Claro! Nokia! Uriburu

Penelope Trunk’s Brazen Careerist recently posted a piece on why we overestimate the gap between the gap between nonprofit and for-profit jobs.  It’s a short and interesting read if you’re considering the pros and cons of working in one of these sectors.

In this post, Penelope talks about how both nonprofit and for-profit workplaces are changing and why our age-old typical stereotypes no longer hold true.  Not only are these sectors getting more creative about how to structure themselves internally and “how they give back” externally, their financial structures may be one of the only significant remaining differences between the two. Dan Pallotta, who writes regularly for Harvardbusiness.org, gives similar arguments while dispelling myths about the private sector in a recent piece on how the “Psychic Benefits of Nonprofit Work are Overrated”.

Personally I’ve found the establishment of an entire field around corporate social responsibility (CSR) as one example of the sensible meeting of the for- and nonprofit sector minds. But even that is an oversimplification of the existence of and potential for building bridges between sectors to accomplish positive change in the local communities where they operate to the global world within which they exist.

As a graduate student evaluating the pros and cons of each sector, and the goal of affecting positive local and global change, I find the shifting trends within these sectors as an encouraging and exciting affirmation that nonprofit and for-profit companies alike continue to have to adapt in order to compete in the evolving world.  It’s also a good reminder that it is more about what you want to accomplish, the specific workplace(s) you work at or seek to work with, and perhaps most importantly the individuals you work with that matter the most.

A recent panel I attended discussing work in the field of International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution (INCR), another field that crosses the nonprofit, public, and private sectors, confirmed just that. As one panelist put it, “It really does matter who you work with; you spend a lot of time with them!”

And if you’re looking to shift sectors, or like me, hoping to shift in and out of sectors throughout your career, the continued blurring and overlapping of the various sectors, public, private, nonprofit, for-profit, international, and domestic workplaces signifies an even more essential development: We may not have to choose!

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“If I hear one more person talking about the importance of maintaining a balanced life while in graduate school I’m going to…”

Steaks Burgers Stop Chicken Fish

Balance: We seek it. We work hard now to experience and enjoy it later. We want to live balanced lives. We are enamored with the concept.  So where does one find this thing we call “balance”? Does it really exist?

Lately, the whole “balance” thing has become just one more thing to add to my “To Do” list. And there aint no getting to the bottom of any graduate student’s “To Do” list, so how do we ever get to lead balanced lives while in school?  The answer, my friends, lies in the concept of the free market.

Question: If each of us were our own individual free market, would we self-regulate? Answer: Yes.

If you were looking for “the free market”, would you ever find it?  Isn’t it right there in front of you? Or all around, wherever you go?  This is how I’ve come to see the concept of balance. Would you know where to go or what you were looking for if you wanted to find it? Would you believe it if you saw it?

Maybe we can only see it when we don’t have it; when it isn’t there.

It’s easy to identify an unfree market: government regulations, income taxes, farm subsidies, tariffs on tires, just like we know an unbalanced life when we’re living it: oh the pain and anguish, the stressed, bloodshot eyes, the fast food and coffee consumption, the “just say no to invites” policy.

However, despite the prevalence of unhealthy, unsustainable practices in graduate school, I’ve come to believe that when left to our own (hypothetically) destructive devices, we end up functioning like individual miniature free markets. We may be volatile, spiking up and occasionally crashing down, we are often “all over the place”, but nevertheless self-regulating in the end.

Take last week. In the midst of  juggling a major term paper, three short assignments, four study groups, 27 bajillion pages of reading, 44 bajillion so-called “extra curricular” activities (meet the deputy prime minister of Israel! Business and GREEN club meetings, field trips, band practice, workouts), where might the invisible hand of self-regulation and life balance lead you?

Maybe it will take you to check your twitter, fb, gmail accounts. We all have our vices. Last week I downloaded an entire Stevie Wonder album and that oh-so-awesome and under- or, over-played Mario song feat. Gucci off of Itunes!  Who knows, it could even lead you to leave the whole “To Do” behind for a women’s wine and cheese night, a million mandate mixer in Harvard Square, and a post-party Ihop adventure sipping OJ and eating chocolate-chip pancakes.

You never know where the invisible hand will lead you, but trust that after a 12-hour marathon library stint, a combination of one’s physical demands and mental capacity, the limits of the market kick in and that ever-mysterious, ubiquitous and constantly moving hand will pull you to self-regulate towards some semblance of sanity – and – that thing we call balance.

Oh, how we shall savior those moments!  Because after that, it’ll pull you right back to the stacks!

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Direction

Melon Vine Farm

I have finally decided what I intend this blog to focus on!  (Audible applause)

After reading blog after blog posting about why it is important to have a blogging strategy and, even better, why blogs without a purpose are a waste of time, I decided it was time to buck up, stop being casual, inconsistent, perfectionist, and journal-esque about my blogging and establish a purpose.

I started this blog as a pseudo experiment while living/working in Buenos Aires in order to talk about how life was in BA.  I also wanted to try “the whole blogging thing” out, take my facebook and twitter commentary and link sharing to a (slightly) more analytic platform, and work-on and practice my writing skills.

The blog is called Asi es la vida, which means, “like this is life” or, “that’s life”.  I prefer the first translation. It’s not, “that’s just the way it goes” it’s more “this is how it is”.  So, like many bloggers, I’m going to tell you how it is.  But now that I’m back in the States at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, it will be all about how life is as a graduate student.

It’s natural, it’ll flow, and it follows the simple and sure writing advice of my first (and one of my favorite) creative writing teachers, Barabara Grengs, “write about what you know”.

So, strap on your britches, get ready for the fun, and welcome to the next phase of Asi es la vida: Asi es la vida de una estudiante de Fletcher School!