Taco Bell’s Education Support to 210,000 Employees

As individuals, we can all act even in little ways to alleviate the condition of people who do not have the same resources as ourselves, like perhaps helping underprivileged kids gain opportunities through donations or planned skill-training sessions. However, it is undeniable that more action from institutions is necessary for greater societal change. States like New York and Los Angeles have been responding to this truth through community projects such as providing free lunches to hundreds of thousands of children and making library books accessible to low-income families.

A groundbreaking move on the corporate side has come from a famous fast food chain as Taco Bell helps all 210,000 of its employees towards educational opportunities.

On March 15, Taco Bell announced that employees at the chain’s 7,000 stores nationwide are eligible for education classes at 80 online universities, as well as tuition assistance and college credit for job training at the restaurant.

Other chains such as McDonald’s and Starbucks also offer support to some employees through programs like this. Employees with a high school degree or less need the above-mentioned benefits to have better career prospects in the future.

“When we surveyed our employees, education support was one of the top three things they asked for,” Frank Tucker, global chief people officer at Taco Bell, said in a statement. “The barriers to achieving their education goals were time, money and support.”

Beyond this, the program also seems to be mutually beneficial to Taco Bell and its employees, as 98% of the people who participated in the pilot batch stayed in the company for more than six months. It’s a win-win situation for now, with even larger potential in the long run.

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Can You Build The World’s Best New Phone App?

“There’s an app for that,” must be the expression of the century — after all, it’s true. You can spy on your partner, keep track of the places you’ve taken a dump, and seek cuddle buddies. Some apps demonstrate explosive popularity but only remain on the hot list for weeks, if not days (looking at you, Pokemon Go). So how exactly do you craft the next best phone app and remain trending?

Think about what people want. What is everyone’s latest obsession? Which apps have endured the test of time? Games such as Candy Crush maintain a steady amount of users and rake in a lot of credit. Consider how and why. You’ll soon figure that the answer is simple. Anyone can play it. Its features are addicting. It’s free but also tricks you into spending an occasional buck for that extra life. Here is where market research may come in handy.

But before getting your hands dirty, consider your audience. Do you want to build an app that caters primarily to millennials? Or do you want a few Gen X heads to turn? Making an “app for everyone” may seem like the way to go, but it isn’t always the easiest.

When brainstorming, play to your strengths. Sure, you can make an app for pretty much anything. But why not create something you are already well-versed in? After all, a physical therapist working on an app for 15-minute exercises does make a lot of sense.

Once you’ve established a general sense of what your app is going to be, it’s time for the nitty gritty. Give your app multiple functions. But focus, of course, is important. You can’t throw together a photo editing app that also allows you to order a pizza. Figure out what makes the most sense and deliver real value.

An app that can do a lot of things may seem the way to go, but not with a complex design. Make your app user-friendly. Windows loyalists may often tease Mac users for being technological dummies. But the truth of the matter is, Mac will almost always remain on top for the simple fact that it is easy to use.

A seamless beginning doesn’t always make for smooth-sailing in the long run. Keep track of bugs and when the going gets tough, communicate with your users. Just because something seems like a good idea, doesn’t mean that it is. Take customer feedback seriously. What might make sense to you may be someone else’s worst nightmare. Troubleshoot with grace, like a virtual ballerina.

Most importantly, stay current. In order to remain relevant, keep up with the times. Upgrade your app to suit prevailing trends. Mermaid hair and rompers for men may eventually go out of style, but you don’t have to. Adjust to change, even when it means taking risks. Nothing ever comes easy to those who play it safe.

App-making is treacherous business, even for experienced entrepreneurs. But with consistent batting practice, any smartphone user could hit a home run.

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Dutch Group Builds Furniture With Canal Garbage

Nowadays, “fancy” isn’t about luxury materials and extravagant designs. Instead, lavish design is more so sustainable than it is expensive. Alternative to landfills, trash is making its way back into homes as furniture. Alongside startup Pentatonic, Dutch company Plastic Whale is turning plastic waste into chic furniture pieces.

Plastic Whale recently announced a circular furniture collection, composed of a conference room table, chairs, lamps, and acoustic panels that are all made out of PET bottles from Amsterdam’s canals.

A thousand bottles make a single high-end felt and foam-paneled table, while 50 to 60 make a chair. Considering the amount of plastic polluting bodies of water, furniture selections have ridiculous amounts of potential to grow. Even better, Plastic Whale models its furniture after marine life.

Ten percent of the profits… will be invested in local projects in other parts of the world that aim to use a similar economic model to turn plastic waste into something valuable. The resources generated from the furniture will go into more plastic fishing expeditions.

In an industry constantly on the hunt for the best textiles and constituents, trash is certainly their treasure.

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McDonald’s To Ax Plastic Foam Cups

We’re three months into the year and McDonald’s is showing up every fast food chain on the planet. From its impromptu discovery of an anti-balding agent in its fries, Mickey D’s is up to something even bigger. To get with the times, the Supersize Me star is phasing out all foam products by the end of 2018.

It’s the first time the fast-food giant has openly committed to a deadline to completely stop using polystyrene drink containers, which are eco-unfriendly and nearly impossible to recycle. The containers for its large cold drinks represent a mere 2 percent of its packaging, which still comes out to millions of dollars and cups annually.

The restaurant overlord last made a large gesture towards sustainability 27 years ago. The company then replaced styrofoam “clamshells” with eco-friendly paper packaging. Still, it’s a much-needed push en route to a greener Earth.

McDonald’s is expected to announce a packaging and recycling initiative [soon], said Conrad MacKerron, a senior vice president of As You Sow. “We do appreciate what McDonald’s has done,” he said. “It’s taken a long time, but better late than never.”

I guess slow and steady wins the race!

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From Rookie To Pro: Acing Job Interviews

The real-world stage through the eyes of a fresh grad is often exciting and simultaneously terrifying. When balancing budgets isn’t creeping up anyone’s sleeve, it’s the unforgiving task of job hunting. True enough, the perfect 9-to-5 may eventually roll around, but won’t be yours until after acing the dreaded interview. It’s daunting, undeniably, but totally doable with a lot of preparation and a little bit of charisma.

For some, the dream isn’t necessarily the job itself, but the agency. Still, familiarizing yourself with the role is always the first key move to a promising career. Know what tasks you will be performing — even the nitty, gritty, nothing-to-brag-about, seemingly menial duties like filing papers. And anyway, if you’re applying to a company like Google, filing papers may be a lot more significant than anyone lets on. All that information has to go somewhere!

It may seem the most trivial aspect of an interview, but make the effort to dress the part. Design or advertising groups may appear casual, but looking professional never does any harm. Wear something you feel confident in — maybe a statement piece such as a bright necklace or tie. Keep in mind not to get too carried away. Interviewers don’t want to be distracted by a penguin-printed suit.

Here’s the kicker: know the company. Head to toe. Left to right. Top to bottom. A job interview might be about your strengths, but there’s no harm in gauging how you’ll fit in in relation to your potential work place. A CEO might also throw you a curveball with statistics or facts that you want to be prepared for. Simply knowing who a company’s founder is may work greatly in your favor. Of course, your knowledge should exist beyond the basics.

Most interview questions are fairly basic: how would you describe yourself in three words? What can you bring to the table? What are your strengths and weaknesses? To you, and even occasionally to the interviewers, these questions can feel a little monotonous. The solution? Be creative but not outlandish. Add a touch of humor to your responses but only when it’s relevant. Knock knock jokes aren’t always going to fly with businesslike professional. When the tough questions come around, be prepared. Make a list of any possible queries an interviewer might have and how you’d go about answering them.

Most importantly, answer honestly. If you encounter a brain fart, ask for half a minute to allow yourself to recover. Never panic, as it leads mostly to rambling and, at times, tears. Be honest about your past experiences and how you might’ve learned from mistakes. Editors are fairly eagle-eyed — they probably know you more than you let on.

As tacky as it seems, be yourself. You may be working with these people for years and you don’t want to have to put up a front. Anyway, being whoever you want to be is reserved for online personas. The real you is what companies are after.

Sure, on the whole, interviews are stressful. But the relief of a job well done is just about the best reward.

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So You Want To Start A Blog?

Now that we’ve established anyone can write a book, starting a blog might be on your radar. While it’s a great way to express yourself and share opinions with netizens, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Casual or professional, blogging isn’t for the idle writer. But if you’re brimming with ideas, it may be the perfect platform for you.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be a computer wiz to start a blog. All you need is a vision and lots of commitment. But before jumping ahead, decide what you want to blog about. A sensible place to start would be where your passion lies. Don’t dwell on how your potential readers might respond — we’ll get to that later. Think of a topic you can go on about for hours, or even days. You can also try brain-mapping. 

Once you have outlined your content, pick out a blogging platform. For most, WordPress is more or less a go-to site for its user-friendly interface. However, the freedom is yours. If you are hoping to reach a wide audience (which, I assume, would be anyone’s intent), select a host for your blog. Most web hosts provide inexpensive plans that will suit your needs. This will get your site circulating.

It may seem the least of your worries, but choosing a domain is essential to your online identity. Remember that your title will come with a fee, so be thoughtful! Figure out what best represents you and what is easiest to remember. If you are keen on using your own name, consider dropping anything that is hard to spell. Using a suggested title isn’t out of the question, but keep it unique.

Another important step (and no, you needn’t be an HTML expert) is to establish a themeFree options are perfectly fine but a few tweaks and accents may help your aesthetic stand out. Tinker with various layouts that best suit your style. Are you a photographer? A journalist? What would catch your eye? Be meticulous. Don’t teeter between formats — it may confuse your followers!

After getting the technical tasks out of the way, it’s time to begin your journey! While it’s important to make sure your first piece is gripping, make sure you consistently put out quality content. Nobody wants to read a boring blog! If, at some point, you’re stumped for topics, draft your ideas in advance. It always helps to know what you’ll be writing about in a few weeks’ time. Better yet, schedule your posts. Are you willing to publish once, twice, or three times a week? Decide how great of a load you can carry to avoid missing out on a post. Remember — nothing beats being honest with yourself regarding how much you can handle.

In a (now) predominantly virtual world, blogging is the most efficient way to have meaningful conversations. Though the most successful writers are undoubtedly very opinionated, don’t forget your online etiquette. A smart blogger may end up popular, but a firm and respectful one is also highly esteemed.

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Wall Street VP Creates Non-Profit For Chemo Patients

Moderna’s personalized cancer vaccine may be a leap towards a cure, but the wait is long from over. Until then, a select few have been making life more comfortable for cancer sufferers. Zach Bolster, a former hedge fund vice president, is the founder of ChemoCars — a ride service for chemo patients.

“My family was shocked by how many cancer patients had difficulty getting to their chemotherapy treatments. We soon realized what a huge financial and family burden transportation during cancer treatments can be. Some patients resorted to riding the bus, others, unfortunately, missed their treatment altogether.”

Inspired by his late mother, a victim of pancreatic cancer, Bolster and his wife Patricia have offered over 2,000 free rides. Many users have become regulars, avoiding the hassle of buses and transportation expenses.

“ChemoCars gives patients a chance to do something for themselves. They rely so much on family that this means they can use family or friends for other things and – not for the daily chore of getting treatment,”  [nurse Pam Gwaltney says.]

Though business-minded, Bolster doesn’t see dollar signs on the horizon. ChemoCars has become a tribute to his mother and a symbol of hope for many.

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Vegan Restaurant Is Donating All Profits To Charity

Most charitable industries will donate a portion of their earnings to those in need. While it’s an admirable feat, some groups work exclusively to provide others with food and supplies. In fact, an organic farm in New York exists solely for soup kitchens across the state. This vegan restaurant is no different.

All the profits from P.S. Kitchen are reportedly being donated to charities with missions to disrupt the poverty cycle… [Owner] DeRossi’s new cocktail bar Coup donates all of its profits to organizations threatened by the Trump administration.

Menu items are, of course, plant-based and dairy-free. The “P.S.” aspect of the establishment’s name also denotes something deeper.

“This is more than a restaurant and the postscript reflects that there is more to the story. PS: We donate all profits to charitable organizations. PS: We hire staff from underprivileged backgrounds. PS: All food and drink is plant-based.”

The concept itself is clever and very promising. I only hope its food can talk the talk and walk the walk.

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