2 Years Experience Required? No Problem.

Everyone comes to a point in their college careers when they realize, “Shoot, I have to enter the real world soon, don’t I?” Yeah, apparently that college degree thingy you’ve been working toward this whole time is supposed to help you find a job after you graduate. If you’re like me, between all the football games, brunches, sleepovers, and so on, you kinda forgot that little detail.

So one day, you dust off your old résumé, laugh at the fact that it still lists “high school cheer captain” under extracurricular activities, scroll through old cheer photos for a couple hours, bring yourself back to reality, update that puppy of a résumé, and begin your online job search.

*Stares at screen perplexed*

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“What city do I want to live in? LA? No, too fake. New York? No, too scary. D.C.? Yeah, okay, I could live in D.C.*

*Googles PR jobs in D.C.*

*Scrolling*

*Scrolling*

“$40,000 per year. Can I live off that much?”

*Googles cost of living in D.C.*

*Cries*

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*Scrolling*

And then you find one — the job that looks perfect. It applies to your degree, sounds moderately interesting, or dare you say, fun, and it pays sort of well (for an entry-level position). SOLD!

But then you see the requirements. 2 years experience. Shoot.

After all, what’s your degree good for if it’s not enough to qualify you for a career?

That’s where internships comes in.

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Internships are great because they give you the opportunity the test out different industries without the commitment of a full-time job. Employers understand that interns are there to learn, and therefore allow a little more leniency. Some internships can last for a month, for the summer, for a whole semester, or even for a whole year. At the end, when your time is up, you can decide whether you loved it or hated it so you know where to go next.

Internships also set you apart, because they offer something classes cannot: real world experience. It doesn’t matter how many textbooks you’ve read or projects you’ve aced. Until you’ve actually applied your skills to a real-world position, you simply are not prepared for the job market. Internships are the perfect transition into that, as they provide a learn-as-you-go environment.

Even better, internships can help lead to future careers. Sometimes, companies hire interns up as full-time employees, meaning, depending on where you work and how well you do, your internship could essentially be like a year-long interview, leading you into a paid position! Even if not, supervisors are often happy to help you find the next step after your internships, either by connecting you with someone who’s hiring, offering a recommendation, or both.

Internships are perfect for your time in college, as you’re not yet weighed down by the cost of living on your own. Many internships are unpaid, meaning they’re not exactly suitable for life after college when you’re dead broke. Most employers are willing to work with your college schedule, so you won’t have to worry about internships interfering with your grades. They look amazing on a résumé, as it shows you were willing to put in extra time for things besides partying. And best of all, by the time you graduate, you will have already completed all the experience required for that dream job of yours!

So go out, apply for a few internships, have some fun, and get started down your path to your dream career!

Where would you like to intern? Tell me on Twitter and I might retweet you!

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Step Away from the Microwave

Growing up, including while you were in high school, you likely had the luxury of a parent cooking for you on a regular basis. Each morning, you had breakfast ready to go before school, a lunch packed (or lunch money ready), and dinner waiting for you when you returned home. If you’re at all like me, you completely took this for granted.

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Even during my first year of college, I didn’t realize how nice it was to never have to cook for myself. I lived in my college’s dorms, so I had a meal plan, meaning that anytime I wanted to go to the cafeteria, I knew there would be a variety of options waiting for me when I arrived. My sophomore year, when I lived in my sorority house, we had a chef who cooked all of our meals. Again, I never appreciated how nice it was to have hot meals available 24/7.

That is, until my junior year. That is the year I moved into a house, and I had to start grocery shopping, cooking for myself, and cleaning my own dishes. This was not something I was prepared for. At first, I did what many people do the first time they grocery shop for themselves — I bought all junk food, which was awesome for about two weeks until I started to feel sick.

Even after I put down the Cheez Its and mint chocolate chip ice cream, I noticed something: I began to buy food that required either no or very little preparation. I bought food like cans of soup or frozen chicken nuggets, which I could just throw into the microwave, or yogurt, which I could simply grab and go.

This food, while not as bad for me as the junk food I had been eating, was not providing me with proper nutrients. Home cooking is important for overall health, and can save you money in the long-run. Nothing brings out the nutrients in food like freshly preparing a meal, and frozen meals (often packed with chemicals, salts, and other preservatives) do not count as healthy substitutes! In addition, if you believe you can get the same benefits of home cooking by eating out, I implore you to add up how much all of those $5 meal deals cost you.

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I, of all people, understand that life gets in the way. We get busy and don’t have the time or energy to prepare meals for ourselves at home. So don’t worry, because there is nothing wrong from grabbing a salad or sandwich from your on-campus deli every once in a while, nor is there anything wrong with the occasional Lean Cuisine — so long as neither of these become your go-to routine.

Instead, spend some time each week meal-prepping or learning a new recipe. Once you learn the basics of cooking, the task doesn’t seem so daunting. Planning out your meals ahead of time, and putting time and energy into preparing your own food can incentivize you to eat healthier. As an added bonus, preparing a home-cooked dinner can be a super romantic date. And let’s not forget that all the money you save can be applied to your weekend shenanigans!

What will be the next meal you learn to cook? Tell me on Twitter and I might retweet you!

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How To: Save Money in College

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You may have read my Black Friday post, in which I explained why Black Friday is the most underrated holiday of the year. Moreover, I urged my readers to get into the Christmas spirit by decorating, being merry, and most importantly, shopping! The days following Thanksgiving are filled with plenty of opportunities to find great deals on gifts for your family, friends, and hey, maybe even yourself. For those who missed out on Black Friday, fear not! For an equally admirable holiday is upon us: Cyber Monday!

Cyber monday may actually be even better than Black Friday because it combines two of my favorite things: shopping and the Internet. Employees and students everywhere can forgo their usual workload in order to peruse online discounts and deals, shop around for the best items at the best prices, and score on free shipping. There is no such thing as waiting in line on Cyber Monday, and shoppers can rest easy knowing their packages will arrive well before Christmas. The best part? You can do it all from class!

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In honor of the holiday, I’ve compiled a list of ways college students can (and should) save money in college. After all, college is expensive. Companies know that, and they want to offer you discounts to their merchandise in order to make you a loyal customer. You just have to know where to look.

Textbooks

When it comes to textbooks, no one compare to Amazon‘s prices. Buy new, used, hardcover, paperback, or even different versions of the book. While you’re there, feel free to stock up on unicorn meat, cereal marshmallows, and nothing. Enter your university email address to sign up for Amazon Student Prime and receive free 2-day shipping on all your purchases.

Chegg is also a popular option for saving on textbooks, and for good reason. Can you say 90% off?

Personally, I love Textbook Brokers, although they aren’t located everywhere. Buy used books, get cash for your old ones (for your end of finals party fund), or rent books for the semester.

If you can, opt for a digital textbook, which saves the publishing company money on printing, and saves you money for beer.

Food and Essentials

Bat your eyes and ask your parents for a Costco membership this Christmas. You’ll save by stocking up on the items you use most, like toilet paper, red cups, coffee, and so on. And no one can beat Costco’s prices on alcohol. Plus, once you’re inside, all bets are off. Who doesn’t love a day of running around Costco, sampling each food item they offer? In addition, Costco members can save big on deals like movie tickets and travel packages. By the way, if you’re wondering how you can thank me for all of this advice, I’ve had my eye on one of these for quite some time…

Chipotle, Buffalo Wild Wings, McDonald’s, Qdoba, Subway, Chick-fil-A, Burger King, and plenty of other food restaurants offer free drinks or discounted meals with proof of student ID. Some grocery stores, such as Kroger, offer student discounts as well. Make sure to carry your student ID on you at all times, and don’t be afraid to ask employees if their business offers student discounts.

Clothing

Ann Taylor, J. Crew, Juicy Couture, LOFT, and Top Shop all offer discounts to college students with proof of student ID. These are especially helpful when you’re ready to start building your professional wardrobe. Some department stores, such as Nordstrom and Macy’s, even offer personal shoppers to assist students with buying professional clothes. Those personal shoppers not only know every item the store sells, but can help you dress for your body type, express your style with business attire, mix and match different clothing items, and can offer you a multitude of discounts!

For designer items you only need for one fabulous weekend (Say, a fraternity formal?), try Rent the Runway, which allows you to wear an item for four days at a discounted retail price. Poshmark is a great website for buying and selling gently used apparel. Tuckernuck is perfect for the college prepster who doesn’t have time to shop around for discounts. And Nordstrom Rack is only the greatest store of all time because it combines two amazing concepts: Nordstrom and saving money.

One great website I discovered not along ago is UNiDAYS, which serves as a hub for student discounts from tons of different clothing brands such as Urban Outfitters, TOMs, and ModCloth. Enter your university email address once, and you’re ready to start saving!

Some universities even offer coupons for professional clothing through the on-campus career center or business school. Keep your eye out for emails about discounts!

More

For a fantastic compilation of one hundred brands that offer student discounts on everything from school supplies and books, to clothing and general merchandise, to electronics and digital services, to food and dining, to travel, entertainment, transportation, insurance, gym memberships, and other services, check out this website!

Don’t forget that plenty of local restaurants, bars, and other businesses in college towns cater toward students by offering discounts with proof of student ID. Like I said, carry yours on you at all times, and don’t be afraid to ask about student discounts!

So take advantage of these incredible student discounts while you can, and happy shopping!

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Any of your favorite stores that I missed? Let me know on Twitter and I might retweet you!

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Why Black Friday is the Most Underrated Holiday of the Year

IT’S HEEEERRRREEEEE!

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For those of you who missed my last post, I explained that Black Friday marks the official start of the Christmas season. Although yesterday was filled with turkey, football, and all things Autumn, today, it is entirely acceptable to blast Christmas music, hang Christmas lights, and begin your Christmas shopping. And since we all know that Christmas is not so much a single day as it is an entire season, we can infer that today, truthfully, is Christmas.

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Let’s set the mood, shall we?

Ahhh, nothing sounds quite as sweet as the sound of Christmas. Before today, it would have been socially unacceptable to listen to such music. Today, however, is all about indulging in all things Christmas, while still reaping the benefits of Thanksgiving leftovers.

And let’s not forget about the shopping.

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Black Friday is teeming with incredible deals from practically every store you could possibly think of. Smart shoppers know that today is the absolute best day of the year to save money on Christmas gifts for all of your friends and family. What could be better than a holiday based on shopping? That’s why I believe that Black Friday is the most significantly underrated holiday of the year.

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In fact, Black Friday gets a pretty bad rap. We’ve all heard stories of Black Friday shoppers trampling each other at midnight when the doors open at Wal Mart. Believe me, I think that is awful, just as I think it’s awful that some stores now open on Thanksgiving day, rather than Black Friday. People should spend time at home with their families on Thanksgiving day, and should leave the shopping for after the tryptophan has worn off.

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The reason this whole holiday started was because people who had Thursday through Sunday off for Thanksgiving needed something to do after the real holiday ended. Grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles, and cousins gathered from all over the country to spend one turkey-filled day together, only to be struck with boredom the following day. So, the brave forward-thinkers of the inaugural Black Friday buttoned up their coats, grabbed their credit cards with the highest spending limits, and hauled their family members to the mall for some quality Christmas shopping.

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I invite you to do the same! For a list of incredible deals, check out TheBlackFriday.com, and don’t forget to shop local this Small Business Saturday, and online this Cyber Monday! May your Black Friday be filled with all the merriment and joy of the Christmas season, and may you save big on amazing deals!

Where is your favorite place to shop on Black Friday? Show or tell me on Twitter and I might retweet you!

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Are You Better Off?

Let’s take a moment to reflect on who we were when we first began our collegiate careers. Whether you’re like me and in your victory lap (or third), or you’re only in the first semester of your freshman year, it’s likely at least a few things have changed about you since you first stepped foot onto your college campus. You’re likely shaking your head at your former self, or maybe your former self would be shaking their head at you. Let’s evaluate:

Have you blossomed into your looks?

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Or…

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Have you been taking care of yourself?

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Stayed relatively the same weight?

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Or are you all about those #gains?

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How’s your attitude?

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Or…

zoey 101

Have you kept up with old friends?

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Or…

miley whatever

Have you branched out?

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Or…

food in bed

Have you actually learned a lot in class?

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Or…

books

Have you matured at all?

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Or…

Artistocats

Are you responsible with your money?

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Or…

help me im poor

How are your job prospects?

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Or…

chandler

And finally, how are those grades?

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Or…

im stupid

I think we can all agree that we’re better off now than we were during freshman year. Sometimes, it’s best to not look back.

How have you changed since freshman year? Show or tell me on Twitter and I might retweet you!

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