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Create a College-Friendly Holiday Budget...and Stick to It!

by Radha Jhatakia

It’s that time of the year again where we see festive decorations, cheerful people...and empty wallets. The holiday season can definitely take a toll on our bank accounts – not only do you have to buy gifts but you have to get formal wear for fun holiday events! Can it be done on a college budget? Hard to believe but it can!

First, know where and when to shop. Stores will sometimes offer seemingly large discounts on Black Friday but drop prices even more as the holidays draw closer. How do you know which sales you will save the most on? Well take a look at retailers’ websites to determine the prices and sales they usually have. If you see the percentage of the sales on "special shopping days" are the same as their usual Saturday sales, it’s not a deal! I know what stores I need to go to by doing a little research ahead of time, targeting what items I want and finding additional discounts online and in catalogs: Last year, I found a $99 jacket on sale for $19!

Also, think about making gifts – it’s the thought that counts after all! This year, I’m on a tighter budget so I’m going to make customized stockings. People love gifts that are handmade over something store-bought that might be exchanged. You can even fill the stockings will homemade treats; there are so many recipes for easy-to-make desserts online!

Just remember that the holidays are not about how much you spend. Shop only for what you need and give the rest from the heart. Enjoy the season, amazing food and great friends without going broke!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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Making Thanksgiving Dinner in Your Dorm

by Radha Jhatakia

Not all college students are able to celebrate Thanksgiving with their families. If this sounds like you, don’t worry: You can still get into the holiday spirit in your dorm. Many of you are probably wondering how to pull off a Thanksgiving feast when you don’t have a kitchen and/or cooking skills but here’s a little guide to help you:

  • You can find ready-made mashed potatoes in the refrigerated section of your grocery store or buy raw potatoes and cook them in the microwave (some even have a button for this). For gravy, buy a powdered packet and add the requirement of heated water. Voilà!
  • If you don’t want canned cranberry sauce, heat fresh cranberries in the microwave until the juices are released. Add sugar to taste and mix while slightly mashing them with a spoon.
  • Candied yams would be difficult to make from scratch in a dorm so buy canned pre-cut and peeled ones. Heat the yams in the microwave with butter then add some cinnamon and sugar (granulated white and brown). When the sugar melts, you’re done!
  • Boxed stuffing can taste just as good as the homemade kind. Get the Stove Top brand – all you need to do is mix it with hot water.
  • For the bird, most grocery stores have cooked rotisserie turkey and chicken. You can add your own seasoning or eat it as is.
  • Get a bottle of sparkling apple cider or grape juice for delicious mocktails.
  • Pick up a ready-made pecan or pumpkin pie from your grocery store for a treat...or maybe even some seasonal cupcakes.

Bon appétit, everyone!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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What Are My Career Options?

by Radha Jhatakia

When we begin college, we all have ideal jobs we want after graduating. We explore the majors which will allow us to go into these fields and choose schools based on which ones have the best programs for our intended futures. Then we graduate, ready to achieve those goals, but how many of us actually get our dream jobs right away?

While some students are offered jobs in their fields quickly, others aren’t as fortunate. Many recent grads spend months interviewing before settling on something – anything – to pay the bills or realize they can’t do what they wanted with their degree and must gain additional certification or experience. Nothing can guarantee you will be able to do what you’ve always dreamed right out of school but there are ways to prepare yourself for either situation.

Use your college resources from the beginning. All colleges have career centers and counselors who can assist you with internships, jobs and post-college options. Meet with them and create a career plan first semester freshman year instead of last semester senior year. By doing so, you could obtain a job freshman year to help you gain some work experience, serve as a TA during your sophomore year and gain an excellent recommendation letter, score an internship in your field of study during your junior year and continue it in your senior year, then either get a job offer from that internship or at least have a resume or portfolio to present to potential employers who will be amazed with your dedication. Not bad!

If you haven’t found your dream job after you graduate, don’t give up your hope. Everyone has to start somewhere and for most people, it isn’t what they would consider ideal. If you are persistent, work efficiently without complaint and show that you are capable of doing much more, your employers won’t waste your potential.

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major who will be transferring to San Jose State University this fall. She’s had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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Interviewing as a College Student

by Radha Jhatakia

Having a job offer before you graduate is ideal but doesn’t always happen. The truth is it’s slightly easier to get a job in college than after because you are on a different playing field than recent grads. When applying for a job in college, you go through university relations but after you swing your tassel from right to left, you become a candidate for human resources like everyone else applying for the position.

Applying starts with the resume. An impressive college resume doesn’t mean multiple pages of volunteer experiences and jobs – it’s about quality, not quantity. Highlight your most important jobs, internships and community service organizations and focus on how the skills you’ve gained would add to the job you’re interested in. Be prepared to talk about these attributes in more detail in your cover letter and during your interview.

If you get an interview, remember to relax. Employers look for students who are confident and collected during the interview – if you can’t handle the pressure of the interview, how will you handle the responsibilities of the job? Bring extra copies of your resume and be sure to dress appropriately: Employers already have certain standards in mind for college applicants and arriving prepared and dressing professionally will show them you are mature and willing to take on responsibilities and tasks that graduates can. In the days leading up to your interview, practice answers to basic questions. Remember, you’ll be having a conversation so try not to sound too rehearsed.

After interviewing, take it upon yourself to follow up with a thank you note to your interviewer, preferably a handwritten one and never one sent from your cell phone. This seemingly small gesture will go a long way in employers’ books; you’ll stand out from the crowd in a positive way and land the job – or at least some interview experience – as a result!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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Selling/Buying Items for School

by Radha Jhatakia

It’s the end of the academic year which means summer vacation, summer school and, for many students, moving home until the fall. Moving out is never a simple process but for the items and supplies that you do not want to keep, selling them or giving them away for free are some options. This is also the best time for students to purchase furniture and other household items especially if they are living off campus – they might be second hand but it will save you quite a bit of money!

College students who want to sell items have a variety of outlets to consider. Create a free Craigslist posting – all you need to do is take a picture of the item you’re selling, give a brief description and list a price and some contact information so interested buyers can reach you. Advertising on campus through flyers in the student union and dorms is also an option; student buyers might be more willing to meet with you if they know you are another student. Lastly, if you are moving or graduating and taking items with you isn’t an option or storing them is too inconvenient, you can donate the items or give them away for free – believe me, students trying to furnish their abodes will thank you.

The dorms at SJSU did something innovative this year to help students get rid of things they didn’t need in a convenient manner and for students to find something they might need: We used a spare lounge in the dorms to pile up items including mini-fridges, TVs, game consoles, bookshelves, clothing, books and so much more. Many students found it useful and were able to take whatever they wanted for free; everything that was left at the end was donated. Success all around!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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The Accidental Career

August 30, 2012

The Accidental Career

by Radha Jhatakia

Accidental careers occur so often now-a-days that they hardly seem accidental at all. Some people start jobs assuming that they’re only temporary or a springboard into other jobs and they become unintended careers. This could be anything from a high school after-school job to an internship gone right – we often don’t realize that we’ve developed the career until we’re already in it, hence the "accidental" moniker.

Finding or even choosing a career that you had never intended on going into isn’t wrong. When it comes to choosing a career, there is no right or wrong as long as you are doing something you enjoy. On average, a person changes their career seven times over their lifespan. This can happen because the major you chose isn’t something you enjoy, because you want to advance in or change your field, or because you are trying something new. With such a diverse variety of options for different careers, the opportunities are endless.

Who knows, one day you might stumble upon a career without noticing and enjoy it! Recently, I found my potential career this way. This summer, I had an internship with a company I hadn’t pictured myself working at before but positive experience and in-depth exposure I received changed my mind. Throughout the course of the internship, I began to see it as less of a temporary job and more as a future career. Now when I graduate in December, I will have my own accidental career – something different than what I pictured myself doing and different than what I majored in. It just goes to show you can find your career anywhere...even when you’re not looking!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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LinkedIn Dos and Don’ts

August 9, 2012

LinkedIn Dos and Don’ts

by Radha Jhatakia

From Twitter and Tumblr to Facebook and Google+, there are a variety of social media sites that one can use these days. Although these websites serve different purposes, there is one that everyone should have: LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a social media site specifically created for professional networking. You create a profile, upload a picture and enter some information about yourself and then you can search for others who work in your desired field. You can also be searched for based on any number of criteria and the connections you make here could lead to recruitment and employment opportunities. If you think you can use LinkedIn the same way you use other sites, however, you’ve got another thing coming. Here are a few tips for LinkedIn success.

Since you are essentially selling yourself to potential employers on LinkedIn, put the very best version of yourself out there. Start with a decent and professional picture – you don’t have to be in a suit or tie but no snapshots of you at a party or dressed provocatively should EVER be used. Also, be mindful of how you describe yourself: For example, in the hobbies and interest section, don’t list “partying” – try “socializing” or “networking” instead. LinkedIn is very different from Facebook and to be taken seriously, you must promote yourself as such. Keep in mind that if you are questioning whether or not to include something on your profile, it probably doesn’t belong there!

You can also upload a resume to LinkedIn so make sure it’s top-notch and that the information in your resume matches your profile information. (No embellishing!) Another benefit of LinkedIn is that you can upload recommendation letters from your professors or employers to give those viewing your profile a bit more insight into who you are and what you’re capable of; you can ask your LinkedIn contacts to recommend you as well...just be ready to return the favor when asked. Professionals are increasingly putting their LinkedIn URLs on their business cards; it’s certainly a creative way to get exposure – is YOUR LinkedIn page worthy of such publicity?

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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Want to Learn Something New? Give Student-Run Seminars a Try!

by Radha Jhatakia

One of the best ways for a student to learn something is to teach it. This is an ideology that many professors use by assigning students projects in which they must demonstrate something to their classmates. When these projects expand to outside the classroom and become open for any students to attend, it becomes a seminar and an opportunity for other students to learn something.

Student-run seminars are growing in popularity because they allow students an access to knowledge and allow other students to hone their teaching and presenting abilities. At SJSU, the College of Social Sciences hosts “COMM Week” – five days devoted to projects presented by students in seminars that are open for all students to attend. Professors in the communications department give students guidelines and the students have the entire semester to conduct research for their presentations. An example of one project was to design and market an app for a smartphone. Students conducted research on what apps were profitable and how to sell their app and then proceeded to create interfaces, pamphlets and websites to promote their ideas. (A few students even turned their innovative ideas into career opportunities, as these projects were presented at a trade show with investors from different companies.) Another project included conducting a training workshop for students to assist them learning something such as presenting, networking and other skills valued by employers. Companies pay trainers to teach employees different procedures and policies within a company so really, the students who were successful with their seminars could continue to train as a form of work.

Whenever students ask when or how they will use something they learned in the classroom in the real world, they should know that what they learn in school gives them skills to use in life after college. Any of these or other school projects can even be used to jumpstart a career!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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Necessary Documentation for Employment

by Radha Jhatakia

As we get older, one of the necessities of life is to always have legal identification with us – a piece of paper or plastic card that confirms who we are. A most basic form that many of us have is a driver’s license but if you want to work or intern, you’ll have to provide specific identification depending on where you’ll be employed.

When applying for a job or internship, you’ll need legal documentation to prove citizenship status within the U.S. and/or eligibility to work in the U.S. The most common forms of identification that you are allowed to use are a birth certificate, passport, driver’s license, state identification card, social security card, school ID and military ID, though there are others. Unless the document you have has both your picture and social security information, which proves citizenship such as a passport, you will need two documents. (One of these documents must have your full name, state of residence, picture, and/or SSN if the other document provides the rest.) This is the bare minimum for jobs and internships in the United States.

If you are looking to work abroad or even study abroad, you will need some additional documents. Students wishing to study abroad will need a visa but the type of visa depends on the length of the time you will be traveling and the country you are going go. The most common type of visa for students is the F-1, which allows the students a small period of time after their education period is over to stay in the country. If one wishes to work abroad, a different type of visa is required; however, it also depends on if it's a U.S. company with a location in another country or if it is a foreign company. Most likely, you will need an international work visa...but don’t wait until the last minute to procure what you need: There is a process that should be started a minimum of six to eight months prior to traveling in order to have the documents on time.

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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Just the (FAFSA) Facts, Ma’am

Tips and Tricks for Filing This Oft-Dreaded Application

March 9, 2012

Just the (FAFSA) Facts, Ma’am

by Radha Jhatakia

For those of us who cannot afford large out-of-pocket expenses for college, financial aid is our only option. Many, if not all, universities require their students to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid – aka the FAFSA – which uses your family’s finances and taxes in order to best determine how much aid you get. It can be confusing but it is definitely worth your time to file the application.

Depending on the state of the school you attend and live in, the FAFSA has different deadlines. States offer different grants and scholarships as long as you qualify and apply by the stated deadline and private schools also have different deadlines for private funding which can be found on their websites. The dates for states can all be found on the print out form on the FAFSA’s website. Remember to use this official government website – other sites charge fees.

The FAFSA requires you to have a federal PIN number. To apply for one, request one from the FAFSA website. (Make sure to do this even if you don’t have your tax returns, as the PIN number sometimes takes some time to receive.) Also, a new procedure that the FAFSA has is the IRS data retrieval tool, which takes the tax information directly from the IRS database and filters it into the FAFSA. This option not only makes life easier for those filing the FAFSA but it helps college financial aid offices, as they won’t require you to turn in additional documents to verify if the information is correct.

Always try to have yours and your parents' tax returns completed as soon as possible to have your FAFSA completed on time; however, since required documents like W-2s and other federal papers often aren’t available when you need them, file the FAFSA and select the option “Will File” rather than “Already Completed” for the question asking if you have already filed the tax returns. Use the tax information from the previous year so that you can have it completed by the deadline and once your tax returns are complete, go back into the FAFSA and use the “Make Corrections” option to update the information.

Happy filing, everyone!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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