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Weekly Shhhout-Out

Roaming librarians file dispatches from the world of information.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I graduated in May, but...

Indecision about jobs and careers after finishing schoolIt is nearly August and you are still working in your student or summer job or have no job at all.  How can you move into a job in your field of interest?

Finishing school and not being able to find a job can be very frustrating.  There are a variety of resources available to help new graduates move into paid positions. Some students use the years immediately after graduation to "give back" to their communities. Many organizations offer paid or unpaid internships that can help you build your skills and your resume. One website that lists these opportunities is Idealist.org. Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), the Peace Corps, City Year and Teach for America are all part of the AmeriCorps program.  These various programs offer participants a living stipend and other benefits, depending upon the program. Requirements and application deadlines vary, so check the sites. Bookcover: College Grad Seeks FutureCover: You Majored in What?

MCPL has many books that can help with career planning.  What Color is My Parachute? is a classic title that includes information about career planning and job searches.  Two other books that might be helpful are College Grad Seeks Future or You Majored in What?  Books like these encourage recent graduates to look at the skills they gained, rather than specific courses they completed during their educational careers.

Talking with a mentor College placement offices often maintain lists of alumni.  Contact yours to see if there is a local graduate of your college or university who works in your field who would be willing to meet with you to discuss possible career paths.  Career books call these networking opportunities or informational interviews. Networking with friends and family are also a good way to find out about job opportunities. Many groups, organizations and employers have their own Facebook pages.

Perhaps your schedule will allow you to get some volunteer experience.  Montgomery County's Volunteer Center allows potential volunteers to search by their area of interst or location. You can subscribe to a newsletter that will keep you informed about new voCover:  Knock 'em Deadlunteer opportunities.

Book Cover: Resume MagicMontgomery Works offers job seekers help with their resumes, interviewing practice workshops and access to computers and printers for job searching. These centers are located in Germantown and Wheaton. Montgomery County Public Libraries also offers some career workshops. Recent topics have included internet seacrching for jobs, resume preparation, and applying for Federal jobs.  Browse the Library's Calendar of Events to find a time and location that suits your needs. Prepare for an interview or resume class by borrowing one of the many career planning books from the library.  Browse the library in the 650.14 section to find books about resumes and job interviews.

If your career search leads you toward the military or other path that requires a pLogo: Testing and education reference centerlacement test, be sure to look at the library's Testing and Educational Reference Center for books, information and sample tests.  Customers can use this resource from the library, or from home with a library card, at no cost.  Included are online practice tests and eBooks for over 100 examinations. The database also has a career assessment tool that can help you to refine your career choices.   

Our family has had three graduates working on their futures this summer. Current status: The City Year alumnus is packing for college, the college grad has joined VISTA and is looking for a place to live ,and the grad school grad learned her application for a teacher's certificate has been approved.  Many more adventures are yet to come!  Good luck to you as you pursue yours.

Barbara'a avatar    Barbara M.

CATEGORIES: Barbara M. , Education , Personal Finance , Tests
POSTED: 10:19:00 PM |

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

FAFSA, SAR, EFC, PIN: Alphabet Soup for a Cold Winter Day

ThABC  Soupe personal statements and autobiographies are written.  Letters of recommendation and transcripts have been requested. Nothing left to do but wait for those nice, thick acceptance letters….
Not quite. There are another set of applications for your family to complete, financial assistance applications.  Do not stop reading, because you think your family will never qualify for financial assistance.  Remember, circumstances changes. A parent's job loss or illness, or even a natural disaster can change a family's eligibility.  Families may update or modify a FAFSA at any time, but a late application may not be accepted. The FAFSA is the primary, or gateway form for accessing student financial aid in the United States. Many counselors believe that every student planning to attend college in the coming year should complete this form.  


Before you begin, look at some websites or books.  Federal Citizen Information Center and the US Government Student Aid Portal both have essential information for families beginning to complete the FAFSA and other financial aide forms. Much of this information is available in both English and Spanish. Remember, too, that the FAFSA is free. Use these government sites to access the form to avoid paying an unnecessary fee.


book coverMontgomery County Public Libraries has information about financial assistance and scholarships. Check the Teensite for links to interesting and useful websites and articles. In our branches, you can browse the shelves in the 378.3 section for titles including, Paying for College without Going Broke.  Remember to check the reference section, too for directories and guides like the College Board Getting Financial Aid Handbook 2010. 
The Montgomery County Public Schools website has a FAQ about financial aid.  Individual school guidance offices have resources also.  Maryland’s Higher Education Commission has important information about scholarships and grants available to Maryland residents.
Some final tips:
    • Pay attention to deadlines. States, colleges and scholarship organizations have different due dates
    • Keep your pin number and encourage your child to do so, also.  You can use the same PIN every year.
    • Some colleges or universities require additional or supplemental forms.  Check the individual school’s website. One often required form is the CSS Profile.

Oh, the alphabet soup definitions include, FAFSA, Free Application for Federal Student Aid,  EFC, Expected Family Contribution, SAR, Student Aid Report, and PIN, the Personal Identification Number used to sign a FAFSA.

Maybe I should make some real soup to help my family get through this. Where did I put the barley?

barbara m

Barbara M.

CATEGORIES: Barbara M. , Education , Personal Finance
POSTED: 9:22:00 AM |
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Last edited: 11/6/2007