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Saturday, September 28, 2019

9 MONTHS OUT: STILL WORKING!

It's now been more than nine months since I graduated from college and lost my student status. Today's post is a follow up to my last one, which I wrote four months after graduating! In that post I covered some of the basics in career building/transitioning out of being a student in that one, and now I'm sharing more career tips and going into financial tips too! I love sharing information I learn that can help other young professionals in the same position, so I'm really excited to be writing this today :)



First of all, big thank you to my friend David who shot the photo you see above! He's an amazing photographer and a really great friend, and you can see more of this stuff by visiting his Instagram gallery HERE! I'm really enjoying this weather cooling down a bit, it gives me a chance to pull out one of my favorite jackets, this cheetah number my sister picked up for me last year for just $5 on sale! Also, I'm showing off one of my favorite new bags, the Phoebe by Danse Lente. You can find this on their site or on Net-A-Porter.

Since January, I've really been kicking it into high gear as far as focusing on my career goes. I accepted an offer in May to extend my amazing internship on the PR/influencer marketing team of a major beauty company for another term, meaning that at the end I'll have a year total here. I feel very fortunate to be in exactly the industry and team that I want to pursue a career in for the foreseeable future. I learn new things all the time and work with some really incredible people daily. I also recently started working with an awesome cafe in Brooklyn, Baba Cool, handling their social media and PR. Needless to say I'm kept busy! I'm exhausted most of the time but in the best way possible.

Also needless to say, I'm still figuring A LOT of stuff out. Below I'm listing out some of the most helpful things that I've learned and want to share with any other upcoming/recent grads. One of the biggest discoveries for me has been realizing that I never learned too much about managing finances. This has become really important for me to catch up on, since I'm still getting paid at an intern level and also have student loans I need to account for. I'm all about making your dollar stretch and work for you to the fullest extent.

Student loans are overwhelming me... how do I even start?
I was really DREADING the moment my grace period ended and I would have to face the reality of paying back my student loans, which for me was necessary to take out if I wanted to go to college. Though I was on an academic scholarship, I needed to cover room and board and whatever else my scholarships fell short to cover. The smartest thing I did was check out what my estimated monthly payments would be, then set myself up for automatic debits. This means you put in your bank account information and every time a payment is due, it's automatically deducted. This not only takes away the stress of having to remember to pay on time but also reduces your interest rate! Anytime you have extra savings, put it towards making extra one time payments to help decrease the balance you owe faster. It's actually a lot scarier to stay ignorant about your loans than it is to sit down and figure out a plan. I know the second I addressed my loans and saw exactly what I had to do to get the ball rolling on a plan for repayment I felt a whole lot more in control of the entire situation.

How can I build credit and what cards should I be applying for?
I love talking about credit cards! I think the easiest option for people looking for your first credit card is to go to your bank and open one. I think the best time to try for your first card is once you're in college, but if you're like me and got one a little later no worries! Like many college students, I applied for a Discover Card, which I've found to be one of the easiest to get. Discover is very first-card friendly, and I think they're mostly geared towards college students too (based off the fact they have good grade rewards, etc.). Discover has a great app to keep track of your card balance and paying off your statements, and also provides a free credit score. I also love it because they have CashBack rewards, and each quarter there's a category that you can get 5% back on (which is an incredible return!). Make the rewards/points work for you no matter what card you have, and apply for cards that offer rewards most useful for you.

My Discover card is great for getting CashBack on quarterly categories, for example over the summer it was 5% back on dining and Paypal and that's mostly what I spend on so it was great for me. I hear the American Express Gold card is also great for getting points on dining, though it's more difficult to get approved for. I also have a JetBlue card which I use to build up flight points since I would love to travel more and having points to help subsidize flight costs would be a huge help! Pay attention to promotional offers that give new cardholders extra points. Also, don't be scared off by cards that require a yearly fee, sometimes the benefits you get back make them worth it many times over!

Lastly, remember to monitor how much you're spending and be mindful of the date you need to pay it back. Sure the great thing about credit cards is you can pay later, but if you start missing payments it can really hurt your credit score. Also, if you can't pay in full, the remaining balance can accrue interest quickly and make your final repayments much higher. Be smart! Discover has really amazing customer service, and if you're interested in applying, use my link by clicking HERE and get a $50 statement credit!

What are some ways I can make my money grow faster?
I try to save a third of each paycheck. Sometimes it'll be more and other times it's less depending on my expenses, but I try to hold myself accountable and not make too many excuses. You'll notice with a regular bank savings account that the interest payments you get are very low... like just a few pennies haha. One of the best things I've learned from my co-workers has been what a High Yield Savings Account is! I'm still not an expert on it and don't know all the details, but it's a savings account that has a higher interest rate and allows your money to accrue interest faster. I use American Express, they don't charge a fee and you don't need to have an Amex card to be able to open it. It takes a few days to set up since they need to verify your account, but you get interest payments each month and they are way higher than your normal savings account. This is not the type of account that you move money out of frequently, it's for more long term savings. The UX is kind of clunky and you can't access this on an app, but it's still easy to navigate just on a regular laptop. If you're interested in starting one up/learning more, click HERE.

I hear about stocks and want to invest but I don't think I have enough money and don't even know where to start...
I hear this all the time from my friends! I'm still trying to figure out stocks and how to be strategic and make them work the best for me, and believe me I don't have that much to gamble or invest with either lol. BUT, I learned that you don't need to put in that much to see a little return. I have been interested in stocks since taking a Wall Street class in the tenth grade where we actually played the Stock Market Game (it was this national competition where you pretended to invest in stocks and you and your team competed with other students to see who could earn the most). I didn't know where to start and felt really intimidated by the whole thing... but finally a few months ago I went in and tried my hand!

I used Fidelity to set up a brokerage account, which was free. I had to call and have them help me fill out my info and set it up but eventually I was ready to start investing! If you want to check out Fidelity, click HERE. I like using them because their app is really easy to use and keep track of stock investments. You do need to link up your bank account to be able to transfer money in and know that it takes a few days to process. You should always keep a balance in there available so when you want to buy stock and it hits the price you're looking for you'll be ready! Each time you buy or sell, there is a broker fee but usually it's just a couple bucks. I suggest tracking the stock for a while and looking at the history if its price before deciding to invest, make sure you do your research and don't invest more than you're willing to lose (obviously). Due to the nature of stocks and the market, I check mine every day. It is a commitment and something that requires a little work, but it's actually kind of fun!

You don't need to put that much in to see a return on the stocks you invest in, it just depends on what stock you go for and how much you put in. For me, I think to myself that skipping eating out or buying lunch and putting it towards my stocks is something I can afford to do and will give a lot more benefit to my future.

I know what industry I want to be in but don't know connections and don't know how to break in. How do I start?
I can't stress enough how AMAZING LinkedIn is. I can really only speak on the beauty industry because that's where I am, but at the start I really didn't know anyone. I'm a Long Island working class kid and didn't grow up with anyone older around me who had professional contacts in beauty like that. My best advice is this: if you want to get into an industry, show that you're already interested in it, make a blog/portfolio showcasing that passion and your potential. Create a LinkedIn account, make sure it's always updated, and start connecting with people you know and people who work a brands/positions that you're interested in.

If you have people you can reach out to, remember that networking isn't about using people. Be kind and ask for help but also don't be too pushy or make people bend over backwards for you. Usually it's best to reach out to people you have something in common with, whether it's a friendship, or someone who went to your school. Also don't be afraid to ask people to introduce you to someone if they're a mutual friend. This is the foundation of networking and building connections, and very few people start out with a lot of connections. Networking isn't easy, but it's sooooo necessary! Also, follow brands and people you think are cool on LinkedIn and Instagram just to keep up. It's also a good idea to add HR contacts at brands you like and industry recruiters if you're looking for job opportunities and want to be current on what's posted.

How do I show people what I can do and what opportunities I'm looking for?
This kind of ties into my last answer, but it's so important to showcase what you do/can do/want to do on social channels. This is about marketing yourself, because the right opportunities can't come to you if people don't know you! For example, I had pushed on my Instagram account that I was looking for freelance opportunities. A little while later, I helped a friend create a plan for his music career. I keep up with my own blogging stuff because I'm passionate about beauty and creating content, and from that other people can consider me in similar roles. My former boss actually was the one who connected me with this social media job I have with the Brooklyn cafe, and that's because I had similar responsibilities at my old internship and from my blog she knows this is what I'm into and good at (shoutout to you Liza)!

In addition to LinkedIn, where things are professional and more serious, I also share a bunch on Instagram so bloggers/friends/other creatives who don't have me on there also keep up with what I'm doing. People hit me up all the time there for projects and photoshoots for my blog. Instagram is also a wonderful place for curating if you're a creative, or just sharing updates on what you've been working on personally and professionally. It doesn't mean you need to create another account, just post accordingly!


That's all I have for now, but I always invite anyone with any more questions on how to build a career in the beauty industry/pr specifically to reach out to me and ask! I think we can always do more together, and if I'm able to help then I totally will. Hope this post has been helpful, it's stuff I definitely wish I learned earlier! Also, don't forget to connect with me on LinkedIn HERE :)