MONEY food and drink

Company Cooked Up in the Kitchen is a National Hit

This entrepreneur learned a love of cooking from her father in Singapore.

Small business owner Nona Lim learned to love cooking from her father as a child growing up in Singapore. When she wanted to create her own company, it was important to her to bring healthy food with Asian-inspired flavors to her busy customers short on time but searching for a wholesome meal. At Nona Lim, what they don’t put into their products, such as preservatives, is just as important as the fresh vegetables and ingredients that are included. Lim’s company has grown from a one-woman shop selling locally in the San Francisco area to a national brand carried by grocers throughout the country.

MONEY Careers

Is Work-Life Balance Even Possible?

We asked people on the streets of New York City how they manage to keep their home lives and work lives separate, if at all.

Balancing your time and energy between work and home is difficult; you’ve got that report due on Wednesday and your kids need help with their homework. We went to Times Square to ask people how they prioritize between their careers and their family. Some people said they clock out right at 5p.m. every day while some said they take work home with them every night. How do you manage your work-life balance?

MONEY Workplace

The 3 People It Pays to Befriend at Work

You'll obviously make friends at your new job, but these are three people you should absolutely befriend.

At the very least try to make these folks friendly acquaintances.

Someone in human resources will likely already have an ear to the ground when it comes to layoffs or new job opportunities within the company. This person can also be a good sounding board for salary and personnel issues.

You should also try to befriend your boss’s assistant, the gatekeeper to your boss. He or she can get you on the boss’s schedule and alert you to the boss’s mood.

Finally, reach out to the office rockstar. You know who that one is: the person who just kills it day in and day out.

TIME Economy

How TIME Once Mansplained Why Equal Pay for Women Wouldn’t Work

Esther Peterson
Lowell Georgia—Post Archive / Getty Images Esther Peterson, center, on Oct. 20, 1966

'Many women prove reluctant to take on heavy responsibility'

When President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law on this day, June 10, in 1963, it seemed like workplace equality was on its way. “It is a first step,” the President said during the signing. “It affirms our determination that when women enter the labor force they will find equality in their pay envelopes.”

The act had been drafted by Esther Peterson, head of the Women’s Bureau of the Department of Labor. It prohibited employers who were subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (under which the new law fell) from paying employees differently, on the basis of gender, for work that required “equal skill, effort, and responsibility.”

In a sadly-prescient feat of mansplaining in 1964, TIME predicted why the law was unlikely to have the desired effect:

In fact, the new U.S. equalpay law may cost women some of their jobs because—other things being equal—many companies prefer to hire men. Many women prove reluctant to take on heavy responsibility or to boss men on the job. Supervisors complain that they have a higher absenteeism rate than men—6.5 days a year v. five days—partly because men do not have babies. Some labor leaders are also cool to women workers; only 14% of them join unions, and those who do tend to vote down proposed pension plans. Predictably, they do not want the security of pensions, but the joy of more cash to spend immediately.

TIME was right about the law’s impact, if not the cause. When the magazine took stock of the act’s legacy in 1974, the wage gap at the time—women earned 60 cents on the dollar—was exactly the same as it was when Kennedy signed the law. “Equal pay for equal work is a familiar slogan of the women’s lib movement,” the story began. “It has also been the law of the land for large companies for a decade, but a law that was little noted nor long remembered.”

The fact was, the law—along with other anti-discrimination laws passed in the intervening years—had not really been put to the test.

In 1974, the Supreme Court decided in Corning Glass Works v. Brennan that the factory in question had broken the law by hiring only men for the higher-paid night shifts, and then women were owed back pay for the money they might have earned in that role. The TIME story cited several other examples of the 1963 law finally creating change: two cases in which AT&T had settled with employees, a steel plant facing a lawsuit, an instance in which Rutgers University was providing back pay to the tune of $375,000.

The pay gap has narrowed since then–women made 78 cents on the dollar as of 2013, according to the White House—but the law’s aim, clearly, remains unreached.

MONEY

Why You Shouldn’t Get a College Degree In a “Hot” Job Field

Advertisement for Baruch College of CUNY on the side of a NYC transit bus
Frances Roberts—Alamy Advertisement for Baruch College of CUNY on the side of a NYC transit bus

Do you really want that degree in international tourism? Probably not, says Wharton professor Peter Cappelli.

A big move on many college campuses has been the proliferation of degrees and majors that sound just like job titles: Golf course operations, screenwriting, pharmaceutical marketing, you name it. There is no official count of these majors, but websites like mymajors.com list more than 1,800, along with the colleges that offer them. Ads on the street in any major city make the pitch that you can get a job in healthcare records administration, construction management, or something equally specialized with a degree from the advertised school.

There have always been degrees that seemed aimed primarily at getting the graduate a job. “Business” has been the most popular major in the U.S. since the 1981 recession. As I discuss in my new book, Will College Pay Off?: A Guide to the Most Important Financial Decision You’ll Ever Make, what’s different now is that these degrees and majors target specific job titles rather than occupations or broad fields. A number of studies find that students do chose majors based on their guess of where the jobs are. Currently students are following the advice to get so-called STEM (for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) degrees.

There are many good reasons why attending college to prepare you for specific jobs is a bad idea. The first one, which is pretty basic, is that it’s almost impossible when picking a college to predict what the job market will look like years later at graduation, especially recognizing that only 40% of full-time students graduate in four years. What will you do with that casino management degree if gambling is down the year you graduate and casinos aren’t hiring? You might well be better off with a broad, liberal arts degree.

The unpredictability of the job market even applies to STEM fields. Contrary to conventional wisdom, it turns out math and science degrees per se are not and have never been particularly hot. A recent Texas study found, for example, that sociology grads made more money than biology grads. Instead, it has generally been applied science degrees like engineering that have been gone through periods of huge demand—but even within those broad fields, what’s hot at any given moment varies sharply over time.

In the past few years, for instance, the hottest job by far for new grads has been petroleum engineering, which had a dead job market until fracking unexpectedly revived it a few years earlier. Unfortunately, as new students follow advice to pursue hot jobs, graduates have been pouring out of petroleum engineering programs just as declining oil prices are smothering new exploration. Of course, freshly minted petroleum engineers can’t necessarily transform themselves into the next hot kind of engineer, so they very well may be stuck.

The general point about these engineering and tech jobs, as economist Richard Freeman observed decades ago, is that they are highly cyclical. As new technologies develop, they boom; and later they bust, partly because students pouring into hot job markets helps cool them off.

Nor do people stay in these technical fields for long, in part because possibilities for advancement are limited. In the peak of the dot.com era, for example, only 29% of grads with science and engineering degrees were in those fields two years later.

Most tellingly, employers don’t seem all that interested in vocational degrees. When asked about new grads, employers report that they are probably overqualified with respect to the job skills the employers expected them to have and underqualified in the areas we thought college was supposed to address: communication skills, interpersonal abilities, and self-management.

When asked what they look for in new college grads, a recent survey shows that employers are overwhelming interested in experiences outside the classroom, such as any kind of work experience students have had. (Of their top five criterion, “college major” is the only academic attribute.) This isn’t very surprising given that only 25% of new grads report getting a job in their major—not unexpected if your major was philosophy, but a disaster if it was fire prevention management.

The truth is, it isn’t necessary to have a degree in a field to get a job in that field. Most computer programmers, for example, have no IT-related degree. A few specific classes and some real-world experience, even if as a volunteer, may be enough to get a job in most fields, and those actions can be taken much closer to graduation when it is possible to tell where the jobs are.

How about the long-term, after that first job? Taking all the practical courses for a vocational major means there are other courses one cannot take that might be better preparation for the long run. Economist Ofer Malamud did an interesting study comparing English college grads, who typically study only one subject in college, to Scottish grads, who take a broader mix of courses before focusing on a specialization. He found that the English grads changed careers more often (possibly because they knew less about alternatives) and had more difficulty making those changes (possibly because of narrower preparation) than did their Scottish peers.

So is it worth getting that degree in international tourism? The college course in probability (that you wouldn’t have time to take) says “no.”

Peter Cappelli is the George W. Taylor Professor of Management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and director of Wharton’s Center for Human Resources. He is also the author of numerous books, including his most recent, Will College Pay Off?: A Guide to the Most Important Financial Decision You’ll Ever Make.

MONEY The Economy

What Do the Jobs Numbers Actually Mean?

A look at the monthly employment reports and what they mean.

The unemployment rate can often be used as a measure of how tough or easy it may be to get a job at a certain time. That one number, however, paints a picture that’s a little too simplistic. The unemployment rate fails to include people who have given up looking for work and those who consider themselves underemployed. To get a clearer picture, look at the employment growth number and the unemployment rate together.

MONEY Workplace

Minority Retail Workers Paid Less Than Whites

A higher minimum wage could help even things out.

A study revealed minority retail workers are paid less than white peers. Researchers say this feeds into poverty and recommend an increase in minimum wage. The minimum wage nationwide is $7.25 an hour, but many states have higher minimum wages. Fast food workers have been protesting for higher pay recently as well.

MONEY Workplace

Should You Give Someone a Bad Job Reference?

Donna Rosato, MONEY's Careerist, addresses the question of whether you should give someone a negative reference.

What happens when someone asks you to be a job reference, but you don’t have anything nice to say about him or her? The best thing you can do is say you don’t feel comfortable being a reference for them. Some companies even have policies against giving people negative job references because it could come back to haunt them—and you. Check with your company’s human resources department; if they say no, that’s an easy out.

TIME Careers

Why High School Athletes are Cool Even After Graduation

(c) davepeetersphoto

They're just better at everything

Nerds are supposed to get their revenge after graduation.

Sure, high school jocks are popular. But as mothers across America tell their uncoordinated children: Study hard, get good grades, and you’ll have the last laugh by making more money later in life.

However soothing as this tale may be to athletically challenged youngsters, economists say it’s a lie. Former high school athletes “display significantly more leadership, self-confidence, and self-respect than those who were active outside of sports—such as being in the band or on the yearbook staff,” according to a recent study published in the Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies (via The Atlantic).

Not only that, but former high school athletes retain these qualities as long as 60 years after they hung up their varsity jackets. The Atlantic also points to several other studies that former athletes earn “from 5 to 15 percent” more than non-athletes.

The jury is still out on whether this statistical difference is because the act of playing sports in high school teaches kids skills like hard work and determination, or because kids with those qualities gravitate towards sports in youth. Either way, it would appear that there are more reasons than fleeting glory to go out for the football team this fall.

TIME Careers

These are the Most Extreme Jobs

skydiving
Getty Images

Venom milker and skydiving instructor make the list

Adrenaline addicts looking for a new job may want to consider a few of the following: Crocodile physiologist, venom milker and skydiving instructor. They all made a list of the world’s most extreme jobs, at least according to YourTradeBase, a company that helps other businesses with the entirely sedate job of completing their paperwork.

Take safari guide, for example, which was identified as the extreme career with the highest average salary. They are exposed to potentially dangerous animals like lions, work in an area lacking in medical facilities and drive on muddy and bumpy dirt tracks. But let’s face it: Despite the danger, it’s a great job.

Here are he most extreme jobs ranked by average salary per year (or season) are:

  1. Safari Guide: $73,000
  2. Professional Stuntman: $70,000
  3. Crocodile Physiologist: $62,500
  4. Storm Chaser: $60,968
  5. Cave Diver: $58,640
  6. Smoke Jumpers: $33,000
  7. Venom Milker: $30,000
  8. Skydiving Instructor: $24,000
  9. Whitewater Rafting Guide: $6,675 per season
  10. Everest Guides: $5,000 per season

In case you were wondering what a venom milker does, YourTradeBase writes that it’s a position to “massage the venom glands of many snakes, whilst pressing their fangs on a plastic plate/tube, to collect their venom.” It notes that “snakes don’t enjoy being milked.” Well, imagine that.

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