Dear Mr. Molloy:
I have been very lucky. I dropped out of high school in my second year and went to work for this company 15 years later. I’ve worked here for 22 years and worked my way up to head of production online. Last week I was told that I was going to be made an executive in the company and put in charge of production.
I think that most of the people in the company, especially those at the top, know that I have very little formal education and I worked my way up the hard way.
Most of the executives in my company wear suits everyday. I’ve worn suits occasionally but not too often and I’m wondering when I go into my new job and get my new office should I start wearing suits or should I maintain the look I’ve always had.
A New Executive
Dear New Executive:
You are not lucky, you’re talented and I am sure very hard-working or you wouldn’t be where you are. Since you’ve earned your new job you deserve all the perks that go with it. Even if wearing a suit will not let you function more effectively but it probably will and even if a suit isn’t expected you have earned the right to wear one. You stated that the suit is the uniform of the executives in your company so you should wear one since you are an executive.
Dear Mr. Molloy:
I have almost unbelievable luck. I quit school after my second year in high school over 40 years ago and I’ve been working for the same company for almost 25 years. To my surprise I’ve been promoted and given an office in the Executive Suite
I also suggest that you stop telling everyone that you quit High School in your second year. It’s like graduating from Harvard, if it doesn’t show in your work, it’s not important.
Dear Mr. Molloy:
I am a counselor in an inner-city, overwhelmingly black public high school .Less than 50% of the students last four years and those that do are usually trying very hard to succeed. Many of them are very bright and do well on tests but they are almost inarticulate when they’re asked to speak and they do very poorly when they’re interviewed for colleges or jobs.They tell me they’re overwhelmed by the experience. Is there anything I can do to help them do better at interviews?
I will be working with them over the summer in a job placement program.
Name and Address Withheld
Your letter brings back memories. When I first started teaching I was going for my Master’s at City College of New York. One of the teachers told several students in no uncertain terms that if we didn’t volunteer to do a little work in the neighborhood we would not do well in his class. I of course volunteered.
When I went to the address he gave I found I would be working in a small storefront Church run by a short skinny black minister. When I told him I had experience teaching black children how to read, he immediately put me to work. He gave me six students and said he would like me to make them better readers. Although I was supposed to show up only one day a week I ended up showing up 2 or 3 days because I became interested in the kids and the job, and I began to see some progress,
When I showed up one day that skinny black Minister ran out in the street and said get the hell out of here. When I asked why he said don’t you know they’re rioting. I immediately headed for my car but my way was blocked by a black woman who introduced herself as a representative of some organization that was in favor of teaching Black English. I said I wouldn’t teach that, it was unemployment English and I wanted these kids to do well. He push her out of the way then pushed me into my car and said get out of here. I did at top speed. I went south to get on the West Side Drive so I didn’t have to go up through Harlem.
The minister called to thank me for my work and said I was doing a good job but it would not be safe for me to return. I said I thought I could help those kids if I could teach them to speak standard English. I said I would need some tapes that taught standard pronunciation. He purchased two tapes, one on teaching English to non-english students and a second on mastering Standard English. When he said I couldn’t come to his church I asked if they could come to me, I lived in Washington Heights. At first I tried to run classes for the four who came in the library on 179th Street. That didn’t work because we couldn’t play the tapes and have them practice. So I ran classes for four months in my Ford Fairlane parked south of Columbia Presbyterian Hospital on Riverside Drive. Two of the four quit after a few weeks but the other two, a brother and a sister, met me every Saturday morning for several months in my Fairlane and we practiced. At the end of that time the family moved so I didn’t see them again. While they didn’t sound like they graduated from Harvard they could speak Standard English. I’m sure it helped them.
That is why I’m going to suggest you buy a number of tapes designed to teach Standard English pronunciation and phrasing. Next find a quiet space and have your students using those tapes practice, practice and practice some more. If you run classes at least three days a week for a minimum of two hours at the end of the summer I don’t expect they will sound like college graduates but they will almost speak standard English. I think once they do they will able to handle interviews and interviewers with some confidence and ease.