Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dear Graduates, My Letter to the Class of 2011

Dear Graduate,

I can't believe it's been a year since I took this picture. Today a whole new crop of grads will walk across the stage and enter the real world from my alma mater(TU!!!!) and many other college graduation ceremonies will be held this month. This past year has been one of the hardest years of my life and I want to share with you what I have learned.

There is no direct or defined route to success. Yes you can talk to your mentors or read stories of people who made it and try to follow their footsteps, but there is no defined way to success. You have to find your own way. People can help, but you must write your own story.

A degree does not equal entitlement.  Ok sure. You have a pretty piece of paper that cost thousands of dollars. You work hard for 4,5, 6(maybe even 7) years to get here, so someone should be so willing to give you a job, right? WRONG! To be very blunt(and excuse my French), life don't owe you sh*t! You have to work to get what you in life. No one is going to give you anything just because you have a degree. Don't believe me? Ask the many Americans with Masters degrees and Ph.D.s working as waiters, bartenders, retail clerks, and other low-skilled jobs. You must sell yourself, brand yourself, and prove to people why you are so great.

Surround yourself with people who believe in you. Some days you will doubt whether you   have what it takes to really make it. (This can happen whether you are employed or unemployed). Surround yourself with a core group of people that will encourage you when you are down and will keep you on track to achieving your goals. If you do not have people in your circle that truly believe in you, find a new group.

Make a life plan. Yes I know life doesn't always go according to plan. Everything I have tried in the past year has pretty much failed, but when that happens you go back to the drawing board and rewrite. Having a life plan helps you to stay focused and not lose sight of your goals. Make sure for each goal you have a purpose and an action plan to match it.

Always believe in your vision. Even when people cannot see it, always believe in your vision. You are destined to do something very special on this Earth that only YOU can do. People will call you are crazy because of your vision. Even your own family members will try to discourage you because they are scared you might fail. If you do fail, keep failing until you succeed. All successful people failed many times before they made it, but they never lost sight of their vision. Nothing worth having in this life comes easy.

Remember my new grads, life is what you make it. Letting obstacles knock you down will not get you to where you want to go. Always keep pushing even when you feel like giving up. Congratulations on your achievements and much success to you in the future! *cue "We've Only Just Begun."

Signed Your Struggling Yet Destined to Succeed 2010 graduate,


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Nonprofits provide fulfilling job opportunities to recent grads

Still looking for a full-time job months after graduation? Have a desire to change the world? Working at a nonprofit organization may be for you. Nonprofits can be a pathway to enter various fields such as IT, marketing and public relations, education, legal professions, and accounting.

Many recent grads have started their careers at nonprofits and are helping their communities every day. Recent grads Colleen Flynn, Jeremy Strauss and Liz Copeland began working in the nonprofit sector by volunteering with LIFT, an anti-poverty organization, as college students. They are now working full-time at various nonprofits.

These grads have received challenging opportunities that have helped them to grow as professionals. “Working at a nonprofit has given me more responsibility and more leadership opportunities than I ever imagined at such a young age,” said Flynn.

As LIFT’s communications and media relations manager, Colleen Flynn has garnered more than 20 major press opportunities, managed the rebranding of an organization, and produced several publications and videos.

Along with challenging opportunities, working at nonprofits has other benefits. Nonprofits usually have positive and collaborative work environments. “Everyone is working there (a nonprofit) because they care about the issue,” said Copeland.

Other benefits include upward mobility and the ability to help people every day. “It’s rewarding work. You don’t make as much money, but you are making an impact in people’s lives,” said Strauss.

Working at a nonprofit is different than working at a traditional business. Since they are less staff and smaller budgets, you must be willing to collaborate with other staff members and be creative with resources. You should also be passionate and have a connection to the work you are doing at the organization.

There are several networks you can join if you are interested in working in the nonprofit sector. The Young Nonprofit Professional Networks, local volunteer groups, and even your college alumni chapter are good ways to network. AmeriCorps and idealist.org are also good places to find nonprofit jobs.

To learn more about LIFT, visit liftcommunities.org.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tips From a Fellow Job Seeker

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the  job market is slowly starting to make progress. The unemployment rate dropped to 8.9% last month, the lowest it has been in two year. With the economy on the upswing, job seekers most put their best foot forward to take advantage of rising job opportunities. I recently spoke to a fellow job seeker, Aida Rinay(@minaturebeauty) about job search tactics that have worked for  her and they could work for you too.

1.  Tailor your Resume

It is important to tailor your resume to each job you apply for. Make sure your experience relates to the job description. Use keywords on your resume whenever possible. If you are searching for job in a specific industry, google examples of resumes in your field to find formats that you could use

2. Sell Yourself

No matter what job you are applying for, you must sell yourself. Explain to the employer why you are the right person for the job. If you submitting a general application, explain how you can benefit the company.

3. Set a Schedule and Have a Plan

Have a goal to send a certain amount of resumes and find a certain number of job opportunities each day.  Along with using website such as monster.com and simplyhired.com, research companies you want to work for and submit your resume.

4. Have a Positive Attitude

If you have a negative mindset, you will attract negative outcomes. Have faith and believe that you will find the job for you. Use inspirational quotes, positive affirmations, pray, or meditate to help you maintain a positive attitude.

Searching  for work in a weak economy isn't easy, but you will find the right job if you put your best foot forward.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Staying Motivated During Your Job Search

Job seekers are still struggling to find work. According to the Labor Department, new jobless claims rose for the first time in three weeks this week. Staying motivated during the job search is hard especially if you have been searching for a long time.

Despite this gloomy economy, talented and hard working people are getting hired every day. Having motivation is the key to your success.  Here are some tips to help you stay motivated.

1) Maintain a Positive Attitude
Negativity is a big motivation killer.  When negative thoughts or doubt creeps into your mind, visualize your success and yourself at your new job. Inspirational quotes and stories of successful people you admire can also help you to stay positive.

2) Build a Support Network
Job searching in a poor economy is not an easy task. You need a few personal cheerleaders to encourage you and help you maintain a positive attitude. Find a friend or family member that you can talk to when you are feeling down. They can  give you advice or help you think of new job search strategies. You can also join a job search support group or start one.

3) Learn How to Handle Rejection
Not receiving any job offers or getting any interviews can make you feel like you are nothing, but everybody gets rejected at some point in life. Do not take it personal. Recruiters have a specific person in mind for a job. If you are rejected, then that job was not for you and there is a better job out there for you. Use rejection as an opportunity to get feedback on how you can improve your job applications.

4) Set a Schedule
Looking for jobs nonstop will leave you burned out. Set aside a few hours at a time where you look for new job leads, make follow-up calls, send e-mails, apply for jobs, and connect with people in your network. Take breaks in between activities. Make sure you conduct part of your search during normal business hours.

5) Network.
Attend networking events. Do not limit yourself to events that are in your field. You never know what people or job leads  individuals in other fields may know. Connect with people in your network by going to lunch with them or doing informational interviews. They can offer you advice and share their job leads.

6) Learn a New Skill
Learning a new skill keeps you busy and makes you more marketable in the job market. Seek out classes, attend workshops, or simply read books. Volunteering is also another way you can learn a new skill. Offer your services to a nonprofit organization or a small business owner that could use your help.

7) Manage Stress and Enjoy Life.
Have fun to relieve stress. Do activities you enjoy. Spend time with family and friends. Exercising is also a good way to manage stress.

Remember, you are not defined by your job or occupation. You are defined by your character.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Recent Grads Create Their Own Jobs in Poor Job Market

The economy is starting to improve, but many Americans are still struggling to find jobs.   With the country’s unemployment rate at 9.8%, one group of people that is having difficulty finding work is recent college graduates.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate among people under 25 with bachelor’s degrees reached 9.6% in December. Many recent grads are also among the underemployed working at waiters, retail clerks, bartenders, customer service agents, and flight attendants. 

Frustrated with the economy and the poor job market, some recent grads are turning to entrepreneurship and starting their own businesses. One of these grads is Benjamin Shore.

Benjamin Shore graduated from the University of Maryland with Business degree last May. He started his Longevity nutrition company after three months of job searching and no luck. “I knew I had the skills, drive, ambition, and desire to succeed.  If no one could realize that and see that in me then I was going to work for myself,” said Shore.
While Ben has never been more excited about working, he has made many sacrifices to make his business succeed. Benjamin works 30 hours a week in call center to pay his bills.  When he’s not working at the call center, he is working on his business. Benjamin has also cut back on eating out and going to bars with friends. 

Benjamin encourages other young graduates to pursue their entrepreneurship dreams.  He suggested that recent grads learn all they can by reading books about their desired business and taking small business classes.  In order to succeed as an entrepreneur, Benjamin believes young grads should have a relentless drive to succeed, love challenges and competition, and thick skin to handle criticism. “You have to have vision and understand that people won’t understand it. You will receive social pressure to conform, but you have to stick to your vision.” 

For more information about Benjamin Shore’s Longevity Company visit  www.LongevityDrugstore.com and his blog www.antiagingsupplementreview.com.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Class of 2010

Congratulations December 2010 graduates! You finally joined the college graduate club. As you probably know, it's rough out here especially during Christmas time. It took a lot for me to get in the Christmas spirit because I was feeling depressed about my job situation. While things get hard, you have to keep going. So, here are my tips for surviving out here in the real world.

1)  Have an Open Mind. Because of this economy, it will be difficult to find something in your field. (Trust me, I know this.) Since they are so many  people out here like you competing for the same jobs, it may take a while to find your ideal job. Search for opportunities outside of your field along with jobs in your field. It's not where you start, it's where you end up. You also need to earn money to support yourself and pay bills. Don't be ashamed to take a job in food service or retail if you have to. It's only temporary and you will eventually find something in your field.

2) Work your plan. If there is a project or something you want to do, now is the best time to start it. Whether it's a website, business, charity, or volunteer work, do it now. It's a good way to keep you busy and develop your skills.You never know where  your work could lead you. It could lead you to opportunities that help you accomplish your goals and achieve your dreams.

3) Build and Utilize Your Network. The best way to find a job is through networking. Every good job I have had was because I knew someone. With so many people looking for work, applying for jobs online is not the most efficient way to look for work. (Not to say that applying for jobs online doesn't work. You just need to use multiple methods.)  Tell everyone you know that you are looking for work. Attend networking events in your area  and keep building relationships.

4) Keep Stress Down- Adjusting to being in the real world can be stressful especially if you are still looking for employment. Do activities that you enjoy to keep stress down. Exercising is a great way to relieve stress and stay healthy.

5) Manage student loans. While you may have a grace period, you need to mentally prepare yourself to pay back you student loans. Make sure you know all the terms of your student loans and all of your repayment options.This is also a good time to put yourself on a budget and learn how to manage your finances. Having a budget controls your spending, so you will have money to pay your bills.

6) Have Faith. No matter your religious persuasion, you have to have faith. You have to encourage yourself and believe that things will work out. Searching for a job in this economy is rough. Making ends meet is hard. Having faith motivates you to keep going. No matter how bad it gets, don't give up because life can be a lot worse!

The real world may seem scary, but you will make it. You already made it this far. Celebrate your success and Have a Very Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"Pay Me My Money Now"- Student Loan Rep

If you  graduated in May 2010, it's probably time  for  you to start making student loan payments. Unless you want your credit to be in the toilet, you MUST make your payments. I understand if you have high payments. Some of my friends have monthly payments as high as $500! That's a lot of money for someone with a lot of bills or who doesn't have a steady job yet. Fortunately, you have options if you can't afford  to pay your student loan payments. 

If just want to  reduce your payments, there are a few plans you can choose from

Under this plan, you have 25 years to pay off your loans. You will have a lower payment, but you will pay more in interest because you have a longer repayment period. There are some restrictions with this plan. If Direct Loan is your creditor, you must have more than $30,000 in Direct Loans. If FFEL (Federal Family Education Loan) is your creditor, you must have more than $30,000 in FFEL Program loans.

With this plan, your payments start out low and increase every two years. This plan also gives you 10 years pay off your loans. This plan is good if you expect your income to steadily increase over time.

Income Based Repayment Plan (IBR)
Under this plan, your payment is based on your income and family size. You are eligible for this plan if your monthly payment is lower under IBR than under the standard plan. This plan also comes with a few incentives. If you repay under IBR for 25 years and meet other requirements, your remaining debt can be cancelled.  If you work in public service and repay under IBR, your remaining debt can be cancelled after 10 years in public service. While this plan does have incentives, it also has disadvantages. Because you are making a lower payment, you may pay more in interest. You also have to send your lender documentation about your income and family size every year. You can get an estimate of your payment under this plan by using IBR caluclator.

If you absolutely cannot afford to make any payments at all, you can either apply for a deferment or forbearance.

 A deferment is a temporary suspension of repayment on your principal loan balance for specific period of time. You do not have to pay interest on subsidized loans during deferment, but you must pay it on unsubsidized loans. If you do not pay the interest on your unsubsidized loans, it will be added to your balance and you will pay more money. You qualify for a deferment under the following conditions:
  • Enrolled in school at least part time
  • Studying in an approved graduated fellowship program or in an approved rehabilitation training program for the disabled
  • Unemployed(Deferment up to three years)
  • Economic hardship{Deferment up to three years (including Peace Corps)}
  • A member of US Armed forces reserve or the National Guard.  You must be called or ordered to active duty while in school at least part time or within six months of having been enrolled at least half-time.
If you do not qualify for deferment, you can apply for a forbearance. A forbearance allows you to postpone or reduce your monthly payments for a specific time period due to financial hardship or illness. You are responsible for paying the interest on both subsidized and unsubsidized loans. If you do not pay the interest, it will be added to your principal balance and you will pay more money.

Paying off your student loans may seem overwhelming, but your education was an investment in yourself. People pay $50,000 for a luxury car that depreciates as soon as they drive it off the lot and pay it off within 5 to 10 years. Don't stress over your debt. Make your payments on time or take advantage of  your options if you cannot afford to make payments. Whatever you do,  DON'T DEFAULT ON YOUR STUDENT LOANS.

All information presented only relates to Federal student loans and is provided by the Department of Education. For more information, please visit  studentaided.gov.  If you have private student loans, contact your lender(s) for repayment options.