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Facing Student Loan Debt? How The Right Job in School Can Land You the Right Job After School

September 21, 2019

When it comes to landing your first job after graduation and getting a strong foothold on paying back student loan debt, nothing is more important than standing out in the workforce. This doesn’t mean you should equip yourself with a gimmicky resume or a flashy outfit for going on interviews. The way to impress a prospective employer is with experience and skills suited for the position — not only will this put you on track to paying back your student loan debt, but it will also set you up for long term financial success. When it comes to hunting for a job, college graduates can be put into three categories:

● Those who have waited until after graduation to look for a job.
● Those who have waited for a couple of months (while enjoying their last summer of freedom) before searching for a job.
● Those who have been planning their job search since well before their final exams.

The latter understand that in order to give themselves an edge in the job market, they needed to start early.

Gain Work Experience While in College

There is often a catch-22 that applies to looking for a job after college: many entry-level positions require some experience, but you can’t gain experience unless you have already worked in that field. Although there are exceptions, one of the hard facts is that most employers prefer to hire a college graduate who has some work experience to put on the table. So, your best bet is to find part-time work in your chosen field while you are still in school. It might not be easy, as trying to keep up with a full course load and working at the same time can be a challenge. But the reward may be your dream job after graduation.

● Best-case scenario: You find a part-time job related to your field and then use your experience to segue into a full-time position once you have your degree.
● Worst-case scenario: You can’t find a part-time job directly related to your field, but you have demonstrated your ability to hold a job and you have some work experience to put on your resume.

Five Ways to Find the Right Part-Time Work

1. The Federal Work Study Program

All federally accredited universities and colleges offer the Work Study Program. This program matches students with job opportunities which are located both on and off campus. Counselors do their best to pick positions closest to your field of study. These jobs are paid at the minimum wage rate or a little higher and are assigned at a maximum of thirty hours per week.

2. Freelancing

If you have certain skills, such as writing or graphic design, you can make some extra cash using freelance sites such as upwork.com and contentrunner.com. The beauty of this kind of work is that you can choose your own hours. There are many internet platforms that are searching for part-time talent – just be sure to research them carefully to avoid scams. Even if you find work that isn’t in the field you are aiming for after college, you will be demonstrating initiative to any prospective employer.

3. Volunteering

Volunteering usually means that you won’t get paid, which while admirable, won’t make a big dent in your student loan debt. But getting involved with community organizations, charities, animal shelters, etc. shows initiative, a sense of responsibility, and your ability to work with others. It is often easier to find an unpaid position in the field that you want to work in after college through volunteering or an internship. Simply, if you can afford to volunteer you’ll likely refine the personal and professional skills that will last a lifetime.

4. Internships

Finding internships in your chosen field is one of the best ways to land your dream job after college. Companies love internships because it’s an easy way for them to find talent with hardly any risk or expense on their part. Internships represent the lifeblood of college work experience because nothing beats a hands-on education. The best internship is one that will help you launch your entry-level career.

5. Career Services Department

Most colleges and universities have a Career Services Department whose main goal is to help students fine-tune their professional skills in hopes of landing a great job. From resume tips to mock interviews, they’re a wealth of knowledge. Every day they’re working with students just like you who have varying amounts of student loan debt and actively want to help you get rid of it!

● Why the Big Companies Aren’t Always the Best Choice: Many academic advisors recommend choosing internships in smaller businesses where they really need hands-on help so you won’t be stuck just making printer copies and coffee runs. Research a few local small to medium-sized companies in your field, and then contact their HR departments to ask whether they have programs for interns. Don’t forget to talk to your professors – they are probably aware of a few good companies that you can contact. As an added perk to employees, many companies are also adding competitive benefits, like tuition reimbursement, helping pay of student loan debt, or providing generous time off.

● When to Start Looking for an Internship – After your freshman year, begin to contact companies that interest you. A good resource is your college’s career-planning office. You may be fortunate enough to be enrolled in a college that offers grants to enable students to accept unpaid (or poorly paid) internships. Or you can consider combining a part-time unpaid internship in the field you want with other work that pays. Fortunately, some high-paying fields also pay their interns quite well, especially if those students are close to graduating.

The Bottom Line

Carefully planning your part-time jobs or internships while you are working toward your degree will give you the best chance of achieving your career goals. And the sooner you begin to earn money out of college, the sooner you can start to pay off your student loan debt. Talk to ELFI about our private student loan offerings by giving us a call today!

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2020-08-05
How to Ask Your Employer to Help Pay Student Debt

These days, employers offer all kinds of benefits to keep employees, from kombucha on tap and innovative new office spaces to ping pong tables and video game rooms. The list of benefits seems to grow all the time.   When you think about it, though, how much do you really need that kombucha on tap? Instead, what many graduates need is help with their ever-mounting student loans. In combination with other methods of dealing with student loan debt, employers can play a valuable role in ensuring their employees’ financial stability.   Employers are beginning to recognize this trend, as well. That’s why some have begun to offer help to employees with student loan debt. While an uncommon practice at the moment, some companies now offer options to help employees pay back their student loans.   The practice is rapidly becoming more popular, and if you’re lucky, your employer may already offer a student debt relief program. Here are several ways employers are already helping to reduce their employees' student loan debt.  

Financial Education

Employers have begun to understand that their own financial success is tied to the financial success of their employees. As a result, some employers have begun to offer financial education opportunities.   These opportunities come in many forms, including workshops, webinars and even counseling. While many employees already have a firm grasp on financial concepts, these programs can still be incredibly beneficial to those weighed down by student debt as they often cover lesser-known tactics and reinforce familiar strategies.  

Student Loan Repayment Signing Bonuses

Another method of helping employees with student debt is the signing bonus. For example, some companies offer $1,000 towards student loans for new hires. This $1000 can drastically reduce the amount graduates pay in interest over the life of their student loans and is an effective way for companies to hire and keep dedicated, hardworking employees.  

Employer Repayment

The most exciting benefit employers are beginning to adopt is direct assistance with student loans. Now, in addition to savvy fiscal advice, some companies are backing up their support with dollars and cents.   A few companies now offer yearly bonuses to help pay back student loans. One of the most generous of these companies is Nvidia. Employees earn $6,000 a year towards their student loans up to a $30,000 maximum. Several companies offer comparable or lower amounts. Regardless of the repayment amounts, this innovative strategy provides a new way to fight back against student debt.   A variation of this policy is occasionally used, as well. In this variation, employees who don’t take their PTO can trade their PTO days for student loan assistance. With many in the United States not taking their PTO days anyway, this is a compelling option for student loan borrowers.  

Contributions to 401(k) Plans

It may seem strange for 401(k) contributions to go hand-in-hand with paying off student debt. You might even expect to have to choose between them.   If you’re employed by Abbott Laboratories, though, you don’t have to choose. Employees who contribute at least 2% of their pay toward student loans are eligible for the full 5% employer matching in their 401(k), even if they do not otherwise contribute to their 401(k). Abbott Laboratories is the first company to offer this incentive to help employees to pay off student debt, and hopefully many companies will follow in their footsteps.   Sadly, these types of programs are not as commonly offered as they should be, but that isn’t necessarily bad news for you.   If student loan assistance programs are something that you would like to see at your company, then make an appointment to speak with either your boss or to human resources. In this day ¬¬¬¬¬and age, the competition for the best employees is fierce, and employers are always looking for ways to keep employees happy. In some cases, it may even be cheaper than a raise.   It’s also worth mentioning your interest in such programs while negotiating your salary and benefits package for a new job. They may include it as an additional benefit.   If your employer already provides these benefits, that’s fantastic! You’re already one step closer to being unburdened by student debt. If you're curious about how to finish the job and free yourself from student debt completely, one great way to do that is Student Loan Refinancing. You can learn more here.  
  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.
Colleagues touching elbows as they return to the office following the COVID-19 pandemic.
2020-06-18
Tips for Adjusting Back to Office Life

After months of remote work, workplaces are finally opening up again. To some this is exciting. At last, one can interact with their coworkers and work in a more traditional environment. Some might feel the opposite. Regardless, the switch back to the office environment will take some adjustments in your daily routine. To help you make that switch seamlessly, we’ve made this list of 6 tips that will ensure that you have no issues on your way back into the office.  

Prepare Mentally

After all the time of just being able to roll out of bed and get to work, it may seem like a drag to get ready each day to go back to the workplace. You should prepare yourself mentally to not only wake up earlier and get dressed for work but also prepare for the many things that come along with being in the office. It’s important to note 
studies show that communication is vitally important to productivity, and despite the boom in work from home technology, nothing beats face to face communication, even if it’s from six feet apart. A conversation through a screen just isn’t the same. So if you’re dreading returning to work, focus instead on the benefit of returning – a better teamwork experience.  

Stick To What Routines You Can

Without a doubt, the switch back to office work will dramatically change your routine. As such, it is even more important to stick to the things that you can. Studies show that routines are essential to sound mental health. If you have a cup of tea at 10:30 every morning, continuing to do that will bring a sense of much-needed consistency to your routine. Similarly, if you have begun to start your day with a half-hour of industry news, continue doing that. Even the smallest pieces of your routine play large roles in keeping you feeling stable and will help you in the transition back to office life.  

Plan Out Your House Work

It’s easy to forget the days where you couldn’t just crush a load of laundry or do the dishes in between conference calls, but those days are back. It’s going to be harder to get all those household chores done. In order to get back on the metaphorical chore wagon, it may be worth setting up a plan to help you get what you need to be done around your home. Not only will it keep your home clean, but it could have health benefits  

Remember Your Commute

It’s easy to forget how your workdays used to be. That commute now seems so far in the past. Unfortunately, it and all the other elements of the workday are back. Commutes can add significantly to your day.  The average American commutes for 26.1 minutes one way. Over a five day work week, this is about four hours that you’ll be losing. As such, it is important to take into account the effect the commute will have on your day. Likely you will have to get up a little earlier than before, and it may be worthwhile to map out your commute before your return to the office. Your after-work time is also cut due to the commute, so post-work activities will subsequently have to be shortened. But don’t despair – a commute is a perfect time to learn something new with your favorite podcast or an audiobook.  

Stay Safe

Sadly, the COVID-19 epidemic is not over, and even though you’ve returned to work, it is still important to ensure not only your safety but the safety of your colleagues and customers. Your workplace has likely sent out a list of guidelines and instructions to help keep the workplace safe – follow these as closely as you can, as they are in place to help you. Many will require you to wear a mask. While masks are undoubtedly uncomfortable, they are an important piece in the COVID-19 prevention guidelines. Also, remember to wash your hands and use hand sanitizer. They may seem like small things, but they make the difference.  

Enjoy Yourself

After months in relative isolation, you’ll now be returning to the workplace. Now is the time to bask in the human contact you’ve so missed. Interact with your colleagues. Enjoy leaving the house. This is in many ways a return to the much-missed normalcy. Make the best of it.    While the return back to work certainly won't be easy, eventually you will become used to it as you were before. It is an essential part of returning to normalcy. But it isn’t the only path to choose – more and more companies seem to be allowing their companies to work from home following the pandemic. If you’re curious about the future of working from home, check out this article.  
  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.
2020 graduate cap
2020-06-10
Tips for 2020 Graduates Entering the Job Market

While your last semester may have been online, you’ve graduated nonetheless, and you’re finally ready to head out into the world and face the job market. After graduating amidst a global pandemic, you may feel a bit uncertain about your job prospects coming out of college. The fact is you’re entering the job market at a somewhat inopportune time – job openings on Glassdoor have dropped 20.5% after all, and articles are published weekly on the status of the 2020 graduate. However, there’s no need to panic. We’re here to tell you that you’re more prepared than you think, and there are still jobs out there for you. But just in case you feel uncertain, we’ve compiled 5 tips to help you seamlessly enter the job market.  

Be Practical

It’s no secret that the economy is on somewhat shaky footing, making it a little more difficult than usual to get that perfect job. Obviously, that perfect job is the ideal, but now is the time to be practical and expand your job search. Look in areas that you may not have considered before or in fields other than your major. These may be lower-paying than you’d hope for, but the work experience is still valuable, and stepping out of your comfort zone won’t go unnoticed when pursuing future opportunities. Search on job sites like Indeed for entry-level jobs and work from there. Your college also likely has a career center that can help you find employment. Reach out to them to see what help they can offer. Many colleges have partnered with platforms like Handshake that serve to link students with employers.  

Acquire Skills

If you want to hold out for a job in your chosen field, that is not necessarily a bad thing. Now is the perfect time to acquire skills that your employers will find valuable and that will benefit you in the long run. You might take this time to practice job interviews to improve your interview skills. The more interviews you do, the more comfortable you will be during them. As such, never turn one down, even if you aren’t interested. It’s still worth gaining the experience. As for skills that will make you more appealing to prospective employers, sites like Linkedin Learning can help you brush up on things you know or help you pick up new skills. Online classes can also serve as a way to pass the time while acquiring new skills. While building new skills doesn’t bring in immediate income, these skills will serve to make you more valuable to a prospective employer and could improve your income in the future.  

Polish What Employers Will See

Employers see a wide variety of things when looking at a prospective candidate. The resume is perhaps one of the most important. Now is the time to perfect your resume. Add in any relevant work experience you may have forgotten to add. Do some research on what employers are looking for on a resume. This should be an ongoing process. Your resume should be constantly evolving as you acquire new skills and experiences. Likewise, this is the perfect time to get your social media profiles polished. Many employers use social media as a vetting tool for prospective employees. Remove any material that could hinder you from being hired, and, in particular, get your Linkedin profile as professional and complete as possible. Employers love Linkedin, and as more and more of the hiring process is moved online, it has become an invaluable tool for them to look at prospective hires. Thus, it is important for your Linkedin to be filled out and representative of you and your workplace skills  

Expand Your Circle

As important as your skills, networking is essential is you are in the job market. Particularly in these uncertain times, an effective network can mean the difference between being employed and not. Reach out to people in your field via Linkedin or other social media outlets. Ask questions and demonstrate your interest. You may be able to get an interview with them. Even if a job doesn’t come of it, your demonstrated interest will place you in the back of their minds as well as provide you with valuable interview experience. Similarly, interacting with people within your prospective field on any of your social media platforms is beneficial to you. Employers want to see that you are engaged within the wider community of the field. Also, be sure to attend virtual industry meetups and conventions. The importance of becoming involved cannot be understated.  

Persevere

It’s important to treat your job search as a job because, for a time, it is your job. Stay at it, and constantly be reaching out to prospective employers. It can be hard to stay motivated in the job search, but remember that this is necessary. Plan out your job search and keep track of the contacts you make. They could be useful later on. Make sure to take breaks when necessary. Like any job, the job search is tiring and can lead to burnout, so make sure that you rest between sending out those surges of applications. Eventually, you will make it.   Congratulations on graduating. Now for your next challenge. It would be a lie to claim this as a great time to enter the job market, and it is certainly an unfortunate time for you to graduate. The job search will be difficult, but by working hard and following these five tips, you could certainly still succeed. You can do it. If you’re looking for more post-graduation tips, we’ve got you covered. Check out this article on saving money after graduation.  
  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.