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Tips for Navigating Career Fairs

November 21, 2019

Career fairs present you with the opportunity to network with potential employers, learn about job opportunities in your prospective industries, get eyes on your resume, and even get some preliminary interview practice. While these opportunities are great, you won’t be able to take advantage of them without proper preparation. Here are some tips for making the most out of career fairs. 

 

Prepping for the Career Fair

Do your research

Before the fair, contact your college’s career center to see what companies will be present at the fair. Make a list of the companies or organizations that you’re interested in and conduct some online research about them. Understanding the company’s history and information about what they offer will help you better engage recruiters, and just might earn you an on the spot interview.

 

Prepare your resume

Proofread your resume, show it to friends and professionals you know, and even run it by someone in the career center. Follow our guide about resume tips for some help here. If you want to go above and beyond, make different resumes for different career paths that you’re interested in. 

 

Find appropriate attire

While most career fairs suggest business casual attire, make sure you’re prepared to dress to impress. Typically men should wear pressed pants with a shirt and tie, and women should wear pants or a skirt with a blouse. Wearing sneakers or a graphic tee probably isn’t a good idea. 

 

Practice your pitch

Get your “elevator pitch” ready for the career fair. This is basically just your way of introducing yourself, highlighting your skills, and presenting your interests to the recruiter or employer. Being able to express your skills and aspirations in a succinct manner will be sure to impress potential employers.

 

Create a list of questions

Come up with a few questions to ask the employers, so they will know you are interested in their company. These should be questions that you could not find the answers to during your research. Here are some sample questions:

  • What kinds of entry-level positions exist within your company?
  • What courses do you suggest in order to be a successful candidate?
  • What is the average length of stay in entry-level positions?
  • What new product lines/services have been announced recently?

 

At the Career Fair

Devise a game plan

Picking up a copy of the floor plan at the career fair and mapping out your main booths of focus will help make the process less overwhelming. Some lines may be longer than others, so plan your strategy to make the best use of your time. While you want to try to talk with every employer in your targeted group, remember to stay open to meeting other employers you may not have originally considered.

 

Be respectful

While you want to make the most of the career fair, you shouldn’t just move from booth to booth picking up free stuff and handing out your resume. This can be a major turn-off for recruiters because they want to talk with people interested in the company, not the giveaways.

 

Warm up

Start your rounds by going to a couple of booths that are not at the top of your list. This way you can get warmed up to interacting with the recruiters before meeting the employer in which you are really interested.

 

Show confidence

Remember to smile, make eye contact, and give firm handshakes when introducing yourself to recruiters. Being confident should come easy to you as long as you do your preparation homework before the fair. Remember your pitch and be ready to answer any questions about your resume. Don’t forget to ask the recruiters questions about their companies; it shows that you are interested.

 

Ask for business cards and contact information

For future correspondence, be sure to request the business card of each recruiter with whom you speak. Make notes on the back of the cards to help you remember what was discussed.

 

Close strong

When wrapping up with employers, you should always ask about the next step in the recruiting/application process. Be sure to shake hands and thank them for their time. Stress your interest by saying that you look forward to hearing from them within the near future.

 

Following the Career Fair

Review literature 

After the fair, go through all the information that you gathered from the recruiters. Look over your notes and think about your interactions with each employer, so you can decide which positions may be of interest to you.

 

Follow up

Be sure to send thank-you notes to the recruiters with whom you spoke. Include specific information so the recruiters will remember you. If the recruiters asked for more information, such as transcripts, another resume, writing sample, reference list, etc., be sure to get that information to them as soon as possible. 

 

For more tips and suggestions on navigating the career fair and to find out about career fairs in your area, visit your school’s Career Center.

 


 

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.

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2020-02-11
10 Cities With Best Job Markets

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.

 

Once you graduate and start looking for a job, you may realize that your hometown isn’t the best place for your career. You may think about relocating to a new state to get the right job, but it’s a huge decision.

 

Where you live can have a big impact on your income and quality of life. Depending on your field, some cities can be better for your career than others.

 

To help you narrow down your search, we looked at Indeed’s Best Cities survey to identify the top 10 cities for job seekers.

 

10 Cities with Booming Job Markets

In its survey, Indeed looked for cities with low rates of unemployment, a prevalence of highly-rated companies, high average salaries, and low competition for jobs. With that research in mind, these are the 10 cities it identified with the best job markets:

   

10. Salt Lake City, UT

Utah’s economy is one of the fastest-growing in the country, and that’s largely due to Salt Lake City’s rapid development. While the U.S. economy grew as a whole by about 3%, Utah’s economy grew by over 4%.

 

Salt Lake City has become a hub of technology, with many tech and bioengineering companies relocating their operations to the area. Compared to other areas like San Francisco, Salt Lake City’s real estate market is relatively inexpensive, making it attractive to both companies and workers.

 

The unemployment rate is 3.1%. On average, workers in Salt Lake City earn $66,000 per year, which is significantly higher than the national mean wage for all occupations.

  Related >> Best Cities for Young Professionals  

9. Washington, D.C.

Known for its politicians and lawmakers, the Washington D.C. area is also the strongest economy in the entire United States. It’s home to over 400 international associations and 1,000 international companies, including 15 Fortune 500 companies, making it a prime spot for job seekers.

 

Total non-farm employment for the area grew by 52,300 jobs — or 1.6% — over the course of a year. That number outpaces the national employment growth rate.

 

The average salary in Washington D.C. is $75,000 per year — $24,000 more than the national mean wage.

   

8. Oklahoma City, OK

The economy in Oklahoma City is rapidly changing. In the past, industries like mining and manufacturing were the leading employers in the area. Now, transportation, construction, and leisure and hospitality have taken over and dominate the job market.

 

The unemployment rate is lower than the national average, and overall job growth is at 2.5% with 15,900 jobs added.

 

In Oklahoma City, the average salary is $58,000. While that’s lower than the salaries of some cities on this list, Oklahoma City has a much lower cost of living, so your income will go further.

   

7. Milwaukee, WI

Like Oklahoma City, Milwaukee’s economy has seen significant changes in recent years. Industries like mining and manufacturing declined, while leisure and hospitality is a booming field.

 

In the area, job growth increased by 1.6%, and unemployment reached 3.2%, which is slightly below the national average. According to PayScale, the average salary is $63,000. However, Milwaukee has a lower cost of living than other cities, so your income is even more valuable.

   

6. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN

The Minneapolis-St. Paul area has lower-than-average unemployment and is seeing significant growth in a number of industries. The biggest industries include trade, transportation, and utilities, education and health services, and professional and business services.

 

The average salary in Minneapolis is $69,000, far higher than the national mean wage for all occupations.

   

5. Nashville, TN

The city known for its culture and music is also one of the fastest-growing economies in the country. It has more than 1.9 million residents and over 40,000 businesses in it. The biggest job opportunities are for workers in the service industry, including restaurants, hotels, and skilled construction workers.

 

The unemployment rate in the city is just 2.7%, which is far lower than the national average. The biggest employers are the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nissa North America, and HCA Healthcare, Inc. However, Amazon recently announced that it would build a center in Nashville, bringing 5,000 jobs to the area. This development would dramatically change the city’s employment landscape.

 

The average salary in Nashville is $61,000, but the city has a lower-than-average cost of living, making your salary worth even more.

   

4. Birmingham, AL

Birmingham boasts an extremely low unemployment rate at just 2.2%. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of total non-farm jobs grew by 1.9% in 2019.

 

Healthcare and banking are two of the biggest industries in the city, with major employers like the University of Alabama at Birmingham, BellSouth, and the Baptist Health System hiring workers.

 

The average salary for Birmingham workers is $59,000. While that’s relatively low for a city on this list, Birmingham’s cost of living is much lower than other cities, making the salary more valuable.

   

3. Boston, MA

Workers in historic Boston can command high salaries. The average salary for workers is $76,000.

 

The city also has unprecedented job growth. According to a GlassDoor report, Boston’s job listings grew by 8.4%, the highest in the country. The biggest employers are primarily in three industries: health care and social assistance, finance and insurance, and educational services. The largest employers are Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Boston University.

 

Boston also has an extremely low unemployment rate. At just 2.1%, it’s significantly lower than the national average.

   

2. San Francisco, CA

San Francisco is a hotly-desired area for job seekers. With an incredibly low unemployment rate — it’s just 1.8% — and big-name employers calling the area home, it’s easy to see the appeal.

 

The job growth rate is 2.4%, outpacing the national average. The biggest employers in the area are Advent Software, California Pacific Medical Center, and Charles Schwab.

 

The average salary in San Francisco is a whopping $95,000. However, the high income is tempered by the fact that San Francisco has a higher-than-average cost of living, cutting into how far your salary can go.

   

1. San Jose, CA

At $99,000, San Jose has the highest average income of any city on this list. Like San Francisco, its cost of living is higher than normal, but that salary is still impressive.

 

San Jose’s unemployment rate is just 2.2%, and non-farm jobs have grown by 2.9%. The area is home to hundreds of technology and research firms, including big names like Apple, Lockheed Martin, and the Stanford School of Medicine.

 

Maximizing Your Income

Deciding to relocate can have a big impact on your income and, consequently, your student loan repayment. If you do move to another state for a great job and secure a pay increase, you’re a prime candidate for student loan refinancing and you can get a low interest rate on your loan. You can get a no-obligation quote from ELFI 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.

young professional smiling after receiving a raise
2020-01-22
How to Use a Pay Raise Responsibly

Getting called into the boss’ office for the first time can feel a little reminiscent of getting called into the principal’s office. You immediately start sweating and wondering what you did wrong. But just like the principal's office, it's not always bad news. In fact, sometimes it's the best news of all: you just got a raise. Congrats! Take yourself out for a celebratory dinner and maybe even splurge on brunch this weekend. But come Monday morning, it's time to get down to business and determine how to use your raise.    You could just enjoy the extra cash coming into your checking account, yes. But, that little financial angel on your shoulder might also nag you about being smarter with that money. Unfortunately, most high school and college classes don’t teach us how to be responsible with our money. We learn all sorts of questionably-practical information like the Pythagorean Theorem but not how to file taxes or how to use a raise responsibly.    To cover that gap in information, we’re here with three actually practical suggestions to use that raise in a way both your principal and your boss would be proud of.   

3 Practical Tips to Use a Raise Responsibly

 

1. Boost Your Retirement Savings

If your employer has a 401(k) plan, you should already be allocating 3–5% of each paycheck toward a retirement account, especially if your employer offers a 401(k) match. This means they’ll contribute as much to your savings as you do, up to a certain amount. Many employers match contributions up to 6% of your salary, and this is, literally, free money. If you contribute 3% of your $50,000 salary, that's $1,500 a year from you and $1,500 a year from your employer for retirement savings.    When you get a raise, you should adjust your paycheck to dedicate a portion or the full amount of that raise to your 401(k) contributions. This is an easy way to save more without much thought or effort needed. If you do this right away, you don’t get used to the extra money, and you just continue living and paying bills as you did before the raise.    If you’re young, this type of contribution can be especially rewarding because of a concept called
compounding interest. This means the interest on your investment earns interest, not just the principal (or original) balance. If you invest $1,500 with a 10% interest rate, your balance would be $3,890 in 10 years. With a simple interest rate that only builds on the initial investment amount, your 10-year balance would be only $3,000.   

2. Pay Off Debts

Another savvy way to use your raise is to allocate a portion or the full amount to your debts. This can be credit card debt, student loan debt, or even repaying a personal loan from mom and dad. But debt isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Certain debts like student loans carry low interest rates so when you consider how to use your raise, consider that other accounts or investments with higher interest rates might make or save you more in the long run. For example, if your student loan has an interest rate of just 8%, it makes more sense to pay off a credit card with a 24.5% interest rate or invest in a stock with a 10% return rate.    >> Related: Should I Save or Pay Down Student Loan Debt?  

3. Allocate the Rest to An Emergency Fund

We alluded to this before, but you don’t have to put all your extra cash in one place. If you get a 5% raise, you can direct 4% toward your student loans and put even 1% in an emergency fund. You should build the emergency fund until you have at least six months of your salary in the account to help you cover bills and general living expenses in case you find yourself suddenly out of work. If six months seems unattainable, aim for at least one or two months to give you four to eight weeks to find work. This emergency fund can also come in handy if unexpected medical bills or car repairs pop up.    If you haven't been lucky enough to get a raise from your employer, or if you’re looking to boost your savings even more, you can give yourself a raise by refinancing student loans.    If you meet the eligibility requirements, student loan refinancing through companies like ELFI can get you a lower interest rate*, which means you could pay less each month and, subsequently, less over the life of the loan. Use the difference between your previous and current monthly payments as a raise. Then allocate that money to your retirement funds and toward paying off debts. ELFI customers reported saving an average of $309 every month and an average of $20,936 in total savings after refinancing student loans with Education Loan Finance.1 That’s a 7.4% raise, which is far above the predicted average 2020 cost-of-living raise of 1.6%. You can refinance both private and federal student loans.    Deciding how to use a raise responsibility is a big decision. Hopefully, with these tips, you can find ways to use those funds in a way that will give you even more play money in the future. The average raise is 4.6%, and with a little knowledge and discipline, you can turn 4.6% into thousands of dollars if you make the right choices on how to use a raise responsibly.  
  *Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.  

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 a number of factors.

 

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.

2020-01-20
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.