A college degree looks fantastic on your resume, but many employers want more than a piece of paper that says you finished school —they want experience. But how can you gain experience when no one will hire you without it? Consider the following tips to help you become more competitive.

Show Off What You’ve Learned

Your resume might be short on experience, but you can exploit the experience you do have. Maybe that summer you spent working in a fast food restaurant taught you about teamwork and customer service. Perhaps you learned leadership skills through an extracurricular activity.

Drawing attention to your good character skills is valuable. One talent acquisition manager for Western Union said, “It’s much easier for companies to train their employees on technical skills versus core competencies like leadership skills, analytical abilities, motivation, ambition and problem-solving. These traits span multiple industries and functional areas.”

Volunteer

Are there any charities or nonprofit organizations in your chosen field that you could volunteer for? Volunteering will give you practical experience, and it will show potential employers that you have a sense of social responsibility.

One of the biggest perks of volunteering is that it is a golden opportunity for networking. You could meet professionals in your field whom you might be able to use as references on your next job application. Your contacts could even tell you about upcoming job opportunities and provide you with a glowing recommendation.

Research the Companies You’re Applying To

Chad Paris, CEO of Parisleaf, stated, “I want somebody to come in and tell me what they know about my company, not that I’m just another company that they’re interviewing with.” That said, when you’re writing a cover letter to a company, Google it and find out about its mission, size, and leadership team. When you go in for an interview, use what you learned to show that you’re interested in more than just getting a job. Show them you’re interested in working for that specific company.

Doing thorough research will also demonstrate to potential employers that you enjoy learning, a very valuable trait to potential employers.

Be Realistic and Patient

Some employers are unyielding on their experience requirement. Instead of wasting your time begging for a job, start looking elsewhere. When you have some experience under your belt, you can try again with the companies that interest you the most.

Be patient, and keep a positive attitude. A job may not fall into your lap right after you get your undergrad degree, but if you keep looking for employment, you will find it. Some campuses even have job placement services that can get you started. You can even look at other resources too, including online job boards.

Work experience is often one of the most desirable things to employers, but even without it, getting a good job is possible if you follow the above advice.

We’ve all heard we should fake it until we make it, but what happens when it feels like others aren’t seeing the real you? What happens when you’re convinced you’re not as smart as people think you are and not deserving of the praise you receive? It might surprise you to know you’re not alone. In fact, the problem is so common it even has a name: impostor syndrome. It’s a natural reaction to the pressure you feel to succeed, but there are ways to fight it and start believing in yourself.

 

Start Journaling

Writing down your thoughts will help you sort through them and find clarity.

When negative thoughts take over, reach for your journal. Write down everything you’re thinking and worrying about. Perhaps you feel you’re at college through luck rather than merit, that your research is pointless, and that soon everyone will figure out you don’t deserve your place. Get it all down, then tear out the page and rip it up. This process destroys those words and the power they have over you.

Negativity doesn’t deserve a permanent place in your journal, but positivity does. Note the good things that happen to you, the praise you receive, and the great grades you earn — no achievement is too small. Look back through your journal for positive reinforcement whenever you feel like a fake.

Start Tutoring

Tutoring is an excellent way to remind yourself of your skills. When you tutor, you’ll pass what you know, which reinforces how much knowledge you actually have. When you see your students achieving, you’ll share in that success. As your student base grows, your own confidence should too. After all, if you were really as inept as you believe, would people ask for your help?

Positive referrals are the best way to expand your student base, but they can initially be hard to come by. Leave your contact details with teachers and counselors at local schools. Advertise on Craigslist and create a simple website and social media pages. Ask family members and friends if they know anyone needing tutoring. Start small, and you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.

Talk About It

It can be terrifying to consider opening up about your feelings, but there are some important reasons why you should. When you share your problems, you’ll stop feeling like they’re all on your shoulders. The people you open up to share some of the weight too, and they can help you through it.

Talk to trusted friends about the way you’re feeling. You might even discover they’re feeling the same way, which will make you feel less alone.

If you’re too scared to talk to your peers, then consider opening up to your academic advisor or a counselor. Your mentor is likely to recall a time that he or she struggled with similar doubts and what helped those feelings pass. Because counselors are trained to deal with problems like yours, they can listen to you impartially and suggest proven strategies to change your thinking.

Impostor syndrome can take a serious toll on your well-being, but with these strategies, you can stop feeling like a fake and start trusting yourself.

It might be tempting (with the high cost of going to college and the fear of student loan debt) for aspiring entrepreneurs to consider not going to college. However, there are many benefits of going to school and getting a degree, even for those who are entrepreneurially minded.

Build a Network

No matter whether you want to start a business or just become an employee, college is the place to build your network. In college, your network will expand exponentially as you meet new friends (did someone say potential co-founder?), get to know professors, intern with established businesses, and create connections with other professionals.

Build your network well, and your business will be off the ground running and fully funded before you know it.

Get Educated

Starting a new company is no easy feat, and there’s more to it than creating the next big tech invention. Start-ups need capital, a founder with business know-how, and a great product.

College classes can help you get the education you need through business or entrepreneurship classes or any field of study you like. Even if you’re not taking classes in a particular subject, you have access to student groups where you can gain knowledge.

Job Security

You never know where life will take you or what path you’ll choose to follow. Having a degree can remove roadblocks from the path and make traversing life just a little bit easier. A degree is something good to put on your resume that will encourage employers to hire you and trust your skills. It never hurts to have a fall-back plan as an entrepreneur.

Like-Minded People

Going to college will expose you to like-minded people to join your network. This happens in a few ways.

Most professors are academicians and researchers. This means they’re interested in the cutting-edge “what’s next”. There’s a lot of overlap between researchers and entrepreneurs. You’ll also be surrounded by young students, a fantastic population for testing out new ideas or products.

The access you have to these audiences while in college is access that’s given to no other group of entrepreneurs. Once you leave campus, accessing these groups becomes a little bit harder. As an alumnus of a college, you’ll have slightly more access than someone who didn’t go to college.

Great Resources

Attending a college gives you access to more than just human resources. You also have access to fast internet connections, a wealth of research knowledge, and other resources.

Part of your tuition goes to fund your access to these resources, so you might as well use them often!

All these benefits make the cost of college worth it for those who are interested in starting their own businesses. You can’t be an entrepreneur in a vacuum, and college can give new entrepreneurs benefits such as resources, networks, and the knowledge necessary to successfully start their dream businesses.

Around 26.4 percent of 16- to-19-year-olds and 18.4 percent of 20- to-24-year-olds are active community volunteers, according to the most recent research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yet many college students forget to mention this important experience when applying for jobs. In fact, less than a third of all job seekers mention unpaid work on their resumes. Don’t underestimate the value of volunteering! These are the reasons you should mention any community service on your resume.

Volunteering Teaches You Vital Career Skills

Volunteering teaches new skills and helps you hone existing ones. You might pick up job-specific skills, such as how to prepare food or update social media channels, as well as more general skills transferable to any role such as working as part of a team and managing your time effectively. Ninety-two percent of interviewers recognize that volunteering builds leadership skills, according to research from professional services firm Deloitte.

While employers slightly favor candidates with experience that relates to their positions, any volunteering work is valuable. Whatever you take from working in a real-world environment, your prospective employer will want to know about it.

Volunteering Helps You Beef Up Your Resume

At your tender years, you probably don’t have much paid work experience. You might have held a summer job at a fast-food restaurant or worked part-time at your local mall at best. However, even these aren’t likely to impress a potential employer. Noting your volunteering experience helps to separate you from the rest of your classmates by showing you have more to offer. This is especially important when you have little to no paid-work experience.

Volunteering Reflects Well On Your Character

Without money as an incentive, people do it for a variety of deeper reasons. Perhaps you volunteered to become more job-ready or make industry contacts. You might have been motivated by a desire to help others or your community. Whatever drove you to volunteer, you’ve displayed the sort of energetic, can-do attitude employers love. In fact, 82 percent of interviewers told Deloitte they prefer job applicants who have volunteered. Failing to mention your volunteering experience on your resume is failing to seize the opportunity to show you could be a valuable asset to any workplace.

Volunteering Gives an Insight Into Your Interests

When you take a paid job as a college student, you are probably happy to accept almost anything that comes with a paycheck. Deciding where to volunteer is likely to be a more personal choice. You might spend time reading to the elderly because you’re interested in working in aged care or volunteer at an animal rescue because you’re passionate about pets. Whatever your choices, noting your volunteer experience on your resume will help a potential employer get to know you better before the interview stage.

Volunteering might not be paid work, but it provides valuable experience any employer will want to know about. Remember to list your volunteering work and achievements proudly alongside any paid work on your resume.

Do you remember visiting your local library as a kid? Or maybe the touring book fair that came to your elementary school library? As children, most of us got a lot of joy from reading and excitement in finding the next great book.

In college, some of your passion might subside because you’re reading denser, required material. You’re likely reading books for your literature classes, articles for your history classes, and journals for your science classes. This type of reading can be a drag.

But, it’s possible to bring that delight for reading and love for the public library back. Public libraries are still free and lending out books. It’s time to get a card to find better prices on schoolbooks and rediscover the joy of reading for fun.

Entertainment

Your local library isn’t just about paper books anymore. Most public libraries have joined the technological age and offer e-books and audiobooks that are free to rent. The best part? You don’t even have to go to the physical library to check them out. You can do so online!

This could be great for your fiction reading but also for your required college reading. You might be surprised just what books your local library has in stock.

Price Shopping

When you’re looking to buy textbooks, you want the best deal. CampusBooks has designed a way to help you out with that. When you use the price comparison tool on our website, you can compare the price of textbooks rented from your local public library with the best prices out there. Can you imagine the money you’d save by renting your textbooks for free from the local library?

We want to make sure that you get the best deal on textbooks. College is expensive enough, so you don’t want to spend more money than you have to.

Services Other Than Books

College is an adventure in learning “how to adult” for the first time. Part of becoming an adult means that there are tasks and errands you’ll need to take care of that you may not know how to.

Surprisingly, your public library might be just the resource you need. After all, it’s not just a repository for old, musty books. The local public library in your college town might also offer services such as notary, help with research, passport applications (taking a summer break trip out of the country?), information for filing taxes, resume evaluation, and help with technology or computers. The librarians will also be able to help you find these resources in the broader community if they aren’t offered by the library.

Archives Research

College students do a lot of research, especially when writing a thesis or capstone. You might find yourself in need of (gasp!) resources for your research that aren’t available online. Public libraries often have extensive hard-copy archives that contain everything from newspaper clippings to building plans to oral histories. You won’t know what’s there in the archives until you ask.

We hope that we revitalized your interest and desire to have a public library card. The public library is a wonderful resource for books to read for fun and for discounted or even free textbooks for college classes.

There’s three months of summer break ahead and plenty of time to travel for fun and for education and to make some of that travel international. Maybe you’ve never had a passport before or maybe you have and it’s expired. Either way, now is the time to get that document on file, up to date, and in hand.

Getting Your Passport

Applying for a passport usually takes about 6-8 weeks from start to finish. If you have this time or more before you leave on your trip, you have nothing to worry about.

  • Getting Your First Passport: You’ll need to apply in person at a local office or online. Many US Post Offices serve as these facilities and they can even take your regulation photo there.
  • Renewing an Expired/Expiring Passport: If your document has expired or it will expire within three to six months (depending on where you’re going) of your departure date, you need to renew it. You can renew by mail or online at the U.S. Department of State website. The online application process is simple and will walk you through the steps, making sure you’re eligible for online application at every step of the way.

Getting It Fast

In a hurry because your trip departs in fewer than six weeks? No worries, but you will have to get an expedited renewal. You can get your passport expedited online or at a passport office for an extra charge. Online, you’ll pay an extra $60 fee for expedited service.

In a rush but have time to do a mail renewal? Cool. You can also expedite the process by paying for overnight mail delivery. You can send your renewal forms in via overnight delivery and have them sent back similarly fast. Paying for overnight delivery doesn’t expedite the processing of your renewal, but it does expedite the mailing speed.

Getting It Really Fast

If your departure is fewer than three weeks away, you’ll need to visit a passport center to get your document in enough time. Search online for the nearest office, collect the necessary paperwork, and find out if you need an appointment and you’ll be well on your way to getting your passport as quickly as possible. Provided that you arrive with all documentation and a passport photo, you may be able to get your new ID within the week or possibly even the same day for a renewal.

Should there not be a local office near where you live, you can also call the National Passport Information Center 24 hours a day for help. They can answer any question you might have about documentation and international travel.

Expediters

There are companies that claim to expedite the process, but most of these companies are not trustworthy to follow through with their promises. On top of that, they charge outrageous prices for their services. Beware!

If you find yourself in a need of expedited procurement or renewal, the government offers many resources to help you. Be sure to stay calm, ask questions politely, and follow directions as closely as possible. You’ll be on your way overseas before you know it.

Remember that even if you don’t have travel on the horizon, a passport is an invaluable form of ID to possess.

It’s easy to forget about self-care during finals week, but that doesn’t mean you should put it on hold. Taking care of yourself keeps you sane and it helps you stay energetic and focused enough to do well on your exams. Here are a few tips to follow.

Exercise

We already know that physical activity reduces stress and anxiety, but it may do even more than that. A recent study found that people who exercised a few hours after learning new information were more likely to remember it than those who didn’t exercise. Try boosting your brain and make time to go for a walk, attend a fitness class, or play your favorite sport.

If you’re really short on time, you could also bring your notes to the gym and study while you’re on the elliptical machine or exercise bike. Need motivation? Find a workout buddy; it’s easier to get your butt in gear when someone else is counting on you.

Indulge Yourself

Look, you’re a human being — not a study machine. Whatever it is you’re dying to do, make time for it. Change out of those sweatpants and have an extra-long shower. Paint your toenails. Doodle in your sketchbook or talk on the phone with a friend. Heck, blast your music and dance around in your underwear if it’ll make you feel better. It’s important to do well on your exams, but it shouldn’t cost you your sanity.

Eat Properly

When you’re short on time, it’s tempting to just eat ramen noodles and call it a meal. It’s fine to do that sometimes, but you really should get in some healthy meals. Getting enough nutrients keeps your energy up and keeps your immune system strong. Let that slip too much, and you’re susceptible to colds and other viruses. Studying is horrible when you need to blow your nose every two minutes.

Ideally, you should cook a meal that includes vegetables. If that feels like too much work, pick up some healthy snacks. There are plenty of inexpensive, ready-to-eat foods such as apples, bananas, crackers and peanut butter, yogurt, or baby carrots and hummus.

Get Enough Sleep

This may seem like an impossible task, but it’s really important to get enough sleep. Many students don’t get enough shut-eye, which leads to decreased concentration, memory, and overall performance. Clearly, this doesn’t do much to help you when you’re trying to memorize several months’ worth of notes.

It’s better to get a full night of rest, but if that all-night cramming session is unavailable, you should try napping. Naps can’t compensate for inadequate sleep, but they’ll make you feel more alert. Keep your nap between 20 and 30 minutes, and you’ll wake up feeling refreshed. To boost your memory and creativity, try sleeping for 90 minutes; this is enough time to complete a full sleep cycle. Anything between 30 to 60 minutes, however, will make you feel worse.

Finals week is so hectic that you probably feel like all you do is study. Change that feeling by following at least one of these self-care tips. You’ll feel better, and you’ll probably remember your notes better too.

In Textbook Buyback: Getting the Most Money (Part 1), we covered basics such as comparison shopping for the highest buyback offers, reading the fine print, following textbook buyback rules and best practices, and avoiding the campus bookstore.

Now in Part 2, we’ll go deeper and show you how putting in a little more work can basically lead to incredibly cheap textbooks or books that actually make you money to buy, use, and sell. Think of it like the stock market and investing; it’s all about timing and buying low and selling high.

Bigger Bucks at Buyback: Here’s How It Works

You don’t have to be an Econ. major to understand supply and demand. Bottom line: the more available something is, the less valuable it is and thus, the cheaper it is to buy; the more scarce a resource, the more expensive. What happens at textbook buyback? Students form a long line to turn over the same books as everybody else in line and many students in many lines at many colleges. ALL AT THE SAME TIME. The market is flooded, which is why that clerk at the bookstore tells you that your book gets you $3 back or the bookstore isn’t even buying it.

A quick note here: there’s other stuff at work such as new editions coming out that replace existing editions, professors not knowing which books they will use the next semester thus leaving the bookstore not knowing which books to stock, etc. But let’s stick to what we know, namely that in December and May right after finals, students sell their books back and that creates a surplus, which devalues the textbooks.

And Here’s What You Can Do

Buy or rent textbooks?

What can you do about this? Well, you can’t control what other people do or what bookstores pay or when semesters end, but with a little knowledge, foresight, and patience, you can hang onto your books a little longer and likely sell them for more cash back when the market isn’t saturated with too many copies.

Step 1: Know when to buy textbooks and know when to rent textbooks. This was kind of a crapshoot until we came up with the CampusBooks.com Buy Vs. Rent SuperBot, which uses historical and predictive data to give you the total cost of ownership for any textbook. What’s total cost of ownership? That’s what it costs you to get the book and use it, whether that’s buying it and selling it back or renting it and returning it. Sometimes it’s cheaper to rent, sometimes it’s cheaper to buy and sell back, and now you can know and make smart money decisions rather than guess and take a costly hit.

Step 2: For books you rented, just get them back on time and in good condition. For books you bought and do not want to keep, sell them when they are the most in demand and most valuable, namely in late August and early January. Straight up: that is when buyback prices are the highest because the books are in the greatest demand (because it’s back to school time and buyers need your books so they can sell them to other students). Get it? Sell your textbooks when everyone else is buying them and you’ll get top dollar, sometimes enough so that the total cost of ownership was nothing (free textbooks!) or to make a little money.

Graduating from college is a huge milestone in a person’s life, but after the ceremony, what comes next? Planning for your financial future seems a daunting task when you’re unsure where you’re headed. Still, it’s important to start preparing a little so you’re not taken by surprise when unplanned events affect your finances.

Whether you’re thinking about saving to buy a home, to travel, or to put some money away for retirement, there are several things to think about. Before you feel overwhelmed, sit down and write out some financial goals and think of some ways you can achieve them realistically. Ask for advice from a parent or trusted family friend who has been in your shoes, then follow these tips on how to start planning.

Set Some Financial Goals

Write down what you want to achieve and research what it will take to get there. If you’re ready to start your career, move out on your own, buy a home, or take some time off to travel, you need goals and plans. Start small on your list of goals. For instance, if you’re looking to buy a home, give yourself a timeline in which to save money and begin looking for the right neighborhood. Remember not to be too hard on yourself. Life is full of changes and setbacks, so keep the financial goals flexible and realistic for now.

Start Saving Money

No matter what your goals are, it’s a good idea to start saving money now. Life is expensive and you’ll want to be prepared for whatever it throws at you. Get creative and think of little ways you can save cash that won’t affect your daily life too much; for instance, ask a coworker if they’re willing to take turns carpooling, take your lunch to work rather than eating out, and make sure your apartment or home is energy-efficient to save on your utility bills. You could also cut out cable TV since there are so many inexpensive choices these days for watching shows and movies.

Help Others Help You Save

See if your employer will take a certain amount of money out of your paycheck automatically to put toward a 401K plan; this way, saving a little every payday is much easier, and since it’s taken right out of your check, you won’t even miss it. If you’re a freelancer who gets a 1099, you’ll more than likely have to find your own plan and be responsible for setting aside some money each week on your own. You can also download an app for your bank onto your phone so you can keep track of the balance in your checking and savings account and transfer amounts as needed.

Manage Your Credit Wisely

You may think you already know how to take care of your credit but it’s very easy to let it spiral out of control when you’re a recent college grad. Paying off student loans, financing a car or home, and buying furniture for a new place can all run up a credit-card bill and keep you in debt. When possible, save up for big purchases and don’t be seduced by the discount offered on your purchase when you open up a new account or credit line. If you do have to use a card, pay off the balance as soon as possible to avoid paying high interest rates.

Planning for a sound financial future can be an overwhelming task, so start small and ask for help from friends and family when you feel like you’re in over your head.

Guest post by Lawrence Mager, ReadyBrain.net.

Just a few semesters ago, it felt like it was a given that selling back textbooks was a pretty awful process. We could describe buyback it as a hassle that almost always involved waiting in lines only to experience disappointment over feeling utterly ripped off. But things have changed — and for the better.

Not only does textbook buyback not have to be a time-waster that culminates in rage, it can actually be fast, easy, and lucrative.

Here, in Part 1 of our Spring Textbook Buyback series, we’ll touch on the rules and basics of buyback. This info will help you get organized and it will put you in great shape when it comes to actually selling your books back in the coming weeks. In our next installment, we’ll go deeper and we’ll cover tips and tricks that will get you the most money back — sometimes so much that you actually will have made money buying, owning, and selling back a textbook!

Buyback Rules, Basics, and Reminders

  1. Avoid the campus bookstore. Sure, you can try to sell your books back at the college bookstore, but bookstores are notorious for 1) making students stand in line for hours, 2) declining to buy a lot of titles, 3) offering about $5 for that book that cost $200 at the beginning of the semester.
  2. Shop around. In owning textbooks, you possess a valuable commodity and your have options. Use the CampusBooks.com SELL Price Comparison Tool to see ALL of the offers available and to pick the best deal.
  3. Don’t assume that you can’t sell certain books. Even if you highlighted text or used the access card, your textbooks — even a little used and/or without supplements — may still have buyback value, which brings us to…
  4. Be honest. Don’t tell a buyer that your textbook is in good condition when it’s warped from a beer spill. Don’t say that the book is complete when you lost the DVD. It’s better to get a little less than to get nothing at all.
  5. Read the fine print. Some buyers have a minimum for payout, some offer credit rather than cash. Others buyers won’t accept books shipped without using official pre-paid labels or they won’t take international editions. Know the deal before you take it. #LifeLessons
  6. Follow instructions and follow through. Remember that thing about textbooks being a valuable commodity? That. When it comes to buyback, you’re dealing with for-profit businesses, not your softy English professor who always gives extensions and grades on a curve. So, if a buyer tells you that a buyback quote is good through a certain date and that you need to ship the book via UPS and pack it with the quote printed out and in the envelope, you need to do exactly that.

Next Steps

  1. Keep this list handy for when you’re ready to sell.
  2. If there are textbooks that you’re already finished with and don’t need for finals or term-papers, start putting them into Keep/Sell piles.
  3. Check your shelves for any books you’ve held onto in the past but now might be ready to sell and add those to your Sell pile.
  4. Stay tuned for Part 2 where we’ll talk about tools that can make selling back books easier and faster and we’ll also talk about timing and how holding onto your book a little longer could mean getting a lot more money later.