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Published: Tuesday, 2/27/2007

Proactive Phone Calls

What do you do if you are worried about being laid off? I work in a district office and recently got word from headquarters that there will be significant job cuts in the coming weeks. I do not know whether I will be targeted.

I recently met someone who works in the same industry and noticed that his firm s Web site has a job that would involve working directly with him. I think he s a great guy, but it seems premature to give him a call. I don t want to get a new job if I don t have to. Your thoughts?

Dear Reader,

Pick up the phone, now. If you noticed a promising position on a Web site, you are thinking the way you should be: I need a Plan B. Why? First, you may not have the luxury of sticking with Plan A, staying where you are. Second, even if you aren t laid off, you might not want to stay. Right now, you do know what the future holds.

Call your new contact, ask to speak confidentially and say you are interested in exploring other options. Even when you are not facing a layoff, that is a wise thing to do occasionally. Regardless of what happens, you ll have made an important connection and found out a little more about the job market in your field. You cannot lose.

Writing Tutors Abound

Dear Good Girls,

I am the English teacher who wrote to you about the dismissed school administrator (who was a poor writer) and I am both pleased and surprised to see my letter appear in your column.

I especially appreciated the supportive tone of your response, which can only influence other readers to feel more engaged with the issues you explore. And who knows, our exchange might foster more than one classroom discussion.

In concluding, you state: But if (writers) cannot express themselves clearly, the impact of their message will be undermined, robbing us all. I couldn t agree more and I couldn t have said it better.

Dear Reader,

I could not resist the urge to run your letter. In addition to appreciating the kind words, it gives me an excuse to talk about the hidden values of college writing centers for students and community members who live near such centers with open door policies.

A writing center s primary purpose is to help students improve their writing skills from brainstorming to outlining to revising. But it also can boost the career prospects of student tutors. Students who list employment at a writing center on their r sum s are able to demonstrate writing proficiency and experience working with a diverse clientele, both of which are prized by employers. Students have told me the experience prepared them for their job interviews and for employment, says Margaret Mika, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee writing center director.

Some centers help community members as well. For instance, the center at the University of Illinois at Chicago will accept non-student walk-ins when tutors are not busy with students and services are free. We want our tutors to get as many literacy experiences as possible, explains director Dr. Vainis Aleksa. Why anguish alone over a blank sheet of paper? Get a little help from your friends at your local writing center.

Leslie Whitaker Got a problem at work? Leslie Whitaker, co-author of The Good Girl's Guide to Negotiating, would like to hear from you. Send Leslie an e-mail at leslie@ctwfeatures.com or write to P.O. Box 11156 Shorewood, WI 53211.

Copyright CTW Features

By Leslie Whitaker

CTW Features

Dear Good Girls,



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