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Meet Scholarships.com's Virtual Interns: Casandra Pagni

by Casandra Pagn

At 18, I was going to be a lawyer. I had the next four years of my life planned out well. I was to attend the University of Michigan, double major in political science and economics, take the LSAT, attend law school, pass the bar and go from there. I even got into arguments with my older brothers when they told me to be open-minded as I left for school. But life took a few turns — some of them sharp — between then and now.

I chose Michigan for its large campus, student diversity, and rigor in academic disciplines. Okay...I confess. At 18, I chose Michigan because of the Big Ten sports. I was ready to see national championships first hand. But as my sports expectations came crashing down, the other things that Michigan offered began to shine. I joined a sorority. I played intramural sports. I went to concerts, saw the Dalai Lama and wrote for the campus newspaper. I followed the hockey team to the Frozen Four. Oh yeah, and I studied, too! I took and enjoyed classes with incredibly passionate professors.

I can't pinpoint the exact moment I knew I was going to become a teacher, but the person I became at Michigan is a more relaxed and open-minded version of the 18-year old aspiring lawyer I once was. I am now the ecstatic recipient of a degree in English and a high school teaching certificate. I am also committed to writing whenever and wherever I can and to making real changes in the way writing is taught today.

As a recent college graduate smack-dab in the middle of a job search, I plan to combine my passion for writing with my absolute love for the college years to bring you weekly posts with tried and true advice, honest perspective and a little bit of humor along the way. As a Scholarships.com virtual intern, I'll be looking back while looking ahead.


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No Job This Summer? It’s Not As Bad As You Think!

by Darci Miller

If you’re of the age to need the services offered by Scholarships.com, you’re also most likely of the age where summer is no longer the carefree, lazy paradise it once was. Back then, it was filled with summer camp, ice cream, beach days and late nights. But now? Now it’s all about gaining work experience.

If you’ve yet to hit this point, enjoy this summer. The real world of job-hunting is coming up fast. Hours spent working on your resume and cover letter, days spent emailing companies with internship listings, weeks spent waiting (and waiting...and waiting), potentially all for naught. And then there’s all the time spent pounding the pavement for a minimum wage job, only to get turned away from all of those as well. It’s not fun. Trust me, I’ve been there.

If you’re in this situation (and if you’re anything like me), you’re tearing your hair out at the prospect of doing nothing for three months. But look at the bright side: A recent study conducted by Australian National University found that, income notwithstanding, having a bad job is worse than having no job for your mental health. So you’ll be happier doing nothing than you would be at that lame job anyway!

But that still leaves you with approximately 90 empty days to fill, right? It really is important to get experience, so don’t let the summer go to waste. Try to volunteer somewhere to keep busy and keep your spirits up – and it’ll be something great to add to your resume if you do find something related to your major!

You can also take this time to do something you don’t have time for while attending school. Read that book you’ve been eyeing, rekindle an old hobby, start a blog. But no matter your plans, be sure to make this summer a good one!

Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all ‘80s pop culture (the cheesier the better!), and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big, and believes the sky’s the limit!


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Meet Scholarships.com’s Virtual Interns: Lisa Lowdermilk

by Lisa Lowdermilk

Hi everyone! My name is Lisa Lowdermilk and I live in Colorado. I just completed my Associate of Arts degree and I am transferring to the University of Colorado Denver this summer. I have completed my degree entirely online and I am transferring to UC Denver because of its online writing program. I prefer online schooling to traditional schooling because I feel it’s easier to stay organized and is more flexible. And hey, who doesn’t want to attend class in their pajamas?

I am majoring in English, specifically professional writing. I love being able to express myself through words – it is such a great way of connecting with other people – so much so that I have written a book, which I am getting published next year. It has always been my dream to be a published author and, though it’s been a lot of work, the end result will be worth it. If I had to describe my book, I would say it’s a young adult murder mystery set in the future and I’m so excited that other people will be able to read it! In addition to writing, I love to play video games, especially those for Nintendo and PlayStation. My favorite TV show is “Castle” (how many other TV shows have both murder and humor?); I also loved “Ugly Betty” and was pretty upset when it was taken off the air.

I was interested in becoming a virtual intern for Scholarships.com because I know that in today’s competitive job market, employers want workers with experience. I also like the idea of being able to help other students overcome the many obstacles of attending college...sometimes I think all the forms colleges require are more tedious than college classes!

Anyway, it’s great to “e-meet” everyone. Here’s to a great semester!


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Why Unpaid Internships Are Worth It

by Angela Andaloro

Although students quickly adopt the Dollar Menu lifestyle that pricey college living sentences them to, they are always looking for ways to make few extra bucks and live a little more comfortably. Many students totally rule out the idea of working for free because of this but what they don’t realize is they are missing out on great opportunities! Here are some reasons why unpaid internships are actually well worth your time:

  • It’s great experience. Interning in the industry you’re interested in working in after college will provide you with invaluable skills – skills that can give you an edge when going for your first job. You’ll also get a first-hand idea of what a job in the industry of your choice is like; you may realize it’s not for you after all.
  • It allows you to network. As an intern, you'll meet tons of new people, from other interns to CEOs. The connections you make here are important, as these are the first people who are getting to know you in a professional setting. Down the line, one of these connections may be able to clue you in on a job opening or serve as a professional reference.
  • It shows dedication. By taking an unpaid internship, you’re showing an employer that money isn’t your top priority. Dedication to the work rather than the benefits may give you a better chance at getting your foot in the door after graduation.

The most important thing to remember about any internship is that it’s your first step into the professional world. Making a positive impression is vital and there’s no better way to do so than by giving 100 percent every minute you’re on the job. A paycheck may not be on the line but your reputation is!

Angela Andaloro is a rising junior at Pace University’s New York City campus, where she is double majoring in communication studies and English. Like most things in New York City, her life and college experience is far from typical – she commutes to school from her home in Flushing and took nearly a semester’s worth of classes online – but she still likes to hang out with friends, go to parties and feed her social networking addiction like your “average” college student.


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Make Yourself Marketable This Summer

by Casandra Pagn

While a summer home from college should be relaxing, fun and regenerative, the three or so months away from school can also be the perfect time to bulk up the ever-elusive skills section of a resume or job application.

I totally understand that many college students need to take any ol’ job during the summer to save some cash for the school months. Whether you are waitressing, painting houses or mowing lawns, there are still a multitude of ways to continue to make yourself (and your resume) marketable during the summer.

First and foremost, internships (paid or unpaid) can often be tailored to the hours and schedule that you’d like to work. But, if an internship seems too time consuming, have no fear. Here are some other ways to make your summer count:

  • Contact local professionals to set up appointments to shadow them. This will give you some insight into that career and it’s something that you can bring up during future interviews to show you’re being proactive in that field.
  • Browse through your local park district or community college catalog and see what affordable, useful classes they offer. An introductory language course is a low time commitment and is a great asset to any resume, as are computer courses in a program that you’re not familiar with. At the end of the class, you will have learned the keys to a program that employers find valuable, such as Microsoft Excel or InDesign.
  • Borrow some how-to books from the library and teach yourself something! There are a ton of books on building websites and using graphic design programs, so why not take check one out and give it a try? It can’t hurt to learn those skills and the library membership is usually free.

Chicagoland native Casandra Pagni spent the past four years in the wonderful city of Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan. From watching football games in the Big House to bruising her knees playing intramural broomball on ice, she had the time of her life while at Michigan and embraced her inner and outer sports fanatic by covering the softball and hockey teams for the campus newspaper, The Michigan Daily. Casandra was also a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority and a teacher ambassador and this past April, Casandra graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and earned a secondary teaching certification. She is currently in Chicago looking for a teaching position.


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Face It: In-Person Communication is Important

by Casandra Pagn

So many of us (myself included) feel safe behind the veil of technology. Whether it's a Facebook profile, ultra-organized email or Twitter, let’s face it: It’s much easier to be the person you want to be when you carefully craft it out and spell check it twice. You can appear any way you want to...as long as you don’t have to think on the spot. I'm not trying to say that having a solid grasp on social media isn't beneficial (it certainly is!) but even in a technology-driven world, face-to-face conversational skills are still important.

The majority of interviews – especially selective or final ones – are still conducted in person. For a successful in-person interview, communicating well with a prospective employer while still showing some of your personality is critical. That's the benefit of face-to-face communication: You can show that you are unique, relatable and ready to be hired all through the way you talk. It’s important to convey confidence in your abilities at an interview and much of that confidence can be exuded through clear, thoughtful speech. Even phone interviews require these skills, as employers won't be as responsive to someone who has a robotic voice or is reading from a script.

Strong conversational skills are key in networking, too. Your ability to schmooze with someone in your field of interest may be the way to meet someone else who can put in a good word for you for a job or recommend another contact who can help. When it comes to getting a job, any connections could lead to potential employment.

Don't think you're a skilled conversationalist? Don't worry...just put your down your BlackBerry and talk! Practice makes perfect so instead of texting today, try making a phone call. I know it sounds crazy, but a confident, articulate voice might help land you a job down the road.

Chicagoland native Casandra Pagni spent the past four years in the wonderful city of Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan. From watching football games in the Big House to bruising her knees playing intramural broomball on ice, she had the time of her life while at Michigan and embraced her inner and outer sports fanatic by covering the softball and hockey teams for the campus newspaper, The Michigan Daily. Casandra was also a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority and a teacher ambassador and this past April, Casandra graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and earned a secondary teaching certification. She is currently in Chicago looking for a teaching position.


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The Dos and Don’ts of Summer School

by Brittni Fitzgerald

Spring semester is finally over...feels good, right? But before you start making those summer plans, consider whether or not summer school will be part of them. Here are some dos and don’ts to help you make your decision.

Do go to summer school if you’re a transfer student. It’s likely all of your classes did not transfer over from your old school to your new one. If you take summer classes, you can catch up on credits that didn’t transfer.

Do go to summer school if you dropped or performed poorly in a class. W/F, W/P and classes that earned a C or lower hurt your GPA. This criterion can make or break a student so to help your GPA, take a summer class to make up for a less-than-stellar grade.

Don’t go to summer school if you have an internship or job for the summer. This will probably be your first time interning or working for this particular company and you want to make a good impression. Some students can balance both but teachers cram a lot of work into those six weeks. Focus on either work or class to prevent failing at one or both.

Don’t go to summer school if you have little aid or growing debt. If you took classes in fall and spring semesters, you may have used up your financial aid award for the year. If so, you will have to pay for summer classes out of your own pocket. Definitely take the class if you can afford it but if you can’t, don’t add to your debt.

Hopefully these tips will guide you in the right direction this summer and you can make the right decision for a successful summer!

Though she moved from Fremont, Calif., to Chicago at the age of five, Brittni Fitzgerald will always remember the sun and fun of California life. She is the youngest of six children and is currently attending Chicago State University. There, Brittni is an accounting major and an active member of the Student Government Association but also a published poet (in 8th grade, her work was published with the Illinois’s 2004 “Celebrate! Young Poets Speak Out”). Brittni enjoys running, swimming, dancing, singing and shopping. Her motto is “Live Life Loud.”


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Meet Scholarships.com’s Virtual Interns: Chris Poshek

by Scholarships.com Staff

Hello everyone! I am really excited to be a virtual intern at Scholarships.com and look forward to writing for you and, in turn, hearing from all of you in the next few months. Here’s my story:

I began my college career at Alexandria Technical College and received my associate degree in applied science degree in computer voice networking. Unfortunately, I was laid off twice in the last three years in that field so I returned to school at Bemidji State University and am currently working toward a degree in early childhood education. Deciding on my major was easy: I have epilepsy and so does my daughter and in addition to working and attending college, I’ve been able to work with several non-profit foundations on some very rewarding projects. When I am not taking classes, I’m an outdoorsy person who loves to fish and hunt. I also am an avid sports fan, especially when it comes to my Minnesota teams. I also enjoy reading, listening to music, dancing and spending time with my family.

So, what will I write about on this blog? Well, the future of education seems to be taking learning online. I have some very useful experience in that area and this kind of education is far different than taking classes in a classroom. As a virtual intern for Scholarships.com, I look forward to helping college students seek out everything they need to make their time in school and their lives after college successful. Can’t wait to get started!


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A Minor Decision

How to Select a Minor Field of Study

June 3, 2011

A Minor Decision

by Lisa Lowdermilk

So, you've finally chosen your major and are wondering if you should choose a minor as well. Generally, most minors require between 12 and 30 credits to complete (that’s about four to 10 extra classes). Obviously your major is much more important than your minor, as declaring a minor is not a necessary step to graduation, but pairing your major with a related minor may just give you the edge you need in today's competitive job market.

For example, if you're majoring in English like I am, getting your minor in journalism is a great way to show future employers you're serious about writing. Since many students take whichever electives they feel like, declaring a minor proves to your prospective employer that you are a focused and disciplined individual, two of the most important qualities an employee can possess.

On the other hand, your minor doesn't have to be related to your major at all. Maybe you've always had an interest in graphic design but you've decided to major in something completely unrelated, like biochemical engineering. While your employer may not need someone with graphic design skills, at least you are able to further your study in two subjects you are interested in.

If you can't figure out what to minor in, or have already used up all your elective credits, don't worry! While a minor can be a nice addition to your resume, it doesn't provide a clear overview of your skills like a major does.

Lisa Lowdermilk is a published poet, avid video gamer and artist. Her poems have appeared in Celebrate Young Poets: West (Fall 2006) edition and Widener University's The Blue Route. She enjoys watching thrillers, trying different restaurants and attempting to breakdance. Lisa is now majoring in professional writing at the University of Colorado Denver.


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Jobs That Didn't Exist Until Recently

by Lisa Lowdermilk

In today's technologically-evolving society, nothing is set in stone. Jobs that weren't even imaginable until the latter half of the 20th century (think: bloggers, computer programmers and web designers) have sprung up in droves. The rise of such fields has created many more degrees, leaving college students with more majors than ever to choose from.

One of these degrees is nursing informatics, which requires knowledge of – surprise! – nursing, information science and computer science. Another example is web programming, which teaches students how to program websites that are informative, unique and don't give their users the dreaded 404 error message. A third example is human computer interaction (HCI), which focuses on how technology affects both societies and individuals.

In all three of these fields, the added technological component means today's college students must devote more time learning than their predecessors. But don't be discouraged: Technology has made it easier than ever for nurses to diagnose patients, provide them with the treatment they need, access information relating to the patients’ medical histories and monitor their conditions. Additionally, web programming enables information to be distributed much more widely than print-restricted media, such as books, brochures and magazines. And HCI specialists analyze the interaction between humans and computers, so that every user's virtual experience is as painless and rewarding as possible.

Since our society continues to evolve by leaps and bounds technologically, there may be many more degrees available in the next few years that we haven’t even thought of yet. While some people may lament the loss of jobs to technology, just remember that many more have cropped up to take their places – a fact job seekers are more than happy to hear!

Lisa Lowdermilk is a published poet, avid video gamer and artist. Her poems have appeared in Celebrate Young Poets: West (Fall 2006) edition and Widener University's The Blue Route. She enjoys watching thrillers, trying different restaurants and attempting to breakdance. Lisa is now majoring in professional writing at the University of Colorado Denver.


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