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life after graduation

Career Student Life Transition

The Reality of How to Find a Job After Graduation

April 28, 2022
College Student in Cap and Gown

Classes have finished, graduation is over, your stuff is all packed, and a little taste of reality has finally started to set in.

You’ve probably seen at least half a dozen articles about how to find a job after college. Those tips and tricks may help you get your foot in the door of what may be your dream job! After all, going to college to get that degree to eventually work in the field you worked toward is the goal, right?

Take it from a recent college grad: the job hunt can be tricky and overwhelming when first out of college. It’s not as easy as applying to as many jobs as possible. Read on for some tips on how to navigate the job hunting world in ways not a lot of people talk about.

Keep a supportive and encouraging inner circle.

Similar things tend to gravitate to one another, and it’s important to find comfort in those who are empathetic and understanding about what you are going through. Graduating without a role lined up is a challenge all on its own, let alone dealing with people who aren’t supportive.

Being unemployed isn’t easy, especially with a degree. It can feel hopeless and frustrating to watch your peers quickly start their careers while you are still getting yourself set up. It can feel like a swift kick in the gut when your inner circle of those you trust does not support you when you are feeling down. Be mindful of who you are speaking with when sharing your insecurities and fears.

It’s crucial to make sure your close friends lift you up, not down, supporting your aspirations and motivating you, not discourage you. You’ll need their positive energy if the search doesn’t go quite as you planned. Phases of self-doubt when looking for your first role out of college will come, and it may be hard to talk to some of my friends who just don’t understand what you are feeling – and that’s okay! Just let them know that you require some encouragement or look elsewhere for some.

Evaluate how you’re spending your free time.

It may be very tempting to want to put off finding a job at all after graduation. You finished classes and deserve a break! But time is valuable and many employers look to recent college grads to fill positions in May, June, or July. If you delay this, you may have to wait to find a job with winter grads.

Don’t turn into a lump on a log, wasting away watching hours of TikTok in your PJs. You are capable of so much more than you may realize- you have a degree, you have dreams, and you can start chasing them! Get strong both mentally and physically to get the best position for you.

It’s okay to take a short break to recoup after finishing your degree, but don’t let yourself develop bad habits. It can be tough on your mental and physical health if you let yourself wander too far off the beaten path of structure that college provides. But a self-care day is needed every once in a while.

Spend your time doing things you love and learning more about your passions; never stop learning and growing. Read, write, paint, or exercise to keep your body and mind active. You will feel better, be more alert, and more prepared to take on opportunities when they come to you.

Work toward your dreams, no matter how big they are.

Dreams and goals are not supposed to be easy or obtained overnight. It’s okay if they are a little scary or seem too far out of reach.

Sure, it may seem like the odds are against recent grads, but the good news is that you won’t be a recent grad forever. The journey will be tough with roadblocks you never saw coming, but in the end, it will all lead you where you are meant to go. If you clearly define the goals you have for yourself and believe in them, the struggle will all be worth it!

Dreams take time. Whether it’s getting an internship, starting out at the very bottom, or realizing a role you took was just not meant for you, you’ll get there. With one foot in front of the other, take steps towards your goals, starting at the beginning and working your way up. If your dream is to be a VP at a company, that job title won’t come right away, or even for several years. But know that even entering the company as

You are your biggest fan and fiercest advocate.

No one has your back like you do, so learn to be your biggest cheerleader. Even if you think it’s impossible, never stop believing in yourself because you can do far more than you think you can. Never stop working on getting better; in life, work, your hobbies, everything! We are our worst critics and letting doubt and fear of failure hold us back most of the time.

The only thing in the way of you going to the next level is you.  Be the person you dreamed you could be, and don’t stop until you get there. Even if it seems like it may be too hard, never stop fighting for yourself. You owe yourself that much after spending years of your life working and learning to earn that degree.

Life after college is a whole new ball game. With new things happening simultaneously, it can get overwhelming. It’s okay to take time to get your footing and make a plan as you start this new phase in life. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so understand that life is a process and everything will work out. You got this!

Career Student Life

3 Things Every Student Should Do Before Graduating 

March 29, 2022
Things to do before graduation

The months following graduation can feel a little odd. Maybe you didn’t have a job lined up after college like some of your friends did. It’s difficult to keep in touch when you’re not bumping into each other on campus or in the residence halls anymore. As a result, many recent grads struggle to adapt to life outside of college.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can make your transition from college into post-grad life a little easier by planning ahead and preparing for all that life has to offer. Here are 3 things every student should do before graduating and heading into the workforce.

Polish Your Social Media Accounts

Your social media accounts will serve a very different purpose once you graduate. Social media was a great way to connect with new friends and learn about events or parties in college. But when you graduate, your social media account can be a risk to your personal and professional growth.  

Nowadays, most organizations will look you up on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram before hiring you. Anything that was considered cool in college, such as underage drinking, or posting photos by the pool every Saturday may come back to haunt you if your future employer saw it. Just because your profile settings are set to private, doesn’t mean it’s completely blocked off.

This doesn’t mean you have to delete every social picture from your profiles. You just have to be savvy about what you leave up and what you take down. Try to untag yourself from anything that might be misinterpreted. What happens online, stays online!

Update Your Resume

When was the last time you updated your resume? For most college students, it was probably either in high school or when you applied for a recent part-time position. These versions of your resume simply won’t cut it in the professional world, where you need to put forward a solid resume to make it to the interview stage. 

Fortunately, most colleges have a career services department to help you create the best version of your resume. Usually, the folks who work in these offices have plenty of experience, so it’s worth checking them out and listening to their suggestions. 

You can start writing a killer resume by researching successful resumes online. This will give you an idea of the industry standard and help you choose between design templates and layouts. Regardless of the template you choose, you must first share the most essential information. This depends on the job you are applying to and your experience, but it should always display your strongest achievements and accomplishments first.  Make sure to mention your anticipated graduation month and year, and if you’re open to relocating after graduating.

Write a Will and Advanced Directive

Many people mistakenly believe that will writing is only for the elderly or those with life-threatening conditions. The reality is that all adults need to have a will to make things easier for loved ones if tragedy does occur. 

However, if it’s your first time writing a will, it can be hard to know what to include. Typically, your will should tell your loved ones what you want to happen regarding your health care, property, and assets. Your parents will likely be able to help you out with writing your first will. You can always update it down the line after big life events, such as getting married or having a child.

Takeaways

Transitioning from college to the workforce is always going to be tricky. But you can make the process a little smoother by planning ahead and setting a clear direction for your life after graduation. Start by assessing your social media presence and resume materials, as these will play a significant role in your job hunt. Then, consider writing a will and advanced directive, so you can move into life beyond college with peace of mind. 

Student Life Transition

Should You Pursue a Postgraduate Degree?

July 20, 2021

After graduating, most students head into the workforce. However, some find themselves in a post-grad slump and rather than transition into the “real world”, they choose to study further. Education is never a bad thing, but there are times it may not be the right decision. If you’re thinking of pursuing a postgraduate degree, here’s what to consider.

5 Reasons Why a Postgrad Degree Makes Sense

If a postgraduate degree will support your career goals, pursuing it makes sense.

1.  It can give you an extra edge in the job market

When you first graduate, you’re competing against other graduates as well as more experienced players in your field. Completing a postgrad degree could give you a competitive advantage in the job market. 

2.  You want a higher salary

The average annual salary for someone with a bachelor’s degree is approximately $59,124 compared to $69,732 for someone with a master’s degree and $84,396 with a doctorate degree. 

3.  You want to specialise or improve your expertise 

An advanced degree is worthwhile if you want to improve your skills or specialize. Let’s say you did a general degree like business administration. Studying for a postgrad in finance or economics could sharpen your skills and boost your credibility.

4.  You aspire to a leadership position

An additional degree can improve your chances of moving up the ladder. Many C-suite executives have completed an MBA (Master’s of Business Administration). However, degrees in science and engineering are also popular among executives.

5.  Your profession values additional letters behind your title 

In certain professions such as the medical, academic, or science fields, a master’s, doctorate or PhD degree is highly valued. It may earn you more respect and make you more employable. In fact, the lack of an advanced degree could actually hold you back. 

4 Reasons you should not do a postgrad degree 

Furthering your studies is a huge investment of time and money. So, you need to be sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. Here are a few reasons not to do it. 

1.  You’re doing it for prestige

Be clear on why you want to further your studies. Is it to keep up with your peers or for prestige? If you see it as a status symbol, this is the wrong reason to pursue a postgrad degree. 

2.  You’re time poor

If you have found employment or started a family, you may not have time for studies. Attending classes, studying for exams, and researching and writing dissertations take a lot of time. Can you fit it all in? Rather than overstretch yourself, it may be best to postpone your studies until you have more free time.

3. You’re unsure of your career goals 

The average person changes careers 5-7 times in their lifetime. How confident are you that you’ll want to remain in your chosen field 10 years from now? If you’re unsure, it may be best to gain some work experience first and reevaluate your career path later on. Then you can select a course of study that better aligns with the new direction you want to take. 

4.  You can’t afford it 

If you relied on a loan for your bachelor’s degree, increasing your student debt to get a postgrad degree may not be wise. If you can’t afford it, don’t do it — at least not now. You can always pursue a postgrad degree later on when you are more financially secure.

Should you decide to embark on a postgraduate degree, GradGuard can help protect your tuition fees. Our tuition insurance will reimburse your college fees should you be unable to complete your studies due to a serious illness or accident. 

BIO: Deevra Norling is a freelance content writer. She’s covered topics such as entrepreneurship, small business, career, human resources, e-commerce, and finance. When not writing, she’s tossing balls on the beach with the four-legged fur babies she looks after as a professional pet sitter.

Career

Becoming a Pharmacy Technician: What to Know

July 12, 2021

Pharmacy technicians help a pharmacy run smoothly. They support the pharmacist, customers and medical professionals by dispensing medication. If this career path piques your interest, there are many different paths you can take to become a pharmacy technician. It all depends on whether you need to take pharmacy technician classes to get licensed or registered and certified in your state. Follow these steps to determine the path that’s right for you.

What are the regulations in your state?

Each state has different regulations about who can work as a pharmacy technician. The  Pharmacy Technician Certification Board provides an at-a-glance look at state requirements. You can easily see if your state requires certification, licensing or registration, or both. This is an excellent first step to help you plan your timeline.

Next, you will want to take a closer look at your state’s requirements. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy can give you more specific information about your state’s requirements. This resource can help you make sure you have all the current information you need to become a pharmacy technician in your state.

No Regulations

There are currently only five states that have no requirements besides a high school diploma or GED. These states do not require technicians to register with the State Board of Pharmacy. If you choose this route, most of your learning will come from on-the-job training. After at least 500 hours of work experience as a pharmacy technician, you will be eligible for certification through the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).

National Certification

Two dozen states require pharmacy technician certification. Some of them require it in order for pharmacy technicians to become licensed or registered. Others just require it to get a job as a pharmacy technician and perform specific duties.

Before you take the exam, you have to finish a PTCB-recognized training program or have 500 hours of work experience as a pharmacy technician. However, you can apply to take the test if you are within sixty days of finishing your program. Your certification will be granted once you provide proof of completion. This could be a copy of your certificate with your name, completion date, and the title of the program you finished. It could also be an official letter from the training program with the same information.

The pharmacy technician certification exam takes about two hours to complete. It currently costs $129 to take the PTCB certification exam, but make sure you check their website for changes. Once you pay the required amount, PTCB will email you to let you know if you are authorized to schedule your exam. Some employers may even pay for employees to take the certification exam.

Licensing or Registration

Almost half of all states require licensing or registration in addition to national certification. Pharmacy technician classes can prepare you for both.

The registration process may look a bit different in each state, but you can probably expect an application, an application fee, and proof that you’ve completed the training that your state mandates. Check the State Board of Pharmacy for specific requirements.

If you decide to take pharmacy technician classes, or if your state requires them, the time requirements can vary. Programs can range from a few months to two years. Programs may offer a certificate, diploma, or degree.

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists requires accredited programs to include a minimum of 600 hours of instruction over at least 15 weeks. Longer programs may offer you an associate degree and extensive hands-on training in the field.

The length of the program is just one factor to consider. You will want to make sure the program you choose can meet your other needs.

  • Does it meet your state’s requirements?
  • Can it help you achieve your personal career goals?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Will the school help you find a job after graduation?

Other Considerations

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, pharmacists are taking on more patient care roles, like giving flu shots. This means pharmacy technicians are also being asked to play a greater role in pharmacy operations.

Even if your state does not require licensing, registration, or certification right now, requirements are getting stronger all the time and could change in your state. Employers may also prefer to hire pharmacy technicians who have completed a program and obtained certification.

Look for a school that offers flexible, accelerated programs to meet state requirements and give you an edge in the pharmacy technician field. You will leave with an associate degree and preparation for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE).

You can complete an accredited training program and become a licensed pharmacy technician in less than two years. Find out what your state requires and choose the right path for you.

Career Transition

Finding Meaning in Your Work

June 14, 2021

You might love your job but sometimes wonder what you’re actually contributing to the world. There’s a common misconception that you have to work for places like a charitable organization, a research lab creating cures for illnesses, or an activist group to make a difference. These are just examples, of course. But, sitting behind your desk might not always feel fulfilling.

Maybe it should.

By changing how you think about work, you’ll start to see there are small things you can do each day to make a difference and find meaning.

Not sure just what those everyday meaningful moments might look like? Let’s talk about what you can do and the impact it can have.

How to Find Fulfillment in Your Work

It’s not necessarily up to your job to bring you a sense of purpose. You have to decide what that is on your own, and come up with personal ways to make your life more meaningful. That often starts with changing your perspective.

Start within your business. How does your specific job impact your coworkers, clients, customers, or anyone you interact with? Consider some of the following careers in data analytics:

  • IoT specialist
  • Data orchestrator
  • Data hygienist
  • Machine teacher
  • CIO

On the surface, you might not think those careers are helping anyone. But, it’s about how you analyze data and what you do with it that makes a difference. Most researchers are collecting data and putting it to use for good reasons – mostly to help the planet and/or mankind. That’s something you can feel good about.

Are you a web designer or programmer? Consider how making the sites you create more accessible can help others to use the web freely. Do you work in marketing? Focus on “green” efforts that can reduce your agency’s carbon footprint. Are you a business person? Have a positive impact on your whole team by hosting brainstorming sessions and making everyone feel valued.

We could list examples all day. The point is, whether you’re a corporate CEO or flipping hamburgers for a living, you can find meaning in your work when you look for ways to do it.

Pursuing a Positive Career

If you’re just graduating college and entering the workforce, you have a unique opportunity. You get to choose your own career path and look for jobs that will provide you with a sense of meaning.

Consider what you’re truly passionate about and any jobs that might allow you to do something with them. If your biggest concern is the environment, for example, you might want to work for a business that is focused on sustainability efforts.

Even if you can’t directly work with a business dedicated to such things, you can be a voice and a light wherever you work. Change the company culture by advocating for recycling programs and environmentally-friendly upgrades. Again, seeking out ways to make changes and find meaning can make all the difference.

You’ve probably heard the saying “it’s the little things that count”. Consider the things you can do every day at your job – no matter how small – that might have a more meaningful impact on someone else than you originally thought. The more you focus on those things, the better you’ll feel about the purpose of your career.

BIO: Sam Bowman has a passion for learning. As a seasoned professional writer, he specializes in topics about people, education, tech and how they merge. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.

Adulting Transition

3 Tips to Help You Plan for Home Ownership in College

May 26, 2021

Many younger Americans say they are in no rush to become homeowners, and instead want to focus on enjoying life experiences. However, on the flip side, there is also a growing percentage of younger adults working towards homeownership before 35. In fact, many of them are planning to buy their first home while they’re still in college. If you’re thinking of homeownership, you will need to be careful to avoid making common money mistakes in college. Planning ahead gives you ample time to prepare – if you know where to start.

Weigh The Pros And Cons Of Early Homeownership 

College graduates spend three to six months after graduation job hunting. They are also very occupied with setting up their lives, either renting an apartment or focusing on paying off student loan debt. Adding a monthly mortgage to that list can be tough, and should only be undertaken with proper planning. Renting after college also comes with less financial commitment, which can be a good thing. If you haven’t decided where to live or your career path, it may be difficult to stick to a long-term decision like buying a home.

There are also great perks to getting on the property ladder instead of renting. Depending on the location you choose, a mortgage can sometimes be cheaper than renting. If you’re in a good credit position after college and have little debt, it increases your chances of getting a mortgage in the long run. Lastly, if you purchase a home while you’re in college, you could be better off financially by saving on dorm costs. Renting out your home can be a stable income stream. Consider all of these pros and cons before making your decision to become a homeowner.

Narrow Down The Location Early

The earlier you know where you want to own a home, the better prepared you can be to do so. If you choose to, you can buy a home close to your college and skip the boarding costs on campus. Alternatively, you could rent it out to fellow students to help with paying your mortgage. Another reason to choose your location early is that it helps you track home prices and how much you need to save before applying for a mortgage.

Work On Reducing Your Debt 

Many young people are delaying homeownership because of student loans. In a survey by Clever, half of undergraduate students said they would have to put off buying a home to repay their student loans. Around 43 percent of Americans who attended college have some sort of student loan debt to their names, along with credit card or personal loan debts outstanding. When it comes to credit cards and students, starting earlier is always better. 

To make money, consider getting a part-time job while you’re in college, or launching a side business. There are many earning opportunities for college students, including tutoring or on-campus jobs. Also, learn to stick to a budget. If you are not familiar with budgeting and money management, a great place to start is inquiring if your college offers personal finance classes.

Bottom Line

There are many reasons why buying a house in college makes sense. Equally, there are many reasons against it. While real estate can be a great investment in the long term, it’s not universally applicable. The area you choose, your personal finance habits, and the additional expenses that come with homeownership should factor into your decisions. For some, it may be a great dream. For others, it may be too much too soon.

Adulting Career

The Best Options for You After High School

April 27, 2021

When graduating high school, many people assume that the next obvious step is going to college; however, this is not the only option available to graduating seniors. There is an endless number of positive experiences and opportunities at your fingertips. Whether you want to explore, venture out into the professional world or learn more about yourself, there are boundless choices and paths in front of you. As you think about your next steps, here are a few of the best options for you to consider.

A Gap Year

If you want to take time to reflect, grow and learn, gap years can be a great option. Gap years have gained popularity in recent years due to the invaluable and incomparable lessons and opportunities for reflection that are difficult to replicate. You have the wondrous experience of venturing out into a new community and visiting new places within the structure and format of the gap year experience. You can learn from others their reasons on why take a gap year, so don’t be afraid to ask around to help you decide if a gap year is the best next step for you.

Volunteer

If you find yourself wanting to do something positive and productive with your time after graduating high school, volunteering can be a marvelous move. Keep in mind that volunteering won’t pay the bills; however, it can be a formative and impactful experience. Not only will you inevitably learn about the community that you are supporting, but you likely will learn a lot about yourself and benefit greatly through the process.

Professional Ventures

For those who want to test the waters of the professional world, don’t be afraid to start working following high school and delay further schooling for the time being. Whether you need to pay bills and as a necessity or you are looking to explore the startup world, there are plenty of reasons and opportunities to start work right away. Professional experience can also be a great way to set you up for success in college and leave you more prepared than you would have otherwise been.

Road Trips

Another quintessential high school graduate experience is a road trip. If you have never had a chance to truly explore the country, consider packing up your car and a few friends and taking a long road trip. Whether you schedule this before college or your gap year, this can be an exhilarating way to experience the world. Regardless of the length of your trip, don’t be afraid to take an adventure once you graduate high school.

College or University

You can always take a traditional path after high school and go to college. This is not just a chance to venture out from home. Whether you choose community college or a four-year college or university, the reality is that college can be challenging, and you need to be prepared and know what to expect. Whatever you choose, you should make sure that you select the option that best suits your needs, goals and next steps.

As you reach this pivotal point in life, don’t be afraid to take a detour or alter your path to find the best fit for your next chapter. Once you graduate high school, you have the world at your feet.

Career Transition

3 Ways to Gain Experience That Will Land You a Job After College Graduation

April 1, 2021

If you head to college right after high school graduation, your focus for the next 4+ years probably isn’t going to be climbing the corporate ladder. Granted, you’ll work toward a major and learn how to do a specific job.

But, that doesn’t mean a career will be available to you immediately after graduation. College can offer a degree, but you’ll enter the working world with “entry-level” experience, which many employers don’t want.

So, what can you do to gain experience while you’re in school so you can kick off your career right away?

Immerse Yourself in the Collegiate Experience

One of the best ways to gain experience and get advice is to take advantage of all the services your college has to offer. Develop a close relationship with student services. It’s their job to not only get you through your collegiate career but help you prepare for the “real world.” They can assist you when it comes to things like resume writing so your job applications will pass things like automated applicant tracking systems.

Student services can also help with:

  • Campus life and extra activities
  • Mental and physical wellness
  • Diversity on campus
  • Alumni relations

Those functions can all help you gain more experience for a future job. Getting involved with activities and clubs on campus can help you gain experience in teamwork or leadership without having to work in an actual “job.” Plus, those who work in student services might be able to connect you with alumni in the industry you’re interested in.

Whether you’re getting your degree online or in-person, reach out to student services in an email or give them a call. Student services should be available to the entire student body.

Take a Part-Time Job

Many college students end up working part-time jobs to help pay for tuition, food, or off-campus housing. But, the right part-time job can actually be a great way to network. Having an internship in college is helpful, especially if it’s in the industry you’re interested in. But, internships don’t usually pay, and you may not get the hands-on experience you need if you’re just getting people coffee.

So, while there’s nothing wrong with waiting tables or working retail, try looking for a part-time job that will allow you to hone in on the skills you’ll need for a long-term career. That could include working in an office, or even starting your own freelancing business on the side for writing, graphic design, or any other useful skill you want to grow. You could even start your own online business as a side hustle. 

Even if you haven’t decided on your major, holding down any part-time job will let future employers know that you’re responsible and able to stick to a schedule, so it looks good on a resume.

Get Involved Locally

If you don’t want to work in college, consider volunteering either on campus or in the local community. While it won’t show up as work experience on a resume, sometimes life experience is more appealing to employers. Getting involved with an organization that matters to you will give you hands-on experience.

You’ll grow skills like:

  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Organization
  • Patience

Adding these skills and your volunteer experience to your resume could be extremely beneficial, so don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.

Landing a job after graduation isn’t just about having experience in a particular industry. It’s about having well-rounded skills and knowing how to market them. Keep these tips in mind to get the job you want after graduation, rather than sending out dozens of applications with nothing in return.

BIO: Sam Bowman has a passion for learning. As a seasoned professional writer, he specializes in topics about people, education, tech and how they merge. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.

Adulting Student Life Transition

6 Common Money Mistakes New College Grads Make

March 25, 2021

College graduation is a time of celebration for students and a jumping-off point for the next chapter of life. It’s a time to make important decisions, whether you’re continuing your education with a higher degree, starting your career, or taking a moment to regroup.

But it’s not the time for making poor financial choices. Here are a few common money mistakes recent grads make and how to avoid them.

1. Thinking retirement is too far off to start saving

Retirement may be years away, but it’s better to start saving for retirement as early as possible. The earlier you start saving, the more time your investments have to grow. As you add money to your retirement fund, interest also starts to accrue. Over time, you start earning interest on the interest you’ve earned. This is called compound interest, and it’s a powerful savings tool. The earlier you start saving and earning compound interest, the better.

2. Missing student loan payments

Right after graduation is the time to focus on your financial future, which includes keeping up with student loan payments. This will help ensure you continue to build a positive credit history and possibly improve your credit score. A positive payment history and healthy credit score could open up more money-saving financial opportunities down the road, such as lower interest rates on an auto or home loan.

3. Overspending that new paycheck

If you have a new job in your chosen career field, you could be making more money than ever. But before you go spending your paycheck on the luxury items you’ve always wanted, consider the impact these purchases will have on your budget.

Necessary expenses — like rent, utilities, and groceries — should come first. Less obvious but important expenses like building an emergency fund or having enough for auto insurance coverage should also be considered before splurging on “wants” versus “needs.”

4. Banking where your parents do

The bank your parents use (and now you probably use) is likely a suitable location for storing money in FDIC-insured accounts. It’s not a bad thing to have access to brick-and-mortar locations, but most traditional bank accounts can’t compete with the benefits of online banking.

Making the switch to an online bank could help you earn more interest, avoid unnecessary fees, and still have FDIC insurance. In addition, your current bank might not offer other perks that come with the best checking accounts, like getting your paycheck early or having easy access to your money through a mobile app.

5. Misusing credit cards

Credit cards can be a helpful tool for building credit and having cash flow when you need it, but using them irresponsibly can offset their benefits.

Keep in mind that building your credit history and improving your credit score means following some accepted best practices. This typically includes making your payments on time, using less than 30% of your available credit line, keeping your oldest credit accounts open, having different types of credit accounts (for example a credit card and an auto loan), and not opening too many credit cards too quickly in a row.

6. Skipping renters insurance

Whether you’re back studying on campus or off to live on your own, renters insurance can offer you essential financial protection. This type of insurance can include coverage for clothing, laptops, bicycles, and other belongings in case of unexpected events like vandalism, theft, or fire.

If you keep these six tips in mind, you could avoid some of the common money mistakes that recent college grads make. This will help you take proactive steps to secure your financial future.

BIO: FinanceBuzz’sVP of Content, Tracy Odell, also held the same position at Student Loan Hero and has expertise in this subject, as well as all things related to college finances.

Career

Tips for Writing a Killer Business Plan

December 22, 2020
Photo by Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash

Are you gearing up for the next phase of life after college and considering embarking upon a business venture? If you intend on taking it seriously, you will inevitably need a business plan. 

Your business plan is an important document and well worth your time and effort to perfect. When executed effectively, it has the power to paint a vivid picture of how your business will operate, the goals it will strive toward, and what ethos it will be driven by. 

Formatting your business plan 

There are two main styles that a business will choose when formatting their business plan:

Traditional business plan – This typically spans 12 or more pages incorporating detailed analyses, supporting documents, contracts, permits, licenses, credit histories and more. They take much more time to create upfront, but taking a deep dive into your business that leaves you with an extremely thorough outline can serve you well.

Lean startup business plan – One or two pages summarize the most important elements of your business strategy. This potentially covers all of the same sections as a traditional plan, but is more condensed to give overviews rather than elaborate analysis. 

Investors and lenders will typically prefer a traditional business plan, but if you expect the course of your business to undergo significant change, a lean startup business plan covering the fundamentals may suffice.

Whatever template you choose to create, you can use the following tips to ensure that you craft a solid and compelling plan to propel your business forward.

Keep it simple

Keeping it simple does not mean dumbing it down – but if your plan starts to waffle, you’ll quickly lose your reader’s interest. When it comes to business plans, more than many other forms of writing, you need to keep it sharp, concise and effective. Only use photos, graphs or charts that significantly enhance the reader’s understanding of your vision and ensure that your formatting makes your document even easier to navigate.

If writing isn’t your strong suit, consider hiring a writer or editor. You can find freelancers to help out with this on sites like UpWork or Fiverr. Just make sure you opt for high rated sellers with excellent reviews.

Work backwards

When creating a plan for a future vision, it can be helpful to reverse the process in your mind and draft your plan from there. For example, realistically consider where you would like your business to be financially after the first 12 months, and then work backwards. What goals would need to be achieved after six months? Three months? One month? Work these milestones into your draft and soon you will see your business plan taking logical shape.

Know your competition

Never speak negatively when referring to your competitors. Familiarize yourself with who they are and what they are doing both well and poorly, and, in your own business plan, outline how you will differentiate your brand from the rest. What will be your company’s unique selling point or proposition (USP)? Be sure to highlight whatever it is that sets you apart from the rest – unique approaches that have viability attract the attention of investors and show that you have thought this vital aspect of the business through.

Know your customer

Successful business plans demonstrate well thought out insights into their customers and a desire to truly understand their clients. What are their needs or problems they have that your business will solve? What is your target demographic? Who will be buying your product or service? Why do they need it? These insights lead to the all-important question – why will they pick you?

Outline your marketing plan clearly

It’s easy to have lofty dreams, but not so easy to drill down on exactly how those dreams will be achieved. A solid business plan demonstrates that the how-to has been carefully researched and considered, and that you have arrived at a series of specific steps that you will take to execute your vision. Where and how will you market? What will you offer and to who? How will you generate new customer leads? How exactly will you entice consumers away from the competition?

Be realistic 

It’s great to dream big, but remember to keep your immediate plans within realistic parameters. Don’t overestimate your revenue forecast or inflate your financials. Do your research and position yourself with confidence, not naivety or arrogance. What will you offer and how much will you charge? What do comparable businesses charge for similar products or services? Keep your projections realistic to cultivate trust with your reader and be sure that the financial information you share is rooted in solid facts.

There are thousands of online resources at your disposal when it comes to crafting a winning business plan – we’ve just highlighted some key points. Be ambitious, yet realistic. Demonstrate care and research regarding customer insights. Speak respectfully but confidently when analyzing your business in comparison to others. Back your claims up. And importantly, once you’ve collated your business plan’s content, deliver it in a concise, sharp style. Get to the point whilst infusing just the right amount of passion to drive your intentions home. Good luck!