Welcome to Dubai.”

Waiting to depart LAX on Sunday, September 7, 2014.
Waiting in the United Airlines terminal to depart LAX the morning of Sunday, September 7, 2014.

After flying 9,357 miles from LAX and traveling for nearly 22 hours — including an almost 4 hour delay in Dulles (IAD) — I had arrived at Dubai International Airport (DXB) the evening of September 8, 2014. Coincidentally Lady Gaga  arrived that evening for her first UAE concert ever.

Beginning a two year contract as a full time Lecturer in the College of Business Administration at Jumeira University, I awaited a brave new world of professional development  and personal growth. One quick month later, I have experienced that and more.

Below are three of my initial  impressions — aka “teachable moments” — from my first month in Dubai. Each is a different degree of the same spectrum of educational adventure and I am grateful for the knowledge gained through each experience:

Community

Having worked as an adjunct instructor since 2007 I became accustomed to a “lone wolf” style of working and, to some degree, living. One of the first changes — aside from the obvious fact that I am thousands of miles from my former home in another country — is I am now a full-time faculty member, with all the rights and responsibilities that entails. I am fortunate to have exceptional colleagues and students who, from  day one, have enriched my experience ten fold. There is a wonderful sense of community and camaraderie here and it is both motivating and reassuring. I am looking forward to creating a community of practice and making the most of this exceptional opportunity.

Connectivity

Finding reliable WiFi has been a challenge everywhere including at my apartment, where I had to wait an additional 10 days for service due to an issue with the fiber cable and, subsequently, the server box in my apartment.  This complicated  matters, including my ability to speak with my sons via Skype over WiFi. Fortunately, my building management and my Internet provider — du — worked with me to resolve the issue even with an important Muslim holiday, Eid al-Adha, impeding their progress. I am happy to report that I am now writing this fully connected at my apartment. Ironically, my connectivity issues started even before I arrived in Dubai when neither of the two flights I took had WiFi on-board. Having previously been continuously connected, this was a challenging adjustment; one that forced me to find creative, constructive, and somewhat costly alternatives. The lesson here was one of persistence mixed with patience and politeness.

Mobility

Coming from Los Angeles (where nobody walks), I was accustomed to driving everywhere. But, when I arrived in Dubai I had $300 in my pocket, two large suitcases, one carry-on, and a messenger bag with my laptop; I was without personal transportation. Initially, and now occasionally, I depended on the kindness of strangers or colleagues. I even had an exceptional experience with a total stranger named “Ali Boots” who graciously drove me to my university after getting an important housing document called an Ejari. Now I am taking taxis or the Dubai Metro light rail system. While individual taxi rides are only between AED 30 and 50 ($8.17 to $13.61), these costs can quickly add up, as can the time spent waiting for scheduled taxis or trying to find an available option. For the most part this has been a seamless process, but it has taught me to plan more efficiently, travel lightly, and be flexible — it’s also forced me to more carefully budget my cash flow.

Me in front of Jumeira University in Dubai, UAE.
Me in front of Jumeira University in Dubai, UAE.

This is a small sampling of my observations. During my next two years in Dubai I will share “tips and quips” as time and subject matter permit. If ever there was an opportunity to learn continuously and live generatively this is certainly it!

Is social media the new resume?

Chris Hutchins thinks so. On Friday, May 1, 2009 I caught up with Chris, the founder of Laid Off Camp during a meeting of the networking and collaborative career resource at Blankspaces. I invited him to expand on a statement he made during an interview with Leo Laporte on  the March 8, 2009 TWiT.tv “This Week in Tech” show (where he was joined by Brian Shaler):

“Social media is the new resume.”

In response to his statement, I asked Chris the following questions which he answered in the video below:

  1. Why is social media the “new resume?”
  2. Does social media help represent a candidate in a more three dimensionally way? Can it give employers a fuller sense of who a candidate really is?
  3. Have you had an experience with a recruiter using 1.0 tools who could not adapt to the 2.0 landscape?
  4. Have you had any experiences with a firm that made an effort to understand you as a person, but were still ineffective?
  5. Are there certain industries for which social media is naturally a better fit?
  6. Is there greater risk or reward with using social media to reveal the “real you?” What is the role of an employer in that risk or reward?
  7. What is your long-term vision for Laid Off Camp?
  8. How can employers participate in and benefit from Laid Off Camp?

Chris was gracious enough to spend some time with me and very candidly addressed each of my inquiries:

With the passage of time, Chris is now working for Milk — a mobile application development company based in San Francisco, CA  — although Laid Off Camp remains a proud part of his professional past.  Update: On March 16, 2012 Chris announced via his Twitter account that Milk, and it’s staff, had been acquired by Google; Chris is now a product manager at Google.

Speaking of the passage of time, since this interview was originally recorded, social media has continued to evolve as an exceptionally viable means by which individuals can market themselves and secure full-time employment and/or contract work — in social media or other industries.

Notably, according to a recent LA Times article, a growing number of employers are hiring people to mange their social media presence. If you are curious to learn how businesses are using social media to recruit candidates, you might find this infographic from Mashable of interest.

One particularly active resource for social media positions is the crowdsourced Social Media Jobs Group on Facebook.  Another resource includes the Social Media Jobs account on Twitter.

Mashable also offers helpful advice about how to get a job using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+. If you’re not sure where to start, this Mashable article will teach you how to create an online resume with a website, videos, documents, and LinkedIn.

One recent humorous take on using social media to find a job involved Matthew Epstein donning a fake mustache in a creative and compelling effort to land a job at Google. Although his initial goal was not realized, his campaign garnered significant attention and helped get him hired as a product marketing manager at Sigfig, a web-based investment and financial management service.

Ironically, some criminals are also finding “jobs” using social media, so please be careful what you share online! Personally, I have been actively using social media since roughly November 2008 (I actually created my Facebook account a year earlier, but didn’t begin using it immediately).

Since that time the various social media tools and platforms — including Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn — with which I have experimented have helped me find several adjunct teaching opportunities.

I also launched a personal website with which I have consolidated my social media profiles while also offering a centralized resource through which I communicate who I am and the value I can add to any organization.

Additionally, this blog also provides a platform with which I can share knowledge while also promoting my skills to potential employers. Without question, social media has been a tremendous career enhancing tool!

In one such example, I was hired to teach marketing courses at UCLA Extension almost entirely because of a referral from Beverly Macy. Beverly is the CEO of Gravity Summit, a professional speaker and co-author of the book “The Power of Real-Time Marketing” (affiliate link). She also teaches a social media marketing class for UCLA Extension.

Beverly Macy and Matthew Gilbert at UCLA Gravity Summit on February 25, 2009

I first came to know Beverly on Twitter (in late 2008 or very early in 2009), just prior to the first Gravity Summit conference at UCLA in February 2009 (which I attended). Beverly and I later connected via Facebook in August 2009 and, in July 2010, she referred my resume to her contacts at UCLA.

After several months of administration and preparation I finally began teaching online the first of two courses with which I am now entrusted: MGMT X 460.394, New Media Marketing (Online). In the fall semester I added MGMT X 460.300, Consumer Behavior (on campus), to my repertoire. I anticipate continuing to teach these two courses for the foreseeable future and am very grateful for the privilege to do so.

Were it not for Twitter, I would have never come to know Beverly, and had I not come to know Beverly, I would have never had a chance to teach these classes.  I am forever grateful to Beverly, Twitter, and social media in general!

In what ways has social media played a part in your own career development and/or job search?

A belated reminder that Autism Twitter Day is now underway on Twitter.com!

autism-twitter-dayThis unqiue online event is focused no raising “positive autism awareness.” Prizes are also being given out and virtual “panel discussions” have been scheduled for 9AM, 12:30 PM and 8 PM (Pacific Standard Time).

Who can participate? Twitter members who are members of the Autism community or anyone with a direct or indirect connection to Autism (parent, sibling,  relative, teacher, therapist, friend).

When posting a tweet, use the hashtag “#ASD.”  To follow the conversation, open a browser to www.summize.com and input #ASD.

Reply to any tweet of interest or relevance to you and add to the conversation! And, even if you don’t get there today, you can still search the hashtag and learn about Autism at any point in the future.

Aside from my personal interest in better understanding Autism, I am also drawn to the implications of it from a social media research perspective.  I am eager to see what I will learn from it and how it might further strengthen the role of social media in our daily lives.

For additional information, visit http://autismfamily.tumblr.com or head on over to Twitter – my username is @doctorious.  Tweet you there!

If you’ve ever been curious what a Scotsman wears under his kilt, don’t as Wikipedia!

According to a June 21, 2008 Scotsman article by Martyn McLaughlin the Scottish Parent Teacher Council (SPTC)contends that Wikipedia and similar online research sources were to blame for Scotland’s falling exam pass rates.

Excerpts of the original article follows:

Wikipedia and other online research sources were yesterday blamed for Scotland’s falling exam pass rates. The Scottish Parent Teacher Council (SPTC) said pupils are turning to websites and Internet resources that contain inaccurate or deliberately misleading information before passing it off as their own work.

The group singled out online encyclopedia Wikipedia, which allows entries to be logged or updated by anyone and is not verified by researchers, as the main source of information.

Eleanor Coner, the SPTC’s information officer, said: “Children are very IT-savvy, but they are rubbish at researching. The sad fact is most children these days use libraries for computers, not the books. We accept that as a sign of the times, but schools must teach pupils not to believe everything they read.

“It’s dangerous when the Internet is littered with opinion and inaccurate information which could be taken as fact.”

Alan Johnson, the UK Education Secretary, was lambasted earlier this year for suggesting the website could be a positive educational tool for children.

He described the Internet as “an incredible force for good in education”, singling out Wikipedia for praise.

A disclaimer on Wikipedia states “it is important to note that fledgling, or less well monitored, articles may be susceptible to vandalism and insertion of false information.”

Boasting over two million articles, Wikipedia is used by about 6 per cent of Internet users, significantly more than the traffic to more authorised sites, such as those of newspapers. Its articles are mainly edited by a team of volunteers.

Wikipedia was really a trailblazer in the current trend of virtual communities of practice, an area of my academic research interests. However, I know full well that whatever I read might not be accurate.

I once heard it said that Wikipedia is a great place to start your research, but a bad place to end it. I feel that is an accurate assessment. I personally enjoy exploring Wikipedia and often find I end up on a page I never imagined I would find.

As an adjunct instructor, I go to great lengths to explain why Wikipedia is not an ideal source for research information — precisely for the reasons mentioned above.  I explain that they can begin their research at Wikipedia — as it is usually one of the top five pages to appear following a Google search — but I tell them to follow the links to the resources cited on the page itself.

However, I am admittedly a bit of a hypocrite as I frequently link to Wikipedia pages in this blog due to the ease with which pages relevant to my topics can be found. Without question, Wikipedia pages are a great clearinghouse of information — a true crossroads of knowledge — and for that reason alone the site is a useful tool.

But, its greatest strength is also its greatest weakness — one that will forever exist so long as the site remains as it is now.

Carrot-TopI recently demonstrated how easy it is to change a page on Wikipedia to one of my English classes by changing the Wikipedia page for comedian Carrot Top to indicate that he had died unexpectedly on that date.

I was even able to change to biographical information in the box that appears in the upper-right-hand corner of the page.

In fairness to Wikipedia, one of their editors discovered the false entry and deleted it within seven minutes.

Still, seven minutes is plenty of time for someone researching comedians to have found the page and added a citation to their paper that Carrot Top had indeed died.

So I really can see both sides of this issue — though as an educator I make sure my students understand the pros and cons of Wikipedia. Just like the students mentioned in the Scotsman article, I am likely to conduct my research virtually instead of physically in a library.

It is hard to not do so with resources such as ProQuest making almost anything you need available at the click of a few keys.

The main issue is to teach students how to properly conduct research and to ensure they understand why certain sources are more credible that others. Sometimes this can be difficult to communicate, especially when it comes to controversial topics for which there might not be a great deal of mainstream research materials available.

Clearly technology offers education an immesurable advantage, but the key is to learn to control it without letting it control us.

One of my research interests is the metoric rise social networking services: LinkedIn.com, Facebook.com, MySpace.com and others. Typical social network services use software to help users create on-line networks with people who share interests and activities  or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others.

My particular curiosity is learning how entrepreneurs and small business owners use social networking services to effectively make contacts, share information and build business.

So it was particularly interesting to me when I stumbled across a great post on a blog called “The Thinking Stick” titled “Moving from Consumer to Producer of Information.” It focused on the rise of social networking sites and blogs as the primary means of entertainment, information gathering and knowledge production (primarily among 18 to 24 year olds).

The blog presents research conducted by MySpace and reported by Netimperative this past January as follows:

  • Social networks are now so integral to daily life, for some, they have surpassed the TV as the entertainment media of choice.
  • Nearly half of 18-24 year old social networkers (45%) told Future Laboratory researchers that if they had 15 minutes of spare time they would choose spend it on social networking sites rather than watching TV, reading, talking on their mobile, or playing video games.  
  • The impact of this trend is so significant that a quarter (25%) of respondents state that the rise in social networks has decreased the amount of traditional television they consume.

Clearly, social networking sites have evolved between simple socialization and are emerging as an entirely new cultural paradigm. In fact, they are now even becoming relevant to business.