How to Get Started on a Career While Still in College

By Alison

Many college students are so focused on their academics that they may decide to put their career aspirations on hold until after graduation. This is understandable; while attending classes, studying for tests and doing homework, beefing up a resume may seem like a Herculean task.

Fortunately, using some creativity and taking advantage of your inherent interests and spare time, you can start working on your career goals while still in college — all while keeping up with your studies. For example, check out the following outside-the-box ideas:

girl typing

Experiment with contract work

Traditionally, one of the best ways to gain real-world experience in college is through an internship. If you are not having any luck finding a paid or unpaid position, or if the companies that need interns require a larger time commitment than you can afford, consider contractual or freelance work. This is an especially good approach for entrepreneurial-minded students to test out their interests and gain needed experience for their resume.

For example, Forbes notes that Amway, the 26th largest private company in the United States, offers plenty of flexible career-development opportunities that can easily fit into an already busy schedule. Other websites that offer freelance work include Handy, Upwork (which offers both short and long-term projects), Elance and Fivrr.

Make extracurriculars count

There are typically plenty of extracurricular activities in college. As Career Builder suggests, join some organizations and clubs and take on leadership roles that you can highlight on your resume. Showing your long-term commitment to a team or club will impress potential employers with your sense of responsibility. If the extracurricular fits into your career goal in any way, all the better — for example, if you hope to go to law school, joining the speech and debate team is a nice way to show you have experience in public speaking.

Work on your technology skills

Once you graduate from college and are getting into the real world of work, chances are good you’ll use at least one type of technology. In addition to becoming familiar with Word, PowerPoint, Excel and other programs, consider creating a website or app. This is especially important if you are hoping to get into IT or a related field. When you interview, you might not have a part-time job in technology on your resume, but if you can show a snazzy and eye-catching website that you created or talk about an innovative app you invented, it will be sure to impress your future boss. As a bonus, these are projects that you can fit in and around your college work.

Never underestimate the power of networking

Another great way to start on your career path while in college is to network with anyone and everyone. Tell your folks about your work dreams and see if they know anyone who works in that industry who might be willing to talk to you over a cup of coffee. If you are working a part-time job as a barista, tell your regular customers what you hope to do — one of them may surprise you and say she does that type of work and will keep you in mind for future openings. You can also use social media to your advantage, posting about your after-school plans. Getting the word out may lead to internship and job offers.

About the author: Alison has been a freelance writer for the past 15 years. She enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics, and always looks for opportunities to learn about new subjects.


Pssst!  Check out The Secrets of Top Students.

 

A College Student’s Guide to Creatively Keeping in Touch

By Natalie Posdaljian

Keeping in touch as a college student is vital for maintaining relationships with family and friends, keeping them in the loop and weaving your home life with your college life. Reliable ways of keeping in touch, such as texts, emails and chatting on the phone, can get redundant and don’t always provide the best insight into your life as a college student. Instead, spice up how you keep in touch with your family back home.

student video chat

Video Chat

Video chatting with a laptop isn’t new to the scene nor is it the most creative way to keep in touch. Expand your virtual horizons with the iPad Air 2, which is thin and light enough to take anywhere. Video chat with your family at a public park in your new town or while you enjoy a much needed caffeine fix at your favorite coffee shop. Or, your family can video chat you when they all get together for a birthday party or Sunday afternoon BBQ. Although you won’t get a bite of the cake, you can still chat with all your aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents.

Snail Mail

With the speed, efficiency and reliability of technology, it’s understandable why snail mail is a thing of the past. Yes, you have to handwrite your letter, buy a stamp, stop at the post office and wait a couple days for your mail to reach its destination, but that’s what makes snail mail fun. The feeling of checking the mailbox and finding something addressed to you that’s not a bill or advertisement is priceless. Sending snail mail to your family leaves them obliged to write you back, giving you something to look forward to in the mail. You also can throw in a copy of the A+ paper you wrote. Snail mail is especially great for grandparents, who typically appreciate handwritten letters the most.

Vlog

A vlog (video blog) is a unique way to show others what a day in the life of a college student looks like. Whether you keep it private for your family to enjoy or you make it a public YouTube channel, vlogging is in. Model one of your vlogs off a cooking show, with a twist on ramen or PB&J sandwiches. Vlog a tour of your favorite spots on campus, such as where you get your morning coffee, restaurants you frequent, the gym and the library. Or keep it simple and just talk straight to the camera about school, your roommates, professors and anything else that’s on your mind.

Shared Photos

There are so many ways you and your family can share your photos. If you’re looking to keeping it virtual, create a private album on Facebook and make all your family members contributors so everyone can swap photos. Or, use a photo sharing site like Flickr or Photobucket. Take it a step further by sharing developed photos (yes, people still develop photos). Throw just a few photos into that letter you’re sending, or use an app like Groovebook to upload all of your photos for just $2.99 (college budget approved) to send your family a keepsake photobook.

Family Facebook Group

A private family Facebook group is great for quick life updates, such as acing that Calculus exam, or for sharing links to YouTube videos with each other. Having your family in one Facebook group creates a forum full of sharing, likes and comments between the people that matter the most to you. For those statuses or photos you can’t share with your entire following, a private group lets you share your silly selfies or embarrassing stories with those that will love you no matter what.

Author Bio: Destined to be an Armenian housewife perfecting her hummus recipe, Natalie Posdaljian instead chose a life of marine field biology and sriracha. Born and raised in southern California, her veins rush with salty seawater and sunshine no matter where she goes.  When she’s not saving jellyfish from extinction, Natalie is dancing in the shower, knitting on a plane or swinging in her hammock.


Going to college?  Give yourself the gift of good grades with The Secrets of Top Students!

Top Ways Being a Student Can Save You Money

By Roxy Barnes

It’s been said before and it’s true. College will leave you with a lifetime of memories. But if you’re not careful it will leave you with nearly a lifetime of debt. That is why students should take advantage of the discounts available simply for being students.

And they are everywhere. Many of these discounts are often listed on your school’s site. But don’t limit your search to just that. By putting your Internet skills to work, you can find discounts on nearly everything you’ll need, and some you wouldn’t expect, like this student carpet cleaning discount.

But that’s not all.  Let’s start with a big way to save money in school – scholarships.

Saving-MoneyScholarships

Paying for college is the top concern for the vast majority of college students. Many students may not realize this, but universities often have long lists of private scholarships from businesses and organizations listed somewhere on the financial aid section of their website.

Private scholarships come from every corner of the marketplace and often vary widely in their requirements for entering the scholarship contest. For example, this Halloween costume site offers a cash scholarship for designing a Facebook Cover image for their home page. If you’re more expressive in words, many businesses only require a 500 word essay (or less).

Most of these scholarships aren’t particular about what school you attend. So if your school doesn’t offer very many outside scholarships, check out the pages of some larger universities.

Books and Supplies

Way back in the day students had to buy all of their books from the university bookstore. You paid whatever price they charged and sold them back to the same store when you were done for next to nothing. Talk about buying from the company store – ouch! (Sometimes the good ole days were not so good.)

Now you have choices aplenty for buying your books and supplies. Online sites like Bookbyte.com open up the marketplace so you can shop around for the best deal. Don’t forget to check if your book is available as an eTextbook and save even more.

You probably already realize the savings you can get on software purchases with a student discount, but do some searching for student discounts on computers, tablets and other electronic devices.

Everything else

If there is a product or service that a student can use, you can bet some company is offering a discount on it. Businesses aren’t just doing this out of the goodness of their hearts, they are hoping to win your loyalty now and keep using them for years to come. So even if you don’t see a student discount advertised, don’t hesitate to ask if they have one. What’s the worst they can say?

Even storage companies are getting in on the game, offering student discounts on storage units over summer break. The list goes on, including companies like AmTrak, hotels, clothing stores, even credit cards offering discounted student rates.

If you think searching for student discounts on everything could turn into a time consuming obsession, there are a number of sites that are doing the searching for you. One of the more popular sites is Student Universe. They not only help you find deals on travel and lodging, but have categories of discounts ranging from clothing to food and health.

College is expensive. If you can use your student status to save a few dollars here and there, over the course of a college career the savings adds up. Don’t let that money go to waste. That way, when you look back on your college years, hopefully all you’ll have are great memories, not ones tempered by the specter of debt.


Going to college?  Give yourself the gift of good grades with The Secrets of Top Students!

How to Make a Fashion Statement on a College Budget

By Alison Stanton

As a college student, you probably feel like you figuratively wear many different hats on any given day. There’s your “in class” hat, your “trying to impress the professor during my oral presentation” hat, the “hanging out in the dorms” hat, and, the ever-popular “heading to my first-ever real job interview” hat.

The trick is to create a stylish wardrobe versatile enough that you’re ready for all of these different situations, without spending a zillion dollars or needing a closet that rivals Ivana Trump’s. Fortunately, it’s more than possible to assemble a fashionable fall wardrobe that won’t require you to take out a massive loan. Here’s where to start.

fashionable girl Continue reading

Headed to College? Don’t Become a Victim of Identity Theft (Guest Post)

If you’re going to college, you have lots of things on your mind: choosing the right classes, getting good grades, finding a place to live, making friends, etc.  You’re probably not thinking about identity theft, but according to the U.S. Department of Justice, about one out of 20 college age people will be a victim of identity theft. Losing everything that you own is not the college education that you are trying to get.

Colleges Give You Plastic

There was a time when the only purpose of a college ID card was to get you a discount at amusement parks. Now most college finances go through the student ID card. Often they are linked to a bank account and serve as a debit or credit card. Because all of the account information is linked, one slip can mean losing everything. Scambusters.org cites carelessness with financial aid information as one of the top reasons that students fall victim to identity fraud.

One of the ways to protect your credit is to never give your financial aid PIN to friends. With PIN information, a clever thief can get all of your other specific account information, including your Social Security number and residency data. The funds can also be diverted into the perpetrator’s account.

Continue reading

The Many Ways Students Can Make Money From Unwanted Items (Guest Post)

By Maja Tisma. 

Maja is a Graphic Designer with a passion for Frugal Living. She wants to help people to make their money go as far as possible, and does so with her website DailyProof.

As a student, it’s often difficult to fit any kind of employment around your studies. Even if you find a way, trying to make ends meet can seem pretty much impossible! Everyone knows that getting a job while at college or university can help your employability afterwards, but practicalities surrounding actually getting your degree must come first. How, then, should you best make some money to actually maintain your standard of living and get by?

First if all, it’s a good idea to get yourself into a habit of reading blogs and websites dedicated to the practice of frugal living. There are some great tips out there, and most aren’t at all time consuming. Not only are they great for providing you with ways to make money, websites such as Daily Proof and even your typical Social Networking sites can help you actually save money, too. From coupons to budgeting, there’s no point in shying away and looking a gift horse in the mouth.

Still stuck? Here’s a breakdown of the best ways to gain from stuff you already have:

Ebay/Amazon

Now, these ones are a bit of a given, but it just goes to show that tried and tested methods really work! Whether you’ve got some old clothes flung at the bottom of your wardrobe, or some antiques handed down through the generations that you really see no use for, these websites could indeed be your saving grace. If you don’t really have anything sale-worthy, get customizing! There’s a new trend surrounding upcycling, and it’s a fantastic way to make something shiny and new out of old stuff. It’s environmentally friendly as well, because it’s basically just a glam form of traditional recycling.

These are some books sold by the editor of this site for over $100!

These are some books sold by the editor of this site for over $100!

De-Cluttering Sites & Stores

Following on from the standard sites mentioned above, there are some great sites out there which actually take the hassle out even more (if that’s possible!) from selling on your junk. Just go to sites like De-Cluttr, enter the barcode or specifics of the items you want to shift, and you’ll be given a price. And that’s it! No auctions, no waiting around for someone to commit to a purchase. You’ll be invited to send off your items (from gadgets and CDs, to DVDs and clothes), and once they’ve been vetted, they’ll pay out. On the same level are businesses such as Cash4Clothes, who pay out to recycle your stuff for you, by taking your clothes to places in need. You won’t get much for them, but it’s better than them just sitting there collecting dust, right?

College Groups/ At College

If your college is on Facebook, it’s likely that there will be a group dedicated to the students. Find people taking your classes and see whether they’d like to buy your books from you once you’re done. Not only will you make a little back from your investment, you’ll win some brownie points in helping out some of the younger students.

‘The Old Fashioned Way’

Have a yard sale! It may not seem very 21st Century, but sometimes, the oldies know best. As the warmer weather approaches, it’s the perfect time to gather some friends and set up shop (literally) for the day. Be prepared for hagglers – set your prices a little higher than you actually hope for, but not so high that you have them running for the hills. Make some posters and flyers and pepper them around the neighborhood, and you’re good to go!

Swap Shop

This is a trend that has been sweeping campuses the last few years. A ‘Swap Shop’ might not make you any money per se, but it’s a brilliant way to gain some new essentials just by using the ones you no longer want. Think of it as a giant hand-me-down extravaganza; whether it’s just between your circle of friends, or even spread to a larger audience. Why not charge everyone $3 to enter, have everyone bring 3 good items of clothing that they no longer have use for, and give everyone a ticket to be used in exchange for someone else’s clothes that they do want? The admission can be put to charity or a society event, so not only will you gain a new wardrobe for next to nothing, the rewards can be reaped elsewhere as well.

There are an abundance of ways that you can make a little extra cash while you’re studying – you just have to get creative!


Want to improve your GPA?  Order your copy of The Secrets of Top Students today!

 

5 Smart Budgeting Strategies for College Students (Guest Post)

By Robert Carr. Robert writes full-time for small business, finance and car repair how-to sites.

Some believe the most valuable life lessons are learned in grade school, like being polite, the importance of sharing, and always looking both ways before crossing the street. Others believe critical life knowledge comes from years spent in middle school and high school—useful skills like navigating diverse social landscapes and putting a winning wardrobe together.

College, though, is really when experience comes fast and furious: when you are on your own for the first time, interacting with new classmates and faculty, and completely in control of things such as when, where, and what you eat. Unfortunately, this level of independence can be a challenge for modern college students who enjoy having their own place but may not be ready for adult commitments, including paying the electric bill or creating a grocery budget.

In addition to be being prepared for the rigors of academic life, you’ll need solid financial habits while in college. Master these, and you’ll be the big man or woman on campus. If not, you’ll have a tough time and maybe, gulp, have to head back to the “real” world where your parents set the rules, budget and dinner menu.

College Planning

Here are five strategies for students to manage money while in college:

  • Paperwork is vital, whether you keep actual receipts or use software. This tells you not just how much you’re spending but what you’re spending it on. Bank of America’s Money Management site suggests keeping detailed track of everything for a couple of weeks, then comparing this to income from any jobs, parents, loans or other sources. The difference will be your general budget.
  • Be disciplined. Debt.org, a site dedicated to helping people of all ages reduce costs, reports that it’s not hard to create a budget on paper, but a bigger challenge is having the self-discipline to keep to it. This may mean forgoing regular nights out with friends, or watching TV and making a meal on a Friday night instead of going to dinner and a movie. Your financial institution may even have online or printable templates to help illustrate your planning in action.
  • Be flexible. Though you will have fixed costs like rent and tuition, you’ll have other varying expenses, like your utility bill. Beyond this, you’ll have other unexpected costs that need to be absorbed into your budget, such as repairs to your computer or car. Wells Fargo’s online student budget section points out that you should be ready for everything from a rise in the rent to approval for extra financial aid.
  • Look for ways to save. There are plenty of creative ways to reduce day-to-day costs. See if merchants in town offer a college discount. Consider a roommate or roommates to split costs. Check into ways to combine services, such as bundle.tv that offers Internet, TV and phone service for one monthly price—an attractive option for frugal students who still want all three services.
  • Learn effective credit habits. Creditcards.com suggests paying bills on time, using a credit card for emergencies and then paying it off quickly. Such behaviors will help you build good credit and minimize debt later in life.

Now that you’ve got your budget under control, learn how to maximize your GPA with The Secrets of Top Students.  Order your copy today!

5 Budgeting Tips For High School Seniors Getting Ready For College (Guest Post)

Dave Landry Jr. is a financial consultant and economist dedicated to blogging and the creation of infographics in his down time. He has two young daughters who will be graduating from high school before he knows it, and will be sharing these budgeting tips with them as well. He hopes you find these tips useful for your own pre-college budgeting, or if you’re a parent, will give some of this advice to your children.

Congratulations, you’ve made it through high school! As you get ready for the next big step, it’s important to learn real world skills that will help you transition not only from high school to college life, but also from college life to the world beyond.

Budgeting skills are important in everyday life; learning how to manage your money before you’re on your own in college will keep you from overspending and finding yourself deep in debt. Below are some budgeting tips that will help you get started on to that path to financial security.

1. Learn to track your spending. The first step to creating a budget is to document everything you spend money on or buy. Whether you stick with an old-fashioned notebook and handwritten lists or choose to download spending tracker apps for your smartphone, track everything you spend for at least a month. It doesn’t matter if it’s as small as a pack of gum or a soda from the vending machine at school. While not strictly necessary, it would be good to include notes on your spending behavior, like how you paid for it, where you bought it, and why you bought it.

After a month’s documentation, you’ll have a better sense of where your money is going. If you use apps or a spreadsheet, you can quickly see how much you’ve spent on entertainment, car expenses, clothing, food, and school-related purchases. This will form the base categories of your budget.

2. Learn to develop a budget. Once you’ve established where you spend most of your money, start to set up a budget. The budget will consist of the major categories established during your spending, and will include a space for savings, emergencies, and income.

Ideally, you’ll create this budget on a spreadsheet, or using one of the free online budgeting tools or apps. Once you graduate from high school and enter college or the workforce, your budget categories will change and shift; using a malleable system allows you to customize and adjust as needed.

Establish spending maximums so that your spending doesn’t exceed your income.

3. Pay yourself (start saving). One of the important categories in your budget should be a savings account. Even though interest rates on savings accounts are low right now, putting money in the account is more about the practice and the act of creating an emergency fund, than it is about making your money work for you (even though it is a good idea to start thinking about investments and interest rates).

Whether you’re saving for a rainy day, or towards a particular big purchase like a post-graduation trip or a new car or college, getting into the habit of “paying yourself” and including it on your budget will serve you well in your adult life, when you won’t necessarily have alternative sources of financial assistance.

Learn to prioritize within your budget by putting money in your savings account before you spend any of your income or allowance on entertainment.

4. Figure out financial aid, student loans, and other means of paying for college. Most families will need to rely on financial aid and student loans to pay for school. As you, the student, will need to start paying back the loan as soon as you graduate (up to a six month grace period, or possible deferment if you are going to graduate school), it’s important that you learn as much about your options before taking out the loan. Don’t borrow any more than absolutely necessary for tuition, room and board, and other essentials.

5. Get a summer job. Now that you have a sense of your expenditures, and can project how much you need in order to fulfill all your bills and other costs, you need to start bringing in income. If you’re not already working a part-time job of some sort, consider getting one in the summer between high school and college. Previous work experience can help you get a coveted college job, which will help with bills that the student loan doesn’t cover.

Keeping to a budget isn’t as boring or challenging as it may seem. These are necessary skills that can translate into an opportunity to study abroad, buy that dream car, or have money on hand for an emergency, which greatly reduces stress in the long run. Learning to manage your money is a skill you’ll use for the rest of your life. You can also consider obtaining your education online through affordable programs that offer equivalents of in-classroom learning and degrees. Online degree programs also allow students to pursue their education at their own convenience, allowing them to work full-time to support themselves or a family if need be.


Now that you’ve got your budget under control, it’s time to focus on your grades.  Order your copy of The Secrets of Top Students today!