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Jul 13



Happy Summer!  This is the time of year where we see young adults hoping to get a summer job or join an internship program.  Here are a few ways that you can help:

Resume and Experience.
It’s challenging for young adults to showcase their skills when they don’t have any professional job experience.  However, jobs are not the only way for young adults to demonstrate their potential.  Encourage your child to showcase their skills and abilities through alternative involvement and opportunities.

For example, babysitting shows responsibility, especially if the job is regularly scheduled.  Mowing lawns for family and friends over summers shows hard work and discipline.  Or, volunteering – even if required for school hours – demonstrates commitment.  Get creative and show off a little!

Be patient.
The job market is still tight, even for part-time, seasonal and entry-level positions.  In fact, hiring managers are seeing multiple applicants for open positions and many of those applicants are exceptional over qualified.

Your child may have to submit many applications even to be considered for a job or earn an interview.  Remind him or her to be patient and persistent.

Working is a Privilege.
Be supportive. Once they get the job, you need to remind them of workplace expectations.  You may have to give a ride or help plan transportation.  They need to show up on time, dress appropriately and communicate effectively. 

Help your child make responsible choices.  If your child isn’t feeling well, he or she needs to consider if they should go to work or stay at home.  Is a headache a reason to stay home?  Perhaps going to work is the better choice.  If your child is sick, ask them to contact their employer as far in advance as possible or get a shift covered by a co-worker, if applicable.  If your child needs time off, ask for vacation time well in advance so their employer has time to schedule a replacement.  Sometimes they may have to sacrifice a trip with friends because of new job responsibilities.

Often parents tell me their child’s job is work for them!  That can be true; however, working is an important part of growing up and the lessons they learn can benefit them for a lifetime.  A job teaches responsibility and discipline – plus, it helps your child earn extra cash, which can benefit you, too.  Good luck!

by Barbara, Vice President, Human Resources

Jul 7


Steve Punch, President & CEO

Congratulations – you’re entering a new chapter in your life. Graduating high school is bittersweet. Saying goodbye to friends, memories and your comfort zone may be difficult; however, the next steps are filled with opportunity and excitement. How will you shape your future?

If college, junior college or trade school is next on your list, it’s never too early to get started. This could be a good time to assess your interests by taking a class at a local junior college. Try something fun like theatre, explore your intended major or narrow which type of major you’d like to pursue. Some classes may even qualify toward your degree. You could also conduct research to see which classes you should take next year. Course catalogs are often online at your university’s website.

Get a Job.
Whether you’re off to college or not, this is a good time to find a job. You’re young, ambitious and energetic – so look for something that matches those qualities. Look for jobs that allow a flexible schedule, the opportunity to pick up extra hours and future promotions. It’s important to save as much money as you can now. If you starting college in the fall, you won’t have the extra time to hold a job and you’ll need to rely on what you’ve saved.

If you can’t find a job, consider volunteering. Volunteer experiences can shape your perspective, your career and your future. They also can lead to regular employment. Many local charities need extra hands in the summer and getting involved helps you meet new people and gain job experience. Plus, it’s incredibly rewarding to help others in need.

If you were fortunate enough to receive cash as a graduation gift, you may consider using it to travel. Many organizations offer study abroad or travel groups for young adults. Check out programs at a local college or university. Traveling can open your eyes to new cultures, foods and experiences – things that you’ll never replicate at home. You may even come home with the foundation of a new language!

Whatever you decide – celebrate your achievement! You’ve done well and I wish you continued success.

Jun 14


Steve Punch, President & CEO

Congratulations – you’ve earned your degree and that’s a lifetime accomplishment.  You’re starting out on your own and it’s time to determine the next step.  As a CEO (and a Dad), I’m sometimes asked what new graduates should do now?


We are seeing some signs that the economy is improving, but it’s not recovered yet.  The under 25 crowd still makes up the largest percentage of unemployed, almost twice the national average.


If you’re lucky, you have a job lined up, but if not, consider taking a postgraduate internship.  I know an internship may seem like a disappointing first start; however, many companies offer internships as a stepping stone toward full-time employment.  You’ll gain real world experience to compliment your degree.  Better yet, you’ll get a better sense if the industry or job is suited for you.


You should also put the word out to your network.  Don’t underestimate the reach that you have at your fingertips.  Put together a gentle, professional email to your friends, family and former teachers or professors to let them know that you’re looking for opportunities and you’d appreciate any referrals or advice.  Include a well thought out and constructed resume if you have one, relevant courses and what type of jobs most interest you.  Keep realistic expectations about income and focus on getting your foot in the door.


Pay off debt and budget.
Graduates often are saddled with debt after graduation.  Student loans typically have very high default rates, meaning many graduates are unable to repay their loan obligation.  To avoid missing payments and damaging your credit, take charge of the situation right away with planning and budgeting.


Keep track of where you spend your money and control your costs.  Cut the fancy coffee, too many nights out and music downloads.  Most importantly, avoid taking on more debt.  To get control of your finances, you need to make regular monthly payments on your debt obligations.


It’s important to be realistic.  Can you afford to rent an apartment?  Or, does it make more sense to move back in with mom and dad?  Is buying a car in your immediate future?  Or, is public transportation more your speed?


Finally, get help if you need it.  Ask a parent or family member to help you get your budget started or speak with a free credit counselor through your school or county.


Don’t forget to save!  If you’re fortunate enough to find a job, try to stash 5-10% of your income for emergencies, goal-based expenditures or a rainy day.


Back to School.
Many recent grads are continuing their education because of the difficulty of finding a job in this market.  This may be a good option for you.


Before you make your decision, however, carefully consider the additional cost associated with more school and whether your intended career warrants further education.  Will another degree or an advanced degree give you a leg up on a job or higher pay?  If not, there’s always time for more school, so don’t be pressured to continue straight through.  Plus, being in the workforce could change your professional direction.  Most of us didn’t start out thinking we’d be doing what we’re doing now.  Especially me.


Graduating college is an excellent first step toward a bright future.  You’ve done well and I wish you continued success.

Aug 18


by Steve Punch

Steve Punch, President & CEO

Heading off to college is an exciting time. It can also be an overwhelming experience. Truth be told, my son was excited; it was me who was overwhelmed by the thought that my little boy had grown up.


For the majority of college bound students, college represents the first step toward financial independence. This is the first time they’ll really learn how to handle money, when to spend money and how to budget. After you drop them at the dorm, it’s pretty much sink or swim for your child.


Here’s how you can provide them the tools they need to take care of their money today, as well as start building a solid financial foundation for tomorrow.


Checking Account
Your student needs a checking account to pay tuition, buy books and, of course, for late night pizza runs. Our FirstStep checking account has no monthly fees, no direct deposit requirement and we reimburse ATM fees. So, no matter if your child is looking at community college or has his or her eye on NYU – you know they won’t waste money on ATM fees.


Plus, it’s easy to set up recurring transfers to your child’s account online or by phone – you can even make deposits directly from your paycheck. Transferring money in a pinch is easy too. You can do it online and funds will be immediately available.


Credit Cards
Many students open their first credit card for a “free” giveaway like a t-shirt. Along with their freebie, they probably will get a high interest rate and often an annual fee. I encourage you to research credit cards with your student and find a low-rate option with no annual fee, like our Visa Platinum Starter Card which features a low initial limit to help teach responsible spending. With timely payments, they’ll start building their credit. After all, their first car or mortgage loan isn’t that far away.


School, work, trying to fit in a social life – college life can be demanding. Luckily, with a little preparation, you can you drive away from campus with a feeling of confidence. (And maybe only a few tears.)

Jul 28


by Barbara, Vice President, Human Resources

With a market heavy on applicants and light on opportunity, the job hunt is a challenging pursuit. Nationwide unemployment is at record levels and applicants are at the top of their game.

Spruce up.
Remember to clean up your Facebook, MySpace and Twitter pages, if applicable. Social media is great for your friends, but be wary of how your online image could be viewed by a potential employer. Consider applying privacy settings to your pages.

Imagine your resume compared with 10 others. Then, make yours stand out! Customize each application to the job and the employer. They will probably request to receive your resume electronically. Within the body of the email, include the name of the job for which you’re applying, a summary of your qualifications and why you’d be an asset to the company. The less work the hiring manager has to do, the better.

Paper appearance.
Your first impression – yes, even before your outfit – is your resume. Keep it simple. Use an easy-to-read format with headings and bullets. Since the “e-Resume” is quickly replacing the paper resume, keep the font professional and common, so that most computers will be able to display it correctly.

Beyond job responsibilities, quantifying your accomplishments is a great way to inform a potential employer about your work ethic. For example, instead of “achieved sales and phone goals” consider “provided service to 50 customers per hour while achieving 200 cross sales per month.” Be accurate and honest, but remember that this is your time to show off!

Include achievements, awards, promotions or other ways you excel. Incorporate all education, including degrees, certificates and training. Don’t use acronyms.

Make it easy to be contacted. If email or your cell phone is the simplest way to reach you, say so.

Most importantly, typos, misspellings and grammar DO count, so take care when writing and proofreading your resume. Inattention to detail gives an impression of the type of employee you’ll be. Always ask a knowledgeable friend or family member to read it, too. Two sets of eyes help give perspective.

Personal appearance.
Think of how you would come dressed to start work today. Then kick it up one notch. If your goal is construction, consider a polo shirt. If it’s an office job you’re after, add a jacket. Be sure you’re representing the best you have to offer.

My best advice is this: Be confident, positive, consistent and patient. Good luck!

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