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Your Money, Your Vote; Where 94 Percent of Grads Get Jobs; Landing a Job in 2012; Girl Scouts Get Financial

Aired January 7, 2012 - 09:30   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, HOST: It's your money and your vote, but what does your vote mean?

Good morning, everyone. I'm Christine Romans.

For the next 11 months we are going beyond precincts and exit polls, straight to what politics means for your pocketbook and your family. How you vote determines the direction of the American middle class. No pressure, everyone.

Plus, are you ready to find a new job in 2012? We're going to tell you how to get hired.

And from camping and cooking to mortgages and taxes, today's Girl Scouts can get a badge for money smarts.

But let's begin with politics. When it comes to the GOP, here's the bottom line. They want to cut taxes, they really want to cut taxes. They all want to repeal what they call Obamacare, the president's health care plan. And they want to shrink government.

Ron Paul, his - his plan is really the most extreme. He doesn't just want to shrink government, guys, he wants to shut it down - a third of it, to be exact. He wants to slash 440,000 federal government jobs, and eventually Ron Paul says he'd like to be the one to turn off the lights for good at the IRS.

Then there's Mitt Romney. He says America has to live within its means, and this week he even said no one, not even 7-foot tall birds, would be spared.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're not going to keep spending money we don't have. The National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, PBS, they all get money from government. They're going to have to stand on their own. Maybe Big Bird is going to have to have advertisers.

But we're just - I'm just not going to keep borrowing and borrowing and putting America in more and more peril.


ROMANS: All right, so what does your vote mean for the American middle class? Let's talk about it.

Mark Penn is a Democratic Strategist and worldwide CEO of the public relations firm, Burson-Marsteller - I always say it wrong, Mark. And Christopher Metzler, he's the senior associate dean of Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies, and a conservative commentator.

Mark, I want to start with you. Republicans want the government to act more like the American family - to balance its books, to live within its means. Now, this is something that families understand and agree with. Republicans say, well, you know, that - that sounds reasonable.

But living within our means demands huge spending cuts, and that will directly affect the middle class. Are they walking the tightrope here, and - and what's it going to mean for how our families live?

MARK PENN, WORLDWIDE CEO, BURSON-MARSTELLER: Well, as you can see, Washington has had a great deal of trouble, you know, balancing its budget and getting back to the balanced budget that we had when I worked with President Clinton. And I think this is very crucial to the middle class outlook.

They want the government to spend somewhat less, but they want to make sure that when it comes to making those cuts, that those cuts are made according to their values. So that means if Medicare and social security are cut first, they're going to say that's not according to their values. They're going to say, they're looking at their future, they're looking at their kids' future and they want those cuts to be real, but not too harsh on themselves and the futures that they - that they need.

ROMANS: You know, Chris, when we talk about cuts, I mean education, for example. I mean, that's the main focus of our show, Ron Paul wants to eliminate the Department of Education. It's an idea that others have endorsed as well.

We asked the Department of Education, you know, what - what do you think about the talk that you should be eliminated? And, not surprisingly, they said, "We're not watching the Republican debates. We're too busy working."

The Department of Ed also says, you know, points out it provides loans, grants to some 15 million college students, discretionary budget there of almost $70 billion, 4,000 employees. Why do conservatives don't think we don't need it, Chris? And how would a typical family feel without it?

CHRISTOPHER METZLER, SENIOR ASSOCIATE DEAN, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF CONTINUING STUDIES: Well, I think it goes back to the point that Mark just made, which is it's a question of - of values. Fundamentally, we believe that if you look at education, that is primarily a local issue, and so from the standpoint of the Department of Education, I think that there are some efficiencies that can be gained. What we have to look at with the Department of Education is getting back to what does the Department of Education do best? Is it better to have colleges or universities become direct lenders of these particular loans?

I think these are all discussions that we have to have, because a federal bureaucracy such as the Department of Education, frankly I am not a proponent of the Department of Education. I think it can be more efficient. Whether or not it should be completely eliminated, I'm not yet convinced, but I definitely think it has to be more efficient.

ROMANS: You guys, when you look at Ron Paul, for example, and I mentioned he has the most sort of extreme and the most detailed budget plan out there for what he would do. Mark Zandi from Moody' told me that the economy would evaporate - evaporate was the word he used - if we cut $1 trillion in spending in one year. Evaporate. You know, that's a - that's a pretty significant kind of thing to say.

You know, Mark, young kids like Ron Paul. Young kids who - young people who really don't I guess know what the government can do for them, but also (INAUDIBLE) they just want to get the government out of their way.

I mean, what - how you vote is really going to matter to how we live our life. Is that an overstatement?

PENN: Well, no, it's not an overstatement. I think, first, you know, just to make a comment on the Department of Education, 85 percent of the voters support the Department of Education. This is a very weak position for the Republican Party. It goes against the values of the middle class.

I think the attraction of Ron Paul is that young people coming out of college are sitting there saying, you know, my parents are running up these huge debts, and who do they want to pay? Me. I don't want to pay these bills. I don't want to be stuck with them.

So they're making a statement. I don't think that statement's a responsible policy, but it's a statement that has to be taken account of. The young - the young generation will not tolerate being the ones who have to foot the bill.

ROMANS: You know, Chris, let's talk about Santorum versus Romney. Both came out strongly in Iowa. You say, you know, for the middle class, it's a beer versus a champagne vote between these two.

METZLER: Sure. Yes, so if you look at Romney, for example, you know, Romney is a, you know, I don't know, billionaire, millionaire. We don't know. But he's fairly rich. And so, if you then look at Santorum, the question for people is, who would fight much harder for me?

It's really kind of difficult for Romney to come out with a position that I'm for the middle class. That just kind of doesn't seem to resonate. I think from the standpoint of Santorum, though, it does, because if you look at kind of blue collar working roots, those kinds of things, I think that you would see people who are much more attractive to - attracted, rather, to Santorum than you would to Romney.

And so, it is the beer versus the champagne vote, the champagne vote being for Romney and the beer vote being for Santorum. And I think that's pretty much what you see with both of those guys.

ROMANS: You know, I think Mark, overall, though, you know, the - our government, can they make - keeping the promises that it's been making for all of these years? When you look at our debt, deficits, then it's pretty clear.

The question is, how do you sell austerity in an election year, and how do you make sure it's responsible austerity, Mark? Because that's what this has to be about, quite frankly, so people aren't hurt too badly.

I mean, you look at for example the LIHEAP, that low income heating oil program, it's facing funding cuts. It has to. The president has even put it in his budget funding cuts there because it got very, very big during the recession. But you've got veterans coming home, and in many cases you've got veterans who are coming home and they need help paying their energy bills, right?

So these budget cuts, they matter to people, real people.

PENN: Well, I don't think you're going to see this election be about austerity. I think that, really, Americans look towards optimism and economic growth. Americans have been pessimistic now, really, for seven or eight years, the longest period of American pessimism I've been able to find.

They're going to look for a leader who's going to create jobs, who's going to do something about gas prices, who's going to do something that makes homes more affordable and easier for them to get. They're going to look at those - the key artifacts of middle class life - a car, a home, a job, and a good education for their children, and they're going to say which candidate, regardless of what class they come from, is going to do more to provide that? And that's what the election's going to come down to.

Austerity is going to come in later, when somebody's elected and they realize, what are we going to do about these deficits?

ROMANS: Yes. That's true.

All right, guys. Thank you so much, Mark and Chris. Really nice to see you. And I hope that both of you will come back, and as we go over the next 11 months, let's come back and keep touching on this conversation and let's have a running conversation about what these promises on the campaign trail are going to mean for our families. Is that all right? Can we do that?

PENN: Absolutely. METZLER: Absolutely. We can do that.

ROMANS: Have a great weekend, everybody.

METZLER: Take care.

ROMANS: Thanks.

All right, forget Chinese, Spanish or French. If you want to thrive in a changing job market, you need to be fluent in another language - a new language. We'll tell you what it is, next.


ROMANS: Finding a job in this market is hard enough, as you know. Finding one that pays exceptionally well right out of college, that's even harder. Unless, that is, you speak code.

CNNMoney's Poppy Harlow paid a visit to New York University, where 94 percent of Computer Science grads got a gig.


EVAN KORTH, ASSOCIATE COMPUTER SCIENCE PROFESSOR, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY (voice-over): "The Social Network" is the Wall Street movie of this generation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys were the inventors of Facebook.

KORTH (on camera): I think a lot of students want to be the next Mark Zuckerberg. They want to build something cool that's going to change the world.

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM (voice-over): Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg may have dropped out of college, but, back on campus, Computer Science is hot, and students with coding skills are burning up the job market.

(on camera): By graduation, how many companies reached out to you about working for them?

TAL SAFRON, NYU COMPUTER SCIENCE GRADUATE: I'd say between 10 and 20 reached out to me just before graduating.

HARLOW: How many job offers did you get?

SAFRON: Around four or five.

HARLOW: You haven't even graduated yet. How many companies have reached out to you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Between 10 and 20.

HARLOW (voice-over): It's a common story for Computer Science majors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most of my friends who are also CS students do have the same, similar feeling. They're not - they're not really worried about jobs.

HARLOW: Just look at tech job postings to see the demand. At NYU, that translated into a 94 percent placement rate for Computer Science grads last spring.

(on camera): For the class of 2011, Computer Science majors did the best on the job hunt. Fifty-six percent had a job offer before graduation, compared with 41 percent overall.

What do your friends tell you who aren't Computer Science majors about getting a job?

SAFRON: They think I don't live in reality.

HARLOW (voice-over): An average starting salary of $66,000 and job security may be why the major is taking off, with enrollment at NYU up 50 percent since 2007.

KORTH: Many students, whether they're Computer Science majors or not, are starting to understand that coding is literacy of the future and they - they want to get in on that.

SAFRON: When I started, the program was really small, and, you know, had one section for each class. And now there's, for the introductory ones, there's like three or four at least.

HARLOW: Tal and Aditja (ph) both participated in a summer program offered by hackney, founded by Evan and Columbia professor Chris Wiggins to cultivate the talent of budding tech stars and shows them their career choices are broader than just Google and Goldman Sachs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like a backstage pass to the New York tech scene.

CHRIS WIGGINS, APPLIED MATH PROFESSOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: In addition to teaching the - teaching them technical topics, we also wanted to explain to them the variety of career options available to them.

KORTH: Result first at no (ph).

HARLOW: The hacking community may speak a slightly different language.

WIGGINS: I mean, you can present PageRank, Google's fundamental algorithm, as an important eigenvector problem, and then they sort of -

HARLOW (on camera): Eigen what?

WIGGINS: An eigenvector.

HARLOW (voice-over): But one thing is crystal clear - this is where the jobs are.

KORTH: I get e-mail every day asking me if I have a student that could build X or build Y.

HARLOW (on camera): But is this just a fad? I mean, are the jobs here today, gone tomorrow?

KORTH: Is the Internet going to be gone tomorrow?


KORTH: I don't think the jobs will be gone tomorrow either.


HARLOW: Makes me wish that I was a Computer Science major, although I do love my job.

Tal and Aditja (ph), the two people you saw in the piece, tell us the job offers out there are really, really great. The salaries, starting salaries, are comparable to entry level investment banking jobs.

Tal told us hasn't heard of his friends getting any offers below $70,000. They're usually getting six-figure offers. He now consults with tech companies after a stint at a startup, and Aditja's (ph) considering multiple offers and he still hasn't even graduated from college - Christine.

ROMANS: Wow. And, you know, they say that coding really, quite frankly, is the new - it's like the investment banking of the '80s.

HARLOW: Right.

ROMANS: Just like the Gordon Gekko at the top of your piece.

But, you know, not everybody can afford a pricey school like NYU, one of the most if not the most expensive in the country. Obviously that's an elite program.

Are there affordable programs out there that teach this so somebody whose parents can't afford to send them to NYU can - can get in on this?

HARLOW: It's a great question. I mean, not only affordable, but free, right? You saw Chris and Evan in the piece, they run hackney. That's a free summer program that helps kids get better at hacking or even just learn how to do it.

There is also some neat online free courses, and this is sort of just springing up. One that stood out to us is called Codecademy, and they teach you how to code online. For people just like me and probably you, Christine, who don't know how to code, they will take you through it.

What Codecademy also just started is something really interesting, that is a program that will basically e-mail you once a week your coding lesson for the week. It's called Code Year.

ROMANS: Nice. HARLOW: So far they've had over 140,000 people sign up, say I want to learn to code in 2012. And they say they're going to teach you how to do it and you'll be building websites in no time.

So it's not about the money, you're going to an expensive school. But, as you heard in the piece, a lot of people are saying coding is the literacy of the future, so we better get onboard.

ROMANS: For those of you who don't speak code, we're going to tell you where you can get hired in 2012 that's outside of the Codecademy or the code arena. That's coming up next.


ROMANS: If you're starting the New Year looking for a new job, we're here to help you figure out the perfect plan to land one.

Ellyn Enisman is a career coach. She's an expert in job search strategy. She's the author of a book called "Job Interview Skills 101: The Course You Forgot to Take."

Ellyn, you know, I see these - these cautious signs of improvement in the labor market. You know, but it's still pretty tricky to land a job and people are still really mostly being hired through connections.

You call these secret jobs. Tell us about how to get into that secret job market.

ELLYN ENISMAN, CAREER COACH: OK. Well, the number one skill that you must have for this job market is networking skills, OK? And that means being able to connect with people who can connect you to people who know where the jobs are.

So the first thing you really have to do is build a contact list. So that would consist of people that you know - your friends, your family, your relatives, and including former colleagues, people that were your previous managers, teachers, etcetera. So you need to set up that list and be very strategic about it.

So create a spreadsheet. Everybody's name, their phone number, their e-mail address and how you know them and - and what your conversation is about and when will you follow up with them?

ROMANS: And so it may be a job to find your job -

ENISMAN: And then, after you do this -

ROMANS: -- by finding those people, I guess. I mean, it's almost like making it a job.

ENISMAN: Exactly.

ROMANS: Recently, I want to tell you, a boss told me that he rescinded, Ellyn, a six figure job offer because of what he found when he did a quick media - social media search on the person. Six figure job offer. He told me we basically Googled the guy, looked for the Facebook page, we pulled it. Well, that's - I mean, that's a cautionary tale and it's true.

What are some dos and especially don'ts when you're networking online?

ENISMAN: Make sure your pictures are professional looking pictures. You don't want to have your picture out there with a group of friends having drinks in a bar.

ROMANS: If somebody tries to friend you or tries to add you on LinkedIn, you say don't just click and add, say a little note, "Nice to see you again."

ENISMAN: That's right.

ROMANS: You know, "Where are you working now? What's going on?" to sort of try to connect with them so that it's more than just a random ad and now you have actually, I guess, livened up a connection.

ENISMAN: Exactly. Tell them why you want to connect with them and how you maybe can add some value to them and - and what you would like to know from them. People will always connect with you when you ask for advice, but if you - if you connect with them and ask for a job, most likely they're not going to want to do that.

ROMANS: All right, then there's the job interview. I mean, let's assume you get all the way to the job interview. You know, I've always thought you've got about 30 seconds to make that first impression, really, and you better have a great question for the manager, too. When they say would you like - anything you would like to ask? You better have something that's really good to ask.

ENISMAN: Yes. And I suggest that you prepare those questions before you get to the interview. Everybody brings a little portfolio to the interview where you have a pad. You know what? On the second page of that pad, write out your questions so that you have them in advance.

And then, after you get through those questions and you're getting towards the end of the interview, it's perfectly OK to say to the interviewer, you know, we've only had about an hour to meet with each other. I'm wondering if there was anything that you were hoping to see in my background that you didn't.

The interviewer only has one hour to get to know a lifetime of experience for you, so I really believe you need to help them hire you, help them through the process.

ROMANS: And I want to - I want to be quite frank. You know, we do these segments every now and then and I get an awful lot of e-mail from people who say, Christine, I've done all of those things. Or they'll say, Christine, that's conventional wisdom to go ahead and put a list of people you know and then try to connect with them and contact them.

Those are the kinds of things that just aren't working for me right now. I've been out of work too long and I just can't back in. What do you say to people who say, I've tried all that, Ellyn. I've tried it, and that's not working.

ENISMAN: Something you can do is go to industry conferences. And maybe they're expensive. If you can't afford to go, then ask if you can volunteer and work at the conference. You will surely meet people who are involved in your industry and may have an interest in helping you or how you can - tell you how you can help them. And, sooner or later, you will engage with the right people and you will get there.

It's most important that you stay active and you not get negative and you keep the positivity going.

ROMANS: Thank you so much. Really nice to meet you. Have a wonderful weekend, all right?

ENISMAN: Thanks for having me.

ROMANS: OK, want your daughter to learn about taxes and mortgages when she's like seven years old? Well, sign her up for Girl Scouts. It's not just about camping and cookies any more, and you'd get a badge for it, too.

That's next on YOUR BOTTOM LINE.


ROMANS: When you think of Girl Scout badges, you know, what do you imagine? That sash, that little shirt, maybe camping, cookies, of course? How about careers, mortgages, interest rates and taxes?

Yes, 3.2 million young women can now earn one of those famous badges for being good with money. Take a look.


ROMANS (voice-over): Amelia and Ava are not saving for toys, they're not saving for games, but something much more important.


ROMANS: So is five and a half-year-old Emily. Why?

EMILY, GIRL SCOUT DAISY: Because it costs a lot, a lot of money. (INAUDIBLE) thousand.

ROMANS: Meet the modern Girl Scouts, where money smarts count and will earn you a badge.

The Girl Scouts are 100 years old this year and way past the days of cross stitching and sewing. As part of the first badge redesign in a quarter century, 13 new badges reward money savvy.

Amelia, Ava and Emily are daisies. Girls their age learn about savings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five dimes equals a half dollar.

ROMANS: Junior Girl Scouts like Abigail learn what to do with their money.

ABIGAIL, JUNIOR GIRL SCOUT: You save it and then donate (ph) it.

ROMANS: And in the Cadet troop, it's about mortgages, property taxes and careers. Master it, and nab the Financing My Dream badge.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's hold up our dream job. Go ahead, Gabby. Show us your dream job. Lawyer.

ROMANS: Twelve-year-old Gabby is exploring whether she can afford her dream home.

ANNE COFFEY, REAL ESTATE BROKER: If you take your, say, $2.5 million house that you want, and you put 20 percent down, that means you're going for a $2 million loan.

ROMANS: A real estate broker helps this cadet realize -

GABBY, GIRL SCOUT CADET: I really couldn't afford it. It was a bit too much money.

COFFEY: Well, it's so important because, you know, the largest purchase they're ever going to make is going to be their home and, you know, to learn that at a very young age, that you really need to save your money to purchase that dream home is so important.

ROMANS: Of course, if you've ever bought a box of cookies from an aggressive entrepreneur in a green or brown sash, it's pretty clear these girls know money. Just ask Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chavez.

(on camera): I mean, there are these stereotypes of women and money, but girls have been handling money for -



ROMANS (voice-over): And consider that by the time these girls graduate from college, they'll have, on average, $22,900 in student debt.

(on camera): You can't get around it. You've got to learn about money.

CHAVEZ: Absolutely, and it's so important. It touches everybody's lives. And, again, we're hoping that the girls not only learn those - those issues for themselves, they understand how to invest their money, but they teach other kids around them and bring them along the path with them.



ROMANS: OK, so little Abigail is learning how to save it, spend it and donate it. What about you? Let's continue that conversation online, how are you saving money? Is this your year to try to get out of debt? Tell us if you've recently found a job and how you did it. And we really want to know what's important to you as you consider your vote this November.

You can follow the show, CNNBottomLine on Facebook and Twitter; me, too, @ChristineRomans.

And there's a lot more about debt, saving, investing or retirement in my new book with my friend Ali Velshi. It's called, "How to Speak Money," and we're both happy to sign your copy for you, so just let me know via Twitter and I'll tell you how.

Back now to CNN SATURDAY for the very latest headlines. Have a great weekend, everybody.