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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!

Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.

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2020-01-20
Minternship: A New Trend for Middle-Aged Adults

By Kat Tretina

Kat Tretina is a freelance writer based in Orlando, Florida. Her work has been featured in publications like The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, and more. She is focused on helping people pay down their debt and boost their income.

  In decades past, you would enter an industry and then spend your entire working career in the same field, often with the same employer. However, today’s economy is quite different. According to the
Bureau of Labor Statistics, people have 12 different jobs over the length of their careers, on average. Not only that, but they also may switch fields during the course of their lives.    In a 2019 Indeed survey, 49 percent of U.S. workers reported a dramatic career change. For example, they may have switched from marketing to engineering, or from teaching to finance.    If you’re feeling burned out in your current field, switching to a new career can help reenergize you. And while switching careers can be challenging, completing a “minternship” — an internship you complete after already starting your career — can help bridge the gap.   

What is a Minternship?

In August of 2019, BBC reported on the growing trend of minternships. Many millennial workers, frustrated in their current jobs, are using internships to relaunch their careers or completely switch their professional plans.    You can complete a minternship when you’re already advanced in your career, often when you’re in your 30s, 40s, or 50s. At this age, an internship can help you gain experience and test out a new field. And, it can provide essential networking opportunities so you can land a full-time job once you’re done.    During a minternship, you get hands-on experience in your selected field. You’ll work alongside professionals and learn the ins and outs of the business, completing projects and building your portfolio. Depending on the opportunity, minternships can be part-time or full-time commitments.   

Where to Find a Minternship

If a minternship is appealing to you, there are several different ways to find an internship that matches your interests:   
  1. Consider returning to school: In some fields, you may need to return to school to complete a certificate program, get an MBA degree, or earn a master’s degree to get a job. Many schools require students to complete internships, and will even help connect you with companies that are hiring. 
  2. Search job boards: Some companies post their internships on job boards like Indeed, Monster, and Internships.com. You can search by location, company, or field to find an opportunity that suits your needs. 
  3. Connect with your network: If you’re switching careers, consider reaching out to your network on LinkedIn or via email to share your goals and ask for help. 
  4. Ask your employer: Some companies — especially large ones — will help facilitate employees’ transitions to a new department. They may provide student loan repayment assistance for employees who go back to school, or they may offer on-the-job training programs. Talk to your human resources department to discuss your options. 
 

How to Prepare for a Minternship

While a minternship can be a great way to gain necessary experience, it may require you to make some lifestyle changes. To take on a minternship and leave your full-time job, you will likely need to adjust to a pay cut. To prepare for that and minimize its impact, follow these steps: 
  1. Explore financial aid: If you’re returning to school and completing a minternship, make sure you apply for financial aid, including grants, scholarships, federal student loans, and private student loans*. You may qualify for aid and loans to cover your living expenses so you can focus on your education and budding career. 
  2. Create a budget: Make a budget detailing how much money you’ll have coming in while you’re interning and how much you’ll spend each month. Account for regular expenses like rent or mortgage payments, utilities, groceries, and transportation. 
  3. Cut expenses: Once your budget is complete, look for areas where you can cut back. Perhaps you can add a roommate while you’re an intern, or you can use public transportation. 
  4. Find additional income sources: As an intern, you may need to be creative about how you earn money. While paid internships are possible, unpaid internships are common in certain fields. If that’s the case, consider launching a side hustle or freelancing or consulting in your old field to earn income. Or, you can take on a part-time job. 
  5. Refinance student loans: To reduce your student loan payments while you’re interning, you can refinance your student loans*. If you extend your repayment term, you could dramatically lower your monthly payments. You may pay more over time in interest thanks to the longer loan term, but it can be worth it to free up more money in your budget each month. 
 

Changing Careers

If your current job no longer excites or challenges you, it may be time for a change. Completing a minternship gives you an opportunity to learn new skills so you can successfully switch fields. While it will take some sacrifices and time to do, finishing a minternship can prepare you for a successful career change.    Do you need to borrow money to pay for school, or do you want to refinance your existing debt to lower your payments?    ELFI offers private student loans and student loan refinancing loans with competitive interest rates. There are no application fees, origination fees, or prepayment penalties. And, it offers a variety of repayment options and loan terms to suit your needs. You can use ELFI’s Student Loan Refinancing Calculator* to get a rate quote without affecting your credit score.  
 

*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.

 

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.

2019-12-26
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: The Income vs. Savings Approach to Building Wealth

By Caroline Farhat   We all remember that infamous Australian millionaire who declared that millennials can’t afford to buy homes because they’re wasting all of their money buying avocado toast. Similarly, we’ve probably all lost count of the number of times we’ve heard that we need to cut back on our Starbucks® habit in order to be more financially successful.    While buying avocado toast every morning might not be the wisest choice for your food budget, it’s most likely not going to hold you back from having a healthy bank account either. In fact, if you’re so busy pinching pennies on your daily cappuccino and not looking at how you can save and increase your earnings in bigger areas, you’re probably wasting both your time and money.   

Stop Skipping Your Cappuccino and Refinance Instead

 

1. How refinancing can save you money on your mortgage

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, housing is the largest expense for Americans, taking up about 33% of income and $20,091 per year. For homeowners, these figures include the cost of the mortgage, mortgage interest, property taxes and insurance, and expenses for maintenance and repairs.    When you apply and pay for a mortgage, you get an interest rate based on your creditworthiness, the size of your down payment, loan term and type, and economic factors. For example, in 2000, the average mortgage rate was 8.05%. In 2018, the average mortgage rate was 4.54%. As you can see, market conditions can make a big difference in the interest rate you lock-in. The good news is that you have the ability to lower your mortgage rate through refinancing, well after you sign on the dotted line.    Mortgage interest, and its effect on your monthly housing bill, can be easily forgotten -- until you start crunching the numbers. Let’s walk through two scenarios -- one in which you don’t refinance and one in which you do refinance.  

Scenario 1: No refinancing

You buy a $300,000 home and put down 20% ($60,000). You get a mortgage for $240,000 with a 4.5% interest rate. Over the first year, you will have spent $10,720.79 on interest payments alone. Over the entire 30-year mortgage term, you will have spent $197,776.11 in total on interest payments.    Now, let’s see what happens if you refinance your mortgage.  

Scenario 2: Refinancing

You buy a $300,000 home and put down 20% ($60,000). While you started with a 4.5% interest rate, shifts in the economy have caused interest rates to drop and you’re now able to refinance to a 3.7% mortgage rate. By doing so, you will save over $12,000 over the life of the loan. To put this in perspective, you’d have to cut back on approximately 3,000 drinks at your favorite coffee joint to save that kind of money.    If you currently have a mortgage, put your numbers into this refinance calculator and see just how much you could save.   

2. How to save by refinancing student loans

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that the average American spent $1,417 on education in 2018. If you’re currently reading this blog, you are likely dealing with a much larger number than that. If you have at least $5,000 in student loan debt, student loan refinancing could be extremely beneficial for you.    Similar to mortgages, you can refinance student loans and potentially save thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the loan. ELFI customers reported saving an average of $309 every month and an average of $20,936 in total savings1.   The first step to saving money on your student loans is to determine whether student loan refinancing* is the best option for you. In a small number of cases, refinancing is not the optimal option. But for most student loan debt holders, it is an excellent way to save money both in the short term and long term. Our student loan refinance calculator allows you to see what you could save in your particular situation. Let’s walk through an example.  

Scenario 1: No refinancing

You have $60,000 in student loans with an interest rate of 6.8% and are on a standard repayment plan of 10 years. You pay $690 per month and never consider refinancing. In total, you will pay $82,857 for your initial loan of $60,000. Over $22,000 of that amount will be to interest payments alone.  

Scenario 2: Refinance your student loans

You have $60,000 in student loan debt with an interest rate of 6.8% and a monthly payment of $690. You’re eager to optimize your finances and decide to refinance your student loans to a lower interest rate, saving up to $18,000 over the life of the loan. If you refinance into a shorter loan term (such as a 5 or 7-year term), you will save more on interest over the life of the loan. Alternately, you may consider stretching out your terms to lower your monthly payment. This will likely still save you money over the long term, but be sure to crunch the numbers before you make a final decision on your refinancing terms.  

Side Hustle or Climb Your Way to Success

Saving on big-ticket items like your housing costs or student loan debt is just one approach to building wealth. After you have taken advantage of all the saving opportunities available to you, it’s time to turn your attention to increasing your earnings. Here are a few ways you can bolster your bank account:
  • Ask your current employer. If you’re gainfully employed and a top-performer, speak with your boss about the potential for a promotion, raise, or bonus. It’s best to come into these types of conversations with a concrete strategy and multiple examples of positive ways you have impacted the company. Glassdoor has a good guide on how to prepare for this conversation. 
  • Find a new job. Long gone are the days people spend decades at the same company. While “job hopping” may have had a negative connotation in the past, many career experts actually encourage people to switch jobs more frequently in order to get a larger salary and more advanced job title. According to this Fast Company article, “workers who stay with a company longer than two years are said to get paid 50% less.” Money, of course, isn’t everything. But if you’re feeling stagnant both in learning and money, it’s probably time to brush off your resume and start looking for a new position.
  •  Start a side hustle. It’s reported that more than 1 in 4 Americans currently have a side hustle. Beyond the monetary benefits of having a gig outside of your normal 9-to-5, side hustles are also a great way to hone or discover a new passion. Side Hustle Nation has an extensive list of ideas that you can start quickly. 
 

Bottom Line

It pays (literally) to keep your eye on the big stuff. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t ever watch your pennies. Smart spending habits still reign supreme. Just don’t sweat the small stuff so much that you miss out on potentially huge savings.  
  *Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.   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.   1Average savings calculations are based on information provided by SouthEast Bank/Education Loan Finance customers who refinanced their student loans between 8/16/2016 and 10/25/2018. While these amounts represent reported average amounts saved, actual amounts saved will vary depending upon several factors.
2019-12-23
Yes, You Need a Side Hustle

Side hustle. It’s a relatively new phrase, but a concept that’s older than you think. It’s simply a second job that helps people make ends meet or earn extra cash to supplement retirement plans, pay off student loan debt, save up to buy a car, etc. You might also hear these jobs referred to as gigs, which constitute the gig economy.

 

Why the Popularity?

If you wonder why you’re hearing so much about side hustles and the gig economy, it’s because these concepts have exploded in popularity. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 55 million people work in the gig economy, which is more than 35% of the country’s workforce. “Side hustlers,” as they’re called, take the form of teachers who write blogs for major companies, stay-at-home moms who moonlight as Uber® drivers, retirees who tutor school-age children, or even college students who design logos for local businesses.

 

But side hustles aren't limited to these more typical archetypes. Even high-earning, highly skilled professions offer ample opportunities for "side hustling". For example, the gig economy has increasingly penetrated the healthcare industry – doctors and nurses have the ability to work in temporary positions called "locum tenens" to fill staffing needs at healthcare facilities. These positions, often worked during shift downtimes, allow healthcare professionals to have more flexibility and control of their schedule while earning supplemental income. High-end software developers at major technology brands can also benefit from the gig economy, using sites like Upwork to maximize the return on their skills and to explore new projects.

 

A study on the Gig Economy & The Future of Retirement found that of people with a side hustle, 49% over the age of 55 are using it to save for retirement and 33% are using it to pay off student loan debt. Regardless of the reason, the answer to the question, “Do I need a side hustle?” is almost always, “Yes!” 

 

Check out the following scenario to see just how valuable a side hustle can be. The average student loan debt in America is around $37,000 with a loan term of 10 years and monthly payments of $380 a month. If you made an extra $100 a month ($1,200 a year), you could make three extra payments a year, helping you pay down your student loan debt up to two years early! If you want to see how much you can impact your loan with a side hustle, check out our student loan refinance calculator. 

 

Not only can you bring in extra income with a second gig, you can also diversify how you make that money. In other words, if you lose your full-time job, you will still have a way to pay bills.

 

Having a side gig is also a way for you to indulge hobbies or hone talents, giving more meaning to your work than perhaps your regular nine-to-five job. If you’re really good with computers, have a knack for photography, possess a knowledge of HVAC systems, or if you’re just really good at IKEA® assembly directions, you can pick up a side hustle by hawking your services on sites like Thumbtack®, Nextdoor®, TaskRabbit®, or Fiverr®.

 

The ideal hustle would allow you to “make money while you sleep.” It sounds hokey, but if you don’t have to trade working hours for money, you can reach your extra income goals to pay off student loan debt without sacrificing your full-time job, family, or social life to do so. These holy grail side hustles take the form of rental properties (that you pay someone else to manage), stock market investing, renting a room or parking space, publishing a book, creating an app, or other similar ideas that require little time to maintain.

 

One such example is with ELFI’s Referral Program. Simply sign up and create a personalized referral link to share with friends or family. When someone decides to refinance their student loans using your link, you’ll get a $400 referral bonus check and your friend will receive a $100 credit toward the principal balance of an approved Education Loan Finance loan1. There’s no limit on the number of people you can refer.

 

Downfalls of Side Hustles

While we started this blog by saying, “Yes, you need a side hustle,” there are several downfalls that you should be aware of. Sure, the hours for side gigs are flexible, but these jobs also don’t come with employer benefits. This means there is no safety net of unemployment claims should you not be able to find enough work. Also, if you don’t have a clear, effective contract and invoicing system set up, payment can get delayed or—even worse—lost in the shuffle. If you don’t work with honest people or established companies, both can run out of money or just simply disappear without paying money owed.

 

You also need strong personal motivation to work a side hustle. Like most jobs, side hustles rarely just fall profitably into your lap. You should realistically expect to spend a few hours a week promoting yourself and following up on leads. You need to be organized and disciplined to avoid double-booking yourself and to get the work done by agreed-upon deadlines.

 

You’ll also need to be diligent when it comes to taxes2. The money made from your side job will need to be reported on a 1040 Form at tax time. If you fail to report your earnings, you might find yourself subject to tax assessments or penalties. On the plus side of tax time with a side gig, you may be able to deduct certain expenses like car mileage related to your business, necessary equipment, or even subscriptions to business-related organizations.

 

When it comes to side hustles, there’s no need to quit your day job to earn extra cash. The benefits outweigh the downfalls, and a bonus gig can actually benefit your day job by giving you additional skills and insights or by helping you make connections with clients you wouldn’t otherwise meet. You can work as little or as much as you’d like on your own schedule to pay down debts or save for big expenses.

 

Curious about how much you need to earn with a side gig to pay down your student loan debt? First, see how much you could save by using our Student Loan Refinance Calculator*. Once you know what your monthly payment could be, you can set a realistic target for your extra income. The Student Loan Refinance Calculator will show you your current vs estimated monthly payment, as well as estimated monthly and lifetime savings.

 

*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.

 
 

1Subject to credit approval. Program requirements apply. Limit one $400 cash bonus per referral. Offer available to those who are above the age of majority in their state of legal residence who refer new customers who refinance their education loans with Education Loan Finance. The new customer will receive a $100 principal reduction on the new loan within 6-8 weeks of loan disbursement. The referring party will be mailed a $400 cash bonus check within 6-8 weeks after both the loan has been disbursed, and the referring party has provided ELFI with a completed IRS form W-9. Taxes are the sole responsibility of each recipient. A new customer is an individual without an existing Education Loan Finance loan account and who has not held an Education Loan Finance loan account within the past 24 months. Additional terms and conditions apply.

 

2This blog has been prepared for informational purposes only, and does not constitute tax or financial advice. Please consult your tax advisor for guidance on your personal tax situation.

 

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.