Science Graduates

download-41If you’ve spent the last few years working on your postgraduate degree in science, you’ve probably accrued a staggering amount of impressive experiences. You may have published papers, worked as a lab assistant, attended conferences, taught and tutored undergraduates, contributed to groundbreaking studies, and most likely, you’ve completed an enormous amount of original research. But how can all this valuable experience help you get a job, and how do you present your skills and potential to prospective employers? First things first: if you’re applying for jobs outside of academia or research, skip the curriculum vitae (CV) and draft a smashing resume instead. A CV, especially a well-padded one, will only hold you back in the industry job market. Instead, follow these rules for creating an eye-catching resume that will have you up to your ears in interviews.

1. State your personal objective

One of the main problems with academic CVs is that they give too much information. Employers in industry are faced with dozens, hundreds, and sometimes thousands of applicants and they’re not going to hunt through six pages of publications, conferences, workshops, coursework, and research projects to figure out if you’re the right person for a consultancy position. Instead, state clearly at the beginning of your resume what type of position you’re seeking and why. Keep it short, simple, and on-target. Try: “Applicant seeks an engaging position as statistical analyst in nano-biology or bio-engineering” or “Seeking position as project manager in human-development and smart-city technology.”

2. Do your research

Other big mistakes that academic applicants make: outdated forms of address and information-overload on resumes and cover letters. The internet makes it easy, and practically mandatory, to research the position, corporation, and hiring team before you apply. And if you’re listing research skills as one of your qualifications, your application material should indicate that you are actually capable of finding all the relevant information. Demonstrate your research skills on your resume by only listing experience and qualifications that fit or enhance those required for the position. Address your cover letter to the hiring manager and try to use keywords from the job listing in your letter. Reference background and interests that are related to the industry. If your skills are not clearly applicable to the position, use the cover letter to demonstrate how they are transferable.

3. Highlight your skills

Speaking of skills, at this stage, your resume should be more about what you’re capable of than what you have done in the past. Forget about chronological education lists, publications, and awards and focus instead on experiences that demonstrate your abilities relevant to the position. If you’re applying for a position as team-leader, focus on your role in group projects and collaborative research. Considering a role as a consultant? Make sure your presentation, communication, and networking skills are evident. Don’t be afraid to include your advanced degrees, even if the position doesn’t require them. But if you’re worried that a Masters or PhD will be seen as over qualification don’t hesitate to focus on your transferable skills and play-down your academic achievements by moving them to the bottom of your resume.

4. Utilize Templates…

You may think that you know how a resume should look, but there are different styles for different jobs and sectors. Do a bit of research online and see what kinds of resumes are best suited to the position. Try livecareer.com or other resume-template sites to get an idea about the various styles and forms. Templates can also help you identify the kinds of information you should include on your resume.

Career Planning in Your Future

download-43A portmanteau of the words “financial” and “technology,” fintech has been defined as “a line of business based on using software to provide financial services.”

Typically the domain of startups, fintech largely focuses on disruptive innovation.  (Although some argue that fintech ismore augmentative than disruptive in nature.) Fintech sub-industries span everything from algorithmic asset management to peer-to-peer lending. Additional fintech sub-industries? Thematic investing, payments, digital currency, credit scoring, education lending, cyber security, working capital management, and others — all sharing a common theme: the imperative to improve the efficiency of financial markets and systems through technology.

But is fintech truly worthy of all the buzz it’s been generating? The numbers speak for themselves: According to a report from Accenture, global investment in this sector spiked to $12.2 billion in 2014 — tripling the prior year’s $4.05 billion. And while the US tops the list in terms of fintech investment, it’s on the rise everywhere from Asia to Africa with Europe exhibiting the fastest rates of growth.

In short, fintech is transforming the traditional business model. And with that transformation come near-endless opportunities for entrepreneurs looking to start businesses as well as for existing companies looking to expand.

Why Fintech Matters

For many years the financial industry rested easy. While new technology might have penetrated its operations, banks ultimately retained control over how and when new digital financial products and services were introduced to the market. The combination of fallout from the 2007-2008 financial crisis and increasingly sophisticated technology has dispersed the power beyond banks thereby restoring balance and reshaping the industry.

In other words, fintech is changing the finance world for the better. From lower costs to more options, the potential of data-driven lending is not only huge, but uniquely profound in that it serves a previously underserved constituency: consumers.

Is Fintech Right For You?

We’ve already established how fintech is making a difference, which might leave you wondering whether you should add your talents to the effort.

If you are thinking about a career as a financial technologist, there’s good news: there’s a major fintech job boom underway. Consider London, for example, where experts are predicting that the sector will add more than 46,000 jobs in the decade between 2014 and 2024. The takeaway? If you’re looking for a job that combines security and financial payoffs, fintech is well positioned to offer both.

Fintech is also uniquely suited to Millennials — not just in terms of the fact that the products and services offered by fintech speak to their particular sensibilities, but also in terms of their role in driving the market. After all, Millennials are not only the first truly digital generation, but they also witnessed their parents bear the brunt of the financial collapse. It follows that, according to Fintech Week, “Many of the younger generation have completely lost faith in the banking world – and who are we to blame them? They need an alternative solution, and what they understand is technology and relentless innovation – a gap in the market which Fintech has now filled.”

For some younger people, meanwhile, the allure of fintech is also a very personal one: With student debt crippling the futures of many of today’s grads, fintech’s potential impact on the student loan refinancing market — both in terms of the creation of new products and serves as well as in prompting the banking industry to raise its own game in response– is particularly compelling. Imagine a future in which student loans are inherently affordable. Fintech may hold the key.

The best part? Not only is the fintech industry alive, well, and ripe with opportunities, but there are many ways to get in on the action. From formal business and finance studies to a foundation in engineering and technology, a multitude of avenues lead into this red-hot field — all with the potential to change your life, and maybe even the world, too.

Guide to College Student Voting

download-42Just because you’re voting in your state of residence doesn’t mean you can automatically expect to walk into your local polling place, grab a ballot, flip a few levers, and call it a day.

For starters, most states don’t even allow walk-in registration. Not only that, but registration deadlines vary from state to state. For example, voters in Alaska must be registered by October 9th regardless of whether they’re doing so online, via mail or in person, while voters in Vermont have nearly a full month longer to register. Furthermore, how you plan to register is also a factor with some state deadlines for registration methods varying by as much as a month.

Looking for information on your specific state? Lucky for you, the New York Times has assembled a comprehensive guide of state-by-state deadlines, which also includes handy information about supporting materials you’ll need to register. (Usually, a driver’s license or other state-issued form of identification will suffice.)

Additionally, the U.S. government’s website Vote.gov is a terrific starting point for determining how to register in your state, while Vote.org is also a useful portal for streamlining the registration process.

Not sure if you’re registered? Check here to find out.

Voting Outside Your State of Residence?

If you’re planning on being out of your state of residence on voting day, you can utilize Absentee Voting (also known as “mail-in voting” and “by-mail voting”) to cast your ballot.

Depending on the requirements of your state, you can register to receive an absentee ballot to fill out and return. Some even allow early voting and in-person absentee voting. While 21 states require that voters provide an excuse before being permitted to vote by absentee ballot, others — including Washington, D.C. — offer no-excuse absentee voting. (You can check out which category your state falls into here.)

In addition to students who are out of state, other valid excuses for being absent from polling sites on Election Day may include illness, physical disability, religious constraints, public service or membership in the military, age, and even vacation.

Again, the rules regarding absentee voting and early voting depend on the state. Taking time to educate yourself aboutAbsentee Voting and Voting by Mail and Early Voting and In-Person Absentee Voting can help ensure your ability to make good on your constitutional right.

Voting from Overseas?

Overseas U.S. citizens and members of the military stationed overseas are also eligible to vote absentee. However, unlike stateside voters who being the process with their state or territorial election offices, overseas votes must use the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to both request to vote and to receive their absentee ballot electronically. The best part? All it takes is filling out a single form to get started.

And while acting early can help you avoid last minute panic, if you do find yourself in the position of missing your state’s deadline for returning your absentee ballot, the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) may also be used as a backup. (However, you must have at least submitted an FPCA or registered to absentee vote by an alternate method in order to have your FWAB counted.)

Wondering what to use as your voting residence if you’re living outside the country? It’s surprisingly straightforward:  Whether or not you still own property in the state and even if you have no plans to return, your voting residence remains the U.S. address where you last resided prior to leaving. (Military members, meanwhile, should use the state listed on their Leave and Earnings Statement — even if it’s not their home of record.)

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the process, you’re not alone. The Federal Voting Assistance Program website offersstep-by-step guidance for overseas citizens, as well as a repository of links comprising all voting information in one central place.

Only 38 percent of 18 to 24 year-olds voted in the last presidential election, according to U.S. Census data. This reveals a troubling trend of disengagement — particularly when compared to 1964’s 50.9 percent. To help reverse this phenomenon, the government has compiled a College Voting Guide providing students with the tools they need to express their beliefs and have a say in their next town, state, or federal official. So will it be Clinton, Trump or a third-party candidate? That’s up to you.

Do You Need a Master Degree

Most of us were told that in order to get ahead in life we needed to go to college and get a degree. But you’ve done that. So why do you need a master’s degree? It’s true that for many jobs and fields, a BA or BS will suffice..at least at first. But the job market is increasingly specialized, and many graduates find that it’s difficult to enter or progress in the job market without an advanced degree. Here are five reasons you should consider post-graduate studies.

1. MAs are the New Bachelors

Thirty years ago, a bachelor’s degree in most subjects was the ticket to a job where you could gain experience and progress to higher levels of expertise. In fact, in the past job seekers with graduate-level degrees may have been considered overqualified, but things have changed. It’s not exactly a bad thing, but with increased college enrollment over the last few decades, the market has been flooded with skilled and qualified undergraduates. Now, employers are looking to hire graduates with advanced degrees, and while there are still plenty of positions that will accept bachelor’s degrees, some of the most desirable positions are going to recent grads with masters-level qualifications. A Masters will help you to stand out from the crowd and will show prospective employers that you have advanced skills and subject-expertise.

2. They Can Be Required

While many sectors favor post-graduate degrees, there are several fields in which a master’s-level degree is required. Obviously, education for doctors and lawyers goes far beyond that of a normal bachelor’s degree, but if you’re considering a career in therapy, library or museum sciences, economics, architecture, or various medical professions, you’ll find that an advanced degree isn’t optional. Speech and language therapists in the US need a graduate degree and accreditation. In the UK, ‘architect’ is a protected title and in order to practice students must complete five years of study as well as work experience. In the US, a growing doctor shortage means that there are more jobs for Physician’s Assistants (PAs) but you’ll need to earn a master’s degree from an accredited program first. While it may seem demanding, these positions require advanced training, specialization, and dedicated professionals, all of which can be developed through post-graduate study.

3. They Can Lead You Further

Some people decide to pursue a masters-level degree because they thrived in university studies and aren’t ready to enter the ‘real-world.’ While this isn’t a great reason to earn a master’s, if you have a knack for academia and are considering a career as a professor or researcher, then a master’s degree is a fantastic idea. Most PhD programs require candidates to have completed an MA or MS in a related subject, and a master’s program will give you the opportunity to find out if focused research and academic life are right for you. Remember that master’s studies are very different from undergraduate degrees. Students are often more independent and research-focused, and the course-work requires in-depth knowledge and original ideas. Master’s studies are harder and more stressful, but they’re often more exciting because you can focus on subjects that interest you.

4. They Help You Specialize

In fact, one of the biggest benefits of master’s-level studies is that you have the chance to focus your knowledge and hone your skills. This can be a huge benefit in the job market because industries and employers are often looking for highly-specialized candidates. It’s one of the reasons that Master’s of Professional Studies degrees (MPS) are in demand, but traditional MS and MA degrees are also attractive to prospective employees in a variety of fields. While some students enter into post-graduate studies directly from undergraduate degrees, many established professionals enroll in master’s programs in order to advance their careers or develop new skills. Lawyers often acquire advanced degrees (on top of their law degree) in order to focus on specific legal sectors, while MBAs are a sure-fire way to achieve success in the business world, especially if you focus on much-needed skills like technology.

5. You’ll Earn More

Money shouldn’t be the only reason that you choose to pursue a master’s degree, but it might be one of them. In some sectors, employees with master’s degrees earn up to 20% more than their counterparts with bachelor’s degrees, andwomen with degrees have a smaller pay-gap than those without. And while graduates are, in general, less likely to be unemployed, those with post-graduate degrees have even greater rates of employment. But while some post-graduates have the potential to earn more after they finish their degree, it’s important to remember that graduate school isn’t always free. Though some graduate-level programs offer tuition waivers, stipends, and even subsidized housing and health insurance, a master’s can take between one and three years to complete. And though it’s not impossible to work while studying, it can be difficult. So consider carefully before enrolling. A master’s degree in engineering will give you excellent credentials and improved your marketability, but you might also leave with increased student-debt and three years of lost earnings.

Returning Home Tips

When you first started planning your study abroad experience, you probably worried about language barriers, culture shock, new customs and foods, making friends, and getting lost. But now that you’ve been abroad for weeks, months, or years, you might wonder at all the fuss. Things that were foreign and stressful have now become familiar and routine, and you finally feel at home in your host country…just in time to pack your bags and return to your real home. Typical. Hopefully you’ve had such an amazing time abroad that the prospect of returning to your ‘real’ life in your home country makes you just a bit apprehensive. Don’t worry – most international students and ex-pats struggle a bit on the return home. But if you give yourself time to readjust and keep some simple rules in mind, you’ll find the transition a lot easier.

1. Beware of ‘reverse-culture shock’

When you prepared to study abroad, you were probably warned that you would face some form of culture shock upon arrival, and now you have all sorts of stories about the ways in which your host-country caught you off guard. The thing is, the same can happen when you return home. Whether it’s differences in food (or portion sizes), the way people behave, or the way things are done, there are many things about your home country that you may have forgotten or never noticed before, but which will now seem alien and possibly ridiculous after your time away. Try to keep this in perspective. Yes, monster-sized convenience meals could seem wasteful and unappetizing after months of Vietnamese street food, or you might find it difficult to transition back to a nine-to-five work day from the siesta culture of Italy. But if you can view your home country the way you did your host country and try to understand the ‘why’ of things, you’ll find the transition a lot easier. Just remember that it takes time, so don’t expect to be back to your ‘normal’ self hours after going through customs, and don’t be surprised if you feel a bit out of place.

2. Understand that no one will fully understand

If you tried to explain to a local in your host country what you found so strange or surprising about their culture, they may have been sympathetic but probably didn’t fully understand. The same will be true on the return home. Your friends and family may be interested to hear about your adventures, but unless they were there with you, they won’t fully understand everything that was new, amazing, frustrating, and exhilarating about studying and living abroad. Realize that this is okay, and be patient and courteous. Don’t inundate your family and friends with all the details of life overseas. Answer questions that are asked, but understand that most people just want to hear that you had a great time, ate some amazing new foods, and saw that one really famous landmark. And as much as you might want to sit and deconstruct the differences between your home and host countries, realize that for many people back home your new enthusiasm for bullet trains, socialized medicine, or flexible time-keeping may come across as overly critical or disloyal.

3. Keep in touch while abroad

One way to avoid the inevitable information dump once your return home is to maintain regular contact while abroad. While this can be difficult depending on time zones, logistics, and technology, it will help to continue relationships with your friends and family back home. You don’t have to call or text multiple times per day, but try to keep your loved ones in the loop while you’re away – arrange to call or email regularly, and don’t monopolize your communication or correspondence with news from abroad. Homecoming football games and family birthdays may seem boring when you’re trekking through the Australian outback or learning Korean, but news from home will help you keep a sense of continuity, and will show the people back home that you may be having the time of your life abroad, but you still care about home. Even better, keep a blog or photo-journal while your away and share it with all your friends and family. They’ll be able to keep track of your adventures on their own time, and you won’t feel the need to inundate everyone with a full run-down of your life overseas once you return. Plus, you can keep the blog going so that your new friends abroad can hear about life back home.

4. Prepare for and embrace change

Keeping in touch with friends and family back home is essential to a smooth transition, but it’s inevitable that you will miss out on major and minor things while you’re gone. Still, many returning study abroad students express a paradoxical sense that home is both very much the same and very different. Of course, life went on while you were away and you need to anticipate that your friends and family will have changed and moved on without you. But you’ve changed as well, as has your relationship with everything that was once familiar. Don’t be afraid of the change, but don’t feel that you need to revert to your old self. Your travels will have changed the way you see the world, and that’s a good thing.

How to take care your mental health

Mental health issues are increasingly prevalent among contemporary college students. How much so? Three-quarters of all chronic illnesses start by the age of 24, according to figures from the US’s National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI). Not only that, but 95 percent of college counseling center directors agree that psychological problems are on the rise on campus.

In response to these and other troubling statistics, a number of organizations — both campus-run and student-led — are emerging to help students gain access to the information they need to cope with mental health difficulties. While taking advantage of these resources can be a vital part of the journey to better mental health, these five tips can also help college students manage stress and overcome challenges to mental health.

1. Recognize the Signs
According to NAMI, 80 percent of students feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities and 50 percent have experienced anxiety so significant that it caused them to struggle in school. If you are experiencing increased worrying, difficulty concentrating, increased agitation, changes in eating and sleeping habits, tension, tight muscles or headaches, you may be suffering from stress.

While experiencing stress is to some degree part of learning to cope with the high academic expectations of college life, it can have far-reaching consequences when it starts to interfere with your ability to attend class, complete assignments on time, and other performance-related factors. In fact, in many cases particularly stressful times act as a “trigger” for mental health episodes, which is why recognizing the signs of stress can help mitigate their impact.

In addition to being aware of your own mental health, be aware of others’, as well. There are many ways to support a friend who is dealing with mental health problems. Even something as simple as expressing your concerns can go a long way.

2. Take Care of Your Body
While all-nighters and junk food binges may seem like they’re part of the typical college experience, they can also contribute to poor mental health. Factors like lack of exercise, poor diet, and insufficient sleep can exacerbate the impact of stress. In fact, researchers have linked all three with depression! The takeaway? Healthy lifestyle habits are an essentiall part of both physical and mental self-care.

3. Reach Out to Others
Feeling connected to others is an invaluable part of good mental health. Unfortunately, college students often feel isolated from friends and family members back home — particularly when adjusting to new environments.

Luckily, there are many ways to meet friends with similar interests — both on and around college campuses. From student organizations to club sports to spiritual groups, participating isn’t just fun, it can also contribute to your emotional wellbeing. Additionally, social media makes it easier to stay in contact with far-off loved ones, as well.

But remember: quality trumps quantity when it comes to cultivating meaningful friendships. Having a healthy social life is not about having a large network of friends, but rather about having a handful of close friends.

4. Explore Relaxation Techniques
While college life is fast-paced, taking the time to relax your body and mind has been linked with both stress reduction and the alleviation of symptoms associated with mental health disorders. Breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and mindful meditation are all techniques aimed at helping you check in with your state of mind and stress levels.

Still not convinced? Check out this Ted Talk by mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe to learn more about the “transformative power” of devoting just 10 minutes every day to being mindful and in the moment.

Avoid Interview Mistakes Tips

Bad interviews are a sit-com staple – like the time on Friends when Rachel literally kissed the interviewer at Ralph Lauren. Rachel managed to land the job regardless, but in the real world, mistakes during an interview are more likely to see you back on the job market than in a corner office. Of course, everyone makes mistakes, but there’s no reason that you can’t perfect your interview skills and avoid some of the most common (and problematic) mistakes made by job-seekers. Let’s count down the six biggest offenders and find out how to make your interview go off without a hitch…or a kiss.

1. Bragging

If recent political events are any indication, egotistic displays of self-promotion may seem like a good idea. And yes, it’s a good idea to impress a potential employer with your skills and accomplishments. But there’s a big difference between giving relevant information about your abilities and self-aggrandizement. A good rule of thumb: answer honestly when asked about achievements but remain modest. You can also focus on areas in which you excel that also demonstrate your ability to work with or support others.

2. Answering but not asking

Think of the interview as more of a conversation than a Q&A session. Your future employer isn’t just interested in how you respond to questions – they want to see that you can interact with the information and think critically about both your answers and their questions. Most experts recommend coming prepared with questions about the position, the company, and other relevant issues, but don’t be afraid to ask a question if the interviewer presents new information that wasn’t available earlier. Actively engage with the interviewer, demonstrate your knowledge and interest, and show that you are willing to get the answers you need.

3. Not knowing the company

Asking questions is a good way to show that you’ve prepared for the interview. In fact, before arriving at the interview make sure to do thorough research on the company and its role in the relevant sector. A quick Google search is a good starting point – look for recent articles about the company, find out information about the company’s goals and potential, and if possible do some research on the person, or people, who will be conducting the interview. Make sure that you know as much as possible about the position – and if the role is new to you, or outside of your usual field of expertise, be prepared to give a clear explanation of how your current or past experiences make you a good choice.

4. Not paying attention

Interviews aren’t just about questions and answers, and as we’ve already established, you should approach the process like a conversation, or more accurately, a professional discussion. Think of the interview as a meeting, listen carefully to what the interviewer says, asks, and implies, and find ways to address their needs. Be an active listener, and use the tone of the interview to your advantage so that you can present information about yourself or your skills that will help the interviewer understand how you will contribute to the company.

5. Making a bad first impression

This should go without saying but always put your best foot forward at an interview. Show up on time by giving yourself an extra thirty minutes. Dress nicely and appropriately – research both the sector and company beforehand to get an idea of what’s typical attire, but if in doubt it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. But impressions aren’t just about timeliness and clothing. Your handshake, demeanor, and etiquette will all help or hinder the interviewer’s perception of you. Be friendly but not overly familiar, avoid jokes and informal conversation, and don’t complain about or belittle your current employer or coworkers. Your potential employer wants to hire someone who takes the position seriously and will fit well with the existing team. And last, but definitely not least, be polite and respectful throughout the entire process. You never know who is observing you, and the woman standing behind you in the elevator could be the head of the department.

Productive Summer Break

Grad students spend the academic year working hard, and the prospect of a long break during the summer can be the driving force behind finishing end-of-semester projects or submitting a new segment of your dissertation. But as tempting as it seems, unplugging completely during the summer holidays is a luxury most grad students can’t afford. But that doesn’t mean you need to spend your summer holed up in front of you computer or buried in research. There are lots of ways to make the most of your holidays and still have a fun, relaxing time away from classes and assignments. Use these six tips to inspire your summer productivity and have the best summer yet!

1. Volunteer
Summer is the perfect time to develop areas of your resume that may be lacking due to your busy schedule during the year. Of course, part-time jobs and internships make for great work-experience, but if you want your time to be more flexible or meaningful consider volunteering. Find a program where you can utilize and develop your unique skills. Coaching a local football camp will help hone your leadership and motivational skills. Language and STEM students will find that their expertise is in high demand for volunteer reading programs. Sociology students can look for volunteer work in community organizations that address local issues. And while some volunteer programs may require some long-term commitment, many opportunities allow people to work and participate as they are able leaving you free to work and play.

2. Set Some Goals
The school year can be intense, and it can be easy to develop bad habits or fall into a hectic work schedule. But during the summer you have the chance to reboot your life. As the semester comes to a close, assess the past year and figure out what worked and what didn’t. Did you pull too many all-nighters? Are you subsisting on a diet of cereal and take-out? Are your notes in a shambles because you never took the time to develop a workable system? Identify areas that need improvement and begin practicing good habits. Even a small goal, like taking a 30-minute walk every day will improve your mood, concentration, and energy levels, and if you establish good habits in the summer, it will be easier to keep them in the fall.

3. Read Widely
If your summer reading activity consists of filling your beach bag with paperback novels and magazines, and then promptly falling asleep under an umbrella, take a moment to reassess. If you’re like most grad students, you probably spend a lot of time reading during the school year and unless you’re studying literature or theater, your reading material probably leans more toward the academic side of things. But even if you need a break from primary sources or technical manuals, don’t waste your summer not reading. Go outside your comfort area and read things that will enhance your understanding of the world.

4. Consider Summer Semester
Of course, you need a break from classes, but summer semester can be the perfect time to earn some extra credits or take a class that you wouldn’t otherwise attempt. And summer courses tend to be smaller, more personal, and more diverse than regular semester offerings. Take the opportunity to learn the basics of German or computer engineering. Explore an area of your field that is outwith your research scope. Or if you want to max out a summer semester – enroll in a short-term study abroad program. The best part of summer courses is that they’re often condensed, which means you can get a semester’s worth of studying done in just a few weeks and still have time for relaxation.

5. Try Creativity
Summer productivity doesn’t have to be academic. Down-time from classes is the ideal time to explore your creativity and innovation. Just like developing new habits, exploring your creativity can have big payoffs once the school year starts. Do you have a small business idea? Put it into motion and you could have a small, but reliable income in a few months time. Hobbies and sports will broaden your social horizons and give you an outlet for stress once the pressures of the semester start to take hold. Explore blogging and social media to find modern ways to share and market your skills. Find something you love or something that sparks your imagination and use the summer to master it.

6. Enjoy Your Summer!
Whatever you do, remember that summer holidays are a time to relax and regroup after the stress of the school year. Spending your summer stressing about productivity, or a lack thereof, is counterproductive. Set reasonable goals and stick to your plan, but don’t forget to leave room for spontaneous hiking adventures, late-night bonfires on the beach, road-trips with friends, and the occasional day spent in a hammock.

Becoming a Diplomat

Diplomats or foreign service officers (FSOs) work in countries across the globe to assist citizens and further their countries interests and policies abroad. Depending on the career track, diplomats may work in consular services, economic interests, management, politics, or public diplomacy. Foreign service offices employ individuals with all different backgrounds and expertise because they need FSOs who are flexible, creative, and adaptable. Foreign service positions are generally short-term, with assignments ranging from months to several years, but the one constant in diplomatic work is that FSOs must be able to adapt quickly and assess the priorities of a situation or project. While the job may not be as glamorous as it’s made out to be in movies and TV, FSOs have the opportunities to live abroad in a variety of countries and situations and get hands-on experience with new cultures, people, and societies. Foreign service isn’t for everyone, but for hard-working, motivated individuals with a desire to live and travel abroad, diplomatic employment is an exciting option. If you think that a career as a foreign service officer is right for you, here’s how to prepare for a job in foreign service.

1. It depends on your homeland
The track to diplomatic careers differs depending on where you call home, but in most countries, foreign service officers, or their equivalent, are subject to similar requirements. Many countries require FSOs to be citizens of the country they will be representing. In the US, FSOs must be between the ages of 20 and 59 to qualify for service. But in general, countries are looking for FSOs with diverse skills, qualifications, and personal aptitude because each position is unique and presents its own challenges. Diplomats work on projects related to everything from sporting events to disease outbreaks, education initiatives, and peacekeeping. There is no one skill-set needed for diplomacy, but a willingness to listen and understand situations is a must.

2. Some degrees give you an upper hand
In the US, diplomats hold a variety of education levels ranging from high school diplomas to PhDs, and in the US, the UK, and other countries the first step to qualifying for a diplomatic career is passing a general aptitude test. These exams normally assess a candidate’s overall knowledge, so it’s important that prospective FSOs brush up on things likemathematics, reading comprehension, and logic. But a solid foundation from a degree in history, politics, law, or human rights will be a plus. Most foreign service offices also recommend that applicants be well-read and informed on current events, government, and international politics – essentially, if you’re serious about a diplomatic career, you should be reading a lot of newspapers.

3. Brush up your language skills
In the US, foreign language proficiency is not required for a diplomatic position because all successful applicants receive language training before their first post. However, fluency in a second or third language, as well as international experiences, will help your application stand out. Languages like Chinese, Arabic, Farsi, and Urdu are in high demand, but it’s more important to have strong written and spoken communication skills in your own language. After candidates have passed the entrance exam, most foreign service offices subject applicants to rigorous interviews and assessments aimed at identifying individual strengths and suitability.

4. Prepare for challenges…and competition
Foreign service is a challenging career. FSOs are always moving, which means that staying in touch with loved ones can be tricky, and for officers with families, the position can be taxing. But that doesn’t mean that foreign service is an unpopular career, and most foreign service offices have a large pool of new FSOs waiting for deployment as well as an established rank of officers, all of whom are competing for the choice assignments around the world. Placements are often given out based on rank, and new recruits should expect their first assignments to be in areas or regions that are more challenging than others. Successful FSOs learn to make the best out of tricky situations, know when to ask for favors, and work hard to succeed.

High Salaries For Student Is Not Good AT All

The old expression insists that “money makes the world go ‘round.” And while we’d argue that other factors are also important when it comes to choosing a course of study, there’s no denying that the right major can give you an inside edge on landing a lucrative job.

Think your options are limited to medicine, law and business? Think again. There are plenty of other lesser-known majors with the potential to lead to big bucks in the future. Read on for a roundup of five degrees linked with top salaries.

1. Engineering
Engineering isn’t for everyone. After all, it takes top-notch STEM skills, a keen analytical mind, attention to detail, and the drive to take on big challenges to succeed in this field. However, those who do are positioned for high-paying careers as engineers.

In South Africa, for example, MyBroadband’s list of jobs with the highest salaries based on data from CareerJunction’s Salary Review, reveals that three engineering careers come out on top: mining engineers, mechanical engineers, and project engineers.

Keep in mind that the figures above, which reflect South Africa’s booming mining sector, also highlight regional differences — a phenomenon seen across all jobs and areas of the world. In the U.S., comparatively, jobs in petroleum engineering, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering claim all of the top 10 spots for highest-paid engineering jobs, according to PayScale.

But even engineers who don’t work in the most lucrative engineering fields can expect to take home ample paychecks. Check out a comprehensive list of engineering degree options here.

2. Computer Science
We are living in a tech-centric world in which computing is part of everything we do. And while computers are used to solve the world’s problems across business, scientific and social contexts, they couldn’t do it without the people powering them. The great need for people with the skill and talent to work in this field results in an abundance of high-paying job opportunities. In fact, according to PayScale’s ranking of 129 college majors based on earning potential, eight computer-related majors claimed top 30 spots!

Meanwhile, the Association of Computing Machinery says, “Computing jobs are among the highest paid and have the highest job satisfaction. Computing is very often associated with innovation, and developments in computing tend to drive it. This, in turn, is the key to national competitiveness. The possibilities for future developments are expected to be even greater than they have been in the past.”

For more information on degrees in this red-hot field, check out Masterstudies’ complete list of computer science programs.

3. Architecture
Simultaneously an art and a science, architecture is an amazing discipline for people looking to embrace both their technical and creative sides. And while the path to becoming a professional architect may be a long one, those who pursue careers in this field get paid well to do so. In the UK, for example, “Architecture, Building and Planning” was ranked second by The Telegraph on its list of “Top 10 Degree Subjects By Lifetime Salary.”

Learn more about your architecture degree options here.

4. Public Relations
Just because STEM isn’t your strong point doesn’t mean you can’t get a high-paying job. Consider public relations, for example. In today’s social and connected era, companies are realizing the value of maintaining a positive public image, and they’re willing to pay for it in the form of qualified professionals. In fact, public relations managers earned a top five spot in CIO’s analysis of “10 Top Jobs by Salary for Social Media Pros.”

International students, in particular, will find plenty of opportunities awaiting them in PR as companies angle to reach a world audience in today’s global economy.

Thinking PR might be the right career choice for you? It all starts with a public relations degree.

Let’s Planning Your Retirement Right Now

Just because retirement is still 20,30 or even 40 years into the future doesn’t mean you can’t have a plan in place aimed at helping you reach your goals along the way. The first step in planning for the future is having a plan in the first place.

Begin by considering both your immediate and long-term financial goals. Be as thorough as possible, including everything from daily needs like groceries and commuting costs to more significant objectives, such as home ownership. Write these things down. Not only does research indicate that writing down your goals can help you reach them, but this list will become a touchpoint over the years.

After you’ve prepared your financial goals, your next step is to determine a “big picture” comprehensive budget to determine what it will take to get you there. Luckily, a number of free online resources exist to help you with this part of the process. Sites like Voya Financial’s Home Budget & Savings Calculator are a great way to see where your money is going and how to start saving.

2. Start Saving

Saving money is a habit. The sooner your start, the sooner it will become something you don’t even have to think about. Not to mention that you can’t miss what you never had to begin with, which is why workplace retirement savings plans — such as 401(k)s and Roth IRAs — which be set up to auto-deduct a preset amount from your paycheck, can be an invaluable financial jumpstart. Not only are these funds tax-deferrable, but many employers will also match your contribution.

By saving early, you can maximize what you’ll have in the long run. Consider a scenario shared by Bankrate revealing the difference between saving $2,000 a year beginning at age 35 and the same amount beginning 10 years earlier at age 25. With the former setup (assuming 8 percent earnings), you’ll reach the age of retirement with approximately $245,000. This may sound okay…until you consider that the 25-year-old saver would have racked up $560,000 — more than twice that of the 35-year-old saver.

The best part of starting to save now? Once you’ve got everything set up, all you have to do is kick back and watch your nest egg grow. And even if you can only spare a small amount now, you can adjust how much is being deducted as your financial situation improves.

3. Manage Your Debt
When it comes to four-letter words, this one is enough to strike fear in the heart of any financial planner: debt. Unfortunately, failure to understand the impact of debt — from student loans to credit card debt — from the onset can result in an unpleasant snowball effect. While completely avoiding debt may be an unrealistic expectation, having a plan to pay down your debt can prevent it from escalating. Experts suggest building paying off loans into your budget calculations, starting by tackling debt with the highest interest rates first.

One caveat? While your instinct may be to throw everything you’ve got at your debt toward a “clean slate,” delaying retirement contributions while failing to establishment a critical “rainy day” fund can be a slippery slope. Why? Because saving for retirement doesn’t necessarily get easier as you get older due to the accumulation of new financial responsibilities throughout life. In many cases, maxing our your retirement contributions while establishing a less aggressive loan repayment plan can lead to better financial outcomes.

4. Factor in Insurance
While you may automatically gain access to health insurance during your student days, it’s important to realize that your insurance needs won’t be static throughout your life. Depending on dynamic factors like debts and dependents, you may need varying health, life, and other forms of insurance. Reassessing your needs along the way can help ensure that you have enough coverage should a major life event or unexpected emergency arise.

In fact, regularly reviewing your retirement plans and making necessary adjustments along the way can be a vital part of remaining on track toward your retirement goals. Still think you’ve got plenty of time? So does everyone….until they don’t. By taking proactive steps to get ahead in the retirement game now, you’ll come out a winner in the not-so-far-off future