Monthly Archives: November 2012

An Introduction to Internships

Some view internships as resume builders, and others view them as free labor. So should you accept an internship? Better yet, should you accept an unpaid internship? No matter how you view this real world experience, there is no question that by having an experience as an intern under your belt you become a valuable asset to any perspective employer. Finding, accepting, and excelling at an internship can be what puts you over the top in a competitive career field. Here are the steps you should take in order to find the perfect internship match for you.

Internships

Stage 1: The Search

This is the stage where you search out an internship in the field you are interested in. First, search for internships in your area and areas within a 15-20 mile radius. Look online, call local businesses, check with friends of the family; do anything you can to find an internship opportunity. If you are interested in leaving the state or even the country, there are internships that will take you there as well.

Stage 2: Application Process

Applying for internships can take a while, but if it is something that you really want it is worth the time. Answer the questions honestly. Make sure you do a little research into the company of which you are applying so that you know exactly what they are looking for. By doing this, you can boast the skills you have that would best benefit the company. The application is the first impression the company will have of you, so make it good!

Stage 3: Interviews

Though the application is the first impression the employers will have of you, the interview is what will make or break you. Review your application and the questions that were asked. This will help you prepare for what kind of things the company may ask. You should also review the information that you discovered about the company. Employers want to hire people who know about them. It not only tells them that you know about their company, but it also flatters them. Speak slowly, stay calm, smile, and look the interviewer in the eyes. Do not fidget, play with your hands, or look around the room. Show the interviewer that you mean business. Another good, and rather obvious, tip is to practice interviewing. Many college campuses have counselors hired for the specific purpose of helping students perfect their skills before an interview. Take advantage of these options and it will pay off in an internship offer.

Stage 4: The Wait

This is the stage in which your patience will be put to the test. It can take weeks to hear back from perspective internship offers. However, do not be afraid to call, email, or stop in to ask about the selection process and if there has been a decision made yet. This will make you look ambitious and determined. Employers want to see these qualities in an intern and it will excite them to see you taking initiative.

Stage 5: Accepting an Internship

Just about the time you think you are about to burst from the wait, if you followed these tips and stages, at least one of the internships you applied for will call or email you with an offer to join their team. Accept or decline graciously and then go celebrate! A good way to celebrate would be to go on a shopping spree for work appropriate clothes! Not the most exciting thing in the world, but it is necessary. Make sure to ask the company if there is anything you need to do or bring with you on the first day, so that you are fully prepared. Show up at least 10 minutes early with a smile and a positive attitude, and show this company just how good of a choice they made in picking you.

If you do exceptionally well, there is a chance that the company may offer you a job after the internship is complete. You will also be able to use your boss as a reference for future endeavors. Just remember, an internship can be one of the best investments you make in your future. Whether it is paid or not, an internship is more than worth your time.

Renting an Apartment in NYC

Finding an apartment in NYC can seem like one of the most daunting experiences of your life, especially when on a budget in such an expensive city; but if you break the process down, it becomes far less stressful. The first thing you need to consider is your budget. This will help steer you in the right direction regarding realistic locations, and whether or not you will need a roommate(s). Once you have figured out your budget, begin to look into various areas in the city you are interested in to get a feeling for average pricing and availability. Depending on what you find, you will then be able to determine if you need a roommate or roommates to help split the costs of your apartment. It’s very important to have your budget, ideal locations, and roommates all finalized before beginning your search. This way, you won’t waste any time during the process.

 

New York City

Once all your preferences are set, you should first browse various websites to see what’s available. It’s important to be wary of what you see online, though, as many posts are scams. There are websites pertaining to all cities, but two of the most legitimate sites in NYC are www.citihabitats.com and www.streeteasy.com. Though these sites guarantee real listings and great service from licensed professionals, they often come with hefty broker fees. Broker fees are often 15% of one year’s rent. In addition to this, you will have to put down a deposit upon signing the lease, so it’s vital to keep these costs in mind when choosing how to pursue your apartment.

A different approach to take is to use Craigslist or sites like HotPads. These sites are more risky, in that one can never be sure who they are dealing with on the other end. However, some of the best deals are on these sites and often do not come with a broker’s fee. Craigslist has an option to look for only no fee apartments, and you can even look for sublets or roommates if you are having difficulty finding any. Sometimes going with a sublet is a favorable option, because you often won’t have to pay a broker’s fee or deposit, depending on your roommate. This is also a more non-committal option, as you won’t sign a lease. If you are looking for something temporary or short-term, subletting may be ideal.

Once you have found a bunch of places to look at, check them all out to get a feeling for what you like best. Walk around the area at night to make sure you feel safe, and get a feeling for the neighborhood at large. Other factors to consider are pets, walk-ups versus elevator buildings, and whether or not you prefer having a doorman. Once you figure out exactly what you want upon viewing these apartments, your search will narrow down quite a bit.

Once you’ve found the apartment you love, sign a lease – FAST! Apartments go off the market like rapid fire in NYC, and it can be horribly disappointing to lose a place you love; however, this is incredibly common. Once you do get to lease signing, read the fine print extremely closely, as you may be surprised by what you see. One of the biggest issues today with apartments in NYC is bed bugs. Landlords are required to tell you if there have been cases of bed bugs within the past year in the building, but they may not be as forthcoming with that information as you would like. If there have been bed bugs in the building recently, it will be in your lease, so be sure to look for that disclosure or anything else that seems out of the ordinary.

After you’ve signed your lease, celebrate and enjoy your new life in one of the greatest cities in the world!

How do I Improve My Credit Score?

When it comes to the importance of improving your credit score, it is almost as important as losing weight!
Credit Score
Whether your credit is bad or relatively okay, you need to know your current position before you try to improve your credit score. Free credit reports can be obtained one every calendar year. If you haven’t gotten yours yet, now is the time to do so. Before proceeding with anything, make certain there are no mistakes on your credit report. If you find something fishy, be sure to report it, have it investigated and maybe even have it removed from your report.

If you want to improve your credit score, like we all do, then here are a few steps that will help you quickly improve your credit score:

1. Pay Down Your Current Cards – While it may not be at the top of your list, it is important to pay down your current credit cards. When you go into a bank for a loan, lenders want to see a significant difference between your available credit and the credit that you’ve used – or are currently using. Balances under 30% of your credit limit are great, but lower than 10% is fantastic! Start with the highest-rate credit card or the credit card that is closest to be being paid off.

2. Get a Credit Card – If you don’t already have a credit card or just have one, apply for a new credit card. You can build your credit by using your credit and then paying off the balance. If your credit happens to be too poor, get a secured credit card. These are similar to that of a pre-paid debit card, as you load money onto the card and that is your credit limit, except that these report to the credit bureaus. Make sure to get a secured card that reports to all three of the major credit bureaus in order to benefit the most.

3. Get an Installment Loan – Revolving, which is considered a credit card, and installment, which is a student loan, a mortgage and a personal loan, are known to be the best types of credit to improve your credit history and your credit score. Get an installment loan if you can – even if it’s a small personal loan.

4. Don’t Max Out Your Cards – There’s no reason to max out every single one of your credit cards. Regardless of whether you pay it back quickly or not, your credit score will not benefit from maxed out credit cards.

Most delinquencies will appear on your credit history for as many as seven years, so you can’t expect to rebuild your credit history and improve your credit score overnight. It is possible to improve your score, though, and it is worth the time and effort to do so. Follow the four steps above and you’ll be well on your way to improving your credit score!

Budgeting College Style

Every college student knows that money does not exactly grow on trees. Sometimes you have to make choices about what you do or buy based on how much money you have. This is called budgeting and it is an important skill to have, especially in today’s economy.

college saving

The summer is an especially hard time to budget because of all the fun stuff to do and the free time to do it, but the more you save now the more you will have come the fall, and the start of the school year.

A few tips to help budget and save money are:

1. Limit how many times you go out to eat, each time you go out you are typically paying for food at a higher price than you need to. For lunch it is easy to buy cold cuts and make sandwiches instead of going to a deli to buy them. Not only will it be cheaper, but cold cuts can last for several meals making the cost even less.

2. Try to find free or cheaper things to go to. Look around your area for free activities such as concerts, fairs or even just going to the park or the beach. It is easy to find fun things to do that are free or inexpensive if you just spend sometime looking for them.

3. Keep track of your spending. If you keep a record of what you spend your money on, you not only will see how much you money you have and how much you are spending, but you can also see what you do not need to buy, and places where you can save a little extra money.

Has Gold Gotten too Valuable to Invest In?

With the stock market wavering from boom to crash, and banks offering interest rates on your money that cannot even keep up with inflation many investors have looked to commodities as a way to put their money to work. Among commodities the leader of the pack both historically and lately is gold.

gold bars

Gold has been through bubbles for thousands of years. At one time it was the mark of a king, then the sole currency of the land, and with the widespread use of paper money, gold was simply an “idea” tucked away in a bank somewhere. But of late, with the markets and world in turmoil, gold has seen its profile rise. In fact, gold has been on a steady climb for the past 10 years reaching a peak just under $2000 an ounce in early 2011. That is a remarkable climb from 2008 when the yellow metal was hovering around $800 an ounce. Lately, there has been a slight pull back and many investors are asking the question: Is the gold bubble bursting or is it just a pull back as gold refuels for another rise.

The recent rise in gold has been a result of numerous geo-political factors. From the European debt crisis, to the U.S. housing bubble to the conflicts in the Middle East all of these uncertainties have sent investors to so-called safety nets like commodities with gold deemed the safest. However, unlike when people carried a leather pouch full of gold coins, gold as currency is the same creation of the mind as paper money. Its only worth what people think its worth and in the end, in a true crisis, you can’t eat it. So, really as the currency of last resort, its not really much of a bastion should all other forms of money break down.

Next, is the theory from investors that “they’re not making anymore.” Well, unlike beach front property, they kind of are. As gold prices have soared, many companies are exploring old abandon mines, or digging deeper in existing mines in an effort to root out more ore. Much the way, fracking has become viable in the oil industry, reviving these once dead mines is enabling gold miners to find new sources that were once too costly to be profitable. That certainly alters the supply side of the equation.

Finally, ten years in and the world is changing. While turmoil still abounds, things seem to be settling in. The Middle East conflicts appear to be closer to reaching a result as opposed to winding up and the financial crisis in the West is now one of dealing with the results than the shock of discovering the debt crisis. So with uncertainty on the decline gold may likely follow.

While $400 an ounce gold may not be something that will be seen any time soon, I would not be so quick to assume $4000 an ounce is right around the corner.