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Preparing for December Graduation

By Mairead Tuttle

November 7, 2017

After the main discussion in my economics seminar had broken up, my classmates began to trade the names of courses for which they were planning to register during the spring semester. Some were delighted to find out they would be in the same course, while others lamented how far down the waitlist they were for a certain class. I, unfortunately, could not participate in this conversation. I am a college senior who is graduating in December.

At times, I have felt a bit disconnected from the rest of the senior class at my college. While some of my fellow seniors are completing theses that they will work on until May, I did not have the opportunity to do this. Other students have gotten to know professors well over the last couple of semesters and are now able to do independent study work with them that will continue into the spring semester. There is not an overall sense of finality among the senior class because the large majority of the class has many months of school left before graduation, but there is for me.

I feel quite lucky to be graduating from college one semester early. I would not have been able to do this without the encouragement of my family and my professors. There are many advantages to finishing my course work in December. I will be available to employers about five months earlier than my classmates. I also have the chance to make my job search a full-time position in and of itself, or do in-depth research about dozens of graduate school programs. 

However, these advantages do not exist without their own required effort. Graduating from college a semester early can feel like such an accomplishment that future plans fall to the wayside. It is important to be reminded (as I have often been by family members and classmates) that finishing course work in December does mean that I get the spring semester off; it means that my post-college life starts five months before everyone else’s. It is important to adequately prepare for this situation.

Having the extra time to apply to graduate schools makes no difference if your application cannot be complete. Make sure to take tests like the GRE or GMAT either before you begin your final semester of school or immediately after you finish to ensure that you are in the “test-taking mindset.” Also be sure to reach out to professors or mentors about letters of recommendation while you are still on campus. While your professors will (hopefully) likely still remember you during the spring semester, it can help to have an in-person conversation about your plans.

The fact that you will have more free time come January than the rest of your classmates does not mean that you should push your job search until that time. Some industries, like finance, will have already stopped hiring for the academic year once you are finished with your classes. You also have the opportunity to pursue full-time spring semester internships, or even part-time internships that you were unable to do previously because of their geographic location. Of course, these internships will also be hiring early in the fall semester and you should be aware of them. I have tried to split my job search time between entry-level jobs and spring semester internships and have found potentially rewarding positions in both categories.

I know that there are some traditions and senior year rituals that I will miss out on because I will not be with my fellow seniors during their final semester. To combat this, I have looked back on the traditions that I have created for myself during my three-and-a-half years at school and made a point to do them all one last time before the end of December.

Mairead Tuttle is from Pennsylvania and is currently a French and Economics major at Mount Holyoke College. Through her economics classes, she found a passion for business, and hopes to someday work on the management side of the fashion and beauty industries.

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Budgeting 101

By Aury Cifuentes

November 2, 2017

The running joke about “poor college students” is not that far off from reality. Even if it is a small campus job or an internship during the semester most of us are not making a solid income to spend as freely as we would like and avoid the occasional mac & cheese dinner. The implications of budgeting will carry into the “real world”as we have practically unlimited wants but limited resources.

Below is a cheat sheet on how you can start thinking about budgeting and your personal finances! 

1.Get an app!

Whether you bank at a place that already has an app, there are budgeting options within many bank apps today. This is perfect because not only can it tell you the areas you are spending the most money but you can set up alerts to prevent not only identity theft but spending too much for a given month. Third Party Apps such as Mint are also helpful for some people as they can customize their categories and create plans for what they would like to save for. 

2.Track your spending for a week

If you have an app or do not enjoy looking at all your receipts at the end of the month looking for where all your money has gone, tracking your spending for a week can be an eye opening experience. Whether on paper or in the notes area of your phone keeping track of unnecessary expenses for a short period of time can help bring a new level of awareness to your spending habits.

3. Grab a book

There are thousands of books on saving, spending, and budgeting as a young adult. Many are timeless best sellers and are perfect light reading that can help you in the long run. Many real questions such as the implications of deciding to lease or buy a new vehicle or setting up an investment plan to one day pay off your student loans all have very real implications. Feel free to comment or ask mentors any good reads that they found helpful!

Experimenting with your personal finances and being able to have difficult conversations about money in college are not only important now but also it is a crucial part after graduation. There are also extensive online plans, money coaches, and personal advisors but these extra resources usually come with some sort of cost. The above suggestions are free with the help of your local bank, library, and mentors so start one today!

Aury Cifuentes is a very bubbly senior at The College of New Jersey. As an Economics major with a concentration in Social Justice she is happily working on a capstone project, internship, and thesis this year. When she isn’t studying, Aury is actively participating in the community through the Bonner Service program and working closely with her E-Board as president of Women in Business this year.

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The Importance of Mentorship in College

By Maria Flores Gandaria

October 31, 2017

I have always believed that finding a support system and developing a sense of community is crucial for student success; especially the first semester of college. It is important to feel that although you are not sleeping under the same roof that saw you cry stress tears over applications, there is still people you can turn to. Freshmen and transfer students need someone to serve as a guide through campus, and introduce them to the resources each institution has to offer. Even as an upperclassmen, many departments still go unnoticed.; my academic advisor is usually the one who redirects me to new places in a campus that has over 50,000 students.

I have been both a mentee and a mentor; I have learned a lot about myself and other people each time. I was an Orientation Advisor for two years, and I am expected to have two new groups of freshmen to mentor this coming year. I mean it when I say that they make me want to become the best version of myself whenever I am around them. I do believe that everyone has a story to tell, and that every path deserves to be shared. Being a mentee is usually the first step towards networking; in my opinion, networking (other than personality and overall life experience,) will lead you towards greater opportunities. 

I am part of a four year scholarship program developed to help low-income and minority students succeed in college and provide them with internship experiences. I have had three different coordinators in the past few years, and the very first one that met scared freshman Maria, has been the same person who is constantly reassuring me that everything will be okay; I am behind to graduate due to my medical conditions, but having a mentor who reminds me that I am halfway done with college regardless of the curve balls this year has thrown at me, makes a difference. My wish is that you never forget about the impact our words can have on those around us; the slightest “you can do this!”“that exam will be tough but you will make it through!” could turn a stranger’s day around. 

As a mentor, my goal is to make every single one of the people under my wing feel exactly like that. As a first generation-student, the whole application process felt daunting. I will never forget about the career counselor serving in my high school, and how helpful his encouragement was; that semester I had the honor of becoming an admissions ambassador and helped fellow classmates apply to FAFSA and colleges. Coming from a low-income background, seeing those that never even considered the possibility of going to college, actually apply because of people like us, was a very rewarding feeling. Early experiences such as this one, led me to become an Orientation Advisor in the first place; in the future I am considering to serve as a teacher before pursuing a MBA or opening my own business as I dream of doing. 

Student by day, writer by night. Maria Flores is a Social Work student at the University of Texas at Austin, she is also currently pursuing a BS in Communication and Leadership. She is an advocate for mental health, and unapologetically proud of being an immigrant. Her goals as a writer are to become a voice for the voiceless and to change the world—in accordance with her school’s motto.

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My Role Model is a Woman Too

By Maria Flores Gandaria

October 24, 2017

The thought of opening my own business never crossed my mind until I was a freshman in college. My mother had two failed businesses so I believe that, at first, having witnessing those experiences first-hand truly discouraged me from even trying.

Initially, I would have wanted to open a coffee shop in front of Central Park; nowadays, I want to open my own national non-profit, and event planning business (catering and photography services included, of course!).

This semester, however, I have become the best version of myself; in desperate efforts of getting involved after having submerged myself in giving campus tours and providing academic advising to incoming students for two years, I no longer knew what to do after I had to kiss my Orientation Advisor nametag goodbye.

Luckily, the answers to my pleading would be found in an organization that was tabling in front of the gym.

I joined a professional event planning organization, and little did I know that my dues would be the key to a world of networking opportunities—one of the speakers we have had in the past would offer to pay for my International Live Events Association membership!

Such “keys” grants me access to workshops with experts in the industry, and leaves open plenty of space for academic and personal growth. We are always told that networking is a skill that we should foster throughout our years in college, and that statement has been as real as ever.

During one of our meetings, I met a local business and non-profit founder, Nycia Emerson; she is the face behind She Inspires. I had just experienced a panic attack earlier that day, and I thought of missing that meeting, I am glad that I did not because I was one step closer from figuring out one of my purpose in life.

I saw pieces of myself reflected in her, not only a passion for life seems to radiate from eyes, but she is also a mother; if it is written in the universe,  I would like to become a business woman and a mother too.

Like many of us, Mrs. Emerson started her business from the ground up, and it has been a long and difficult process—through the financial and personal difficulties she has still manage to thrive and succeed. Her confidence reminded me of the importance in embracing our talents, while acknowledging our weaknesses as well.

Let’s admit it, girls. We will never be Wonder Women, as nice as flying across the globe sounds, but we DO have the power of changing communities through our unique capabilities.

Because of Nycia, and the supportive group of young college women I get to work with daily, this past week I launched my first small photography business. I assume it is official since I just booked a client for next week.

Student by day, writer by night. Maria Flores is a Social Work student at the University of Texas at Austin, she is also currently pursuing a BS in Communication and Leadership. She is an advocate for mental health, and unapologetically proud of being an immigrant. Her goals as a writer are to become a voice for the voiceless and to change the world—in accordance with her school’s motto.

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Your Midterm Survival Guide

By Nuriya Saifulina

October 19, 2017

Most schools are approaching the season of midterms, so we have compiled our best midterm survival tips for acing your exams and keeping your sanity in the process.

Switch up your study spots

Please leave that armchair you’ve been glued to for the past 2 days - your regular spot in the library is not going anywhere. Studying in the same spot not only makes you feel drained and burnt out but also decreases your information retention.

So get up, bring your work with you and find a new coffee shop or grad school library to work at. Or even better, get off campus for a while and explore the town public library.

Try to be healthy

As boring and condescending this may sound, try to sleep sometimes, eat a vegetable or two and drink plenty of water. It’s as simple as this: you cannot ace your exams on vending machine fare and library futon naps alone.

Take unconventional study breaks

Instead of binging The Office for the billionth time, maybe do something actually relaxing and fun for a change. Take a long walk through the park, visit campus health services’ therapy dogs or channel your Bob Ross with a coloring book. Trust us - you will feel refreshed and ready for another 1.5x speed lecture video in no time.

Remember personal hygiene

Please shower. Seriously. Even if you are feeling exhausted, rally to take care of yourself. It’ll give you a break and a boost of energy, not to mention make you feel like a human again.

Get the help you need

You don’t have to fight this battle alone - tap into your college’s resources, like office hours, or tutoring groups to survive the academic onslaught. You can also form a study group or ask a friend to explain the material to you.

So, don’t forget to study hard and take care of yourself too, so that you have enough energy left for final exams in the end of the semester.

Nuriya Saifulina is a rising sophomore at Harvard College who is concentrating in Economics and Psychology. In her spare time she writes for the college newspaper, volunteers with immigrant communities in Boston, and dabbles in costume design for the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club.

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How to Market Your Time Abroad to Recruiters

By Mairead Tuttle

October 12, 2017

Time spent studying abroad teaches you so much beyond lessons learned in the classroom. You more than likely spent several weeks, a semester, or even an entire academic year speaking a foreign language, navigating a new city, and learning customs of a culture that might have been much different from yours. Your time abroad was invaluable, as you tell every person who asks you about it.

Unfortunately, not every potential employer will see you time abroad in the same way. The good news is that attitudes toward job candidates who have spent time studying away from their home countries are improving.

A 2011 report from QS Global Employers Survey found that American companies are increasingly looking to hire students who have had professional or academic experience abroad. 54% of American executives and managers surveyed said that they “actively seek or attribute value to an international study experience when recruiting.” Until that number reaches 100%, here are a few ways in which you can better market your study abroad experience to recruiters and potential employers.

Emphasize your foreign language skills.

As the global economy becomes increasingly interconnected, employees who speak more than one language are vital to companies that do business around the world. While almost anyone can learn a language in a classroom, living in a foreign city and speaking that language every day exponentially increase your language skills.

Include an anecdote about using your foreign language skills in an everyday situation in your cover letter or during an interview. Perhaps you negotiated down the price of a scarf at a local market in Rabat, or helped a native Parisian figure out why the metro wasn’t running on schedule that day.

Stories like these show potential employers that you not only have the ability to take initiative in unknown situations, but that you can also do it in multiple languages.

Talk about how you adapted to your new environment.

Whether it is a classroom or a restaurant, adjusting to the norms a foreign country can be difficult. For example, you might be completely unfamiliar with the format of economics exams in France to point where a professor refuses to give you credit for your work. Discuss with a potential employer how you put in the effort to speak with the professor about your work (which again reminds them of your language skills), learn about the proper format, and perform very well on your next exam.

The same could be said for adapting to your home environment. Whether you lived with a local family or rented your own apartment while abroad, you more than likely navigated a new cultural situation. This is direct evidence of your ability to adapt.

If you studied abroad in an emerging market, your new employer knows that will have an employee with direct knowledge of that market’s culture were they to hire you.

Acknowledge the challenges of studying abroad.

Some employers view a semester or year spent studying abroad as a vacation from academics. While almost anyone who has studied abroad knows that this is untrue, it is still a prevalent perception. When we talk about our study abroad experience, we are much more likely to show friends and family pictures from the wonderful excursions we took and tell stories about life-changing events we experienced than to talk about the difficult days when we wanted to go home or seemed to forget the language skills we had worked on for years.

Some of the most valuable lessons learned while studying abroad can come from hardships. By discussing these with potential employers, they are able to see that you are willing to put yourself into situations that you know will be challenging, and that you have the ability to work through them to find success.

Mairead Tuttle is from Pennsylvania and is currently a French and Economics major at Mount Holyoke College. Through her economics classes, she found a passion for business, and hopes to someday work on the management side of the fashion and beauty industries.


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My Summer as a Finance Intern at National Public Radio

By Megha Karthikeyan

October 5, 2017

This past summer I had the opportunity to intern at National Public Radio (NPR) as a Treasury and Risk Management intern. Working at a media company and doing financial analytics gave me a unique view of business in the media space. I got my feet wet in finance as a rising second year in college and learned valuable analytical skills through various computer tools.

The Application Process

The application to be a summer intern opened around the beginning of February and closed around the middle of March. There are about 50 interns at NPR with most of them being assigned to shows and podcasts. On the application portal, all the positions that were open were listed, and I found a few business-related positions that I was interested in, including Treasury and Risk Management. I had to submit a resume and cover letter, and then rank my preference of position from one to three (three is the maximum number of positions one can apply for). The cover letter is always important, but extremely important for a finance position at NPR. I think one of the reasons I got this internship is because of my strong cover letter which included why I wanted to work at NPR specifically and what skills and qualities I had that would make me a perfect fit for the job. I also had a very concise but informative resume that mentioned activities and skills that would make me qualified for the finance position.

After about two months, I got called for a phone interview with my future supervisor.  The main questions I was asked was why I wanted the internship and what skills and qualifications I had that would make me a good fit for the job. I was nervous because I was only a first year in college at the time and I knew that there would be many other qualified applicants who had more educational experience in finance. However, I spoke with confidence and mentioned that even though I was only a first year, I was a fast learner and had what it took to succeed in the internship. My supervisor then told me about possible projects that I would take on as an intern and how the Treasury and Risk Management internship worked. I made sure to ask him questions about his journey to NPR because this made the interview more engaging and conversational. I ended up being offered the job at the end of the call and accepted the offer a few days later.

The Internship

During the internship, I worked on a wide variety of projects including building a debt ratio database, completing an investment manager fee project, doing a credit rating peer analysis, and working with daily cash balances. I learned how to do Macros and analyzed data deeper using the graphing and charting tools in Excel. The biggest project I worked on was the investment manager fee project where I had to create a report to be presented to the NPR Investment Board about the fees NPR was being charged and the net return NPR was getting from its investments. I pulled financial data from over 50 investment managers and then input all the data into an Excel spreadsheet which I then analyzed. I also compared data from previous years and created a 5-year analysis about how NPR was doing financially. This was one of my favorite projects I worked on because I got to look at how NPR chose its investments and learned a lot about the sectors that it was investing in. I also got to learn about various investment benchmarks and how it applied to NPR’s investing strategies.

Other than the major projects I worked on, there were a few daily tasks that I assisted with like looking at the daily cash balances to make sure NPR’s reserves and working capital was strong. I also provided assistance to the accounting team by pulling audited financial data that pertained to the Treasury division. In this process, I learned more about how internal and external audits worked.

Fun NPR Events

One of the perks of being an NPR intern is being able to attend Tiny Desk Concerts. At these concerts, musicians perform songs that were produced for All Song’s Considered. One of the coolest musicians I got to see was Chance the Rapper. It was an intimate crowd of around 200 employees, so I got to hear him up close as he performed some of his most popular songs.

Being a NPR intern, you also get the opportunity to meet a lot of people in the media industry. We had weekly Brown Bag Lunches where we met with various producers and hosts of radio shows including Guy Raz from How I Built This and Audie Cornish from All Things Considered. Being able to learn about how they got into news and broadcasting was very interesting and it was a great way to network with people I may not have been able to connect with.

Tips for Future Interns

My general advice for interns, whether at NPR or any other company, is to ask questions. When I didn’t understand how to do a certain task after I had used all the resources available to try and solve the problem, I made sure to ask my supervisor for help. Asking questions not only helps you solve your problem, but it also shows your supervisor that you are involved in your work and can ask for help to make your work even better. As an intern, you can learn a lot from your managers, so asking questions early on and clearing up any confusion will save you a lot of time in the future and send a positive message to your boss.

Another piece of advice is have regular meetings with your supervisor or manager. I met with my supervisor many times to not only update her on my progress, but also ask her for input and feedback. During these conversations, we would end up talking about a new piece of technology or the news for the day. This helped me get to know my manager better, and she understood my background and interests. Getting to know you manager on a personal level is important and this can happen when you have regular meetings scheduled with your supervisor.

My NPR internship taught me so much about the treasury and finance industry and I learned so many new skills that I can use in future internships. I am very glad I got this incredible opportunity and encourage anyone interested in finance and the media to apply.

Megha Karthikeyan is from Vienna, Virginia and attends the University of Virginia. She intends to double major in Economics and Commerce at the McIntire School of Commerce with finance and information technology concentrations. Megha will graduate from UVA in 2020. She hopes to work in the finance industry as a finance or risk analyst, but is also looking at working in investment banking.

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10 Things to Do Right Now to Get Ready for Recruiting Season

By Keana Bloomfield

October 3, 2017

No matter what industry you want to go into after you leave college, sometimes it can be so overwhelming trying to find what your first steps should be.  While there is no right answer, this list provides some tips from interview help to social media management to help polish your brand as much as possible to shine in the job market. And, even if you aren’t a senior, but just looking for internships, this should put you at the forefront of the game, while also giving you a sneak peek of what’s just around the corner for you!

Take advantage of LinkedIn

Whether that means updating your profile with your most recent professional experience leadership position that you hold at school, searching for jobs or internships, or even just creating your account, making sure that your most adult-ready social media account is active and live can be one of the most, if not the most important step when it comes to not only learning about different opportunities that may be available based on your skillset, but letting employers know about you and what you can possibly bring to the table.

LinkedIn is also a great way to become connected with alums from your school, especially since there is a filtering option that tells you where former grads from your university work now, what year they graduated and where they are located.  Sometimes that one LinkedIn connection could be the stepping stone to your very first job.

Talk to the Career Services at Your School

You probably know of them and maybe even stopped by there once or twice, but the career services at your school can be one of the greatest opportunities to helping you to succeed in the 24/7 world of professionalism by helping to edit your resume, craft the most creative cover letter or help to initiate mock interviews with employers. If you simply don’t always have the time to stop by, email them and ask if they can perhaps help virtually.

But, just as you hope that they read your emails, make sure to take the time to read yours, with new opportunities always on the horizon, don’t miss them when they are literally right at your fingertips!

Research, research, research!

When looking for jobs and internships, the application/interview process just as much as about you interviewing the company as it is about them interviewing you! So, in order to make sure that you don’t your time, nor the company at hands, it’s best to do your research beforehand about the company’s locations, what the job really entails, the company’s culture and reputation in its’ respective industry and whatever else you would want to know about your potential employer. 

Think in a year’s time: if you are working there, what are the key elements you wish you had known?

Create an application spreadsheet

As you’re researching and applying to several jobs and internships, unless you have the memory of an elephant, you are more than likely not going to remember every company that you have looked into, application deadlines, the status of the application, the company contact or any other notes you took into consideration.  Open a blank Excel worksheet and create a chart that lists the names of the employers that you plan on or have applied to and list columns that have the info you want to know and remember—it’s a simple and organized task that you will be glad to have made throughout this process.

Start thinking of professors you could ask to write letters of recommendation

As letter of recommendation act as one of the most important elements in an application, deciding who to ask, when and how can be extremely crucial to whether or not you’re the letter might just be what’s needed to push your application over the edge.  Think about professors that you really felt you connected with and if the class they taught had a special effect on you. 

But, you could also go the alternate route and ask a previous or current employer, coach or advisor that knows you and can and speak to you, your performance and accomplishments.

Practice interview questions with yourself

We already know how stressful interviews can be and when doing interview prep, it doesn’t make that stress just automatically go away.  However, many issues that people have when interviewing isn’t so much more so the technical, but the behavioral.  Being able to effectively give an overview of life experiences, ranging from your working in a teamwork to times you faced adversity and overcame it to even answering the infamous, but dreaded “Tell me a little about yourself” ice breaker question.

Once you feel comfortable enough, work your way up the practice ladder, first with friends, then family then career counselors or even mock interviewers until the big day.

Make new friends at school, but keep the old ones

More than likely, you aren’t the only one at your school trying to get a head start on jobs so bond with new people, because you both may share different insights into the recruiting process and specific industries. Don’t forget to reach out to some of your other friends and keep them in the loop—someone might just return the favor.

Take time to learn outside of class

Depending on your school, what you want to do post-graduation, etc. sometimes regular classes at college aren’t enough. It might be worth it to audit or pay for online courses that may cover topics you won’t have time to take this year or might not even exist in your college course book, so try taking the initiative to find the correct resources out of the classroom.  Courses likes these also look good to employers who can see that you are hard-working and full of ingenuity to want to take matters into your own hands.

Clean up your social media profiles

Even if your LinkedIn is perfect, it’s always worth it to be safe and make sure your other Big 4 (no, I don’t mean the consulting companies) are representative of you.  It’s incredibly easy to find anyone these days thanks to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. and depending on what they find that can be a good or a bad thing. Don’t ruin your chances at being hired for a job because employers find your public persona embarrassing and potentially offensive.

Keep improving your resume

This may seem incredibly obvious but your resume is probably the most singular important job prospect item in your entire application (it’s also a single page itself).  Employers don’t spend that much time on it, but it’s also the very thing that can determine whether you end up in the “Interview” pile vs “Rejected”.  There are over a million tips that can be given for the resume, but when you submit it for a job, the only thing that you should be thinking is if you were the employer, would you call yourself back? If so, you might have the gotten this job hunting thing down. 

Now it just comes to waiting to hear back…

Keana Bloomfield is a senior at Bryn Mawr College, a liberal arts college located outside the city of Philadelphia.  An English major and Economics minor, Keana has completed journalism opportunities at KYW Newsradio 1060, WHYY and the Philadelphia Inquirer, while also having developed financial acumen as a 2016 Girls Who Invest Scholar, an organization dedicated to putting more women in the investment management industry, and as an Asset Management Intern at PNC Financial Services within their Wealth Management division. As she completes her final year as an undergraduate, she hopes to become further immersed in the finance and business industries for both her professional and personal development.


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