Don’t Regret Missed Opportunities

opportunities

“Don’t regret missed opportunities!”

The number of times I’ve heard some version of this phrase throughout my four years as an undergraduate is immeasurable. For a while, this phrase seemed about as cliche as any. I understood what it meant, but I didn’t quite understand the gravity of the saying until this past semester.

Four years seems like a long time, but as a college student, rarely is this free time. When you’re not in class, you’re studying for class. When you’re not busting your butt for school, you’re likely partitioning any remaining time for either sleep, social life, or extracurriculars. The opportunities to take a step back and reflect on what’s happening in the moment are sparse. College flies by and it’s often hard to see it passing by.

Nearing graduation, I felt upset with myself for not doing as much as I could. I felt I missed out on a lot of events! I never saw a Pittsburgh basketball game. There were interesting classes I wanted to take and groups I wanted to participate in. In the weeks leading up to my graduation, these small “regrets” ate at me. I’d never have the opportunity to do most of these things again. The pressing question I continually asked myself was “am I going to regret this when I’m older?”

After sorting through these nagging thoughts, I finally came up with a few answers. First, there’s no way I’ll be able to definitively answer this question for another 10 years. Second, as I was worrying about things I didn’t do, I forgot about all of the things I did do, and I did so much! I met so many friends who I’ll work to stay in touch with forever, I turned the city of Pittsburgh into a place I can call home, and I learned how to become the person I am today.

All of the things I did molded me. Does it matter if I didn’t make it to a Pitt basketball game? Maybe to some of my family members who love basketball and “don’t know why I went to a D1 school if I won’t even go to a game!” But to me, maybe not.

Now, as a graduate, I look back on my entire four years and think, Wow, it goes by so fast. Reflecting on what I did helps me not worry so much about missed opportunities. Yes, I probably could have taken better advantage of what Pitt had to offer, but kicking myself isn’t going to bring them back.

For all college students who feel similarly, I recommend you take some time and reminisce on all of the amazing, heartbreaking, stressful, inspiring, and enlightening moments you had the opportunity to experience. These years are going to fly by and they’re almost certainly going to shape you.

Don’t regret the missed opportunities. Rather, cherish the ones you had.

Internship Scams: Protecting Yourself from Thieves

As you get further into your college career, you may find yourself looking for more practical experience outside of the classroom setting. One of the best ways to obtain this experience is through an internship. Working as an intern in a professional environment is a wonderful way to learn while earning experience future employers will appreciate.

However, there is a dark side to internships. There are people who will take advantage of college students eagerly looking for experience. If you’re on the hunt for an internship then you need to know about this common internship scam. I’ve also added some helpful tips at the end about how to spot and avoid internship scams.

Internship Scam

The Internship Scam

The  internship scam presented here follows a very common pattern. Here’s how it works:

  1. A scammer will create a posting on a communal job board. The posting is usually part-time, paid, and features the name of a reputable company.
  2. When you apply, you will receive a quick response asking for an interview. The scammer then schedules the interview to take place via a video message program (even if the company has an office near where you live).
  3. Typically, on the day of the interview your contact will say something unexpected came up and ask to complete the interview via chat software. However, some scammers conduct face-to-face video interviews.
  4. After the interview (usually short), you will receive a job offer and instructions to start training immediately. Training will involve purchasing specialized computer programs (ex. accounting software). They will offer to send you money to purchase the necessary software.
  5. They will send you check via email with instructions to print and deposit it in your bank account using your bank’s mobile application. This prevents the check from ever being in the hands of a teller who would recognize the check as fraudulent. Also, the delay time caused by mobile uploads will allow you access to the money before many banks withdraw it out of the check issuer’s account.
  6. After the mobile upload, they will ask you to go to your bank to withdraw the money in cash and deposit it into a provided bank account (typically at a different bank than yours). They will probably stress several times to complete the transaction in cash. Their reasoning is the other bank account belongs to their computer software vendor and the money is to pay for the specialized programs.

The Result

At this point, I’m sure you can guess what happens next. Your bank will try to collect money for the check you deposited and will discover the check is a fraud. The money is then removed from your account for insufficient funds. Because the money you withdrew to pay the other account was in cash, there is no way for you to rescind the payment. The representative who interviewed you will no longer answer your messages or e-mails. It all becomes clear; there was no internship and the money you paid was lost for good. I know of scams that ask for up to $2,000 under the pretense of purchasing training supplies. There are several different variations of this same scam, though this format is the most common.

Internship Scam

Tips for Spotting and Avoiding Scams

Getting caught in an internship scam is scary, but you can avoid it. Here a few good rules to follow in order to help you avoid internship scams.

  • Check the Company Website – Most scammers use the name of a big company on a job board to entice people to “apply” for the internship. Most large companies have a job board on their own website. Check the company website to see if the internship is listed. If so, apply directly on that website rather than through the job board.
  • Check the E-Mail Address – Large companies will have a dedicated e-mail address. If the person you are in contact with is using a general address it may be a scam. Example:
    • Good – johndoe@largecompany.com
    • Bad – johndoelargecompany@gmail.com
  • Never Pay Money – You should never have to pay money upfront for any internship or job.
  • Never Give Out Personal Information Online – Your never give out your social security number, bank account, or other sensitive information online. You should only give these numbers to an employer in person while you are at the place of employment.
  • To Good to Be True – If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. A part-time, work-from-home internship that pays $35 per hour should signal a red flag.
  • Get Out – If at any point during the interview process you become concerned about being scammed, get out. Politely tell the interviewer that you feel this internship is not for you. You don’t need to be rude. Simply say you don’t feel like it is a good fit and end the conversation. Protecting yourself is your number one priority.

Have any other tips for avoiding internship scam? Leave them in the comment section below!

How to Stay Sane During Finals

Finals week is coming faster than we could say “OMG, I need to get on top of things.” Even the most seasoned finals veteran struggles with managing time and energy while trying to get things done as effectively as possible. Unfortunately, finals are difficult and very stressful. There really isn’t an easy way out. However, there are some great tactics for relieving stress and staying sane during finals week. After almost 8 finals weeks, here’s what I’ve learned:

stay sane during finals

Be Healthy

It’s so easy to neglect our health while we’re cramming for exams and putting together assignments. Unfortunately, if our health is bad, it’s likely our performance is also going to be bad. Make sure to eat healthy meals with foods high in vitamins and minerals and low in processed ingredients. Not only will it keep your body running smoothly, but it’ll also help you feel more awake and focused. Some foods thought to boost energy include beans, citrus, and leafy greens. Additionally, make sure to fit in some cardio a few days each week. Exercise helps to increase endorphins, making you feel more positive and focused. On top of everything, hydration is key. Drinking adequate amounts of water not only helps the body function, but it also helps to regulate attention and energy.

stay sane during finals

Have Fun

College students often have the tendency to feel if they are doing something enjoyable, then they’re doing something wrong. This mindset is not only detrimental to mental health, but it can also negatively affect your work. Overworking yourself causes fatigue and lack of concentration, which can actually lead to lower grades. Therefore, one of the most important ways to stay sane during finals is to have fun. This doesn’t mean a wild night out with the pals, but taking an hour to get dinner with friends or to see a show can make a huge difference!

stay sane during finals

Change up the Space

Another great way to stay sane during finals is to make sure that you’re not in the same space for too long. Even if you have the best seat at the library, staying in the same spot for too long can make things even more boring than they already are. By changing up your environment ever so often, you’re also shifting the way your mind absorbs information because of changes in light, posture, etc.

stay sane during finals

Meditate

Mindful meditation is an excellent way to help deal with stress, increase attention, and boost cognition. If you’re beginning to feel stressed out, take some time alone to sit, or even walk, and relax your mind. Concentrate on your situation and sort out everything you need to do. Identify why you need to do it, and then how you’re going to do it. Remind yourself although finals are challenging, you’re capable of performing at your best and that studying will ultimately be rewarding. Finals aren’t fun, but attending college is a privilege.

stay sane during finals

Stay Organized

If you’re anything like me, you find it extremely difficult to stay organized. During stressful times, my lack of organization causes me even more stress in addition to what I’m already enduring. Before finals begin, it’s a great idea to get your life together. If you’re inclined to use your computer, start a spreadsheet with all of the assignments you need to finish and all of the exams you need to study for. Make columns for dates,  study intensity, and goals. If you prefer being able to physically write things down, use a planner. Winging finals is always a bad idea.

Finals are going to be stressful. However, it’s always important to put your mental and physical health first. Keep a good head on your shoulders. Take care of yourself. Make efforts to stay organized and confident, then the rest will come along smoothly. Good luck getting ready for finals, everyone!

Scheduling Appointments: A Guide for Young Adults

For many young adults, college is the first step towards becoming independent. The freedom that comes with living on your own is wonderful! However, there is more to being an adult than buying groceries. College students are notorious for forgetting to plan for health and maintenance concerns previously handled by their parents. Here are five of the most important (and overlooked) appointments that you will need to regularly schedule as an adult.

Dentist Appointments

Dental Visits

No one likes going to the dentist, but keeping your teeth healthy needs to be a priority. If you brush your teeth as recommend, a routine cleaning every six months is often enough to keep your teeth in top shape. If you have any lingering concerns, you should speak to your dentist about scheduling additional appointments. Also, remember to change your toothbrush every three to four months.

Oil Change

Oil Changes

If you own a car you will need to have the oil changed on a regular basis. The old rule of thumb was every 3,000 miles, but now most manufacturers recommend referring to your owners manual for guidance. Many dealerships and automotive repair shops offer an oil change package that includes an oil change, tire rotation, and point inspections on the most commonly worn out areas of the car (wipers, tires, battery, etc.). Some shops even offer special discounts to college students.

Dr.'s Appointments

Doctor Visits

If you take any type of prescription medication, it may be necessary to visit the doctor at regular intervals to renew your prescription. The interval at which you visit your doctor is determined by the type of medicine you’re prescribed. Always make sure you have your next appointment scheduled before you run out of medicine. You don’t want to risk going without it for a few days, especially if the medication takes time to build up in your bloodstream.

Hair Appointments

Hair Cuts

This might seem a little more trivial than the other items on the list, but it is still something you need to do. Long lengths of time without a haircut can damage your hair and give you an unprofessional appearance. There are many places that offer student discounts for basic hair cuts. Also, some places allow you to walk in and receive service without an appointment. Therefore, you should be able to take care of this quickly and without spending too much money.

Eye Exam

EyeExams

Its hard to see what the professor is writing when your glasses aren’t strong enough. Wearing glasses or contacts with an outdated prescription can cause more problems than simply a blurry view. Headaches, vertigo, and brow pain are other common side effects. If you need prescription lenses to see, make sure you get your eyes checked about once a year. Your eyesight changes over time and it is important that you have your prescription adjusted.

Independence is a wonderful thing, but you need to make sure you are fully taking care of yourself. Have any more necessary appointments to add to the list? Leave them in the comment section below!

 

Boosting Your Blog With Instagram

What is a blog without readers? Increasing traffic to a blog’s website is a daily challenge all writers must face. Although it might seem nonsensical to use a photo app to acquire new blog viewers, Instagram is a huge network of potential viewers! As of 2016, Instagram boasts approximately 600 million followers. In addition to a large audience pool, it has several perfect features for marketing your site.  By using the right tools and strategies, an Instagram account can boost your readership exponentially. Here are a few tactics to help you succeed:

instagram

1) Add the site link to your Instagram Bio

Thankfully, Instagram is a beautiful app. With the swipe and tap of your fingers, you can maneuver your way across the platform and easily access photos. To prevent spam, Instagram doesn’t allow you to add a hyperlink in the caption of your photos. However, Instagram allows you to add a hyperlink to your website inside of your bio, which appears at the top of your page. Upon clicking the link, Instagram redirects a user to your blog without even exiting the app. This increases viewership of your blog prevents upsetting users by forcing them to abandon the app. Whenever you publish a new blog post, add a relevant photo on Instagram and include in the caption “link in bio” so users know where to look.

Instagram - dog

2) Post often and post smart to attract followers

The more Instagram followers who see your photo, the more people are exposed to your blog link. Use Instagram to your benefit by posting often and posting strategically. Use popular hashtags like #instagood, #love, #photooftheday, and other high traffic tags that offer maximum visibility. Hashtags might seem silly, but they’re one of the best tools for increasing followers and likes on your pictures. Additionally, studies show that posting at certain times helps increase likes, such as 5pm when Instagrammers are most active. Finally, avoid posting photos that could be mistaken for spam. 

Instagram - Wooden Bridge

3) Reach out to other Instagrammers

Are you wondering how someone gains followers? Keeping to yourself isn’t the answer. Follow, like, and comment. Performing these three actions on other people’s post will increase your following. Develop the habit of regularly reaching out to other users for consistent personal gains. Business blogger Neil Patel found that for every 100 “likes” he gave other followers, he gained about 6.7 followers and 21.7 more likes. In addition to liking posts, taking the time to comment on photos further increases your follower count. Users see that you’re interested and feel compelled to return the favor.

Instagram - Meal

4) Use Instagram Business

Instagram has a really cool feature that enables you to turn your account into a “Business Profile”. A business account gives users access to analytical tools showing which posts performed the best. These statistics are important for determining which posting tactics proved to have the highest levels of performance, including reach and impressions. Also, this type of profile comes with a “contact” button positioned in the Bio area,  encouraging other users to easily contact you. If you’re wanting to take things a step further, you can also produce ads which promote your post.

Instagram, a social platform dominated by pictures might not seem like the best place drive new blog viewership. However, knowing how to utilize the program to your advantage will open the door to success. With an estimated 600 million users, Instagram is a treasure chest waiting for you to discover its potential.