• Spotlight on success: How one college graduate is paying off $100,000 in student loan debt

    March 02, 2017 by

     

    Robin Rectenwald graduated from Duquesne University in 2012 with 20 different student loans and $100,000 in loan debt. But through working a full-time job, two part-time jobs, working with a financial planner, and creating strategies to successfully pay off her student loan debt, she is setting herself up for financial freedom from her student loan debt.

    Now, in 2017, she only has five loans left, and is quickly whittling down the amount she owes.

    Learn about Robin’s story, her strategies for success and how to reduce and eliminate student debt below in this College Recruiter Spotlight on Success:

    Name: Robin Rectenwald
    City/state: Pittsburgh, PA
    Current profession: PR Professional for WordWrite Communications
    College/University attended: Allegheny College (1 year) and Duquesne University (3 years) – both private schools
    Annual tuition: $42,000 and $25,000
    Student loan debt at graduation: $101,527.38

    College Recruiter: What do you know now that you wish you knew in college?

    Rectenwald: I wish I would’ve saved every penny when I was in college and living with my parents. And…

    • I wish I would’ve known that you can start paying the interest on your loans while you’re still in school.
    • I wish I would’ve known more about the difference between private and federal loans and subsidized and unsubsidized loans. I also wish I would’ve researched student loan options ever year.
    • I wish I would’ve learned more about the cost of living after college (more info on this below).
    • I wish I would’ve applied for more private scholarships.

    College Recruiter: In addition to working full-time, you also work two part-time jobs, with all money from those part-time jobs going towards paying off student loans. How has that helped?

    Rectenwald: My balances would be through the roof! When I graduated from college, I had 20 loans with balances ranging from $1,000 to $12,000 and interest rates as high as 10%. If I would not have really investigated these loans after graduation and made an action plan to pay them off, my payments today probably would only be going to the principal. In other words, my balances would be getting bigger because my payments would only be going towards the interest and because of that the interest would just keep growing and growing, I’d be paying my student loans forever. Recent college grads need to know that yes, you may be sending payments, but is it actually paying down the principal balance or is it just going to the interest? Don’t get caught in this trap!

    College Recruiter: How have you handled the mental stress of having student loan debt? What tips do you have for others who have stress from student loan debt? Continue Reading

  • 17 strategies that can help you graduate from college debt free

    February 23, 2017 by

     

    College is expensive. And student loan debt is on the rise. While many believe the only way to graduate from college debt free is by receiving an academic or athletic scholarship, there are actually several strategies one can implement to graduate from college debt free – or with much less debt than the average college student graduates with – which is just over $30,000.

    It’s not easy and it could make the path to graduation more challenging, but it can be done. It starts by planning in advance and digging deep to find ways to accomplish this goal.

    “The days of going to college without any real pre-planning or self-evaluation are over,” says Bob LaBombard, retired CEO of GradStaff, a company that helps college students and recent college grads identify where there skills fit in the job force  “It’s just too costly and risky.”

    Consider these facts: More than half of college students change their major at least once. Further, recent data shows that only about 56 percent of students entering college graduate within six years; almost half drop out.

    “Clearly, lack of a clear-cut plan often causes students to waste time, precious tuition dollars and, ultimately, interest in completing a degree,” says LaBombard.

    There are many strategies that can help college students cover the high costs of obtaining a college degree, and if done correctly, graduating debt free. We highlight those strategies here:

    Continue Reading

  • Ask Matt: Make a plan! 12 strategies for dominating student loan debt

    February 09, 2017 by

    Dear Matt: I recently graduated from college and it’s almost time to start paying back my student loans. I have over $50,000 in student loan debt, and it seems almost overwhelming to have to pay all this back, especially with many other expenses. Fortunately I have landed a job, and am making a decent salary. That helps, but I’m feeling financial pressure to make it all work. Do you have any tips or resources for people like me seeking advice on how to manage the overwhelming burden of paying back student loans/debt?

    Matt: I cringed when I heard the numbers. My niece is in her second year of college and has already accumulated $65,000 in student loan debt. “But it’s totally worth it,” she said, before leaving for London for a month-long school-sponsored education program. She’s right in the fact that a college degree, and the experiences that come with it, are worth it. But it’s painful to see so many young students accrue so much debt. She may realize that as well – after one year at a private school, she’s now going to a public university and back living at home as a way to cut costs.

    Her story reminded me of my cousin who accumulated over $120,000 in student loan debt. Her first job was for a large financial institution (her degree was in education, from a private school). Her boss at that job, only a few years older, didn’t go to college, had no student loan debt, and made more money than her. Those two eventually got married – which is how I know this story – but that in itself is a whole other story.

    Why do I tell these tales? Because these are common stories for today’s college student and college graduate. And while it doesn’t change this reader’s situation – or pay their debt, any recent college graduate with student debt should understand that you are not alone, and that there are resources out there to help you.

    In fact, nearly seven in 10 seniors (68%) who graduated from public and nonprofit colleges in 2015 had student loan debt, with an average of $30,100 per borrower, according to the Institute for College Access & Success.

    When I paid back my student loans after graduating from Minnesota State University, Mankato (Mankato State University back then), I did it without a plan, or real understanding of the options available to me. I simply read the letters sent to me, submitted the pay stub and check to the loan servicing company (no online payments back then) each month, and cringed as it seemed like a lingering debt that would never go away.

    Don’t be like me. Don’t go about paying back student loan debt without a plan. Take advantage of the many online resources available, and heed advice from financial experts like Phil Schuman, Director of Financial Literacy at Indiana University (IU). Schuman unleashed multiple financial literacy initiatives in the past four years, and reduced undergraduate student borrowing across IU by nearly 14 percent – which comes out to a whopping savings of $78 million, since introducing his financial literacy efforts.

    It’s tough to start one’s professional career drowning in debt. But don’t let that debt dominate your life.

    “While it’s extremely important that you get rid of (student loans) as fast as you possibly can, make sure you don’t do it at the expense of your wellness,” says Schuman. “If there are things in life that are important to you and keep you going, even if they cost a little bit of money, make sure to keep them as part of your life. Having those things in your life will help keep you motivated and energized to continue tackling your student debt.”

    Katie Ross, Education and Development Manager for the American Consumer Credit Counseling, an organization that provides information and guidance on issues such as identity theft, credit, debt and budgeting, agrees.

    “There is a stigma about being in debt that causes many borrowers to prioritize eliminating student loan debt over other financial objectives like saving for a house or for retirement,” says Ross. “If possible, do not neglect saving for retirement just to expedite student loan repayment.”

    I get it – it’s hard to think about saving for retirement – let alone making monthly rent payments, car payments, or even going out on the weekend – when that large monthly loan payment looming. But it can be, and will be done. You will get out of debt. But it’s not easy, and takes planning, preparation and diligence.

    Get out of student debt by following these tips:

    1. Take ownership of your debt: “You need to realize that you are in charge of how quickly your debt can go away,” says Schuman. “Don’t allow yourself to blame others for your debt being there or hope that others will help you get rid of it. Own your debt and get rid of it as fast as possible.”

    Set a “done with debt” date and then do everything you possible can to meet it.

    2. Create an efficient budget: A carefully planned budget will help any individual gain a better understanding of their financial outlook and how they’ll need to adjust their lifestyle to afford to live, save, and pay off debt. “Knowing how much money you have to dedicate to paying off students loans and what expenses can be reduced is the best place to start when trying to figure out how to eliminate student loan debt quickly,” says Ross.

    3. Calculate payments: At StudentLoans.gov, borrowers can access a repayment estimator that will help them understand how much their monthly payments will be under different repayment plans. Because the site accesses borrowers’ specific student loan files, repayment calculators can show each graduate repayment details that are unique to their specific loans. This will also let borrowers see what the interest rates are on their different loans and what they will pay in interest using different repayment options.

    4. Worry about the amounts, not the interest rates: “Before I explain myself I do want to assure you that I do understand math,” jokes Schuman. It might seem contradictory to not focus on the interest rates of a debt, but paying off debt is more a matter of psychology than it is math, he says. In the case of focusing on paying off debts by interest rates, while it will allow you to pay less in interest when all is said and done it is difficult to tackle debt when you don’t see the numbers go down fast. If you pay off your debts by prioritizing the one with the lowest balance – and still paying the minimums on all other debts – you’ll see your number of debts go down faster, which will motivate you to keep tackling your debt.  Once you get rid of the first debt, apply the money you used to pay off that debt and apply it to the one that now has the lowest balance, and so on.

    5. Understand relief eligibility: While logged into the Federal Student Aid website, borrowers should read up on different relief programs that are available to military personnel, public servants, persons with disabilities, and other individuals, points out Ross. The details of the programs are important because borrowers might already be eligible or can become eligible based on the industry they enter upon joining the workforce. Some may qualify to have their loans discharged or forgiven after just 10 years of on-time payments.

    6. Choose a loan repayment plan: Those who can afford it and are interested in getting out of debt quickly should choose whichever plan has the highest payments and the shortest repayment period. Anyone in any plan can accelerate their repayment by paying a little more than their minimum payment each month. This will save the most in interest over the life of the loans.

    7. Make one extra monthly payment per year: Making 13 payments a year instead of 12 can help save big on interest. Learn more about that strategy in the article Paying off Student Loan Debt: 5 Tips.

    8. Contact the loan servicing company: Graduates and other borrowers should know which company is handling their student loan debt. Student loan repayment and billing for some borrowers is not handled by the government itself but by a loan servicing company. Getting in touch with the loan servicing company will help borrowers update their contact info, learn about potential ways to reduce interest, and get up-to-date details about how much they still owe.

    9. Enroll in autopay: If borrowers are financially able, the easiest way to ensure that their loans are taken care of is to enroll in a service that automatically deducts their loan payment from their bank account each month. Plus, this protects grads from missing payments and hurting their credit, says Ross.

    10. Be cautious about refinancing student loans: Many new grads obsess over their debt and paying it off as quickly as possible, says Ross. Know that refinancing comes with risks like losing the benefits offered with federal student loans. Also, your credit need to be in really good shape in order to refinance and get a good interest rate. If you do choose to refinance, be careful about choosing a fixed or variable interest rate. Interest rates, which are set by the Federal Reserve, are likely to increase, which could be harmful to your debt repayment plans, says Ross. Be sure to carefully read all terms and conditions when refinancing.

    11. Set up an emergency fund: Don’t accelerate payments on deductible student loan debt until you’ve set aside six to 12 months of “emergency” money, says Beth Walker, CCPS, CRPC®, a Partner and Personal CFO for The Wealth Consulting Group and founder of Center for College Solutions, a resource for families and college students whose goal is to reduce the stress – and costs of attending college.

    “This seems counterintuitive but student loan debt is still relatively ‘cheap’ and having liquidity, use and control of capital is the foundation to a strong financial future,” says Walker.

    12. Find a way to focus on the future: This may seem years away, but remember this tip: Once the loans are paid off, immediately direct the monthly loan payment toward a long-term savings program. “You’ve learned to live without using that cash flow in your current lifestyle up to this point, so take advantage of that fact and fund your future lifestyle with the equivalent of your education loan payments,” says Walker.

    So you have student loan debt. That’s reality. Don’t let it get you down. Develop a plan for success. And heed the advice from experts. By reading this article you’ve already received advice from a financial literacy expert, a manager from a consumer credit counseling agency, and a financial planning expert who has a decade of experience helping families and individuals pay off student debt.

    That’s a good start. That’s more than I ever did – and more than most people do.

    Keep it up and you will dominate your student debt.

    Matt Krumrie CollegeRecruiter.com

    Matt Krumrie is a contributing writer for CollegeRecruiter.com

    About Ask Matt on CollegeRecruiter.com
    Ask Matt is a new monthly career advice column that offers tips and advice to recent college grads and entry-level job seekers. Have a question? Need job search or career advice? Email your question to Matt Krumrie for use in a future column.

  • 5 simple strategies for recent college grads struggling to save for retirement

    September 30, 2016 by
    save money words on a chalkboard illustrating back to school savings or instructions on how to save on your education costs

    Save money now, reap the rewards later. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

    We get it. You just graduated from college, and landed that first job. It’s an exciting time.

    It’s also expensive.

    You have your own apartment now, but rent is a lot higher when not living in that college town, or with fewer roommates to split the costs. Then there is that car payment and car insurance. And you are now paying for health insurance on your own for the first time. Wow, that is expensive, right? Suddenly, that salary you didn’t negotiate suddenly looks a lot smaller after taxes and deductions are taken out.

    And let’s not forget those dreaded student loans you are starting to pay back. Those are a real drain, literally and figuratively. Did you borrow money from mom and dad? It might be time to pay them back too. It’s tough. And now that you finally have a job and are making some money, you want to have some fun and spend a little extra, go on a vacation, or splurge on yourself.

    Save for retirement? Not now. There’s plenty of time, right? Yes, there is. But trust us, it’s never too soon for recent college grads and Millennials to focus on retirement. That may be the last thing an early-to-mid 20-something is thinking about, especially with so many other expenses.

    But…follow the wise advice of professionals.

    “With student loan debt and health care costs, many recent college graduates may think they need to defer or limit the amount they save for retirement until they have more money to put towards their retirement savings,” says Joe DeSilva, Senior Vice President/General Manager, ADP Retirement Services.

    ADP’s annual study on retirement savings trends shows that employees age 20-24 defer an average of 4.6 percent of their pay into a tax qualified retirement plan, while employees age 55 and older defer an average of 8.5 percent. Yet, the cost of waiting does not add up. Recent graduates should instead start saving as early as possible – even if it is just a small portion of income.

    “Being proactive today can reap big rewards tomorrow,” says DeSilva.

    Below are four steps recent college graduates can take today to set themselves up for the retirement they want tomorrow:

    1. Don’t wait to save until all your college loans are paid off: Save now to take advantage of compound earnings. If you wait even 10 years to start contributing to a retirement plan, you could miss out on many thousands of dollars in retirement savings.

    2. Actively plan your retirement: Even if a retirement plan is offered by your employer, only you can take charge of your future financial security. Ask your Human Resources department for help in deciphering your benefit options.

    3. Maximize your savings early in your career: Choose to have your employer automatically increase your retirement plan contribution every year.

    4. Establish good money management habits: Focus on saving, smart budgeting and planning for emergencies. In other words, live only within your means.

    While a recent college graduate isn’t likely to accept or move on from a job based on the retirement plan of the employee, it’s best to find an employer who at least offers a company match. That can help motivate recent college grads to start saving because it’s an easy way to start building your retirement base.

    “While they may have many decades before retirement, Millennials can benefit from employers who guide them in making smart retirement savings choices now, at the beginning of their careers,” says DeSilva.

    It’s never too early to start saving for retirement, even for recent college grads, entry-level employees and Millennials at all stages of their professional career.

    Want to learn more about how to save money for retirement while managing the start of your professional career? Then stay connected to College Recruiter by visiting our blog, and connect with us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

    Joe DeSilva, Senior Vice President/General Manager, ADP Retirement Services.

    Joe DeSilva, Senior Vice President/General Manager, ADP Retirement Services.

    About Joe DeSilva
    Joe DeSilva is Senior Vice President and General Manager of ADP’s Retirement Services business unit, which serves a national client base of small, medium and Fortune 500 businesses. He is responsible for setting the strategy and overseeing the day-to-day operations of the business, which includes Sales, Marketing, Product, Development, Service and Operations functions.

    The views expressed herein are those of the author, are intended for general information only and are not intended to provide investment, financial, tax or legal advice or a recommendation for any particular situation or plan.  ADP, LLC and its affiliates (ADP) do not endorse or recommend specific investment companies or products, financial advisors or service providers; engage or compensate any financial advisors to provide advice to plans or participants; offer financial, investment, tax or legal advice or management services; or serve in a fiduciary capacity with respect to retirement plans.  Nothing herein is intended to be, nor should be construed as, advice or a recommendation for a particular situation or plan.  Please consult with your own advisors for such advice.

     

  • Is a college degree worth it for Millennials?

    August 08, 2016 by
    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    In today’s global, competitive workforce—where Millennials are the largest generation to date—jobs are tough to find and competition is more than 10 times worse than before the last economic downturn in 2008. For the past eight years, evidence shows a stalling, declining economy with pockets of hope but mostly despair. A recent poll cited that college graduates and Millennials under the age of 35 are moving back in with their parents in the homes they grew up in at alarmingly increasing rates. Other recent findings include the following factors that can hinder a graduate’s job search: taking too long to graduate while others fill jobs; going on to graduate school and delaying a career start; not being able to afford to work for less in a career start due to heavy college loan debt.

    What is a newly minted college graduate to do? Is the college degree they hold in their hands worth it? Will they find a job? Will they make enough to pay off student loans and college debt while at the same time living independently from their parents?

     

    Welcome to the “new normal” of what is the big Millennial challenge: Finding jobs that pay well enough to satisfy debt while at the same time affording a lifestyle.

    In this brave, new world of global capitalism, government spending, and oversight, new regulations such as the new overtime mandate of paying salaried workers more for overtime…. graduates are in for a big wake up call! And more, older, qualified and more senior workers are standing in line for those jobs.

    Happy yet? Keep reading. The US economy is stalled. Unfortunately, the government has decided to make it their role to tell employers how to run their businesses. Small businesses—the county’s backbone of entrepreneurship—have become stressed and many have closed or re-shifted to allow for these regulations. Some economists are predicting layoffs over the next few quarters as a result of a stalled economy coupled with higher mandated wages. Additionally, technology is often replacing workers in the workforce adding to the “do less with more” theme in many business operations.

    Here are the top things you must do if you want employment in this US economy, and this includes being able to pay off debt:

    Get more than one job: It may take a career start for less money combined with a job waiting tables on nights and weekends to make enough money. There is no shame in this, and in fact, future recruiters and employers will react positively to those Millennials who demonstrate a good work ethic.

    Don’t expect it to be handed to you: Gone are the days of jobs awaiting. Employers want employees with “go get ‘em” work ethics. As an employer of Millennials, I am always looking for young talent willing to earn their way into my business.

    We don’t care about your yoga, essential oils or feelings at work: They call it work for a reason. While some larger companies (Google, Twitter, etc) have offered amenities and benefits attractive to Millennials, these jobs are often reserved for the top few. A recent news report cited high competition for these coveted jobs. Most businesses cannot afford to “cater” to a certain type of demographic like the Millennials.

    Communicate the old fashioned way: Look people in the eye, shake hands, talk persuasively, and send a hand-written thank you note. In a recent report by DC-based, NRF (National Retail Federation), communication skills place last on a list of training wants for Millennials. Placing first on the employer’s list? Communication skills. Millennials who understand what corporate recruiters are seeking will be those better able to get employed.

    Secure a job that you know you can achieve in and take it: Work hard to prove yourself. My friend, Patti Clauss, Sr. VP of Global Talent for Williams-Sonoma and related companies says to “follow my lead and communicate with me like I communicate with you. Stay put in your job long enough to learn something valuable and transferable,” says Clauss.

    Stay in your first job long enough, and work hard to generate results that are good enough to brag about: You must achieve results, get good feedback and move the ball down the field. Only then will people notice you and want to promote you or hire you away.

    Don’t be a quitter: The problem with Millennials is they don’t stay put long enough to learn enough to make them valuable to the next employer: Hopping around in jobs is not a career enhancing practice. Employers will take note of a graduate who has moved around more than once within a two to three year time frame. Nobody wants to invest in someone if they know they won’t stay long enough to add value.

    Reach out and engage with older, more established mentors in your job or career who can give you advice you won’t get anywhere else. Listen to those who have forged their paths before you and learn.

    Read the local paper and read blogs by those in your area of work.

    Know that your college degree is only as good as the paper it is on: While we believe a degree is a door opener, it is just that. What you do with it is what matters. A degree (or many) will not convince an employer to select you over others. We see many smart, degreed people out there looking for any job—often an entry level job.

    Amy Howell, Author and Founder of Howell Marketing Strategies, LLC

    Amy Howell, Author and Founder of Howell Marketing Strategies, LLC

    Times are so different and it is critical that Millennials get into high gear and work to get ahead. They must understand that getting a degree is just one quiver in their pack of arrows. Today, they must have many other weapons with which to compete.

    Amy D. Howell is founder and owner of Memphis PR firm, Howell Marketing Strategies, LLC, a mother of a college student, high school student and author of two books, “Women in High Gear,” and most recently “Students in High Gear.”

  • 10 career mistakes to avoid

    June 26, 2016 by
    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    One of your top goals is to have a happy and successful life.

    Your career is the key to achieving this goal.

    You’ve got a nice degree, have a lovely smile and are ready to work, but there’s one more thing that could stop you from realizing your dreams:

    Mistakes.

    Some mistakes could harm or even end your career. You have to recognize and avoid them at all costs if you really want to have a successful life.

    There are 10 career defining mistakes.

    1. Dressing badly at work

    Research tells us that what we wear affects how we think. How we dress also affects how other people perceive us.

    Sure, you deserve to get the respect you think you deserve and get people to listen to you. People should respect you because you know what you’re talking about.

    So why should you wear expensive socks to get people to respect you?

    Let me tell you a story.

    One day I was on a bus headed to my friend’s house. It’s been a long time since I went to the neighborhood so I wasn’t so sure which stop to get off at. I was constantly looking out at the window, and the gentleman sitting beside me could not help but notice it.

    He nicely asked where I was going and if I needed help. I told him where I was going, and he said I should exit in two stops. I thanked him.

    A few minutes later, another man sitting behind me said “Actually, you should get off at the next stop.”

    I thanked him and exited where he told me, ignoring the advice of the first guy.

    Now, you may want to ask me why I chose the second guy’s advice.

    As I walk away from the bus stop, I realized I ignored my seatmate’s advice because he was wearing sweatpants, had a dark stain on his T-shirt, and looked like he skipped showering that day. I realized that I chose the second guy’s advice because he wore a collared jacket, well-polished shoes, and designer glasses.

    When you dress well at work, people will notice you. Your superiors will notice you, and they would admire you for that. That would open up more opportunities for you.

    2. Expressing a rude and negative attitude at work

    Even if you’re a highly-talented employee but always express a bad and negative attitude at work, you’ll have a high mountain to climb to advance your career. Many managers hate working with employees who have bad attitudes because they decrease the team morale.

    According to studies from Leadership IQ, 87% of employees say that working with somebody with a bad attitude has actually made them want to change jobs. And as much as 89% of new hires who fail within 18 months actually failed because of attitudinal issues, not skills. Bad attitudes also include laziness, tardiness, inappropriate jokes, unresponsive to emails, etc. List all the bad and negative attitudes you have and make a consistent effort to overcome them.

    3. Not building good relationships with your colleagues

    Bad relationships are bound to happen from time to time. How you deal with them is the most important thing.

    Your colleagues are the keys to your happiness at work. If you’re not happy with your coworkers, then you’ll certainly be looking for work soon. I’m a big believer of the phrase “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If you want your coworkers to be kind and respectful to you, then you have to be kind and respectful to them.

    Make sure you remember your coworkers’ names and address them by their names. It’s easy to say happy birthdays to your coworkers on Facebook when you rarely talk to them at work. Make sure you’re doing that important one-on-one conversation. Get on the phone and tell them “Happy Birthday.” Go an extra mile and surprise them with a gift. This little generosity will make you more likable at your workplace.

    4. Writing unprofessional emails to colleagues

    You know there are some unprofessional things you shouldn’t say to your colleagues in the workplace. The same is true for work emails.

    For example, it’s not appropriate to answer a colleague asking you how your job search is going inside your work email. Another example is when your colleague complains about other coworkers and says nasty things about them.

    These are discussions you shouldn’t allow inside your work email. I don’t think it’s good to allow it at all whether it’s your personal or work email. You should know that you don’t own your work email, your employer does. Your employer can monitor who you’re communicating with on your work email. You could be in trouble if you’re making inappropriate remarks about sensitive issues at your workplace.

    In addition to that, there are some email mistakes that can make you look really unprofessional.

    For example:

    • Using informal or curse words you’re not allowed to use at work
    • Rambling in your email instead of getting straight to the point
    • Forgetting to attach files when you say you’ve attached files
    • Spelling the person’s name wrong or using a different name to address the recipient

    These email mistakes may not look big to you, but they are serious mistakes that can prevent you from accelerating your career.

    5. Making career choices based on earnings

    The love of money could lead you down the wrong career path.

    I’m not saying “The love of money is the root of all evil.”

    You need money to do a lot of things. You probably need money to pay student loans, buy some nice outfits and keep the roof over your head. So you definitely need money. We all do.

    But when you choose a career or a job you don’t even enjoy based on your goal to make $90,000 per year, that’s when it becomes a problem. You need to ask yourself:

    Does your desire for money match your passion and skills? When you choose a job you’re less passionate about, you’ll be pushing yourself to get things done. And this would be visible in your performance. You should choose a job where you have the skills and abilities to get the job done.

    6. Not investing in yourself

    If you strip Larry Page of his assets and dump him on the street, I can assure you that he would be back living a comfortable life within a week.

    Larry Page has a ton of human capital.

    According to Wikipedia“Human capital is the stock of knowledge, habits, social and personality attributes, including creativity, embodied in the ability to perform labor so as to produce economic value.” In other words, human capital is a collection of resources—all the knowledge, talents, skills, abilities, experience, intelligence, training, judgment, and wisdom that are possessed by an individual. If you want to achieve a lot of success in your career, you need a lot of human capital. Focusing on building your human capital is a lot more productive than worrying about “job security.

    So how do you build your human capital?

    You build up your human capital by investing in yourself through:

    • Improving your skills
    • Acquiring complementary skills
    • Reading educational books
    • Starting healthy habits
    • Building your personal brand
    • Getting a mentor

    As you do these things, you’ll become irreplaceable in your organization. You’ll become the go-to person within your company. Many more people will start looking up to you. All these help you accelerate your career.

    But when you stop investing in yourself, you become stagnant. Your skills become obsolete.

    7. Not maintaining a healthy work-life balance

    A poor work-life balance is bad for both the employee (you) and the employer.

    People who have a poor work-life balance are more stressed and experience more family conflicts. They also tend to have both mental and physical problems. If your private life is suffering, it will negatively impact your professional life. Your private life comes first. When you experience more problems in your private life, your creativity, engagement and productivity at work will suffer.

    The only way to prevent this is to keep a work-life balance.

    This may not look like a career mistake to you, but it’s a mistake that can have adverse effects on your career. You should set work hours and stick to them. Don’t work during times when you should be with your family or have set aside times for tending to personal matters which are a priority to you.

    8. Not improving your communication skills

    “The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”—Theodore Roosevelt

    The consequences of poor communication are great.

    For example, if your communication skills are poor, your message would be hard to understand, and this can lead to serious confusion among your colleagues.

    Too much information when it is not needed can also affect the concentration of the listener.

    Poor communication becomes more serious when you communicate with customers. If customers are not serviced in the right manner, it would reduce sales, thereby affecting business goals.

    Great communication skills help you do well at your job because you’ll be using these skills when requesting information, discussing problems, giving out instructions, and interacting with your colleagues. As a result of demonstrating good communication skills, you’ll enhance your professional image, build sound business relationships, and get more successful responses.

    You have to continue sharpening your communication skills if you want to get and stay at the top.

    How do you do that?

    You sharpen your communication skills by:

    • Striking up conversations with strangers
    • Reading good books
    • Listening to others
    • And engaging in more one-on-one conversations

    9. Not networking outside your company

    Your network is your net worth.

    Your network is your source of job opportunities, potential business partnerships and much more. Your network won’t only find your next job, but it will help you improve your current position.

    NETWORKING is the single most powerful marketing tactic to accelerate and sustain success for any individual or organization!”—Adam Small

    One of the biggest mistakes many people make is to network when they are only looking for a job. You can’t only rely on people you already know within your current workplace to help you land your dream job. You must always be networking outside of your company, and even your industry.

    For example, let’s say you’re a website designer; networking with other website designers alone would limit your opportunities. You should network outside your industry like in the Healthcare, Manufacturing, Agriculture and Energy sectors. People in these sectors could be good references. They could become customers. They might know someone who needs your service.

    LinkedIn is a very good place to start networking with people outside your industries.

    But your conversation with those people shouldn’t be limited to the web. Take it offline. Do face-to-face meetings with them. That’s how you expand your network and increase your chance of career success.

    10. Not serving your network

    The truth is the people in your network needs you as much as you need them.

    You can’t just expect people in your network to connect you with other people they know. You can’t just expect them to link you up with job opportunities without you giving them some value. You’ll appear selfish if you always expect people to do things for you but offer nothing in return.

    The best way to keep people interested in you is to serve them. When you diligently do something good for people, they will want to return the favor, though, your major aim of helping people shouldn’t be to get something in return. The more people you serve, the more your network grows, and the more your network grows, the more opportunities will come your way.

    Michael Akinlaby, guest writer

    Michael Akinlaby, guest writer

    Need more tips for making the best career choices? Visit our blog and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

    Michael Akinlaby is a freelance writer and SEO Consultant. He’s the founder of RankRain, an internet marketing agency that specializes in content marketing and Search Engine. 

  • Financial aid secrets for college students

    April 23, 2016 by
    Financial aid web browser sign concept courtesy of Shutterstock.com

    alexmillos/Shutterstock.com

    With graduation season looming, high school seniors throughout the country are receiving their college acceptance letters and celebrating their impending sense of freedom. At the same time, parents are studying financial aid options and scratching their heads trying to figure out how to pay for the upcoming four (or more) years.

    As the costs of attending college rise, it’s important to consider scholarships, grants, and student loans to assist with the hefty fees. There are also some innovative tricks that can help reduce this cost. Here are some insights gleaned from real university financial aid employees, parents, and former college students all high school seniors and their families should know.

    Use your FAFSA

    The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an important financial aid document college students shouldn’t skip. Even if they don’t think they’ll qualify for any money, it’s important to fill this form out annually. This is how the federal government and schools determine what type of aid to give students. There are many subtle things that can impact the grants offered, many of which are unknown to the average person, and may change the amount a family qualifies for.

    Attend class

    Many universities have strict attendance and truancy policies to prevent abuse of the grants offered. If a student withdraws from a class due to non-attendance in the first few classes or consistent unexplained absences, their course load may drop below the mandatory credits needed to qualify for certain grants. If you have a scholarship or grant already, make sure you know the terms and what’s expected from your end.

    Become a Resident Advisor (RA)

    Aside from tuition, room and board are the most expensive costs incurred during college. With the average college student paying $8,535 a year just for a place to stay, it makes sense to try to skimp on this fee. Students who work as a Resident Advisor often wind up with free or significantly reduced room and board in exchange for their services, making this one of the most lucrative student jobs available.

    Learn to cook

    While Top Ramen may be students best friend those first few months, anything prepared at home is bound to be more affordable than college meal plans and eating out at restaurants. Even if a student’s cooking skills need some brushing up, this is one of the easiest ways to save money. Don’t be afraid of the kitchen.

    Find freebies

    So much of an average college student’s budget is spent on personal expenses, which often includes entertainment. Seek free options available through the university instead. Campuses are loaded with free amenities, from swimming pools and libraries to dorm dinners, guest lecture speakers, and student clubs.

    Join a credit union

    Since credit unions are run as cooperatives, they can afford giving customers extra perks that wind up saving them a lot of money. They typically feature lower credit card interest rates, higher interest rates paid out on savings accounts, and reduced-fee ATMs and online banking services.

    While the term “starving student” has origins in truth, it doesn’t need to be a reality for all. Instead, research financial aid opportunities and spend wisely to save money and stick to a good budget throughout your academic career.

    If you’re interested in more information on financial aid, please visit our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter.

    Brooke Chaplan, guest writer

    Brooke Chaplan, guest writer

    Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking, and gardening. For more information on first time budgeting, see what a Bountiful Utah Credit Union might recommend. Brooke is available via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.

  • How a Medical Scribe Position Prepares You for Medical School

    August 06, 2015 by
    empty notebook with a pen on the table

    Empty notebook with a pen on the table. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

    The decision to apply to medical school is not easy. Before students can even apply, they must complete rigorous coursework, volunteer or work in a clinical setting, score well on the MCAT exam, and more.

    Then comes the more important part: actually getting accepted to medical school. Standing out among thousands of other applicants can seem daunting. Fortunately, there are opportunities for students interested in medical school or other healthcare careers that can enhance their resume or graduate school application. Continue Reading

  • What to Know Before you Start Paying Student Loans

    July 29, 2015 by
    Student Loan installment payment check paying back money owed in obligation for borrowed funding for college or university education

    Student Loan installment payment check paying back money owed in obligation for borrowed funding for college or university education. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

    Paying for a college education can be expensive, and many students will use student loans to finance at least a portion of their education. Most graduates leave school owing tens of thousands of dollars or more, and these funds must be repaid at some point. If the time has come for you to start making your payments, it is important you understand what all of your options are for handling this debt. Continue Reading

  • Dream vs. Reality: What Happens After Graduation

    July 14, 2015 by
    Happy graduate student in cloak with diploma

    Happy graduate student in cloak with diploma. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

    Congratulations, you’ve made it to graduation. So, what’s next? After three years of university, you’ve increased your knowledge so much that you have become an expert in your field. Now more than ever, you feel ready to face the real world, and hopefully you can become a valuable member of the workforce.

    Most graduates would wait for the end of the summer to get started with their job search, but not you. Your career consciousness doesn’t allow you to spend a minute of your time not figuring out a plan for your next move, and working towards your professional goals is your main priority at the moment. Continue Reading

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