Category Archives: finances

Post Grad by Day, Gamer by Night


By bowski477
(Bowski477 is a guest writer, from aesthetically-pleezin.com)

You can’t always get what you want.

That seems to be the theme song to my post-grad life. I graduated with a degree in English from Salem State University in 2010, and I currently work for a hospice care facility in Massachusetts. It’s not the field I went to school for, but it’s a job. More importantly, it’s a paying job.

With the economy being as tough at it is, and jobs being scarce in most fields, I am lucky enough to have a stable job with benefits. I know that many of my former classmates cannot say the same thing. But just because I work in a different field doesn’t mean my degree is being wasted. When my work day is done, I’m a different person. I’m a gamer and a blogger; and while neither of them pays, they’re still classified as jobs.

Gaming is more than a hobby for me. It’s a passion. Two years ago I decided to spread the word about my passion for gaming. I started my very first blog, Aesthetically-Pleezin.com. It was somewhere that I could put all of my thoughts about the gaming world and show them to other gamers. I made new friends with similar gaming interests, and I got their take on the things I was writing. I wasn’t afraid to make my opinions known to the gaming community.

Soon I found myself in Los Angeles listening to the top men at Treyarch debut their then up and coming game Call of Duty: Black Ops. I thought, I am just a goldfish in the giant ocean that is the gaming community, yet there I was listening to actual developers show off their new game. It was one of the happiest moments of my life.

The trip went by so fast, and I had to return to the “real world” where no one called me by my Xbox Live gamer tag, and no one knew what the hell a “noob” was. But a new opportunity came knocking a few months later. A new gaming site was just getting off the ground, and the fact that I had a degree in English made me a good candidate for the position of Editor-in-Chief.

I joined the staff of IRBGamer.com. It doesn’t pay, but like my personal blog, I love working on it. It’s another place I can use the talent I learned in college and mix it with the passion I have for the gaming community.

What are my hopes for the future? Well, ideally I would hope to someday get paid to write about games, so that I could pour all of my potential into what I love to do. But until that time, I do have bills and plenty of student loans to pay. Being jobless is not an option for me. Not having a job in my chosen field is a small sacrifice I have to make at this point in my life. But that doesn’t mean things have to stay this way. I’m getting my name out in the gaming community and trying to get noticed. Life maybe short, but I’m not really in a big rush. My opportunity will come, and I’ll be ready to grab it when it does.

Have questions for bowski477?  Feel free to comment!

They’ll Get You, When You Least Expect It


By sendmeonmyway101

I can honestly look back on my college experience with fond memories; trivia nights at Uno’s, meetings for the school’s e-zine, ice skating, going downtown during the peak tourist season, all of my fun classes (and even the ones that were so boring the mold was sleeping).

But there is one thing I don’t miss: the start of the school year hassle to get a loan. The annoying emails and letters reminding me that my bill is due by a certain date or the school will not hold my classes for me (even though that certain date would come and go without procuring a student loan, and if I wanted I could go until signing up for the next semester’s classes before suffering real damage from being locked out).

This time last year I was spending every day reminding myself to fill out an application for a loan – because classes start in a month and the sooner it was taken care of, the sooner I would get my refund check (which almost always went to living expenses rather than anything fun).

Following my graduation ceremony, I knew I could hold my head high and be absolutely certain that the only PAY US FOR YOUR COLLEGE EXPERIENCE letters I would receive would be from my student loans.

I didn’t account for damage charges.

I suppose it seems silly to assume (when the only time I spent in my apartment on campus was in my bedroom, sitting on my bed or at my desk and rarely venturing to any other part of the six-person apartment) that I would not be stuck with a bill for damages to the common area/our apartment.

No, it’s not sarcasm (although would anyone blame me if it was?). I lived on campus for three years, and each year we were notified that, if someone did not step forward and admit to causing whatever damage that was
found following move-out, then everyone would be charged. It makes sense, sort of. Was I a little upset when I received the email? Who wouldn’t be?

This Better Not be the Damage

Was I responsible? Unless I’m a sleepwalker and all those times I thought I was fighting monsters in my dreams, I was really damaging things, then NO. But how is the school supposed to know all that? They had to do what they consider fair, since no one stepped forward. I was caught off guard, but I accept the twenty dollar charge.

Eh … I just have no idea what I’m paying for. Was there paint peeled off the wall? Surely I’m not receiving a twenty dollar fee over some paint chips. Did someone break a window? But I feel like I would have noticed that. Was the wall blown out? Someone could have built a spaceship and set it off in the living room, for all I know.

Not to sound paranoid, but without being told exactly what I’m paying for, how do I know the school isn’t just trying to suck a little more of my future finances from my pocket?

Have any other students/grads out there encountered this problem? I suppose my only solution is to call the school and ask for details, but really – shouldn’t a receipt tell me all that?

Businesses That Won’t Bounce Back


By sendmeonmyway101

I was unnerved when Borders went bankrupt.

Well, not as unnerved as a Borders employee should have been. Mostly because I would be graduating and leaving the store for greener post-grad pastures (seems my pastures are as green as Borders future).

Don’t misread – especially any of my fellow borders alum. Because I loved my job – it was by far one of the most pleasant work experiences I have ever had. Everyone got along with each other; the majority of the customers were sensible and fun people (same could be said for my fellow employees). If every Borders store operated the way our store operated, I don’t see how they could have declared bankruptcy.

Our store survived the initial batch of closings because we were small, and we were a staple in the community. The only other bookstore in town was a Half-Off-All-the-Time mess, in a closet of a store. Our Barnes and Nobles competitor was more than half a mile outside of town. We were it.

Now all of the Borders stores are closing, and a lot of good people are losing their jobs. And Borders isn’t the only one – following a merger with First Niagara, HSBC recently announced their intentions to lay off 30,000 people. And these 30,000 people are being laid off to make room for 15,000 people in the emerging markets. What does that mean?

Emerging market = Asia, Brazil, Argentina and … Mexico? No comment.

The point is that with chains such as Borders or Blockbuster downsizing or closing, we college grads are facing more competition from experienced members of previous generations than they themselves faced. Not to mention how little a Bachelor’s degree actually means anymore.

I’ve been out job hunting, and the majority of jobs are seeking candidates with more years of experience than most people will get just from sitting in a classroom. I consider myself very lucky, in that I had two professors urging me in all the right directions, so I received experience while I was in school. But hey – I’m still unemployed, and finding employment is by the far the most frustrating, exhilarating, and mind-numbing experience a grad can face.

I don’t know the science behind it, but I am aware that four out of six of my friends (or two out of three, if you want to simplify things) are either registered for grad school, or planning to attend after graduation. OK, so my friend pool is relatively small, but it doesn’t change the fact that the growing trend is to attend grad school. Which means more student loans – fueling an already loan-centered, debt stressed economy. And let’s not even go into how grad students will be paying more in their loans following the recent debt deal laid out by Washington.

To break things down – economy is bad. Companies close. Good people out of jobs – competing with inexperienced college grads. Grads return to school hoping to graduate again with a more stable economy and job market. Student loans and the high cost of education support a society’s poor decisions to buy first, and pay later.

Now, before you start firing your keyboards and accusing this blog of inaccurately depicting social events, American society, or even financial situations, I have to point out that I know nothing about finances (I prefer to leave that to the people who know what they’re doing … of course, the people who know what they’re doing have already failed in preventing all the things they were supposed to prevent, so maybe they’re as knowledgeable as I), and everything mentioned here is only my impression of what’s happening.

A sign of market end times for future students and graduates? Or a time for change? You be the judge.

(Check out Mustang Daily’s article, Graduate school: to go, or not to go?)

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