Job Interview Follow Up: Critical Part of the Search

New Electronic Sheriff Squelches Spam

No Pressure Route To Computer Skills

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Bart Jackson and Kathleen McGinn Spring were

prepared for the February 4, 2004 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All

rights reserved.

Sharks in Toyland

Childhood is not dead in America. Even though FAO Schwartz, that most

lavish of toylands, slipped through the veil of bankruptcy as of

January 25th, its toys have gained immortality. Recently a Bainbridge,

Massachusetts man paid $10,000 for one of the legendarily massive

stuffed bears that greeted shoppers and stood as sentries against

serious adulthood throughout FAO Schwartz stores everywhere. The doors

are closed, but the marketing tools live on.

Ever since Theodore Roosevelt first brought trophies back from the

wilds, every child has dreamed of a soft toy Teddy bear to cuddle. And

for just about that long, Gund Bears of Edison, has been supplying the

need. Their towering toy bears, seen in FAO Schwartz and other stores,

were just one of several display ploys that has kept Gund on the top

of the incredibly competitive toy market for 105 years. It might seem

as if they have done everything right. But Gund’s creative director,

Andy Epstein, reports that has not been the case.

Epstein draws upon some of his firm’s instructive errors in "Flaws and

Faux Pas: How to Avoid Design Blind Spots" on Tuesday, February 10, at

11:30 a.m. at the Doral Forrestal. Cost: $45. Visit www.NJCAMA.org for

more information. Sponsored by the New Jersey Communications,

Advertising and Marketing Association (NJ CAMA), this meeting covers

not only the many aspects of display marketing, but also the fine art

of bringing clients and vendors on board.

"We do not make mistakes, we just learn great lessons," is a motto

Epstein has followed for his 23 years in product and display design. A

native of Maryland’s eastern shore, Epstein is a graduate of Carnegie

Mellon. After college he headed for the Big Apple, illustrating for

Bantam Books and working freelance for Merck, Sony, and a variety of

firms. After a few years, Epstein found his niche in toys, moved

inhouse with Gund, and has never left.

A Princeton resident, he is also the founder of InSource, an

association of in-house designers. To learn more about what Epstein

calls "a creative design brain trust" visit www.In-Source.org or call

609-430-0869.

Ever since 1898, when Adolph Gund first immigrated from Germany and

began sewing, generations of young girls have yearned for Snuffles the

Bear. The ursine stuffed animal was soon joined by Musty the dog,

Felix the Cat, and Mickey Mouse, along with Scotties, flamingos,

seals, sharks, and a whole assortment of zoo and farm animals. The

high-end stuffed animals sit enticingly on shelves of toy, department,

and book stores; hospitals and gift shops. Each item, in each venue,

demands its own display technique, and the pitfalls are many.

Dodge the steamroller. Every manufacturer and business owner is

convinced that he knows best how to display his product. For

freelancers and in-house displays designers alike, there is constant

pressure to do it the owner’s way. It is amazing how many firms are

enslaved by traditional packaging. Epstein insists that it becomes the

designer’s job to stick by his guns and launch a pre-planned campaign

to convince management to go with good design.

Brag with branding. In the late ’60s, a shiver went through the entire

stuffed toy industry as several market-flooding Chinese companies sent

thousands of knockoff toys into American stores. Everyone’s products

took the hit. Gund countered by developing the slogan "Gotta Getta

Gund." The company had built a 70-year reputation as one of the top

quality manufacturers of plush toys. Gund leveraged this reputation to

focus people’s attention away from the product in general, and toward

the unique value of its toys. Good move. But then they forgot the

lesson.

Recently Epstein examined the packaging and displays for several of

Gund’s new huggables. The elements were all there: the cunning

illustration, the name of the stuffed animal, and all of the toy’s

features. After searching, he found the named "Gund" way down in the

lower right corner. "We had about 80 percent product information, with

only 20 percent brand," says Epstein. "We had 105 years of solid

reputation that we were hiding under a bush."

He now has expanded the brand to 30 percent of the display. He notes

that businesses should not only leverage the name, but should also

establish an identifier. There are scores of pet foods out there, but

everybody instantly recognizes the Purina checkerboard.

Remember your audience. The person who is going to buy a $5 bumblebee

at the supermarket checkout is a different person, in a different

frame of mind, from the consumer selecting a $50 bear. "When mom’s got

the kid in the cart, gazing at a low-end item, you don’t give her some

glossy photographic display. Instead, make it fun and cartoony,"

suggests Epstein.

Another display faux pas designers make is forgetting to scream out

the features. Customers want a product that does something specific

and want to know what that is right up front. Recently, Epstein

recalls, Gund had a new toy named "Jelly Bean Guy" that giggled when

you pressed its tummy. Epstein’s staff changed it to "Giggling Jelly

Bean" to make the main feature more dominant.

Individualize venue displays. The Red Bank Chocolate Shop, Lord and

Taylor, Robert Wood Johnson Hospital, and the New York Natural History

Museum are very different outlets where a single product may be sold.

Designers have to envision not only the physical locale, but the mood.

The final placement of stuffed animals in the store, Epstein says,

tends to be very cluttered. The toys often end up looking like "a

jumbled hairball." Odds are, all those marvelous features the designer

worked hard to highlight will be lost. The problem is that you can’t

counter this clutter by putting the squeeze toy in a shiny cardboard

box, because it is a touchable item that everyone wants to fondle

before they buy. Gund’s solution is to make a giant version of the toy

and sell it to the store for display purpose. The result is that

children race in and fling themselves at the massive bear and will not

let go until Daddy agrees to buy the regular-size version, which,

unlike the display, will fit into the child’s room.

Execution. It is the tragedy of so much grand art that the vision

somehow gets blurred throughout the execution. Once a product or

display is designed, it remains the designer’s job to keep in constant

communication with his vendors. Printing and graphic capabilities

change so rapidly that even the most current designers cannot know

them all. This leaves key choices to printers, who may not be trained

in design and who definitely don’t know the nuances of your marketing

plan. Such constant checking may be one of the most stressful parts of

the job, but it is the most necessary.

For those who worry that the legacy of FAO Schwartz has vanished from

our landscape forever, fear not. The D.E. Shaw investment group has

purchased the toy business for $41 million and after a six-month

refurbishing period will re-open the New York and Las Vegas stores, as

well as the catalog business. While stockholders may be out of luck,

the D.E. Shaw group assures shoppers that the FAO Schwartz legacy,

complete with the stores’ central clock tower will remain. In all

likelihood, Gund will be stitching up more giant bears for these

stores to delight our hearts and hands.

Top Of Page
Job Interview Follow Up: Critical Part of the Search

A client of career counselor Mary Anne Walsh called in triumphantly

after a recent job interview. Shortly after sitting down with the

interviewer he had discovered that the two had attended the same high

school. "’Can you believe it!" he crowed. "’It’s a lock. I’m going to

get that job!’"

The job candidate went on to tell Walsh that he and the interviewer

had had a grand time reminiscing about their mutual alma mater. "And

how much time did you spend telling him about your qualifications?"

Walsh asked.

"Oh, about the last 10 minutes," said the job candidate.

"You’re never going to hear from him again," said Walsh.

Sometimes, she says, dealing with her clients requires tough love. And

remedial action. In this case, an immediate follow-up, supplying

information that should have been conveyed during the interview, was

imperative. The interviewer’s job is to fill a position, Walsh

explained. He is very unlikely to do so based on a lengthy chat about

school days and sketchy details about a job candidate.

While the nature of follow-up varies, the direction it had to take for

this job seeker was clear. But no matter how well – or badly – an

interview goes, follow-up is always a vital part of a job search, a

golden opportunity to close the deal. It is also something that the

majority of job seekers do badly, in Walsh’s view.

Walsh, who has offices in Manhattan and in Mendham (973-543-8646),

speaks on "Follow-ups: The Most Important Part of a Job Search" on

Tuesday, February 10, at 7:30 p.m. at a free meeting of JobSeekers at

Trinity Church in Princeton. Call 609-924-2277 for more information.

Walsh is a New Jersey native who bootstrapped herself into a life that

has taken her around the world, and right back to New Jersey. A native

of Clark, she came from a working class family. To get ahead, she

joined other ambitious youngsters in Junior Achievement classes in

Elizabeth. "Junior Achievement was very big in Elizabeth," she says.

She met her future husband in Junior Achievement. She had been

sponsored by American Cyanamid, and he had been sponsored by

Bristol-Myers Squibb. Each year there was an incentive for the most

successful projects. The winners that year, 1963, would go on a trip

to East and West Berlin. Both she and her future husband won, and

their courtship began on that trip.

Walsh went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Caldwell College (Class

of 1968), before taking a teaching job with the Clark school system.

Clark paid for two-thirds of the cost of graduate school. "I was poor,

how could I not go for it?" she asks. She earned a master’s degree in

counseling from Seton Hall, and then started a career planning office

at Caldwell College. Next was a Ph.D. in higher education from

Teachers College at Columbia University.

"I was teaching at Seton Hall and working at Caldwell," she says, "and

all the while having babies." She had established a private practice

in career counseling, and was about to give birth to her fourth child,

when her husband, Jim, then an investment banker, came home with the

news that he had been offered a transfer to London. "’Do you want to

go?’" he asked.

She had a Caesarean section that Friday, and the movers arrived on

Monday. "My career was portable," she says. "I just loaded up my

books, the kids, two cats, and the dog, and off we went."

After four years in London, the family moved to Tokyo for an 11-year

posting. During a phone conversation on the day after the movie, "Lost

in Translation," won the Golden Globe award for best comedy, Walsh

says, "that was me, lost in translation for 11 years." She says the

movie, depicting the severe cultural dislocation of an actor past his

peak, and in Tokyo to shoot a whiskey commercial, got it just right.

"You know the scene where the girl hurt her foot, and he was trying to

communicate with the people in the hospital?" she asks. "That’s

exactly how it was."

Sensing an opportunity, Walsh added cross-cultural training to her

career counseling. Her clients were ex-pats struggling to catch the

nuances of a very different culture.

Upon returning to the United States, and setting up a practice in New

York City, Walsh continued to offer cross cultural training, mostly to

corporations. After 9/11, however, demand dropped off. "It’s icing on

the cake; it’s the first thing cut," she says. Concentrating on career

counseling, she also opened an office in Mendham.

"I’ve come full circle," she says. "My parents used to take us for

drives, and would stop in Mendham to admire a beautiful white

clapboard church. Now I see the steeple of that church from my

window."

In describing successful job hunting, Walsh refers to the Five O’Clock

Club (www.fiveoclockclub.com) again and again. She read a career book

by founder Kate Wendleton while she was abroad, and quickly moved

affiliation with the group to the top of her list of goals. She now

works both with individual clients and with Five O’ Clock Club groups.

Her advice on follow-up for job hunters comes both from the Five

O’Clock Club philosophy and from her own experience:

Be a consultant, not a candidate. People looking for a job most often

see themselves as supplicants. They want something from the companies

they approach. This is the wrong attitude, says Walsh. The job hunter

is a person who is ready, willing, and able to ferret out an

organization’s problems – and to solve them. He is, in short, a

consultant.

Replace "interview" with "meeting." Words have power. When job hunters

go to speak with potential employers, they are not on an interview,

insists Walsh. Rather, they are going to a meeting. "Take a pad and

pencil," she commands. Listen, ask good questions, and think of the

ways in which your solutions can move the company forward.

Know that employers don’t know what they’re looking for. When the hunt

for a new worker begins, employers often have only a vague idea of

what they would like to see in that worker, and are rarely clear about

exactly what they need him to do. This leaves substantial room for the

job hunter to demonstrate why his mix of skills and experience are

just what the organization needs.

Find out where you stand. This step is an important part of crafting a

follow-up that will win a job. "Ask the interviewer how you stack up

against the other candidates," says Walsh. Some will demur, but many

others will provide details. "I recently had a client who was told

that she was not assertive enough," says Walsh. She reports that the

woman, after hearing this, asked for an opportunity to make a

presentation. "She showed up in a red suit, and wowed them," says

Walsh. She got the job.- but almost certainly would not have had she

not asked about how she stacked up.

Carefully compose follow-up notes. A follow-up note needs to be sent

to every single person the job hunter meets at a company. And each one

needs to be different. Most people send out cookie cutter letters

thanking interviewers for their time, saying how much they enjoyed

speaking with them, and expressing a hope that they will meet again.

Forget it, says Walsh. These notes are worthless.

Use the notes to turn around perceptions, as the woman in the red suit

did. Don’t be shy. If you perceived that the interviewer reactively

negatively to your age, experience, level of education, home

situation, or anything else, address it head on. After letting him

know that you picked up on this, lay out all the reasons that the

barrier he saw either does not exist, or can actually benefit his

organization.

Make the follow-up a lead-in to another meeting. If all went well

during the initial meeting, make the follow-up into a lead-in to a

second meeting. Having learned about some of the issues facing the

department you are seeking to join, suggest another meeting, perhaps

to present a proposal to address one or more of these issues.

Companies appreciate the extra effort, says Walsh. It sets the job

seeker apart. What’s more, it increases the chances that he will be

the last candidate seen. Because hiring managers tend to refine their

job descriptions as the search for a new worker goes on, Walsh

believes that the last candidate seen has the best chance of landing

the job.

Always go the extra mile, Walsh insists. She herself is actively doing

so. With several successful careers under her belt, she is going after

a new one.

"I’m going to be the Dr. Ruth of career makeovers," she says. Having

noticed the television reality craze, she is poised to join those who

are doing on-screen makeovers. "You know," she says, "like Queer Eye

for the Straight Guy."

Houses, yards, brides, and daters are all being made over like mad on

the networks as well as on cable. Meanwhile, Walsh points out, a good

50 percent of Americans report varying degrees of unhappiness with

their careers. Wouldn’t a career makeover show be a great idea? She

thinks so, and is in active talks with the Oxygen network to make it

happen.

Top Of Page
New Electronic Sheriff Squelches Spam

In an amazingly bipartisan and astoundingly swift Christmas rush, a

new anti-spam act became law on January 1. The "Can-Spam Act of 2003"

affects every company that sends electronic mail, and seeks to curb

the most obnoxious misuses of E-mail. The unusual speed with which

this legislation passed was a successful attempt to trump the more

draconian California anti-spam law, slated to take effect just four

days later, on January 4.

Exactly what this hasty law requires of the commercial E-mail sender

is clearly delineated in "The New Federal Anti-Spam Law" seminar on

Tuesday, February 10, at 4 p.m. at the Newark Gateway Hilton. Cost:

$70. Visit www.NJTC.org or call 856-787-9700 for more information.

Sponsored by the New Jersey Technology Council, this event features

Judy Harris and Jim Schulz, Washington D.C.-based attorneys from Reed

Smith LLP. The seminar is designed for attorneys, business owners, and

the technology professionals who will be instituting the necessary

changes.

"Make no mistake," says Harris, "Can-Spam was a highly political law."

This is scarcely Harris’ first experience with politically-charged

legislation. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, she obtained her undergraduate

degree from the University of Michigan and then came East to Yale. "I

took my law degree," she recalls, "and joined a sweet little boutique

law firm of 22 lawyers. Today that firm (Reed Smith) has over 1,000

attorneys." During her stay with Reed Smith, Harris has worked with

the anti-trust division of the Justice Department and acted as

Congressional liaison for the landmark Telecommunications Act of l996.

California’s more onerous anti-spam law proposed that no business

could send an E-mail whose "primary purpose was promotion of a product

or service" to anyone unless it had a previous business relationship

with that individual or had his permission. Since it was unlikely that

advertisers would phone or personally visit households requesting

permission to send an advertising E-mail, the California law could

really squelch the spam marketplace.

While the populists cheered and pro-business folks fretted over this

approach, one thing was certain. This act would regulate electronic

advertising far more stringently than advertising in any other medium.

Magazines and soap operas do not need permission to blend their

editorial matter with ads.

While not as stringent as the West Coast attempt to banish span, the

Can-Spam Act of 2003, in Harris’ view, is basically beneficial, "a

bill bent mainly on stopping abuse and fraud." The primary thing to

note is that the 2003 Can-Spam Act in no way limits the freedom of

anybody sending an initial piece of electronic mail to anybody else.

That slippery slope is avoided; the freedom remains intact.

Co-speaker Schulz agrees that the new law appears not overly

stringent. "It really is aimed at the bad actors among us – those huge

bulk mailers who are swamping the ISP servers and clogging your mail

box," he says. "The vast bulk of businesses will not feel any undue

burden, nor any speech-encroaching legislation." Schulz, a Garden

State native, earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Florida State

University and a law degree from Washington D.C.’s Catholic

University. His work includes acting as a liaison from his firm to the

FCC.

The Can-Spam Act of 2003 puts several requirements on anyone sending

an electronic message "whose primary purpose is the promotion of a

product or service." So even before the act gets off the starting

blocks, Schulz and Harris note a serious ambiguity. What is the legal

definition of "primary purpose"? Realizing that such a broad and

hastily compiled bill will need adjustment, the Federal Trade

Commission has called for nine rule-making sessions to be held this

year in hopes of ironing out legal details. But as it stands now, the

Can-Spam Act requires the following:

An identifier. All commercial E-mails must now include a clear and

conspicuous identifier indicating from whom the message is coming. No

longer can ads for home remortgaging be sent out from "Bill & Wendy."

The full corporate name must be clearly in evidence.

Does that identifier have to be in the subject line? This part seems a

bit vague and should one of the items addressed in the rule making

sessions. Technically, Acme Breast Enhancers can still send you an

E-mail under the subject of "from Reverend Jones" as long as the

company name clearly appears once the E-mail is opened. Yet this may

change during the rule-making sessions. The one subject line

restriction falls on mailers of sexually-explicit material, who must

mark their subjects with "Adult."

Valid Address. In the early 18th century, freight coach companies were

notorious for giving false addresses to clients and then proceeding to

pirate their goods, leaving the client with no redress. Tired of this

lack of fulfillment, the British parliament, in l732, passed a law

requiring each carrier to be bonded with a fixed address. Trade became

secure throughout the empire. Such piracy and unfulfilled orders have

shaken the core of E-commerce. Now a valid mailing address is required

on each ad and invoice of electronic commercial mail. It provides the

cautious electronic client a quick means of checking out with whom he

is dealing before he clicks away his cash.

Opt-out capability. Everyone can send anyone an ad one time. But if

the recipient calls it quits, the company must immediately stop any

further promotions. This means that each commercial advertisement must

provide a clear and conspicuous opportunity for stopping any further

mailings from being sent to this address. It can be as simple as

hitting "Reply" to send the message back to the sender. But it must

entail directions. The more sophisticated ads can give the recipient a

pull down menu allowing him to choose which types of offers he does

and does not want to be informed of in the future. It might even prove

to be a valuable marketing tool.

List selling. Previously, the opt out capability has been used to

catch your name and dump it into a large sales pool, which would be

then sold to other buyers. This made E-mail recipients afraid to use

the opt-out menu, for fear that they would be further plagued by yet

more unwanted ads. No more. The opt-out order must be executed within

30 days and the list of those opting out may not be sold to anyone.

Further, more stringent laws are now in place for anyone who hacks

into a subscriber list and downloads names for sale.

What about websites? Websites, under this law, are not electronic mail

and as such need not meet its requirements. Newsletters, however may

fall under the Can-Spam restrictions if the newsletter’s purpose is

primarily commercial and sent to individuals with whom the company has

not established a business relationship.

Doubtless, there will be many who see this act as a first goose step

on the march of government control over the once wide-open space of

the Internet. Also, there will be many businesses that feel the

suddenness of the passage of this law has unfairly caught them off

guard. But providing the public with an actual name and real address,

along with a chance to stop ads when they are unwanted, seems scarcely

a reason to fret or jump on a soapbox. The government, in this

instance, appears not to be restricting businesses, but just demanding

a little honesty.

Top Of Page
No Pressure Route To Computer Skills

Jennifer Worringer understands computerphobia. In 1983 she was working

at Johnson & Johnson in product development when her department got

its first computer, an Apple Lisa. "It was in the cubicle across from

me, and I didn’t want to go near it," she says. Only after everyone

else had learned to boot up did she summon the courage to try. "It was

all such a mystery then," she says. "I asked a girlfriend to help me."

Now Worringer is the computer teacher. On her fourth career, she is in

charge of technology training at the Lawrence branch of the Mercer

County Library. She designs and teaches classes for neophytes in the

same boat she was in 20 years ago and also for experienced users who

need to pick up a new skill. Running either an-hour-and-a-half or two

hours, the free classes each stand alone. Students can pick and choose

among them, designing their own curriculum.

Among the classes being offered this month are Intro to the Internet

at 10 a.m. on Monday, February 9, and PowerPoint, at 2 p.m. on that

date; Excel 1 at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, February 10; Library Website at 10

a.m. Wednesday, February 11, and Yahoo E-mail at 2 p.m. on that date;

Mouse Basics on Sunday, February 15, at 1 p.m.; and Word II, at 6 p.m.

on Tuesday, February 17. For a complete schedule, which is published

on or about the 15th of each month, visit www.mcl.org. To register,

call 609-989-6923. Worringer, whose calendar carries a note reading

"Take a class on your own time!," has the E-mail address

jworringer@mcl.org.

Worringer grew up in Akron, where her mother was a children’s

librarian and her favorite books starred Nancy Drew. A home sewer with

curiosity about the make-up of fabrics, she earned degrees in textile

engineering at the Philadelphia College of Engineering and Science.

She then worked at southern textile mills before joining J&J, where

her job was to devise new, improved sanitary napkins and bandages.

She met her husband, Steven, at J&J. "He’s a very mechanical guy," she

says. At the time, he was in charge of turning out prototype diapers.

He is now a lab supervisor at a J&J facility in Skillman.

After leaving J&J, Worringer went on to "two failed careers." In the

first, she was a consultant, designing and carrying out research in

the area of diaper absorbability. She recruited mothers to conduct

tests. They were to remove their babies’ soiled diapers, draw pictures

of what the diapers had captured, and then weigh the diapers.

The test worked well at assessing how well the diapers did their job,

but she found that convincing potential clients was a problem. "My

last work," she says, "was when I told companies how to do the test."

Then it was on to market research. "It was very stressful," she says.

Also tediously repetitive, and also exacting. "I had just decided not

to be a perfectionist," she says. "It was not good timing." Vivacious,

garrulous, and funny, she indeed does not seem to be a good fit for

the isolation of tallying up survey results. Also, she hates to sell.

Put it all together, and she had gone through two careers very

quickly. At that point, she thought that perhaps a career as a

librarian would suit her. But, after two failed attempts, she was

hesitant to jump into a new career too quickly. She called Ellen

Brown, director of the Lawrence Library, for advice. Brown promptly

hired her as a part-time librarian, and she enrolled in the Rutgers

master of library science program.

She had found her perfect career, a place where curiosity, technology,

and service come together.

The computer program that occupies so much of her time is "quite an

important program for the library," she says. She admires the

philosophy of Andrew Carnegie, the great patron of public libraries

who wanted everyone to have access to knowledge.

Now knowledge, along with communication, often comes through a mouse

and a monitor. Computerphobes are increasingly at a disadvantage. They

are missing out on service and special deals, and also on information

at every level.

There are many reasons for being unplugged, but a lack of money or

know-how do not need to be among them. The beginners’ instruction that

Worringer leads in a small – eight computer – classroom is paced with

the computerphobe in mind. "We’re friendly and patient," says

Worringer. "That’s the compliment we receive more than any others. The

library is the perfect place to start."

Many of the beginners she teaches are retirees. "They never had a job

where they used a computer," she says, adding, "think about it, that’s

where most of us learned."

She starts by teaching the beginners how to use a mouse. The lack of

this basic computer skill worries her very much. Her library now uses

a catalog system that requires navigation by mouse. After the

mouse-only system was installed, catalog use plummeted. Taken for

granted by three-year-olds, operating a mouse can be intimidating to

their grandparents. But, says Worringer, they all pick up the skill

very quickly. For practice, she sometimes suggests a go at Jigzone

(www.jigzone.com), a free site that lets users put together puzzles of

varying complexity by "mousing" the pieces into place.

Ample practice time allows beginners to hone basic skills, including

mousing, surfing the Internet, using the library’s card catalog, and

creating letters and other documents in Microsoft Word.

New computer users do not need to rush out and buy a computer right

away, says Worringer, and, in fact, they do not need to buy one at

all. She suggests that those who are considering a purchase attend

several classes first. The library does not make computer

recommendations on, say, PC or Mac, or on brand, but it does provide

its computer students with lots of research to help them make a

decision.

Those who do not want a computer at home are welcome to use those at

the library, says Worringer. They can even send and receive E-mail.

She recommends the library’s Yahoo E-mail class, next taking place on

Wednesday, February 11, at 2 p.m., for those who would like to do so.

During the class each student is set up with an E-mail account, and is

then free to E-mail to all and sundry during the hours that the

library is open.

While lifting the toll gates to the information superhighway for rank

beginners is part of the library’s mission, it also serves another big

group people in need of instruction. "The other learner is either

working and needs a new skill, or is looking for work," says

Worringer. Where proficiency in all the applications of Microsoft’s

Office Suite used to be a nice thing to have, she says it is now a

necessity. "All the ads call for Microsoft Office Suite," she says.

While most office workers know their way around Word, they are now

expected to be up to speed on the latest versions of Excel and Access

as well, and to be able to put together a PowerPoint presentation.

Worringer is finding that demand for these skills is strong right now.

None of the programs is terribly difficult to learn, and she says that

her students especially enjoy the PowerPoint classes. "They’re visual

and artistic," she says. Students generally can create a presentation

before their first class is over.

Bringing her analytical skills into play, Worringer has quantified the

number of no-shows for her computer classes. They come in – or don’t

come in – at a rate of 40 percent. Pretty much every time. So, while

classes are limited to eight, she is always open to adding a new

alternates to the list. She tells them that if their number is 12 or

under, there is a pretty good chance that they will get a seat.

It has always worked out that way, but anyone finding the class full

might enjoy spending some time browsing one or more of Worringer’s

favorite websites on a library computer. They include Worldwide Radio

Stations, at www.radiolocator.com; Make a Snowman, at

www.clevermedia.-com; the National Zoo’s webcams, at

www.nationalzoo.si.-edu/animals/webcams; and her favorite joke sites,

at www.ahajokes.com and www.newmax/liners.shtml.

It’s a world Andrew Carnegie would not recognize. But chances are that

the popularizer of knowledge access would approve.


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