Getting From College to Career
September 17, 2008, 4:43 pm
Filed under: 20something, Books, Careers

I actually read Getting From College to Career: 90 Things to Do Before You Join the Real World by Lindsey Pollak a few months ago, but haven’t found the time to write up a review of it until now. Oops. I guess better late than never is the motto for the day.

As a recent college graduate and a 20something with I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-my-life-itis, I really did enjoy this book. I wish I would have read it while I was in college, though, as many of the tips would have been more helpful then (like interning and visiting my school’s career services office- two things I didn’t do), but I still felt that many of the tips were definitely still applicable to me since Pollak makes it a point to tell her readers to start where ever are you in life and her tips largely follow that philosophy.

The book is divided into ten chapters that contain tips revolving around the same topic, such as being professional, finding your passions, networking, resume advice, and how to find job opportunities. Throughout the book, there are “Make This Work For You” sections that help you translate the advice into action. With her big sister like tone, Pollak isn’t just offering the reader pie in the sky dreams, she’s relating real things you can do to help determine what kind of job you’d like and how to obtain it.

Here are my favorite tips and advice that I found in Getting From College to Career by chapter:

Chapter 1: Get Started

-The worst mistake you can make in your career search is to do nothing
-Subscribe to a daily newspaper to keep up on current events (if nothing else, you’ll have a lot of material for small talk)

Chapter 2: Stop Being a Student and Start Being a Professional
-Change your voice mail message and email address to something more professional, as well as add a signature line with your contact information for all your outgoing emails
-Make business cards for yourself
-Clean up your internet image (i.e., delete your drunken pictures off of Facebook) and replace it with a more professional and involved one
-Subscribe to the newsletters of industries you’re interested in

Chapter 3: Figure Out What You Want and What You Don’t
-Look into job shadowing or finding a mentor to get up close and personal with a career

Chapter 4: Talk. Listen. Repeat. (I.E., Network)
-Network, network, network. With everyone.
-Set up informational interviews with contacts you’ve found through networking
-Become involved with your college as an alum
-Join associations that have to do with your career or potential career and go to their professional conferences
-Keep in touch with people- it’s very hard to network if you don’t.

Chapter 5: Gain Real World Experience
-Do what you have to do to gain experience: seek a leadership role, join clubs and organizations, intern, temp, volunteer, work part time, study abroad. Pollak is careful to point out that if you do work part time, choose a job that has something to do with a potential career choice. One thing I regret from my college years is not working at the school library when I had the chance to. Instead, I took on dead end retail jobs. If I would have had a job at the library throughout college, it wouldn’t have taken me so long to find a full time job in the library field because I would have already had the experience I needed.

Chapter 6: Give Yourself an Edge
-In a nutshell, spend your extra time challenging yourself (physically, mentally, and or socially) so that you can shine a little brighter in the eyes of a potential employer.

Chapter 7: Market Yourself on Paper
-Include an objective statement on your resume
-Quantify everything you can about your experiences

Chapter 8: Find Opportunities
-There are countless ways to find a job, so make sure you’re utilizing all your available resources- both the obvious and not so obvious ones.

Chapter 9: Overprepare for Interviews
-Research the company as much as possible beforehand
-Practice your answers
-Absolutely never be late
-Be nice to everyone you meet at the company or organization where you interview

Chapter 10: Before You Head of into the Real World
-Never lose your enthusiasm

Are you a Yawn?
May 13, 2008, 11:46 am
Filed under: 20something, Frugality, Green

Young and Wealthy, but Normal, that is.

I stumbled upon this article in the Sunday paper and couldn’t help but smile when I read it. Frugality is really taking off with us youngsters and to know that the earth is being benefited from these socially conscious actions makes the sacrifice worth it ten times over.

Now, if only I could say that I was wealthy…

April 29, 2008, 10:16 pm
Filed under: 20something, About me, Frugality

Earlier this evening, I was walking back to my apartment from my local Ben and Jerry’s scoop shop with an ice cream cone in one hand and Honey’s lease in the other and I asked myself, why do I live frugally? Today was free cone day at Ben and Jerry’s and as soon as I got home from work and gathered up my dog, I booked it for my free ice cream. I was scrambling to get in line before 7pm, the official end of their generosity. When I finally got my cone a little past 7 and I began walking home at a leisurely pace, I realized that I didn’t need to go to all the trouble I went to for an ice cream cone. After all, a scoop of Ben and Jerry’s is only three or four bucks. Why was I trying so hard to save a few measly dollars? Why am I constantly trying so hard to save money? Some of my readers may be asking the very same questions so I thought it wise to outline why I choose to live frugally.

I am young, quite young in fact, and I know that I have plenty of time to worry about all things financial. But I also realize that my youth affords me time to optimize my smart moves and to neutralize my bad ones. Compound interest is on my side and I plan to take full advantage of it so that I can reap the most rewards. I’ve chosen the art of frugality to free up my money so that I can put as much of it into savings as I can and watch it grow over the years.

The strongest driving force behind my frugal efforts is the simple fact that I don’t have money to throw around. Not surprisingly, my two part time jobs don’t afford me all the luxuries life offers. Yes, I could use my credit card to satisfy my urge for new things or better quality, but spending more than you earn is one of the stupidest things you could ever do. You will pay at least double the original purchase price in interest and dig yourself into a hole that you may never get out of. I honestly don’t think I will ever make a lot of money because those of us who enter the field of liberal arts rarely do. We follow our passions and manage with whatever compensation we can receive from them. I came to terms with that fact a long time ago and have begun functioning financially in that mind set.

The desire for a strong financial future goes hand in hand with a frugal lifestyle. I don’t want to have to worry about how I’m going to pay for things when I’m older. Having bulging savings accounts offers that peace of mind. I want to eventually be financially independent so I can stop working whenever I want if I’m unhappy with my job or if I decide to have a baby and be a stay at home mom. I would like to retire early, pay for a car and or a house in cash (or mostly cash), travel extensively, and pay for Jake’s and my wedding in full. The only way I can meet all of these goals is if I don’t waste my money on things that are temporary and hold no greater significance. Every dollar that is spent on things that are outside of my goals set me back. 

Pure and simple, wasting my money today wastes my chances of having a satisfying future. A frugal lifestyle is more than just a way to squeeze out the money I need for bills. It gives me the blinders I need to stay focused on the things that will continue to matter to me for the rest of my life.

Calling all 20savers
April 27, 2008, 7:17 pm
Filed under: 20something, Blog

I’m looking to form a 20saver blog roll.

Are you a 20something with a personal finance blog? If so, please leave me a comment with your link so I can add you.

The cost of graduating
April 1, 2008, 6:54 pm
Filed under: 20something, About me, College

This post was included in the April 7th Carnvial of Twenty Something Finances over at The Baglady.

…because all of that student loan debt isn’t enough! 

While I did receive my college diploma this past summer, I have yet to walk in a graduation ceremony. My alma mater is quite small and only has a yearly commencement in May. I’ve been collecting all of the papers my school has diligently sent me over the past couple of months regarding commencement. This morning, I finally sat down with all of them and took care of the preparations.

Before I even spent time with the documents though, I needed to consider if I were even going to attend the ceremony. I mean, the whole thing will be pretty anticlimactic as I’ve been a college graduate for almost 9 months now. Plus, there’s something about a college graduation that isn’t as universally poignant as a high school graduation. Regardless, I knew that I would regret it if I didn’t attend my commencement. To miss seeing my college friends one last time, in all of our academic splendor, would indeed be a shame. My family would also be disappointed if I cut off one of their last chances for them to be a public cheerleader for me.

All signs pointed to yes. I picked up the order forms for the regalia and announcements. My eyes went buggy when I read the price list. $68 for a gown I’ll only wear once?! $62 for notecards and envelopes?! Am I really sure I want to do this??

I took a deep breath and considered my situation. My graduation day is going to and will mean a good deal to me. To shell out a small-ish wad of cash for a memory I’ll have for the rest of my life doesn’t seem like such a bad trade off. No matter how great it would be though, I wouldn’t have that much money to spend on anything that isn’t a necessity if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve been making enough extra money lately to cover the additional expenses.

I’ve picked up 4 figure modeling jobs over the last couple of months, netting me $144. I also picked up a few extra hours at the library this week, giving me 80 more dollars than usual. That gives me $224 to spend towards my graduation.

With taxes and shipping added to my regalia and announcements, my credit card was charged a grand total of $147.20.  But, those announcements aren’t going to mail themselves. To send out all 25 of them will cost me $10.25 in stamps (the only reason I bothered with announcements is because of the possibility that I will get some of the money back from any congratulatory checks that will be sent my way from family and friends). I decided against buying honor cords for an organization that I was a member of, but wasn’t actively involved in. Why pay for something that never meant that much to me? I will need to drive to my alma mater to attend the rehearsal and ceremony. Luckily, I only live an hour away from campus. I plan on driving up the morning before commencement to attend the rehearsal and convocation. I will crash at one of my friends’ apartments that night to save on gas and any hotel expenses. The trip there and back usually uses up a half a tank of gas. If gas prices stay around the same price they are now, I’m looking at about $20 in gas. I already own a nice dress (that hopefully doesn’t need to be dry cleaned…) and shoes that I can wear with my gown. That leaves me $46.55 to spend on any meals I may need to buy while I’m in town.

I think the few extra hours I’ve worked to make my attendance possible at my graduation are well worth this opportunity in the long run. After all, I would much rather spend my money on memorable events than on material things that only wind up being replaced by other useless things. Permanent wins over temporary any day in my book.

20something life and personal finance books
March 14, 2008, 2:20 pm
Filed under: 20something, Books | Tags: ,

I am an avid reader by nature and usually devour novels. Lately though, I have become more attracted to nonfiction books. This is very odd for me since I’ve very rarely picked up nonfiction books in the past for pleasure. I’m chalking it up to the fact that I’m getting older, fitting into an adult role, and I need answers to real life questions. Plus, I’ve been out of school for a little while now and I think the stigma that I’ve had against nonfiction (for being connected to stress and school work) seems to be fading by the minute.

I am currently reading Suze Orman’s The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke. I’m only a few chapters into it, but I’m already liking it a great deal. She has a wonderful insight into 20somethings’ real life financial situations and manages to offer viable solutions without taking on a condescending or holier than thou tone. While I’ve been reading, I’ve noticed that I’ve already considered writing blog postings about many of the topics she covers. This overlap got me thinking.

Why not write book reviews on personal finance/self help books that are either written specifically for or whose material largely applies to 20somethings? Mixed in with these book reviews will be my commentary and personal anecdotes. I am also considering reviewing a few documentaries.

I would absolutely love for my readers to be involved with these reviews. I will announce which book I’m reading (or movie I’m watching) in advance so you can pick it up at a library or bookstore. This is definitely not a requirement, as I’ll summarize the book enough so that readers who aren’t reading along will understand the topics and arguments. I really would enjoy an active discussion including readers’ personal experiences and goals.

With the Money Book for the YF&B, I’m going to write one post per chapter. The first post will be on credit scores and credit reports. I’m really looking forward to writing up my reviews!