Tag Archives: college

Live in the Same Region As Your Alma Mater

There are a lot of decisions that are made for us in our lives without any real opportunity for a decision. Some examples are where we go to school (sometimes we don’t get in where we want) and where we work (especially in this job market, my first job was at the first company that offered me a job).

The choices we do control are often big ones that are made for non-financial reasons (like my decision to move across the country to be with my then-fiancée).

However, all things being equal, of you’re deciding where to live after college, I have some advice for you: stay local. Or at least in the same region.

After graduating from the university of Maryland, I lived in DC for a few years before taking the plunge and moving to the west best coast. In those few years, a couple of my friends got married. For me, it meant a few hours in the car to reach their “destination” wedding in New Jersey.

Once I moves to Los Angeles, I realized just how far I was from many of my friends. As more and more get married, the trips are far less convenient. Now, it means buying expensive airline tickets and deciding whether to bring Lauren along. Costs can quickly rise to $1,000 in travel costs, which is a lot to be spending on a wedding as a guest!

This is my own doing and each time I attend a wedding or reunion I have an amazing time so there are no complaints there, but financially it’s a burden (and sometimes means using vacation days for travel, too).

We saw this with our wedding when we made everyone fly out to Los Angeles. Most of our friends live on the east coast, so it was not a small request. We had an amazing turnout and I’m very grateful that so many people were willing and able to make the trip because I know it’s not easy.

Maybe it was rude of us to make friends in one state and then move away? I think I said the same thing last year about Lauren meeting me on the east coast and then forcing inviting me to come back with her to LA.

You don’t always have the option of deciding where you’ll live, but if you do, I highly suggest staying on the same side of the country because you’ll end up saving a ton of money in travel costs and you’ll be able to go to more of your friends’ events.

Readers, do you live in the same region as most of your friends? Is traveling to events a burden?

Paying For College

In addition to help from my parents, I took out unsubsidized student loans and private loans to help cover the cost of tuition. I left college with about $25,000 in student loan debt, a little more than the average. In the 2 years since I graduated, I’ve paid off all the high interest debt and have about $9,000 left on a variable 2.25% loan, which I’m happy to pay off a little less aggressively.

I’ve done several posts about student loan repayment options, but I want to hear from you. What tips do you have for keeping costs low? One of the most important things you can do is keep current with payments and if possible, make payments during school! It may mean getting a part-time job, but the difference will be huge once you graduate and you will be grateful to have a big chunk of that debt missing!

My Path To Graduation

After coming back from studying abroad following my Junior year, I started to realize around September that it was time to look for a job after college. I had very little experience in my major, and with only one semester of taking a few classes within my major, I wasn’t entirely sure what I would be qualified to do. And I certainly had no reason to believe that I had any technical skills to market. Add in the fact that my extra-curricular activities were limited to “2 Time Defending co-ed B League Flag Football Champion” and I figured I’d be the last person in the world to get a job.

Still, I started to think about drafting a resume. My experience was limited to two internships, one of which I had while I studied abroad at a venture capital company that invests in technology-enabled services, and another at a popular diamond store in the D.C. area in their “Internet department.” While neither internship related too well to my major, each gave me important skills, understanding, and insight.

Job Searching

In October, I started searching for jobs using the career center website as well as the business school site, where employers would post jobs and then if a student qualified, he would get invited to an interview when they visited campus. I searched for jobs on the sites, but I wasn’t sure what I was even looking for, so while some jobs seemed interesting, there was no way that I could speak intelligently enough about my major to get any of them.

I attended the Fall career fair, and after getting to the main hall, being terrified of what was about to happen, and sweating profusely, I collected myself enough to hand out some resumes and talk to a few people at the employer booths. I left the career fair convinced that I had no skills (including social skills) and that I might as well give up on a job now, because trying would only result in failure and embarrassment.

For a few weeks, I perused the online listings, submitted my resume, but heard back from only a handful. Oh, and of these handful, they all let me know that I had not been selected for an interview. In November, I took a look at my resume again, updated it to include the skills I was learning in class, and I started to understand that I was learning a technical skills, and I could try and market that.

By January, I was confident in my skills and I started to realize that maybe some company would consider hiring me. I was finally I was being granted interviews every once in a while. I think most of this had to do with the fact that the smart, responsible kids had already been taken and now I was rising to the top of the next group. And I was fine with that.

Interviewing

During January, I was interviewing with various companies, some of which I was genuinely interested in, and others I had no real desire to work for, but a job is a job and January 2009 was no time to be picky. I was very nervous during these interviews, but I think compared to my peers I was able to speak intelligently about my experiences and show people why I would be valuable to them. None of my interviews turned into anything, but I was developing confidence.

I figured that out of phone calls I would get, about 25% turned into an interview, and of the interviews, I assumed that I would get one out of 10. I wasn’t looking to pit one job against the other to negotiate a higher salary; I simply wanted a job. I was more nervous than anything else. Moving home after graduation was not a good option.

Finally, in February, I felt like it was all coming together. My interview skills had improved, I was finding postings that were specific and appealed to me, and I was being granted more interviews. I applied for three jobs that I thought had real potential, one in Boston, which was not where I wanted to be, and two in D.C., my first choice. I interviewed with all three companies, and thought I did great and one of them would turn into a job. I waited patiently for an email or a phone call. I received a few emails asking me for more information and to complete an online application so they could formally count me as a applicant. I thought that was a fantastic sign.

The Last Step

During the first Monday of spring break, in the middle of March, I got a phone call from the recruiter for the company in Boston. She let me know that I was not selected, and that the person who was had better internship experience. What a letdown. I was confident, and that just burst my bubble. It was all over, I’d spend my life as a barista.

The very next day, I got a call from one of the D.C. companies letting me know that I was being offered a job with them. I was ecstatic, I wasn’t going to be nagged every day by my mother for not having a job. All my not-so-hard work in college had paid off.

That Friday, I got a call from the last company, which I thought was a stretch, but the interview went well, so I was hoping for the best. They wanted to “move forward” with my application. Fantastic. Except that there was no job offer yet and I had been given a 3 week deadline to accept the other job.

I called once a week to ask what the status of my application was, and was told that management had to approve projects and as soon as that happened, there would be something more formal. Money. I was set. Just before the deadline, I got a call from my stretch-company, and the recruiter let me know that management decided not to hire anyone. Why did they string me along? Did they really have any interest in the first place? Obviously, I accepted the other job, a little disappointed that for some reason, I wasn’t good enough.

It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. My job now is perfect for me. I don’t work 60 hours a week like I’m sure I would have in consulting, I was getting paid a decent salary, and my stress level was…lower than it would have otherwise been.

Many people went through the same type of process, especially business majors. It was a very stressful time in my life, and the guarantee of having a job relaxed me and let me enjoy life again. My friends who majored in Marketing or Finance have had a harder time finding jobs, even though they had more to offer.

I guess everything happens for a reason, and while I was worried for months and at times extremely discouraged, my experience worked out for the best.