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How Millennials Are Doing College Wrong

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How Millennials Are Doing College Wrong

Many millennials are doing one thing wrong when it comes to college. Can you guess what it is?

Sleeping through class and not doing homework? Taking out way too many loans and knowing nothing about them? If you guessed the latter, then you’re right! Millennials are taking out more in student debt than they can handle. And when it comes to repayment, they are clueless. According to a survey by Citizens Bank, 45% of those surveyed didn’t know what percentage of their salary went towards loans and a shocking 15% didn’t even know how much they owed in student loans.

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In the past decade, the number of students in debt hasn’t gone up much (about 5%), but the amount of debt they are in has doubled. This is in part to ill preparation before and a lack of knowledge of the funding that goes into paying for college. Most recent graduates regret taking out as much as they did and some say they wouldn’t have ever gone to college if they would have known how expensive it really would be.

Student Debt

Student debt is also adding up for this younger generation because parents are relying on PLUS loans to pay for the remainder of college expenses. Students can only take out $31,000 for their entire undergraduate education, but parents can take out as much as they want, even if they know they won’t ever be able to pay this off. Their children then feel like it is their responsibility to pay it off, and debt goes into the $100,000 range. Preparing for college is more than just getting good grades. Educating yourself on the types of loans and repayment options should be the first step. There are many other things you can do before, during, and after college as well to make your higher education a reality without drowning in debt.

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Starting young is the most beneficial way to be able to pay for school. Get a part-time job after school or in the summer and set a chunk of your paycheck aside for a college fund. If a job isn’t possible for you during school, like it is for some people, work your butt off in school and get ahead. Many high schools offer AP classes that give you college credit if you pass the test or classes that are offered through the college at your high school. This can put you semesters ahead and cut down the time it will take to get your degree.

Scholarships

Getting good grades or being involved can get you scholarships — AKA free money. You don’t have to get scholarships only from the college you are going to or only in a certain area (i.e. academics). Dip into scholarships from different organizations for different interests. There are hundreds of organizations that offer scholarships for all sorts of things. From being part of the National Honor Society to just being tall, a quick Google search will help you find the perfect scholarship for you. It won’t come easily, but there are plenty of options for you to apply for. The more money you can rack up in scholarships, the less you will owe back after college.

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Avoiding debt doesn’t stop once you get into college. There are four years where work can be done to avoid debt. Continue looking for scholarships. Things change while you are in college and you might find yourself qualified for more scholarships than you were when you came to the school.

Budget

Find ways to cut down on costs so you don’t need as much in student loans. This could be as simple as staying close to home in order to live at home for a few semesters or even taking a semester off to work and save up. Renting or buying used textbooks can also save you from many unnecessary expenses. While spring break in Cancun might seem like part of the college experience, it’s not. Cutting down on luxuries like this for four years will cut down on debt drastically.

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Part-Time Jobs

There are plenty of part-time, flexible jobs that are perfect for college students. Being an Uber driver only takes having a car and a license, and you can pick when you work. It can be as simple as signing up for medical transcription training online and spending nights converting recorded medical notes into text. You may not spend college with the most glamorous job, but at least you won’t be as in debt as your roommate who spends his weekends playing video games.

Paying off Student Loans

After college, there are a couple of options to get out of debt fast. Understanding the different repayment options is key to paying off Uncle Sam in a few years. There are options that allow you to pay a fixed rate and be paid in full in 10 years or there are options that work to your income. Some loans even have forgiveness programs where you no longer have to pay after a certain amount of time if you meet the criteria.

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Understanding your options and what you can do to save money at all points of your college career is vital to being able to get out from under your student loans soon after graduation. If you know what you are doing beforehand and not just winging it with your loans, you’ll be out of debt and into that new Toyota Corolla LE and four bedroom house in no time.

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Last Updated on August 25, 2021

Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

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Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

As a recruiter, I have met and interviewed hundreds of candidates who have no idea who they are.

Without a personal brand, candidates struggle to answer the question: “tell me about yourself—who are you?” They have no idea about who they are, what their strengths are, and how they can add value to the company. They present their CV’s believing that their CV is the key to their career success. In some ways, your CV still has its use. However, in today’s job market, you need more than a CV to stand out in a crowd.

According to Celinne Da Costa:[1]

“Personal brand is essentially your golden ticket to networking with the right people, getting hired for a dream job, or building an influential business.” She believes that “a strong personal brand allows you to stand out in an oversaturated marketplace by exposing desired audiences to your vision, skillset, and personality in a way that is strategically aligned with your career goals.”

A personal brand opens up your world to so many more career opportunities that you would never have been exposed to with just your CV.

What Is Your Personal Brand?

“Personal branding is how you distinctively market your uniqueness.” —Bernard Kelvin Clive

Today, the job market is very competitive and tough. Having a great CV will only let you go so far because everyone has a CV, but no one else has your distinct personal brand! It is your personal brand that differentiates you from everyone else and that is what people buy—you.

Your personal brand is your mark on the world. It is how people you interact with and the world see you. It is your legacy—it is more important than a business brand because your personal brand lasts forever.

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I have coached people who have very successful careers, and they come to me because they have suddenly found that they are not getting the opportunities or having the conversations that would them to their next role. They are having what I call a “career meltdown,” all because they have no personal brand.

A personal brand helps you become conscious of your differences and your uniqueness. It allows you to position yourself in a way that makes you stand out from the pack, especially among other potential job applicants.

Don’t get me wrong, having a great CV and a great LinkedIn profile is important. However, there are a few steps that you have to take to have a CV and LinkedIn profile that is aligned to who you are, the value you offer to the market, and the personal guarantee that you deliver results.

Building your personal brand is about strategically, creatively, and professionally presenting what makes you, you. Knowing who you are and the value you bring to the table enables you to be more informed, agile, and adaptable to the changing dynamic world of work. This is how you can avoid having a series of career meltdowns.

Your Personal Brand Is Essential for Your Career Success

In her article, Why Personal Branding Is More Important Than Ever, Caroline Castrillon outlines key reasons why a personal brand is essential for career success.

According to Castrillon,[2]

“One reason is that it is more popular for recruiters to use social media during the interview process. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees.”

The first thing I do as a recruiter when I want to check out a candidate or coaching client is to look them up on LinkedIn or other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Your digital footprint is the window that highlights to the world who you are. When you have no control over how you want to be seen, you are making a big mistake because you are leaving it up to someone else to make a judgment for you as to who you are.

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As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

In her book, Becoming, Michelle Obama writes about the importance of having a personal brand and her journey to defining her personal brand. She wrote that:

“if you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

When you have a personal brand, you are in control. You know exactly what people will say about you when you leave the room.

The magic of a personal brand is that gives you control over how you want to be seen in the world. Your confidence and self-belief enable you to leverage opportunities and make informed decisions about your career and your future. You no longer experience the frustrations of a career meltdown or being at a crossroads not knowing what to do next with your career or your life. With a personal brand, you have focus, clarity, and a strategy to move forward toward future success.

Creating your personal brand does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of work and self-reflection. You will be expected to step outside of your comfort zone not once, but many times.

The good news is that the more time you spend outside of your comfort zone, the more you will like being there. Being outside of your comfort zone is where you can test the viability of and fine-tune your personal brand.

5 Key Steps to Creating Your Personal Brand

These five steps will help you create a personal brand that will deliver you the results you desire with your career and in life.

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1. Set Your Personal Goals

What is it that you want to do in the next five years? What will your future self be doing in the next five to ten years? What is important to you? If you can answer these questions, then you are on the right path. If not, then you have to start thinking about them.

2. Create Your Unique Value Proposition

Create your unique value proposition by asking yourself these four questions:

  1. What are your personality features? What benefit do you offer people?
  2. Who are you and why do people enjoy working with you?
  3. What do you do and what do people want you to do for them? How do you solve their problems?
  4. What makes you different from others like you?

The answers to these questions will give you the information you need to create your professional story, which is the key step to creating your personal brand.

3. Write Your Professional Story

Knowing who you are, what you want, and the unique value you offer is essential to you creating your professional story. People remember stories. Your personal story incorporates your value proposition and tells people who you are and what makes you unique. This is what people will remember about you.

4. Determine Which Platforms Will Support Your Personal Brand

Decide which social media accounts and online platforms will best represent your brand and allow you to share your voice. In a professional capacity, having a LinkedIn profile and a CV that reflects your brand is key to your positioning in relation to role opportunities. People will be connecting with you because they will like the story you are telling.

5. Become Recognized for Sharing Your Knowledge and Expertise

A great way for you to promote yourself is by sharing knowledge and helping others. This is where you prove you know your stuff and you gain exposure for doing so. You can do this through social media, writing, commenting, video, joining professional groups, networking, etc. Find your own style and uniqueness and use it to attract clients, the opportunities, or the jobs you desire.

The importance of having a personal brand is not going to go away. In fact, it is the only way where you can stand out and be unique in a complex changing world of work. If you don’t have a personal brand, someone will do it for you. If you let this happen, you have no control and you may not like the story they create.

Standing out from others takes time and investment. Most people cannot make the change by themselves, and this is where engaging a personal brand coach is a viable option to consider.

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As a personal brand coach, working with my clients to create their personal brand is my passion. I love the fact that we can work together to create a personal story that defines exactly what people will say when you leave the room.

Other People’s Stories

Listening to other people’s stories is a great way to learn. In his article, 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding, Rafael Dos Santos presents the best Ted Talks where speakers share their stories about the “why,” “what,” and “how” of personal branding.((GuidedPR: 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding))

Take some time out to listen to these speakers sharing their stories and thoughts about personal branding. You will definitely learn so much about how you can start your journey of defining yourself and taking control of your professional and personal life.

Your personal brand, without a doubt, is your secret weapon to your career success. As Michelle Obama said,

“your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”

So, go own your story. Go on the journey to create your personal brand that defines who you are, highlights your uniqueness, and the value you offer to the world.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

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