How I Managed Debt After College

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For most of the people reading this website, college was a time to both work, study, and start a life. But like most of the over privileged members of the millennial generation, I took a free ride to college with student loans and decided to party as hard as I could instead of work. I gained a lot of unique experiences and perspectives from my drinking days, but I also racked up a heavy amount of debt after college.

After graduation I had a degree in English, but no real use for it at all because I didn’t apply my knowledge to anything while I was at school. This is the story of how I went from a rock bottom college graduate to the successful ad-man I am today:

The last semester of senior year was a challenging time. I was taking some pretty tough classes and didn’t have the time to think about anything other than school work, and drinking. The drinking is what really challenged me because one night after finals I was caught by some officers after stumbling out of a bar and had to have a friend find a bail bond agent online to come get me out of the slammer. This made me realize that drinking in college was becoming a serious financial problem so I decided to cut it out of my lifestyle, saving me a lot of money in the process.

When I received my degree, the dean of students shook my hand and whisked me off. There was no job placement or career advice I received, just a brisk push out of the auditorium. The next day, I immediately took to the Internet to find jobs, but was shocked that everything I wanted to do required a few years of experience. I wasn’t going to get a job because I had no experience and I couldn’t get experience without first having a job.

I decided to go back to the video store I worked at in order to get a paycheck coming in while I continued my search. After a couple of months living at home, I got a promotion to store manager and moved into an apartment close by. I was working just to pay the bills and not at all satisfied with what I was doing. I had barely made a dent in my student loan payments and decided I needed to find a new career path.

I decided to find an internship at a marketing agency so I could become a copywriter at some point in time. The only drawback to my job search was that I didn’t have a portfolio of work to showcase to my employers. I began performing research online and found out I had to learn how to use Photoshop to create spec ads to show off. It took me about six months, but I put together a decent portfolio while working at the video store.

I secured a six month unpaid internship at an ad agency and worked full time at the video store at night. My life became one big haze of constant work, but I managed to get by. At the end of the internship I wasn’t offered a job, but one of the clients I met offered me an in-house copywriter position that paid $35,000 a year entry level – about $15,000 more than I was making at the video store.

The most important lesson to my story is that you have to work hard to get anywhere. If you just attend college and drink your spare time away, no one is going to hand you a job when you get out. If you work hard while there, party responsibly, and actively begin your job search, you’re going to be much more prepared to pay off your loans and start off your life as an adult. I’m still paying off my student loans, but the payments are getting a little less intimidating every time I open my statements.

This has been a guest post, compliments of a friend of mine. I hope you enjoyed it!

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Derek

AUTHOR Derek

My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.

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