Global Wire Associates

On Immigrants, Refugees and ICT

GettyImages-migrants-with-phones.jpg.653x0_q80_crop-smartOver on Global Wire Associates’ blog this week, we have a post about how technology is support the recent influx of Syrian and Latin American migrants entering eastern Europe and the United States, respectively.  Our blog is designed “to provide thoughtful coverage and commentary on the politics of technology and social innovation.” In the last couple of days we have received a barrage of emails, criticizing us for “promoting a pro-immigration agenda.”  Global Wire Associates doesn’t have an official position on the very complex issue of immigration; the point was to showcase how apps and coding are being used by migrants.

But I guess many of you didn’t view it that way.  So I decided to publish a couple of the emails we received so far here. Most of them were about the American immigration debate.  I withheld their their names and email addresses.

“I do not understand why you all are telling illegals how to enter this country illegally.  This is very irresponsible and your blog should be shut down!”

“Germany is being overrun by these Syrians.  I don’t care for teaching them how to code.  They and [Angela] Merkel must go!”

Again, this is just the opinions of others and we didn’t take any specific policy position here.  Many of them complained that illegal immigrants were taking jobs from natural born citizens.  One of the points we brought up in the post was about Refugees on Rails, a nonprofit that teaches refugees how to code, which is a useful technical skill needed in today’s job market.  Despite complaints from anti-immigration advocates, in this case, refugees who are properly trained are taking jobs that are not being filled by native citizens.  

As in the United States, European countries have a severe shortage of people pursuing ICT careers.  A report shows that Europe will have 800,000 ICT jobs unfilled by 2020 if nothing is done to increase the number of workers, and most of these digital skills deficits are seen in poorer eastern European countries.  Programs like Refugees on Rails can actually jumpstart the economy with technologists who are eager to work in their new home countries.

This is a slightly different issue in the United States, where most undocumented immigrants tend to work in under-the-table jobs in the agricultural and janitorial sectors – again, jobs most U.S. citizens don’t want to do.  The reality is that there are over 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, and they are not all going to be shipped back to their home countries, despite whatever Donald Trump says.  Maybe there should also be something similar to Refugees on Rails in this country for immigrants who want to work legally in an in-demand ICT field that pays a living wage.   

I guess I will get negative emails for saying this too.  But before you email me, please tell me if you have a better solution for the immigration crisis and the economy.

Why You Need a Personal Website

Website Wireframe Sketch On Digital Tablet Screen

One of the most frequently asked questions by my clients is whether or not they should have a personal website.  Many of them are job seekers looking to better brand themselves to potential employers.  In my opinion, I think personal websites can only enhance your chances of finding your dream job.  And, no, I am not just saying this because I am a web designer trying to get new clients.  I say this coming from my own experience with this website.  

I am self-employed in journalism and digital marketing, so it is a must that I have a website that showcases who I am and my previous work.  In today’s competitive market, anyone in any field that is not self-employed also needs a website to get the next job.  

Let’s break down the reasons:

  1. You can control your brand – The first thing most recruiters do today is google the names of prospective job applicants.  As many of you know, both good and bad things about you can show up in a google search.  Having your own website can control your brand and help protect your reputation online.  Presenting information on your own website shows you in the way you want others to view you online.  Also, having your name as the website’s URL ( also establishes your brand and will guarantee that your site will show up on the top of the first page in search engine results.
  2. Sell yourself – The whole point of your personal website is to sell yourself.  Why should someone hire you?  Your online portfolio should be a grand showroom of your best work for recruiters who want additional information about you that goes beyond a CV or resume.  You can show off what makes your skills and personality unique and marketable. Also, anyone in the world can see your website, and you never know where your next job will come from.  I have gotten really awesome job opportunities from people who happened to stumble upon this website!
  3. Show your investment – Having your own website shows others that you invest in yourself and career by branding yourself online.  Employers will take you more seriously.
  4. You are accessible – Having a website makes it easier to find and contact you about work.  Your website should have a clean, simple navigation design, where it is easy to find your biography, contact information and samples of your work.  Stick to the three-click rule, make sure your site supports web diversity and avoid busy-looking websites like the plague.
  5. Links to social media and networking tools – Your website can also be the one-stop to all of your social media accounts, which makes it easier for recruiters to find you online in other places.  You can also put links to other online spaces where recruiters can find your work like Behance.  A word on social media: a lot of people ask me why they should have a website, when they already have a Linkedin or Facebook page.  The reasons are already stated above.  Everyone’s social media accounts look the same.  Having your own website distinguishes yourself from others and showcasing your unique skills and personality.  Furthermore, there are always new social media tools coming onto and going away from the market.  Websites are more future-proof that can grow with your career.

Now that summer is over and everyone is back to regular work and school schedules, now is a great time to think about doing a personal website.  Global Wire Design is running a 10 percent discount on all of its services until 30 September 2015.  Contact us about your online marketing solutions!  

Lessons I Learn From Being An Educator

education written on a blackboardI never thought I would become an educator, but through my work with Global Wire Associates, I organized approximately 80 classes a year around the world teaching a variety of subjects, from basic computer literacy to digital journalism to interactive multimedia and 3D modeling.  I have instructed all types of people  –  teenagers interested in STEM topics, stay-at-home moms starting online businesses, working journalists updating their digital skills, recent immigrants, special needs persons and senior citizens who want to learn basic computer literacy and nonprofit managers needing better engagement with their online constituents.

In September I am going back to New York again during UN Week to teach web development classes to journalists from developing countries.  I may be continuing my STEM empowerment classes into the fall if we are able to secure funding.

Teaching is tough work, but it is also very rewarding.  I have learned a lot about myself and my strengths and weaknesses instructing others.  I learned a lot from other educators who have mentored me.

Here are my lessons from the last 10 years:

Meeting other people where they are at:  Being a web developer, I forget sometimes that most people are not tech savvy and using all the latest tech gadgets and programs.  This is where I have had to leave my ego at the door and learn how to be patient and comfortable with helping students on different learning curves.

Learn from doing:  I am a big fan of project-based learning.  I always hated it when a teacher just droned on for the entirety of a class session.  I think students learn more effectively by actually doing the work.  For example, if I am teaching web design, my students will actually build a website in class.

Learn from each other: With project-based learning, my students generally work in teams. Putting students in teams forces them to learn a variety of skills like communication, as well as take ownership of their learning.   

Culturally Responsive:  The classroom is becoming more diverse, and it is more than likely your students don’t share the same background.  This is why it is important to listen to, build relationships with and get feedback from your students in order to figure out nuanced ways to make education equitable.

Things don’t always go as planned:  Sometimes I create a well-prepared curriculum, only to have to toss it out and do something totally different. Things don’t go the way I planned it all the time, and that can be a good thing sometimes.  Some of the best teaching moments I have ever had come from unexpected moments.

Let students help with the curriculum: I am a fan of democratic education.  Having student input gives me a better understanding of my students’ needs and how I can improve my teaching abilities.  I always encourage questions during lessons or ask them to tell me to spend more time explaining a specific topic.

Admit when you don’t know something: I don’t pretend to be a know-it-all.  If I don’t know something, I will say that to the student.  In my experience, students appreciate the candor because we are all human.

Make sure everyone learns one thing: I try not to cram a lot of things into my courses because technology subjects tend to be overwhelming enough, especially if the students are new to computer literacy.  I encourage my students to make sure that they walk away from class learning at least one new thing, and make sure that one thing is something that could impact their life.

For instance, I taught a class on basic computer literacy five years ago, and one of the students recently moved to Boston from Haiti.  She knew very little English and very shy, but she was able to understand most of my class.  I told her at the beginning that she should focus on learning one thing that she understands and can be useful.  Her one, useful takeaway was how to log into, read and send email.  This class took place a couple of weeks after the earthquake in Haiti, and some of the student’s relatives evacuated to southern Florida, but she didn’t know where actually. However, she did know that the relatives had Gmail accounts.  She was able to locate and make first contact with her relatives who were found in Miami by email.

Every once in a while, I bump into my former student in my neighborhood.  Her English has greatly improved, and she says that she is now taking classes in Microsoft Office at a local community college.  She is always thanking me for helping her with her email.  It doesn’t seem like a big deal to many people these days to know how to send an email, but that class made such an impact in her life.  She always says “Thank you, Talia, thank you very much for your help and patience.”

Sometimes the smallest things can make a big impact in another person’s life.       

Branding For The New On-Demand Economy


While the global economy is slowly coming back from the recession, the growing number of freelancers will continue to play a big role in the new “workplace”, often referred to as the on-demand economy.  More and more firms are realizing that it is more cost and resource efficient to hire people on a project basis rather than have a salaried staff.

There are approximately 53 million freelancers in the United States, and most of them are creative professionals – writers, photographers, graphic designers and web developers.  But freelancing is now extending into any service-based industry where the work can be done with just an Internet connection.  If you have worked with an accountant, travel agent or IT support specialist recently, it is more than likely that professional was working from home, a co-working space or the local coffee shop!

With more people considering themselves independent contractors, it is necessary for these workers to master and update themselves on a variety of skills that will help them survive in this competitive market.

One vital skill for freelancers to have today is the ability to sell themselves and build their own brand.  Here are some things you need to do to support marketing You Inc:

Websites – I have been self-employed most of my professional career.  Back when I graduated college, having a website was a very expensive luxury.  Today it is expected that all self-employed people have a website because it acts as both a business card and showroom for your work.  About half of all small businesses today don’t have websites, and when you don’t have a website, your business might as well not exist.  Most customers today have a digital-first mentality and you have to cater to their needs online.

Social Media – Social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, blogging and Instagram are great marketing supplementals that can work in conjunction with your website.  Because there are so many types of social media tools, you can find one that is appropriate for your industry and brand.  If you are not into doing social media at all, at the very least you should have a Linkedin page to show your CV, credentials and other work-related information online.

Video conferencing and Webinars – Anyone with Internet access can host a private video conference with clients with Google Hangout or Skype.  Another great thing about this tool is that you can host your own webinars on subjects related to your industry.  Over at Global Wire Associates, we host over 20 webinars a year on topics related to technology, marketing and international development.  We also privately connect with our clients all over the world with video conferencing.  On this website, I occasionally host webinars and video meeting with clients interested in journalism, management and technology topics.

Office Productivity – There are so many tools online that help you run your business, from PayPal to Google Drive to Quickbooks.  Using cloud-based products are really good for working with long distance clients or sub-contractors.  I have been working a documentary for the last year on disability rights in the developing world with a group of other journalists and health care workers in Kenya and Cambodia.  Google Drive, Dropbox, email, instant messaging and video conferencing have worked wonders in helping us to collaborate on copy, stills and video in a timely manner.

Online Networking – Websites like have made it easier to connect with other like-minded professionals, especially if you don’t live in a big city.  It is always good to network and find a community of people who could potentially become co-workers, sub-contractors or clients.  I have found both new clients and contractors for GWA this way.

Online Education – Learning never stops, especially when it comes to technology.  There are so many resources online, from to YouTube, where you can learn how to do anything.  I am currently doing a mix of traditional and online classes to get my project management certification renewed, and these tools have been lifesavers.  Take advantage of this!