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Advice From A University of Tennessee Knoxville Graduate on Attending College

April 17, 2019

I have officially completed college. I have gone through four years at a University and taken all the courses needed to graduate. From major courses, general education courses, to classes like a social dance that add a few hours to my schedule. I am now officially a University of Tennessee college grad and ready to embark on the real world…. or am I? As adult life has QUICKLY approached, I find myself wondering where the last four years have gone. Would I have done anything differently? Is there anything I missed? There are a few things I would have liked to tell myself while going through college and here they are:

 

1- Going into college, it’s okay not to know what you are doing. MOST PEOPLE DON’T. Throughout my college career, I have found that most people do not know what they are doing after graduation. When I first came to the University of Tennessee I took a class that was all about finding a major that best suits you. The class had me take a personality test, express my interest, and meet with college advisors in order to find a major that could lead to a career. After this class, I didn’t actually know what I wanted to do but I had an idea of what my major could lead to. Finding out what you actually will be doing after receiving your undergraduate degree requires research. You should be doing job research, salary research, gaining some experience, and maybe even attend graduate school. College is a time to find yourself and what you see yourself doing in a career. A clear career path doesn’t always present itself right away.

 

2- Be responsible. Finding yourself does not mean to be irresponsible. Nights with friends are fun and create lasting memories, but take care of yourself. While at the University of Tennessee, there was pressure from people to go out instead of study or to be socializing. To get past my FOMO I reminded myself that I was at school to better myself, no one else. This meant homework came first, scheduling time with friends was necessary, and staying on top of my health was part of my everyday routine. Do your homework, study, eat, clean, exercise, SAVE YOUR MONEY, and always remember why you are ultimately in college. Set goals and prioritize responsibilities so you can stay on task.

 

3 – GAIN EXPERIENCE. I cannot stress enough the importance of getting experience in your field of choice. If you don’t know what you want to do, explore several careers and internships. The University of Tennessee encouraged students to get out of school experience by offering study abroad trips, internship fairs, and volunteer opportunities. While at the University of Tennessee I had three separate internships exploring my career options. Now when applying for jobs I find EVERY job will ask for your work experience. Having an internship, volunteer work, or shadowing under your belt can be a helpful edge. Getting experience is such an important aspect for your future and is something everyone should consider.

 

4 – Get Involved. College is hard and freshman year can be lonely. Start looking at groups and clubs early. Finding a sports club, sorority/fraternity or church group to get involved in will help you to make new friends. The University of Tennessee offers hundreds of clubs and activities to get involved in. While being in school I joined a sorority where I found friends that wanted to get involved in different clubs with me. I joined my major club which helped me meet people who had the same interest as me and was a great networking experience. I also got involved in a religious club at the University of Tennessee which allowed me to share my personal preferences with others. The University of Tennessee offers many sports clubs for anyone that wants to get involved in an athletic team and has groups that participate in volunteer work such as United Way® and Best Buddies®.  Accept that you may be lonely at times without your family always being around. Recognize that you don’t need to be afraid to make new friends and get out of your comfort zone.

 

5 – Prepare for what is waiting for you after graduation, STUDENT LOANS. They may seem far away for now, but soon after graduation loan payments begin. Take into consideration how expensive your loans are. As a college student I never really paid attention to that. Now that I am out of school and saw I was $30,000 in debt, I was shocked. Know how much the interest rates on the loans are. Interest rates can cause you to end up paying an extra 3000+ in just interest on your loans. This is definitely something to consider when going into college and choosing a career path.

 

6 – Stay calm. A four-year university accumulates into A LOT of homework. Before you know you have 5 assignments, 2 papers, and 3 exams in the span of two weeks. This can be overwhelming when looking over your planner. You may find yourself questioning how you’re going to get everything done and when you will get to sleep next. Remember to stay calm. You are capable of getting everything done and most importantly sleeping. Plan ahead and stay on schedule. Throughout my four years, I kept a planner and wrote in every assignment, test, or even an event I had going on each week. This way, I was able to get started on homework early if I needed to and make time for relaxation. Getting homework done a few nights earlier then the due date helps when planning to study for exams. Study for a few hours every night a week prior to the exam, this helps to eliminate stressful cramming.

 

7 – At the end of the day, remember to have fun. This is for most people, a once in a lifetime experience. This will likely be your last time as a student before you join the workforce. Make time for friends, call your parents, and make incentives for yourself. Want to go to the football game this weekend? Finish your homework Thursday and have a fun-filled Saturday with friends. Whether it be hanging out with friends on a hike, going to a movie, or catching up over dinner, make time for you and the people around you.

 

My name is Jordon Brock and I am a SENIOR at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. College has flown by and soon I will graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and a minor in Business. I started my college career by going through sorority recruitment and while becoming a member of Delta Gamma started off as just a group of girls that I could hang out with in my spare time, it gave me more opportunities than I could ever imagine. Delta Gamma gave me the privilege to be the All Sing Director two years in a row where I got to lead our chapter in choreography and songs from popular musicals as well as allowing me to coach Smokey’s Howl; a cheer competition incorporated into Homecoming at UT. Outside of DG, I had the opportunity to be a marketing intern at three separate companies. My learning experience at UT, leadership roles in Delta Gamma, along with what I have learned in my internships has made me prepared, but more importantly excited for the future. I would like to work on a Public Relations or Marketing team at a company that strives to connect people with brands and organizations. I love communicating with others and hope to build relationships with clients and other organizations in my future career!

 

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2020-10-23
Ace Your Interview: Job Interview Tips

Life after graduation is full of responsibilities, like taxes, groceries and full-time jobs, but also full of opportunities. To capture these opportunities, you need to be prepared, and the best way to do that is to make sure you give the best job interviews possible. Here are a few job interview tips to help:  

Write a Top-Notch Resume

First step: get your
resume into shape. Make sure you fill it with your valuable work experience and qualifications. Your goal is to showcase the most successful and productive version of yourself possible.   Volunteer work, certifications, awards, and other accomplishments can all have a place on your resume. Many people like to build from resume templates you can find online, but if you use a resume template, just be sure you’ve thoroughly checked the verbiage to make sure it doesn’t sound scripted.   Your resume should show off your unique talents and skill set, as well as any numbers or figures that back up your work.  

Do the Research

One of the most important job interview tips is doing research beforehand. You want to be knowledgeable about both the job and the employer when you are being interviewed. Look at the company website to learn about company history, accomplishments, and other information. Also, take some time to read recent news about the company.   When you know what the company is looking for, you’ll be able to easily answer questions about how you will fit into the work environment.  

Know the Common Questions

Many interviewers ask the same, basic questions to better understand their candidates. While some may ask curveball questions, as well, you’ll be a step ahead if you come prepared with answers to common questions.   Examples include “Tell me about yourself” and “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?” Even though these sound like very basic questions, it’s important to give a thoughtful answer. Take your time thinking through responses prior to the interview. Indeed has a fantastic list of 125 such questions to ensure you are never at a loss for words.   Don’t stress about knowing all the answers; just practice the ones you think are most important. Then, if they ask you something unexpected, you’ll have a few ideas to pull from.  

Practice

Once your research is done, it’s time to practice. Ask a friend, parent, sibling or roommate to run through interview questions with you. Focus on answering smoothly and confidently.   In a similar vein, treat any job interview you go to as practice. If you don’t get the job, you’ve still gained valuable interview experience.  

Ask Questions

One job interview tip some people don't think about is to prepare your own questions.   A job interview isn’t just an opportunity for a prospective employer to learn about you. It’s also a chance for you to learn about them. Ask questions you really want answers to, not just questions you think will impress the interviewer. Honest questions demonstrate interest and can help you decide whether you’d like to work for the company.   Ideally, you should prepare your questions in advance. That way, you’ll be ready when the interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions for me?” If you’re at a loss for words, questions about corporate culture and growth opportunities are always good options.  

Dress the Part

When dressing for a job interview, you should think about the first impression you’d like to make on your potential employer. If you aren’t sure about an outfit, err on the side of caution. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. When in doubt, it’s hard to go wrong with simple, business-professional clothing.   Of course, this is by no means an all-purpose interview cheat code. Different employers will expect their employees to wear different things. An interview at a bank will require far more formal dress than an interview at quick-service restaurant.   Again, though, err on the side of caution. You likely won’t be passed over for a job because you were too well dressed. To top it all off, research has shown that dressing up can significantly boost your confidence.  

Follow Up

After the interview, consider sending a thank-you email to the hiring manager. Express your gratitude for the interview and impress upon them your interest in the position. Be enthusiastic. You’ve got one more chance to make a positive impression.   If you get the job, congratulations. That’s fantastic. If you don’t, don’t stress. You’ve done the best you could do, and you’ve gained valuable interview experience to boot. Sometimes it takes time to find the perfect job. With your interview experience, you’ll be all the more likely to get it. If you’re looking for a job in the medical field, check out this article on common resume mistakes for medical professionals.  
  Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no­­­ control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.
Employer student loan repayment benefits keep employees happy
2020-10-13
How to Help Your Employees Pay Off Student Loans

Traditionally, employer benefit programs are focused on two things: investing and healthcare. Keeping your employees healthy and financially secure helps decrease turnover and increase productivity.   But when employees are buried in student debt, investing in retirement feels fruitless. Before they can focus heavily on planning for the future, they need to decrease their current student loan balances.   As an employer, you have the power to make a significant difference in your employees’ debt repayment timeline. Here are a few ways to do just that - and why helping your employees become debt-free is a smart business decision.  

How Student Loan Benefits Work

Currently, employers offer a variety of student loan repayment assistance methods. These include:  

Educational Support

The least expensive method is offering financial education to employees. This would typically involve hiring an outside expert to offer group meetings or one-on-one coaching. These can be done in-person or online.   These sessions can be helpful, especially if done repeatedly throughout the year. They may be offered on their own or in conjunction with direct monetary support.  

Sign-up Bonus

Some employers pay a lump-sum toward an employee’s student loan balance when they join the company. This is a one-time benefit used to attract new employees, but it can also be seen as unfair to existing employees who never received a sign-up bonus.  

Matching 401(k) Contributions

Many companies offer matching contributions to an employee’s 401(k) account. In these cases, the individual contributes their own money and the employer matches a certain amount.   One way that companies are combining student loan and 401(k) benefits is by matching student loan payments with a 401(k) contribution.   Here’s how it works. The employee makes a student loan payment, and the money comes directly out of their paycheck. In exchange, the employer contributes that same amount to their 401(k) account. This allows the employee to balance student loan repayment with saving for retirement.  

Matching Student Loan Contributions

Employers may also offer a dollar-for-dollar matching payment to the employees’ student loans. If the borrower pays $200 to their student loans, the employer adds an additional $200. This is the most straightforward way to help your employees become debt-free.   Most companies that offer a matching student loan payment option will have an annual and lifetime limit. For example, the office chain Staples pays $100 a month for three years for eligible employees. Insurance company Aetna pays up to $2,000 a year for full-time employees, up to $10,000 total. Part-time employees receive up to $1,000 a year, up to $5,000 total.   Like 401(k) contributions, some companies require employees to work for a certain number of months before they become eligible for student loan repayment benefits.   As part of the CARES Act passed in March 2020, any student loan repayment benefits, up to $5,250, made by an employer between March 27, 2020 and December 31, 2020 will not count as taxable income. Unless this provision is extended, student loan repayment benefits will then be taxed after that date.  

How Student Loan Repayment Benefits Employers and Employees

The total US student loan balance grows at a rate of about 7% every year. In 2019, the average graduate had $35,397 in student loans. New hires often bring mountains of student loan debt with them, and student loan repayment benefits can make a huge difference.  

Decreasing Student Loan Stress

A recent study found that more than 85% of individuals with student loan debt name it as a major source of stress, and 33% call it out as one of their top three stressors. A 2019 survey from Marketplace-Edison Research found that those with student loans had two-thirds more economic anxiety than those without student loans.   “When I was paying off student loans I was very anxious and stressed,” said Melanie Lockert, host of “The Mental Health and Wealth” show. “I don't think it affected my productivity per se, but it affected my quality of life and how I felt while doing the work. Of course, those feelings can indirectly affect work as well.”   Employers reap the rewards when workers have less financial stress. According to a study from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP), about 60% of employers said they noticed workers found it hard to focus because of personal financial problems. Another 34% of employers said they noticed absenteeism and tardiness also related to financial stress.   This isn’t a new revelation - it’s basic psychology. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs states that humans need to feel physically safe before they can improve their psychological well-being. The same is true with financial stress. If your employee is worried about defaulting on their student loans, they may be too preoccupied to concentrate on work, and too emotionally drained to come up with innovative ideas or brainstorm new solutions.  

Increasing Focus and Employee Retention

When employees feel financially secure, they’ll be more productive and attentive while on the clock. Even if it seems like your employees are producing decent results, they could likely accomplish even more if their attention wasn’t split between work and their student debt balance.   Student loan repayment assistance programs could also improve employee retention. 41% of surveyed companies offering student loan assistance have found it improves recruitment and 38% believe it has improved employee retention rates.   The data backs up those responses. Healthcare company Trilogy offers $100 a month in student loan repayment assistance to both full-time and part-time employees. Employees who utilize this program stay at the company 2.5 times longer than those who don’t.   Since it costs several thousand or even tens of thousands of dollars to train a new employee, it may actually be less expensive to pay their student loans. That’s not even considering the intangible benefits that come from having a roster of experienced, loyal employees.  

Offer Employer Student Loan Repayment with ELFI for Business

If your company is interested in adding student loan repayment assistance as a workplace benefit, they can join ELFI for Business. ELFI will create a student loan repayment program designed for your employees, managing the actual payments so your accounting department doesn’t get bogged down with the details.  
  Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.  
Avoid common medical resume mistakes for interview success
2020-10-12
Common Resume Mistakes for Medical Professionals

If you search for “medical resume template” online, you’ll find thousands of options, all very different. Which choice, though, will give you the best chance of earning your dream job? Keep these common resume mistakes for medical professionals in mind when you’re putting together your application, and you’ll already be a step ahead of many other candidates.  

Write Your Resume for the Job You Want

Too many medical professionals make the resume mistake of assuming all jobs are looking for the same thing. This is, in fact, a huge logical fallacy, because although two jobs may be in the same industry,
it doesn’t mean they’re looking for the same candidate. One danger of using an online medical resume template is winding up with a resume that's a little too generic. Pay attention to make sure the format you're using really highlights your medical skills.   For example, if you’re interested in becoming a physician at a hospital, you’ll want to show you’re comfortable with a variety of medical tasks, especially within a hospital setting. You’ll need to prove leadership experience, discipline, problem-solving skills and strong time-management capabilities. In a hospital environment, it’s important to be familiar with your tasks, but also to be prepared to pivot when the situation calls for it.   On the other hand, if you’re applying to become a podiatrist at a group medical practice, your day will likely be more specialized and structured. You’ll need to show experience in the field of podiatry, as well as the ability to provide exceptional patient care. Any hiring manager or supervisor will want to know you’re detail-oriented and that you can clearly explain to patients how to maintain at-home care and general wellness practices.   Some jobs even use an applicant tracking system to screen applications for specific keywords. Do some research before submitting your resume to a potential employer to make sure your resume is optimized. If the hiring manager is looking for keywords like “patient care” or “medical records,” you won’t want to miss these important bullet points.  

Talk About Your Experience, Not Your Goals

Another common resume mistake for medical professionals is focusing on goals and objectives versus real-world experiences. You'll want to be sure you're formatting your medical resume to showcase your hard-earned experience.   In some professions, employers may be looking for someone trainable that can learn most of their job skills on-the-go. In the medical field, however, employers need the opposite. Because you’ll be providing healthcare to patients, knowing your field is far more important than having the ability to learn new skills from scratch.   Most jobs do require learning as you go, however, medical professionals are expected to bring some level of experience with them, even to entry-level positions. After all, you’ve put years of time and effort into earning a high-level degree, so you’ve likely graduated with a significant amount of knowledge. Unlike other professionals who learn many of their job skills after graduation, medical professionals graduate with the knowledge necessary to hit the ground running. Employers need candidates whose experience prepares them to do just that.  

Share Quantifiable Evidence of Success

If you received an award, increased productivity by 10% or worked with 250 trauma cases during your residency, list those numbers on your resume. One common resume mistake for medical professionals is listing vague experiences without backing them up with quantifiable information. Be sure the way you present your experience highlights your medical skills and shows the impact of your work. Here’s an example of how to share your experience, as well as an example of how not to share:  

How Not to Describe Your Medical Experience

“Spoke with several patients about their ongoing medical needs” doesn’t work, because it isn’t specific or quantifiable. Did you speak with five patients or 50? What did you discuss about their ongoing medical needs? While this likely describes months of hard work, without details, the hiring manager may miss what you’re trying to say.  

How to Describe Your Medical Experience

“Conducted medical interviews with 34 new patients, with a 96% patient retention rate” is much more specific. It explains that you spoke with an impressive number of new patients, collecting details about their medical histories and ongoing needs. As a general practitioner, retaining this many patients is a huge win, as most patients stay with the same doctor for a long time.  

Grammatical Mistakes: Missing the Forest for the Trees

Sometimes, when you’re so focused on getting the tiny details of your medical resume right, it’s easy to miss larger mistakes like spelling errors. Even if the information in your resume is fantastic, a misspelled word negates all your hard work.   Several employers will immediately toss resumes with grammatical errors, so be sure to proofread. For good measure, ask a friend or family member to look it over, as well.  

The Bottom Line

Applying for jobs is hard work. If you can avoid these common resume mistakes many medical professionals make, however, you’ll stand out as a stronger candidate. Putting in extra time and effort on your resume will pay off when you receive follow-up calls for fantastic jobs. It will also differentiate you from other candidates, as well as from those using medical resume templates. After crafting the perfect resume, be sure to check out our tips for graduates entering the job market, as well.  
  Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.