Tag Archives: college

Student Loans Suck!

student-loans-cash

I recently got my student loan information in the mail…and needless to say, I was extremely upset.  I literally made a copy just so I can rip it up!  Yes, with the student loans, I was able to gain an education that will allow me to go farther in my career than most people, but when the repayment information comes, it just SUCKS!

It is a long process to make sure that I am not having to make $500 payments per month, which let’s be real, no recent college graduate can make that high of a payment.  All I could say when I saw that is…Are they F***** INSANE!

Having federal and private loans add more frustration, as I have to fill out paperwork and figure out a payment plan with two separate loan servicers who have two different ways of doing things.

For my federal loans, I first had to consolidate the 13 individual loans so that I am not making separate payments for each.  Let’s just say, in order to qualify for federal loan consolidation you must have more than a $50,000 balance combined.  Yea…I have more than that.

I am now just waiting for them to process this so that I can finalize a payment plan and set up automatic payments.  Wish me luck on this.  For those of you in a similar situation, I would highly recommend automatic payments because most loan servicers offer a deduction on the interest rate.

I have finally figured things out with my private loan servicer though, thank goodness.  The only thing is that they never want me to start setting things up early, like my automatic payments.  I was advised to wait until right before I make my first payment.  It’s quite annoying because I wanted everything set-up and ready to go before the end of my grace period.  Look out for this when you are trying to figure out your repayment options.

Don’t take my ranting about student loans to mean I regret going to college.  In fact, I enjoyed my college experience and having my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees have opened up more doors for me than without them.  I know a lot more about the business world because of what I learned in college and it prepared me for a career.

So, you will know when I am done paying off my loans, because I will probably submit a post that simply says…STUDENT LOANS FINALLY PAID OFF!!  Look out for this post 30-40 years from now. Haha.

If you have any questions about the student loan process, please feel free to write a comment.  I will offer as much advice as I can.

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Student Spotlight: Jacob Fuertes

Every student has a story.  Even a campus as small as Woodbury University has a diverse background with students from different countries and cities.  Some students are from Italy while others grew up five minutes away.  The point is everyone is different, but everyone also has the same thing in common…they are working towards their education.

I want to put the spotlight on current students with differing backgrounds.  My first interview is with Jacob Fuertes, a Woodbury University graphic design student.  I met Jacob in February of 2012 when I was interviewing him for a position with the Woodbury University Phon-A-Thon.  I instantly knew that he would be a great addition to the team with his great work ethic and energetic personality.

The Pacoima native is currently in his second year of the graphic design program at Woodbury University and he agreed to answer a few of my questions about being a college student.

Q: What do you like most about Woodbury University?

What I like about Woodbury University would have to be the size of the campus.  The reason for that is a student fresh out of high school it’s easier to cope with the transfer from high school to college due to the size and not becoming overwhelmed.

Q: Do you work? If so, tell me about your job(s)?

Due to my hectic class hours it became hard for me to find a job out side of school. However, I was lucky enough to find a wonderful job on campus with the Phon-A-Thon with great people!=)

Q: What is it like being a full-time student and working?

Well at times it can become very overwhelming, for me the days would begin to blend together, but thanks to the support of family and loved ones it made it easier to keep a leveled head.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

After graduation I know most of my classmates will continue on with there education, but for me that is the moment I start my life as a true adult. Meaning finding work and leaving my mark in the world every where I go.

Q: What is your most memorable moment at Woodbury?

The most memorable would be my first day at Woodbury because I remember I was running late and was scared of making a bad impression the first day. So like a freshman I was running all over campus not knowing where the classroom was until I ran into a student from SOAR and he pointed me to right direction.

Q: What was you favorite class and why?

So far I would say Digital Practice.  The reason for that is because it gave me an idea of the different programs that I would be using in my major.  Plus we had a really cool teacher (Brian Herbberts).

Q: What are the goals you have from now until graduation?

My goals is to keep my grade point average up because with that I receive a grant from the school. Also to make great friends and making those connections that might come in handy in the future.

Q: Where do you want to be in 10 years?

Hmm in 10yrs. I hope I have a great job and a house of my own, but honestly I’m not completely sure.  When I get there I’ll let you know=)

Q: What advice do you have for incoming college students?

My only advise would be hit the ground running, give 100% of your effort and you will get 100% in return. Keep in mind no one can make it in life with out an education!! Also if money is tight try to finish general ed. or classes at community colleges, but do it a month before summer break so you the best chance in getting in.
Jacob is an amazing student and I am really glad I had the chance to work with him in the spring.  I truly believe that he will do great things in the future and during his time at Woodbury. 🙂
Please let me know about your college experience or if you would like to be interviewed for my blog.  Thank you again Jacob!!!

Embarrassing College Moments

We have all been there. Most students are in college for a least four years and there has to be a few embarrassing moments in there. I am no different. There have been several embarrassing moments for me and I am going to share 3 of them.

Volunteering for the Hypnotist Show

My first year at Woodbury University, I lived on campus and wanted to try as many new things as I could. There was an event that my roommate and I decided we would go to. A hypnotist show.

The hypnotist comes in and introduces himself. He then asks for volunteers. Surprisingly I volunteered. When I was in high school, I probably would not have volunteered for something like this. But like I said, I was going to try new things in college. I volunteered and I was fully aware of what I was doing, but it was like I didn’t care and did it anyway.

I was dancing funny, did a cat walk, and overall showed a different side of myself to people I barely knew. It was embarrassing, but fun at the same time. Watching the video always makes me laugh. You can see me there in the yellow shirt.

First Architecture Review

In my first year of college, I majored in architecture. It was the end of the first semester and I was finishing up my final project for review. This would be the first review where guests were brought in to look at everyone’s projects. The project consisted of being assigned some sort of object, mine was an electrical device. Then using wood we had to build something incorporating the objects.

I like to design things that are symmetrical, so that’s what my project was about. Symmetry. Reviews can go in so many different directions. One reviewer may love your project, while another hates it. It just so happens that the Dean of Architecture was at our review and he came up to my project and looked at it.

I explained my project and idea. Silence. Then he said that he didn’t like it. So embarrassing considering that there were other students around, professors, and guest reviewers. Nothing was more embarrassing in architecture than having the Dean say he didn’t like my project. But I survived and didn’t change the way I like to design.

Ranch Dressing

My friend and I were getting lunch during the rush hour at Woodbury’s cafeteria. I got my usual. Turkey sandwich and fries. My friend got his usual as well including his ranch dressing. We were walking with our food outside and I was leading the way. I get to the door, open it, and start to walk outside when my friend trips.

He tripped and the ranch dressing fell to the ground splattering all over including the back of my leg. Good thing I was wearing jeans, but this was still embarrassing with all the people sitting outside eating their lunch.

There have been several other embarrassing moments for me throughout college. But I wanted to share a few. If I shared all of them, I would end up writing a book. The key to getting over embarrassing moments is to laugh at yourself. Don’t let it get to you in a negative way.

Tell me about some of your embarrassing college moments in the comments.

The Winning Scholarship Essay

Earlier this year, I set out to apply for the Woodbury University MBA Association Scholarship Contest. They would choose a total of three prize winners, one who received $1000 and the other two $500 each. The only requirement of this contest was to answer a simple question in 5oo words or less. The question was, How has your experience so far in the Woodbury University MBA program changed you as a person? I applied and as it turns out I was able to snag one of the $500 scholarships.

I would encourage all college students to take advantage of any and all scholarship contests that they qualify for. The more scholarship funds you have, the less student loan debt you have to pay off in the future. The follow is my winning scholarship essay:

Woodbury University MBA Program Scholarship Essay

By Danielle E. Miller

When I graduate from the Woodbury University MBA program, I will be the first in my family to do so. I will be the first child my father gets to see walk across the stage to receive a graduate degree and my hope is that I will not be the last. I want to show my siblings that they can do anything if they set their minds to it and perhaps one day they too will walk across a stage to receive their first Master’s degree. As the oldest, I feel the need to set an example for them and getting my MBA degree is doing just that. I can tell them that I learned how to market a business through social media because of what I learned in the program. I can tell them that the writing skills I have gained help me write articles for my personal blog and as a marketing intern at work. I can tell them that I will be starting my own business based on the lessons I learned in my marketing, finance, economics, and entrepreneurship courses. I can ultimately tell my siblings that getting this degree will enable me to have the life our mother could not give us. It gives us a life that does not involve scrapping for change to buy food, getting hand-me-down clothes, or worrying about losing our home. Ultimately, this program will give me a better life than what I had growing up.

With this degree I will be able to step out into the business world prepared to take on any challenges I may face. But the question remains, has the Woodbury University MBA program changed me as a person? I would have to say it has. I have become a more confident person and more confident in what I believe in. I feel as though I can do anything. I am not afraid to voice my own opinions and stand up for what I am passionate about, even if others do not agree with it. I have been able to use what I have learned at my job and I have actually started planning a marketing strategy for the book I am writing. Coming straight from the undergraduate program at Woodbury University, I assumed everything would just be review for me. In actuality, I am applying what I have learned as an undergraduate in the MBA program.

I am looking forward to the next chapter in my life. In this chapter, I will have my Master’s of Business Administration degree from Woodbury University and I will show everyone that no matter where you come from and no matter how much money you have, it can be done. In this next chapter, I will be the person my siblings look up to. I will be the person they can come to for advice, for guidance, and for inspiration. Because of the MBA degree my life will be exactly how I dreamed it would be.

Message to the Class of 2012

This past Friday I got to see my baby brother receive his high school diploma as a 2012 graduate.  Even though the weather was less than ideal, I was proud to see him in his blue cap and gown ready to take on the world.  Many of the commencement speeches were cliché, talking about the good times and how their four years have flown by so fast.  They talked about their classes, teachers, dances, pep rallies, broken hearts, and lunch time debacles.  However, there was one speaker who talked about what the future holds for the 2012 graduates.  Some will be going off to conquer the business world, some to fight for our freedom while others are perfectly content to settle down in the Antelope Valley.  They are ready for that next step in their lives as high school graduates.  But what they don’t realize is how short life can be.  How everything can suddenly come to a halt and that life can easily be taken away.

What inspired me to write this piece was not only my brother graduating, but also how days after her own commencement Marina Keegan lost her life in a fatal car crash.  It’s amazing how someone can achieve so much and in an instant it can all be taken away.  The graduating class of 2012, whether they be graduating from high school or college should live each day to the fullest, take nothing for granted, and try to experience and learn as much as possible.

I wanted to share an excerpt from the last thing Marina ever wrote, titled The Opposite of Loneliness.  I feel that what she wrote is inspirational and should be shared with as many people as possible.  She puts life in perspective as a graduate and understands how life is drastically changing.  I didn’t know her and we attended school on opposite sides of the country, but her words still touched me:

We’re so young. We have so much time. There’s this sentiment I sometimes sense, creeping in our collective conscious as we lay alone after a party, or pack up our books when we give in and go out – that it is somehow too late. That others are somehow ahead. More accomplished, more specialized. More on the path to somehow saving the world, somehow creating or inventing or improving. That it’s too late now to BEGIN a beginning and we must settle for continuance, for commencement.

When we came to Yale, there was this sense of possibility. This immense and indefinable potential energy – and it’s easy to feel like that’s slipped away. We never had to choose and suddenly we’ve had to. Some of us have focused ourselves. Some of us know exactly what we want and are on the path to get it; already going to med school, working at the perfect NGO, doing research.

For most of us, however, we’re somewhat lost in this sea of liberal arts. Not quite sure what road we’re on and whether we should have taken it. If only I had majored in biology…if only I’d gotten involved in journalism as a freshman…if only I’d thought to apply for this or for that…

What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. Get a post-bac or try writing for the first time. The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious. We’re graduating college. We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.

We’re in this together, 2012.  Let’s make something happen in this world.

So, class of 2012, instead of dwelling on the fact that your years in high school have come to an end and that friends you once knew may move to opposite ends of the country, you should look to what the future holds and what you can bring to the world.  Embark on endless journeys that lead you down paths of success, love, knowledge, and remarkable experiences.  Don’t take life for granted, don’t lose faith in yourself, and don’t ever stop dreaming!

Entrepreneur Interview- Timothy Gaspar

There are so many entrepreneurs in the world and a handful of them started their businesses when they were attending college or high school.  While some become a big time success such as Facebook creator Mark Zuckerburg there are those small businesses that make a difference in their own communities.  The question is how did they do it?  How were they able to open up and sustain a business while attending school?

To answer these questions, I set out to talk to those entrepreneurs that were able to make their dream of owning a business a reality while pursuing an education.  My first interview is with Timothy Gaspar of Gaspar Insurance Services, Inc., in Woodland Hills.

Q: Tell me a bit about yourself.

A: I live in Woodland Hills, am married and I have a 1 year old son. I’m 30, went to El Camino for High School and CSUN for College, I graduated with a degree in Finance. I owned a small business when I graduated high school so I didn’t originally to go College, but when I met my wife when I was 21 she made me go or she said she wouldn’t marry me. Plus, by that point I had a few good “lumps” from business so I knew I better have a solid foundation.

Q: Tell me about your business.

A: I own an insurance agency. We provide personal insurance policies to individuals and families including earthquake, homeowners, auto, umbrella etc. We also provide insurance for businesses including general liability, workers compensation, professional liability, etc. I currently have 20 people and 2 offices.

Q: Why did you decide to open up your business?

A: I love running a business, it’s my passion. Some part of me enjoys the fact that it’s incredibly challenging every single day (including weekends).

Q: How did you balance your education and your business ventures?

A: I went to school at night via the PACE program. I like being busy, it motivates me. When I’m not busy I noticed I get incredibly lazy. You just find ways to get everything done

Q: What steps did you need to take to open up you business?

A: I did as much planning and work as I could before I left my old firm. I didn’t pull the trigger on stepping out on my own until all my ducks were in a row. Once you take that leap there is no going back so you don’t want to find out you forgot to submit some form to the state that is going to delay you another week.

Q: How did you get your business funded?

A: A big fat loan to start because I had to buy my book of clients from my old agency. But generally I’m not a fan of using debt to expand, I think it usually leads to trouble. I think when expanding your business you should rely on current cash flow, as old school as that seems.

Q: Was your family supportive of your decision to open up your business right out of high school?

A: Not really, but that’s only because they worried. They would have preferred I went directly into college full-time, that just wasn’t me at the time. My spouse however was very supportive when I left my old insurance firm 5 years ago.

Q: What is the biggest obstacle you faced being a student and a business owner?

A: Just managing time. You just take it day by day, you string enough days together you a get a week, then a month, then you’re out of school.

Q: What are the biggest lessons you learned being a student and an entrepreneur?

A: Don’t borrow money if it’s not absolutely necessary. Treat your people exceedingly well, better than the next guy (that includes paying more).

Q: How is your business doing since graduating from college?

A: We have worked really really hard to keep expanding and thankfully we are doing that.

Q: Did you have an mentors to help you start your business? If so, did he/she offer valuable advice?

A: Yes. My Stepdad taught me the value of emotional intelligence in how you treat people, my Dad is just a hustler, pure and simple. I just wanted to work as hard as he did.

Q: Did your education make it easier for you to start your business?

A: Yes, indirectly. Some of my clients and current relationships are people I met in school.

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to a college student who wants to open their own business?

A: Start small but dream big.

A special thanks to Timothy Gaspar for allowing me to interview him.  🙂

Are you an entrepreneur who started your own business in school? Let me know. I would love to write about your success story.

A Day at Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. – Working as a Marketing Intern

Just like so many college graduates, in May of 2011 I found myself looking for a job.  I was literally online searching for jobs every single day for several hours.  At this point, I have lost count of how many I have actually applied for.  For a while, it seemed like there was nothing out there for me and nobody would give me the chance to prove myself!  That was until Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. came along…

I had heard of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility from a friend who was able to obtain a full-time graphic design position.  She was so excited to let me know that her company was hiring interns like crazy and suggested that I should apply.  At the time, I hadn’t thought about applying for an internship because I was looking for that full-time position.

However, I had enrolled in the MBA program at Woodbury University, so my time was still split between work and school.  Then I thought….”Hey, a part-time internship might actually be better for me”.  Considering it’s a paid internship, I would still be making something!  I looked into Dun & Bradstreet Credibility and found that I actually liked the company.  They are in the business of helping small businesses.  As a student who studied entrepreneurship, I felt this was a perfect fit.

After a rough holiday season, (still no job offers, went on countless interviews, and no word from DandB) I was falling into a state of depression.  I couldn’t sleep, I had anxiety from bills piling up, and at times I would sit in my car just to cry.  But then I got a call…..”Hi, is Danielle there?”… “This is Danielle.”…”Hello, this is Catherine from Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp.  We would like to bring you in for an interview, if you were still interested.”

Finally!!! I immediately said YES! I scheduled the interview and started preparing. 🙂

The Interview

To prepare for the interview, I printed out several copies of my resume, cover letter, writing samples, and brought  a business plan I had written for a competition.  I was prepared for this interview! I knew the questions I would ask at the end of the interview, knew where I had to drive to, and where to park.  I showed up an hour early and sat in my car going over everything I had printed out about Dun & Bradstreet Credibility.  I made sure I knew enough about their products/services and the company’s history, in order to show my genuine interest in working at the company.

Lets just say, I was extremely nervous (like I am for most interviews).  There is always that voice in the back of my mind saying, “Danielle, don’t mess this up.  You need this.  Stay calm.”  When the time came for me to head into Dun & Bradstreet Credibility, I was greeted with a smile and an excited “Hi!” from Catherine, the Marketing Coordinator.  The atmosphere in the office had a fun vibe to it; walking in for the first time, I literally almost got run over by someone riding a scooter.

Catherine brought me over to one of the conference rooms overlooking the ocean! It’s such an amazing view and it was such a beautiful day!  Once I got settled into the conference room…the interview started.  This interview was very different from all the ones I had been on with other companies.  Each person I met with talked so passionately about Dun & Bradstreet Credibility and I knew that this would be a good place to work (If they offered me the position of course). I left that interview feeling confident in myself and what I could bring to this company.

About a week after my interview I got a call.  I looked at the number and thought to myself, “This is it!”  Sure enough, it was Catherine letting me know they wanted to hire me as a Marketing Intern!

Meeting Jeff Stibel, CEO of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp.

After I was offered the marketing intern position, I was told I had to meet with the CEO of the company.  This was another indication that Dun & Bradstreet Credibility is very different from most companies.  I had never met the CEO of a company I was interviewing with, so I was extremely nervous.  It wasn’t even an interview, but the concept of meeting the CEO made me sweat a bit.  So, I scheduled the meeting and met with Jeff Stibel.  He told me about himself, how he started Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp., and asked about me.  I am quite certain that he knew I had this whole blurb about myself memorized word for word.  After that meeting, I was even more excited about my first day as a Marketing Intern!

Working at Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp.! 🙂

When I was getting ready for my first day at Dun & Bradstreet Credibility, I told myself that I am going to work extremely hard!  I am going to make myself stand out of all among the rest!  I will make a name for myself here!

I started working on Valentine’s Day! Since my first day, I have learned so much and have been given more responsibilities than I thought I would.  This is in no way a bad thing because the more responsibilities I am given, the more I learn and the more opportunities I have to prove myself.

Not only do I like the work I am given, but I like the company culture.  Dun & Bradstreet Credibility is one of those companies that is not just about the customers, but also about their employees.  From my time spent here, I can tell that Dun & Bradstreet Credibility wants to make sure that their employees are motivated and happy.  This is why people working here are so passionate about their work and making Dun & Bradstreet Credibility a success.

As a group, Dun & Bradstreet Credibility employees are all about working hard and playing hard.   Every month there is at least one party in the break room.  The break room itself is an employee’s dream!  Equipped with a pool table, two televisions, video games, a ping-pong table, an arcade game, an air hockey table, and did I mention the drinks and snacks; this break room makes everyone I know jealous!  While Dun & Bradstreet Credibility employees may take breaks to challenge each other to a game of ping-pong, this company is extremely hard-working!  Dun & Bradstreet Credibility is in it to win it!  That’s how I see it.

Overall, I am extremely grateful to be a part of this amazing company.  I know that I will learn a lot from my days working here and I can’t wait to continue contributing to the success of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility.

As a College Student, What Can You Learn From This?

Before you apply for a job:

  • Make sure your resume is up to date, has no spelling errors, and looks and sounds professional.
  • Create a cover letter stating the reason why you are applying and why you think you are qualified.

When you get the interview:

  • Be sure to research everything about the company (i.e. products/services, history, requirements of the position you are applying for, etc.).
  • Print out several copies of your resume, cover letter, and any other materials you feel is necessary (I would say print out at least 3 copies of each).
  • Be sure to arrive early.  You NEVER want to be late!

When you get the job:

  • Take on as many responsibilities as you can.  This will help you prove yourself in the company.
  • Show that you are interested in the company and get to know your coworkers.
  • Most of all you should be having fun!

Please tell me about your amazing job! 🙂

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