Monthly Archives: August 2016

Tips for a Productive Summer Break

unduhan-12Summer is the perfect time to develop areas of your resume that may be lacking due to your busy schedule during the year. Of course, part-time jobs and internships make for great work-experience, but if you want your time to be more flexible or meaningful consider volunteering. Find a program where you can utilize and develop your unique skills. Coaching a local football camp will help hone your leadership and motivational skills. Language and STEM students will find that their expertise is in high demand for volunteer reading programs. Sociology students can look for volunteer work in community organizations that address local issues. And while some volunteer programs may require some long-term commitment, many opportunities allow people to work and participate as they are able leaving you free to work and play.

2. Set Some Goals
The school year can be intense, and it can be easy to develop bad habits or fall into a hectic work schedule. But during the summer you have the chance to reboot your life. As the semester comes to a close, assess the past year and figure out what worked and what didn’t. Did you pull too many all-nighters? Are you subsisting on a diet of cereal and take-out? Are your notes in a shambles because you never took the time to develop a workable system? Identify areas that need improvement and begin practicing good habits. Even a small goal, like taking a 30-minute walk every day will improve your mood, concentration, and energy levels, and if you establish good habits in the summer, it will be easier to keep them in the fall.

3. Read Widely
If your summer reading activity consists of filling your beach bag with paperback novels and magazines, and then promptly falling asleep under an umbrella, take a moment to reassess. If you’re like most grad students, you probably spend a lot of time reading during the school year and unless you’re studying literature or theater, your reading material probably leans more toward the academic side of things. But even if you need a break from primary sources or technical manuals, don’t waste your summer not reading. Go outside your comfort area and read things that will enhance your understanding of the world.

4. Consider Summer Semester
Of course, you need a break from classes, but summer semester can be the perfect time to earn some extra credits or take a class that you wouldn’t otherwise attempt. And summer courses tend to be smaller, more personal, and more diverse than regular semester offerings. Take the opportunity to learn the basics of German or computer engineering. Explore an area of your field that is outwith your research scope. Or if you want to max out a summer semester – enroll in a short-term study abroad program. The best part of summer courses is that they’re often condensed, which means you can get a semester’s worth of studying done in just a few weeks and still have time for relaxation.

Becoming a Diplomat Tips

The track to diplomatic careers differs depending on where you call home, but in most countries, foreign service officers, or their equivalent, are subject to similar requirements. Many countries require FSOs to be citizens of the country they will be representing. In the US, FSOs must be between the ages of 20 and 59 to qualify for service. But in general, countries are looking for FSOs with diverse skills, qualifications, and personal aptitude because each position is unique and presents its own challenges. Diplomats work on projects related to everything from sporting events to disease outbreaks, education initiatives, and peacekeeping. There is no one skill-set needed for diplomacy, but a willingness to listen and understand situations is a must.

1. Some degrees give you an upper hand
In the US, diplomats hold a variety of education levels ranging from high school diplomas to PhDs, and in the US, the UK, and other countries the first step to qualifying for a diplomatic career is passing a general aptitude test. These exams normally assess a candidate’s overall knowledge, so it’s important that prospective FSOs brush up on things like mathematics, reading comprehension, and logic. But a solid foundation from a degree in history, politics, law, or human rights will be a plus. Most foreign service offices also recommend that applicants be well-read and informed on current events, government, and international politics – essentially, if you’re serious about a diplomatic career, you should be reading a lot of newspapers.

2. Brush up your language skills
In the US, foreign language proficiency is not required for a diplomatic position because all successful applicants receive language training before their first post. However, fluency in a second or third language, as well as international experiences, will help your application stand out. Languages like Chinese, Arabic, Farsi, and Urdu are in high demand, but it’s more important to have strong written and spoken communication skills in your own language. After candidates have passed the entrance exam, most foreign service offices subject applicants to rigorous interviews and assessments aimed at identifying individual strengths and suitability.

Start Your Retirement Planning Right Now

Just because retirement is still 20,30 or even 40 years into the future doesn’t mean you can’t have a plan in place aimed at helping you reach your goals along the way. The first step in planning for the future is having a plan in the first place.

Begin by considering both your immediate and long-term financial goals. Be as thorough as possible, including everything from daily needs like groceries and commuting costs to more significant objectives, such as home ownership. Write these things down. Not only does research indicate that writing down your goals can help you reach them, but this list will become a touchpoint over the years.

After you’ve prepared your financial goals, your next step is to determine a “big picture” comprehensive budget to determine what it will take to get you there. Luckily, a number of free online resources exist to help you with this part of the process. Sites like Voya Financial’s Home Budget & Savings Calculator are a great way to see where your money is going and how to start saving.

1. Start Saving
Saving money is a habit. The sooner your start, the sooner it will become something you don’t even have to think about. Not to mention that you can’t miss what you never had to begin with, which is why workplace retirement savings plans — such as 401(k)s and Roth IRAs — which be set up to auto-deduct a preset amount from your paycheck, can be an invaluable financial jumpstart. Not only are these funds tax-deferrable, but many employers will also match your contribution.

By saving early, you can maximize what you’ll have in the long run. Consider a scenario shared by Bankrate revealing the difference between saving $2,000 a year beginning at age 35 and the same amount beginning 10 years earlier at age 25. With the former setup (assuming 8 percent earnings), you’ll reach the age of retirement with approximately $245,000. This may sound okay…until you consider that the 25-year-old saver would have racked up $560,000 — more than twice that of the 35-year-old saver.

The best part of starting to save now? Once you’ve got everything set up, all you have to do is kick back and watch your nest egg grow. And even if you can only spare a small amount now, you can adjust how much is being deducted as your financial situation improves.

2. Manage Your Debt
When it comes to four-letter words, this one is enough to strike fear in the heart of any financial planner: debt. Unfortunately, failure to understand the impact of debt — from student loans to credit card debt — from the onset can result in an unpleasant snowball effect. While completely avoiding debt may be an unrealistic expectation, having a plan to pay down your debt can prevent it from escalating. Experts suggest building paying off loans into your budget calculations, starting by tackling debt with the highest interest rates first.

One caveat? While your instinct may be to throw everything you’ve got at your debt toward a “clean slate,” delaying retirement contributions while failing to establishment a critical “rainy day” fund can be a slippery slope. Why? Because saving for retirement doesn’t necessarily get easier as you get older due to the accumulation of new financial responsibilities throughout life. In many cases, maxing our your retirement contributions while establishing a less aggressive loan repayment plan can lead to better financial outcomes.