a pick-up pizza or takeout order, counter service at a fast-casual restaurant, and other similar situations? If so, how much? And if not, why not?

In most situations, tipping is a social custom/expectation in this country. Which means it's one of those things that "everyone knows how it works" except that, you know, not everyone knows how it works. And like any social custom/expectation it's subject to an evolution of views on it, based on shifting attitudes and context.

Food service is currently in one of those shifts. Tipping on sit-down service is a well-established practice -- "everyone" knows you should tip 15-20 percent. But a lot of restaurant business is now headed in the direction of the "fast casual" model, or the super casual like food trucks.

We get the sense that's causing confusion. Just recently we were in a Chipotle (a prime example of fast casual) and the group ahead of us had ordered a long, complicated series of stuff. After it all came together, the woman who ordered it tried to tip the Chipotle cashier to thank her for getting the whole thing straight, but the cashier politely declined.

So what's the new social norm?

More about tipping: A recent Freakonomics podcast focused on tipping -- and featured a Cornell professor who's studied the topic extensively. He argued that tipping might be illegal because it could be considered discriminatory.

That observation -- and many others -- have prompted arguments that a better, fairer way to compensate restaurant employees would be to eliminate tipping and raise the prices on food (say, 15-20 percent) in order to pay employees higher wages not dependent on tips.

Earlier on AOA: New York's highest court on who can share tips at Starbucks

A shift in the job market?

Check out the Capital Region's unemployment rate over the first half of this year, in the table above. (The state Department of Labor released June's numbers this week.)

The state's numbers for metro areas are not seasonally adjusted, so the best comparison for a month is the same month the year before (or before that and so on). After a small increase in January, each month since has registered a bigger decline from its counterpart the year before

Six months isn't necessarily a lot of a time, but it looks like an encouraging trend. And maybe it is. Another way of looking at the situation is to count how many people are employed, as opposed to unemployed.* We've put together those numbers for the Capital Region over the same period in a table after the jump. The picture from that angle is not quite as bright, though June did register a nice increase.

One (another) thing that would be interesting to know: How the pay of these new jobs compares to that of the jobs people previously had.

Saratoga County: It tied Tompkins County (Ithaca) for lowest unemployment rate in the state in June, at 5.7 percent.

New York State: The state's unemployment rate was 7.5 percent in June, the lowest mark since February 2009. It was down from 7.6 in May, and 8.7 in June 2012. (Statewide rates are seasonally adjusted.) The state added 93,800 non-farm jobs between June 2012 and June 2013, an increase of 1.1 percent.

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New York's highest court on GPS, and who can share tips at a Starbucks

Thumbnail image for nys court of appeals exteriorTwo decisions this week by the New York Court of Appeals -- the state's highest court -- caught our eye.

One decision is about the use of a modern technology that's becoming ubiquitous -- GPS -- and governmental employees and their personal cars. The other is about an everyday thing that people might not think much about: tips at Starbucks.

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Charting the Capital Region's workday population tide

esp agency buildings corning tower

That is a lot of office space...

Most of the time when we talk about "population" it's in reference to how many people live in a place. But that doesn't necessarily give the best sense of how many people frequent that city/town/village.

For example: the city of Albany's population on weekdays increases almost 67 percent during weekdays, according to Census Bureau estimates.

So, to get a better sense of how the population "tide" drifts around the Capital Region on a weekday, we thought it'd be interesting to pull daytime population numbers for cities, towns, and villages around the Capital Region -- and then rank and map them.

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Capital Region's unemployment rate down a full percentage point compared to a year ago

washington dollar bill green shadeFollowing up on last week's bit that the state's unemployment rate hit a four-year low last month: The Albany-Schenectady-Troy metro area's unemployment rate was 6.4 percent in May, the state Department of Labor reported Tuesday. That's down from 7.4 percent in May 2012.*

The state's unemployment rate was 7.6 percent in May.**

The unemployment rates in each of the metro's counties were down almost a full percentage point -- or more:

county: May 2013 / May 2012
Albany: 6.3 / 7.3
Rensselaer: 6.5 / 7.7
Saratoga: 5.8 / 7.0
Schenctady: 7.0 / 7.9
Schoharie: 8.0 / 8.6

As if often mentioned, the unemployment rate includes people who are actively looking for a job. So it doesn't necessarily provide a picture of how many people have become frustrated and stopped looking, chosen a different path because employment prospects aren't good (examples: going to school, staying home with a kid), are under-employed -- or some combination of all the above.

Lowest rate: The county with the lowest unemployment rate in May was Tompkins County, which includes Ithaca, at 5.1 percent. Coincidentally, it was also named the "smartest" city in the nation recently by a company that does online brain training games. [Syracuse.com via Gannett Albany Watch]

Meahwhile: 70 percent of American employees are not "engaged" at work, according to a Gallup report. [CBS News via TMN]

* Unemployment rates for counties are not seasonally adjusted, so the best comparison is the same month in previous years.
** State rate is seasonally adjusted.

A good career coach?

lego man with megaphone flickr hazzat ccLiz emails:

I'm in the midst of exploring brand new career paths and I'm looking to work, ideally in person, with a career coach. I was wondering if there are any great career coaches, life coaches, or career consulting firms in the area that perhaps you or the AOA community could recommend.

It seems to us that this sort of thing could a few different ways. One way, the good way, would be finding a person who can help you work through figuring out what you really want to do, whether there's actually a job doing that, and how to get there. The other, less good way, would be someone who just tells you to follow your synergies while leveraging your enterprise solutions to find your cheese. Or something to that effect.

So, have a suggestion for Liz? Please share!

photo: Flickr user Hazzat (cc)

Inside Etsy Hudson

Etsy Hudson. Yep, you want to work there.

By Siobhan Connally

Inside a sprawling, former cannonball factory in Hudson, 17 deeply creative souls mill about quietly creating magic.

Their daily mission? To make Etsy safe for humanity. Well, that and hula-hooping.

Working at Etsy Hudson may be as close to internet superherodom as mere mortals can come.

It also might just be the best job on the planet.

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A good accountant for small businesses?

accounting ledgerRebecca emails:

Just wondering if you could ask readers if they have any suggestions for tax preparers/accountants who are familiar with small businesses/sole proprietors? Thanks!

We've had a question before about accountants, but that was for personal taxes. Things can get a bit more (or a lot) more complicated when you have a small business.

Got a suggestion for Rebecca? Please share!

photo: Edinburgh City of Print (Flickr user edinburghcityofprint)

Beahive Albany

beahive albany exterior

It's in the building between Franklin Tower and Coulson's.

The downtown Albany location for Beahive, a string of coworking spaces in the Hudson Valley, recently opened. We were in the neighborhood this week, so we dropped in to check it out.

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A co-working space for Albany, and an update for Troy

beahive beaconA coworking space called Beahive is scheduled to open in downtown Albany. The company opened its first coworking space in Beacon in 2009, and has another one in Kingston (that's a pic of the Beacon space on the right). From its page for the Albany space:

Our third hive should be open in the Capital Region at 418 Broadway (Downtown Albany) by March 2012.
We'll have a mix of work and lounge areas, meeting space, desks and tables, sofas and armchairs.
We expect to have members not only from Albany but also surrounding towns -- Troy, Rensselaer, Colonie and beyond.
Our space will also be available to rent for events, parties, workshops and group meetings, with flexible rates depending on the use.

There's an open house for the Albany space February 8.

The Biz Review had an article about the space today, and reports it's a partnership with the real estate agent Tracy Metzger.

Collar Collective

There have been a few attempts to get co-working spaces started in the Capital District. The Collar Collective is currently setting up in Troy. Its founder, Brian Corrigan, told us the plan is to start small with about 10 desks. And in order to keep the crowd more or less focused on tech, it will be nerds-only by application. Brian says it's very much open to nerds at-large, so if you're interested, contact him.

photo: Beahive

Capital Coworking

capital coworking before interior

Currently an office furniture showroom... maybe soon an actual office.

The desire for coworking space in the Capital Region has come up a few times over the last year, but the push for such a space never seemed to be able to pick up enough momentum.

Maybe until now. A space called Capital Coworking is aiming to open this September. We had a chance recently to see the space and talk with its founder.

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Networks for engineers and other nerds in the Capital Region?

slide ruleBridget emails:

My husband is looking for a job in Albany as a mechanical engineer. Do you or your readers have any tips or suggestions as to what companies to hit up?

If you have a tip for Bridget, great -- please share.

But we want to broaden her question a bit, too. There are a lot of nerd-type* professionals in the AOA crowd -- and more every day as people move here for various industries, both tiny and large. So... if you're an engineer/scientist/software developer/awesome nerd new to the Capital Region, how do you get plugged into the scene here? Are there good groups or orgs to join? Networking opportunities? Please share!

* AOA loves nerds. Obviously.

photo: Flickr user s58y

Web development/design social groups?

coda screenshotKate emails:

I had a question for you and maybe the AOA readers could point me in the right direction. I'm new to web design and am wondering if there are any web design social groups in the capital district... groups where people get together with beers and binary, groups for drupal or word press, geeks who love to talk nerdy about html 5 and css... can you help a girl out?

Anyone have suggestions for Kate? Please share!

Where to learn web design/development?

coda screenshotBrett emails:

What I want to know is, where is the best place in the capital region to take computer classes? Specifically, where is a good college/trade-school/company in the area to learn about web design, coding, programming and graphic design? I am looking for a career change and I have really great computer skills and I want to take my knowledge to the next level and try to secure a good job. I know I could do most of the learning online, but I'm really looking for a place to go and learn from a teacher for a reasonable price.

Got a suggestion for Brett? Please share!

Looking for presentation space

747 Madison community office conferenceTechyDad emails:

I was wondering if you or your readers could help me. I've been working on a freelance project that is winding to a close. The final piece is a presentation that I need to give showing how to use the system I built for them. My problem is, I don't know where to give it. I can't do it at my office since this is a side project and doing it at my home seems too unprofessional. This would only be three or four people involved in this so I wouldn't need much space. I would, however, need Internet access.

We've touched on the the lack of co-working space in the Capital Region before. Any businesses with conference room space that TD that might rent for a few hours? (If you don't feel comfortable posting in the comments, email us and we'll connect you.)

Got a suggestion for TechyDad? Please share!

How to work in places that are not your office and not be a jerk

panera interior

Following up on our post from earlier this week about non-office working spots around the Capital Region, we figured we'd share a few observations based on our experiences about how to work in these places.

Really, though -- this isn't so much for you. It's for us. Because we'd prefer to not work next to a jerk.

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A short, incomplete tour of places in the Capital Region to work that are not your office

Uncommon Grounds

Uncommon, yet very familiar.

Much of AOA's work is not done in a traditional office. We'd guess that probably about 65 percent of our work is done in cafes, libraries, a car parked near a wi-fi spot, places like that. In fact, the text you're reading right now -- cafe.

All this time spent out and about has given us a chance to survey various non-office working spots in the Capital Region.

Here's a quick take on a bunch of them...

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The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

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