college

Balancing a Part Time Job on Campus

We all like making a little money on the side, but balancing a part time job and schoolwork is tough. Even for the best students, scheduling around classes and work shifts is a challenge. When academics get rough, oftentimes a job becomes a nightmare. But never fear! I’m here to give you some advice on how to manage your academics and your part time job at the same time.

Scheduling Your Time

Schedule everything! Make sure to use Google calendar as much as possible, scheduling everything from your workouts to your study times. By scheduling when you study, work out, and take breaks, you can prevent wasting time. Budgeting lets you know where your money is going. Scheduling lets you know where your time is going. By scheduling your time, you will stop having those days where it feels like you’re scrambling to get everything done. Below is an example of my Google calendar for a day earlier this year.

Balancing a Part Time Job

An example of my weekly calendar

Talking With Your Boss

Your boss is a person too, and they probably also had to juggle a million and one things in college. They get it, I promise. If you’re having an especially bad week, talk with your boss and ask if she can cut some of your shifts. If she can, she probably will. Employers know an unhappy employee is often a bad employee. If you feel uncomfortable about speaking to your manager, consider brushing up on your workplace communication skills starting with this article from Forbes. Should talking to your boss fail, you may be able to swap shifts with a fellow employee. Worst case scenario, they say no. Why not ask them before resigning yourself to a week of torture?

Balancing a Part Time Job

Treat Your Part Time Job Like a Class

Treat your job like any other class, in every possible sense. Don’t skip your job. Try to schedule your shifts the same way you would a class. Ask your manager if you can work at a consistent time every week. If possible, try to block it in with all your other classes. For instance, most of my shifts as a tour guide were right after my classes. I could get all my structured responsibilities out of the way early, and then have the afternoon to work out or do homework. By treating your job like a class, you’ll develop better professional habits and use your time more efficiently.

Do you have any tips on how to manage a job during the school year? Feel free to leave them in the comments below!

Transferring Schools: Should you, or Shouldn’t you?

Transferring Schools

Transferring schools. If these two words are causing an internal struggle, I’m here to help ease your decision fatigued brain. While transferring schools is a big step and should be carefully considered, I’ve laid out some of the largest reasons to consider and created a simple method for deciding.

The Pros and Cons to Transferring Schools

Let’s not kid ourselves, transferring schools could be awful. There are certainly downsides, including:

  1. Credits not transferring – There’s no guarantee your new school will accept your current credits. This may cause you to fall a full semester (or more) behind, delaying graduation.
  2. Increased debt – Between higher tuition rates, moving expenses, and higher living costs, your new college may leave you even more in debt.
  3. Leaving familiarity – There’s a sense of rightness found in friends and familiar landmarks. Having already left home once, leaving again could lead too feeling a sense of buyer’s remorse.
  4. Being the new kid – Incoming freshman experience the newness of college as a group, quickly establishing friendship circles that may last a lifetime. Even if you’re a social butterfly, it’s sometimes awkward to work your way into a friendship circle that’s already established.

But there are positive reasons people transfer, including:

  1. “Upgading” schools – You’re dedicated to your studies, but your college seems focused on weekend recreation. Upgrading to a more challenging school sounds appealing.
  2. Discovering your passion… is at another school – Finding out your preferred major isn’t available at your college is a crushing blow. It might be worth packing your bags.
  3. Personal growth – Your school is alright, but it’s feels like high school. You expected to blossom in college and lately it feels like you’re stagnate.

Deciding if Transferring is Best

We established the pros and cons of transferring, but when should you actually move forward with it? Well, I have a patented traffic light system to help you decide.

Green light – Transfer right now

  • Your school not only doesn’t offer your desired major, but it also doesn’t have the department which would house your dream major!
  • You chose your current school because of it’s prestige. However, it’s quickly racking up your student loan debt beyond what you might be able to repay. In many cases, employers aren’t concerned with how prestigious your college is. It’s time to make a change to a more affordable education.
  • You absolutely despise everything about your current school, from the academics to your so called “friends”. Cut your losses early and switch to a more suitable college.

Yellow light – Whoa there cowboy, let’s think about this first

  • You haven’t found a peer group or anyone you connect to- Yes, that is bad, but it’s possible you haven’t put yourself out there enough. Try joining a new club, who knows!
  • Your school doesn’t have the major you want, but it does have a vaguely similar one – Yes, I know chem and organic-chem aren’t the same thing. However, you may want to contact potential future employers to find out if this really makes a difference in your field. If it doesn’t, this be a case of “the grass is always greener on the other side.”

Red light – Hold off for now

  • It’s the first few weeks of school and you hate it – Everyone can feel awkward or even awful the first few weeks. Allow some time for adjusting to your new lifestyle.
  • You feel graduation from a more prestigious school will increase your earning potential –
  • You really hate a specific class – All students face a challenging class in college. Whether it’s the professor or the content, learning how to overcome obstacles is an essential life lesson.

Transferring schools is a personal choice you should think carefully about before making a decision. It’s a semi-permanent choice that causes drastic changes in your life. Many people will have reasons to sway your decision, but remember it’s always up to the person transferring to chose.

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 Survive Your First Career Fair

Most of us are attending school in order to better ourselves in the face of the daunting “real world.” We put in hard hours at the library, bust our butts beefing up our resumes, and try our best to broaden our skill sets in the hopes of one day landing our dream job. Of course, as you progress in your days at school you’ll inevitably run into a particularly daunting event: the career fair. Here, both you and hundreds of other students try to impress businesses in the hopes of getting a job. If you’ve never been to a career fair, here are some useful tips:

career fair

1. Dress to Impress

At a career fair, you have the chance to meet employers and recruiters face to face. Therefore, it’s important to dress the part. Most women tend to wear dress pants or a skirt, a blouse, and nice shoes. Men often wear a suit or a dress shirt and tie. However, this doesn’t mean you have to be boring- wear what you feel good in. Additionally, make sure to properly groom yourself. You want to stand out, but I can guarantee that bad breath and dirty hair is not the way to do it.

career fair

2. Prepare an Elevator Pitch

Again, career fairs are your chance to personally meet with potential employers. This being said, you should have an idea of what to say about yourself. Before you go, look over your resume, accomplishments, and aspirations to come up with a quick few lines to tell recruiters. Introductions are much easier with prepared lines and employers will appreciate a candidate who is both prepared and knows what they’re good at.

career fair

3. Ready Your Resume

When attending a career fair, be sure to print out plenty of resumes. Although some might recommend printing your resume on premium paper, doing so can be expensive and difficult. Further, employers might not pay attention to the type of paper that you use because most resumes are submitted online. Regardless, review your resume to ensure it is grammatically correct and well formatted. Contact your school’s career advisor or check out some tips online!

career fair

4. Do Your Research

Many career fairs host hundreds of companies, making you likely to find at least one that suits you. However, it’s difficult to understand a company from looking at the sign on their table. Avoid this confusion by doing your research. Look up the listed companies attending the career fair and find out what they’re looking for. Employers notice when you’re educated about their company.

5. Confidence is Key

The final tip that I can give you is to be confident!  Following the above steps will prepare you for surviving a career fair. You’ll show employers you’re the most unique, qualified person in the room. Acting confident more strongly conveys this message and helps leave memorable impression. Together, someone will likely think of you when it’s time to hire a new employee.

Career fairs don’t have to be stressful. Come prepared, do your research, dress the part, and be confident. Everything is going to be okay!