5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Internship

Internships give students the opportunity to explore career paths, get resume-building experience and show a company what they can do. Nailing an internship can also be the difference between struggling to find a job or sailing straight into one when you graduate. Use these five tips to get your employer’s attention during your internship so you’re first on their list when an entry-level job opens up.

Kristen Purdy studies environmental science at Portland State University, but her coursework alone didn’t inspire her to pursue a career in sustainability. She’s also done four environmental services-related internships in the past three years.

“My internships and my work experience have been so closely related to my career goals that they’re almost as important as the education itself,” says Purdy, 21.

Internships give students like Purdy the opportunity to explore career paths, get resume-building experience and show a company what they can do. Nailing an internship can also be the difference between struggling to find a job or sailing straight into one when you graduate: More than 70% of employers said their primary goal in bringing on an intern was to hire them as a full-time, entry-level employee once the internship ended, according to a 2015 report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Use these five tips to get your employer’s attention during your internship so you’re first on their list when an entry-level job opens up.

1. Be realistic about how much you can take on.

Internships are often less competitive during the school year than over the summer, and you can try out different companies if you work your fall or spring semesters in addition to summer break.

But if you overcommit yourself, both your work at your internship and your GPA could suffer, says Taren Crow, director of liberal arts and sciences career services at Iowa State University.

“You really need to look at your course load and make sure that it’s manageable, maybe even speaking with your instructors before the semester starts,” she says.

You also need to consider your financial limitations as well, such as whether you can afford to take an unpaid internship. They’re especially prevalent in fields such as journalism, nonprofit management and entertainment, though it’s not feasible for everyone to work for free.

“In some industries it is really common, and it is the best way to get your foot in the door. But see if you can negotiate a little less time in the internship,” Crow says. If you’re offered an unpaid internship that requires a commitment of 40 hours a week, for instance, ask your employer if you can cut it down to one or two days. That way, you can make money elsewhere to cover living expenses.

2. Treat a challenging project as a way to test yourself.

This summer Purdy was an intern at Recology, a San Francisco-based recycling and waste management company. She learned about supply management and resource recovery, which includes recycling residential and commercial materials and debris. The field was new to her, and so were the projects she worked on.

“I was actually doing stuff that involves web design, which is totally not my field,” she says. But she stayed confident and enthusiastic, and she viewed her internship as a way to learn what she was capable of.

“I’m like, ‘OK, this is three months, I’ve got a mentor, I’m supported.’ But at the same time, I can kind of test myself.”

Getting thrown into a new environment without much experience can be scary, but internships are ideal places for you to try a new skill or role without the weight of a class grade on your shoulders. And when you show your employer that you’re willing to take on every project with positivity, no matter how big or small, you’ll demonstrate how valuable you’d be as a full-time employee.

3. Meet with your supervisor regularly.

Some internships are highly structured and build regular check-ins with supervisors into the experience. But if your internship is less organized, it’s up to you to seek feedback. That will not only help you improve your work while you’re there, but you’ll show you’re thoughtful and eager to progress in your field.

A strong relationship with your supervisor and co-workers also means you’re more likely to be considered when a job becomes available. When you build a friendly rapport with others, they’ll remember you’re someone they’d want to work with again.

“It’s good to make sure that you really meet people while you’re there so you have people to go to bat for you when they may be making a hiring decision,” Crow says.

4. Let your boss know you’re interested in a job.

If you loved your internship and want to work at the company in the future, tell your boss before you leave. It might seem direct, but it’s worth putting yourself on your boss’s radar while you’re still at the company.

“Your supervisor can’t read your mind, and so they may not know that you’re even interested in that,” Crow says.

As your internship is concluding, she recommends telling your supervisor: “I really enjoyed my experience here and I’m hoping I could be eventually hired full-time. Are there any opportunities I could be considered for?” Let your supervisor know when you’ll graduate, and if it’s more than a few semesters away, tell him or her that you’ll follow up as the date gets closer.

5. Keep in touch when your internship ends.

Former internship supervisors and colleagues are hugely valuable members of your professional network. They know your work and can vouch for you not only for jobs at their company, but also when you apply to other companies, too.

Purdy got a letter of recommendation for her Recology internship from a former supervisor at the electric-car advocacy organization Drive Oregon, where she interned her sophomore year. She also emails her former bosses a few times a year to let them know what she’s doing as she progresses in school.

“They really like that. I get lots of good emails back,” she says. “I can’t wait til someday when I’m older and I start getting those warm, fuzzy emails from students that I’ve mentored.”

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published at USA Today.

 

6 Smart Ways to Travel Cheaply

Memorable vacations can come with a price tag you’d rather forget. But with proper planning, smart research and a flexible attitude, you can travel cheaply and still have an experience worth remembering. Here’s how.

Memorable vacations can come with a price tag you’d rather forget. But with proper planning, smart research and a flexible attitude, you can travel cheaply and still have an experience worth remembering. Here’s how.

1. Cut transportation costs

Before planning your trip, have a rough budget in mind. A vacation calculator can help. If you know how much you’re willing to spend on airfare, this map can give you ideas for destinations that are within your budget.

Traveling cheaply isn’t just about cutting costs — it’s also about getting the most out of what you spend. You may discover, for example, that the $400 you thought could pay only for a flight within the U.S. can actually take you to Paris and back.

If your travel dates are flexible, you may find an even bigger selection of places you can afford to visit. If you’ve already picked a destination, changing the departure dates could lower your airfare.

Setting up alerts for when prices drop should also be a part of your strategy. Try apps such as Yapta or Hopper, which will send you price notifications on flights you’re tracking. (Booking fees may apply.) You can also follow Twitter handles like @theflightdeal or @FareDealAlert for limited-time deals. If you find a price you like, scrutinize the airline’s baggage policy before booking. Some offer cheaper ticket prices, but have strict carry-on requirements or tack on sizable fees for overweight and oversized luggage.

If your destination is within driving distance, consider hopping in a car instead of on a plane. Use a trip calculator, like this one, to make sure it’s worth the tradeoff. Add in the cost of renting a car, if necessary.

2. Compare lodging options

Finding a cheap hotel room can be tricky and takes a bit of effort. Start by shopping around on sites like Expedia, Priceline.com and Kayak to find hotels in the area, and then search for hotel promotion codes online. Contact hotels directly to negotiate a lower price. Also consider staying in a hotel outside the center of the city and looking for last-minute deals.

If you’re open to alternatives, skip the hotel and book a room through a site like Airbnb, Homeaway and OneFineStay. Not only could those be more affordable, but often you’ll stay with a local resident who can point you to cheap restaurants and activities that aren’t in travel guides. Hostels can also be a money-saver if you’re OK with bare-bones accommodations and potentially sharing a room. Keep in mind that they may have age restrictions.

3. Eat wisely (and not just healthy)

Many travelers underestimate the costs of meals, snacks and tips, says guidebook author James Kaiser. He advises bringing your own food or buying it at a store when you arrive at your destination to save money.

That doesn’t mean you have to skip restaurants altogether and haul groceries around. Dining out is one of the most enjoyable parts of travel. The trick is knowing when to indulge and when to save.

Start by looking at your itinerary. Break down your meals each day and identify the times you want to splurge. Then look for ways to save money on the other meals. For example, you can avoid inflated prices at the airport by bringing food and an empty water bottle that you can fill once you’re past security (passengers are prohibited from bringing more than 3.4 ounces of liquids, per container, in carry-on bags at U.S. airports). For breakfast, pack energy bars so you can save time and money in the mornings.

Your spending will likely fluctuate from day to day, so remember to adjust your budget to avoid overspending.

4. Research your currency options

If you’re traveling abroad, find out if the country you’re visiting is plastic-friendly. If so, a debit or credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees could be your best bet. Otherwise, research your currency exchange options to avoid the poor rates and numerous fees common at airport kiosks. Those will shrink your vacation fund before you’ve even had the chance to unpack.

Visiting your bank or credit union to exchange money before you leave may be the best option. Assuming it has that currency, you’ll likely get better exchange rates and lower fees. And, just in case you end up needing more cash once you’re abroad, ask if your financial institution has international branches or a partnership with a bank overseas. If so, you may be able to withdraw cash from those ATMs with low or no fees.

5. Get a prepaid phone or SIM card

A cell phone can be useful for navigating new cities, as well as staying connected to travel companions and life back home. But for international travelers, it may also come with data roaming fees. You’d save the most money by ditching the phone during your trip, but that may not be realistic. Your best option will likely be buying a prepaid phone once you arrive or having your carrier unlock your phone, if possible, so you can use a foreign SIM card when you land.

6. Keep souvenir spending in check

Like everything else, set a budget for souvenirs. Also consider doing some research on the best souvenirs and shops, so you’ll have a sense of what you might buy and the prices to expect.

If you find yourself on the verge of an impulse purchase, try an abbreviated version of the 72-hour shopping rule, in which you put off buying something for three days to see if you still want it. That amount of time is probably impractical when you’re on vacation, but if your schedule allows you to return to the store the next day or even later that same day, you may find that you can easily live without that $150 wool sweater from Iceland. You were only going to wear it once, anyway.

Article originally appeared on NerdWallet.

 

Wrapping up 2017 FinEd with 300+ Slices of Pizza

Many thanks to these East Rockingham High School teachers for their dedication to financial education and to their steadfast commitment to shaping future generations. On Friday, May 19th, Jeff Lam and Brent Meadows from our Elkton Branch delivered pizzas to teachers and 168 ERHS students to celebrate completion of their 2017 Everfi Financial Education course.

Pictured left to right – Mike Davis, Hope Keene, Becky Lam, Jeff Lam, Brent Meadows, Justin King & Scott Turner.

Pictured left to right – Mike Davis, Hope Keene, Becky Lam, Jeff Lam, Brent Meadows, Justin King & Scott Turner.

 

Top 5 Things to Do About Your Student Loans After Graduation

Your student loans are easy to forget about when you’re busy celebrating college graduation, looking for a job and perhaps preparing to move to a new city. But the summer after graduating is the perfect time to take charge of your loan payments and create your personal action plan to get out of debt.

Your student loans are easy to forget about when you’re busy celebrating college graduation, looking for a job and perhaps preparing to move to a new city. But the summer after graduating is the perfect time to take charge of your loan payments and create your personal action plan to get out of debt.

“Whatever debt you have, don’t treat it as a friend you have around,” says Phil Schuman, director of financial literacy at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. “You should be mad at it. You should be doing everything you possibly can to get rid of it as fast as possible.”

Follow this five-step plan to understand, streamline and attack your loans, starting now.

1. Know your loans inside and out

Before you can manage your debt, you’ll need to understand how much you have to repay. Log in to the National Student Loan Data System to review the federal student loans you’ve taken out. Create a Federal Student Aid ID to log in if you don’t already have one.

There you’ll see a list of your loans and what date they were disbursed, the amount that’s left to repay (known as the “outstanding principal”) and the interest that’s already accrued. Click on the number of each loan in the left-hand column to view each loan’s interest rate and the name and phone number of its current servicer, or the company that manages the loan on behalf of the federal government.

If you have private loans, the financial institution that lent them to you (Discover, Wells Fargo or Citibank, for example) keeps track of your loan information. Make sure the lender has your current email and snail-mail address on file so they can send you all the updates you’ll need as repayment inches closer.

2. Talk to your loan servicer

Once you know what loans you’ll have to pay off, learn about your repayment options the old-fashioned way: Call your servicer. That’s the company that either lent you the money or that is now contracting with the federal government to manage your loans.

In many cases, your servicer will automatically place you on a 10-year standard repayment plan, which is one of the fastest ways to pay off your loans. If you have a lot of debt but not a lot of income, this could mean your payments are tough to make initially. For federal loans, you’ll usually have a post-graduation grace period of about six months before repayment begins — sometimes less for private loans. Take time at the start of your grace period to build a comprehensive understanding of your loans before you start paying them off.

Make a list of questions to ask your servicer so you understand the basics:

When is my first payment due?
Where do I send it?
How much will I owe per month on my current repayment plan?
What other repayment options do I qualify for?
How do I switch repayment plans?
Are discounts available if I sign up for automatic debit or take advantage of other repayment features?

Take detailed notes and keep them in a specific folder, either in Google Drive or in a physical place where you also store mail your loan servicer sends you. It’ll be easier to keep track of your loan details if you stay organized and do your best not to get overwhelmed.

3. Pick the right repayment plan for you

Now comes one of the most important parts of managing your loans: deciding how you’ll pay them off. Federal loans have some options to choose from beyond standard repayment, including income-driven plans that take into account how much you earn after graduation. There’s also the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program for graduates who work in the public interest, which will make your remaining loan balance disappear after 120 on-time payments on your federal loans.

“The nice thing about federal loans is it’s very consistent as to how it operates,” Schuman says.

Plug in your loan and income information using the Federal Student Aid website’s Repayment Estimator to see how much you’ll pay per month on each plan. If your loans will be more manageable on a graduated, extended or income-driven repayment plan, call your servicer and ask for more information about your eligibility.

Private loans work differently. Private companies aren’t required to offer specific alternative repayment options to borrowers like the government does, but various lenders may work with you to provide an interest rate reduction, extended repayment plan or a longer grace period if you foresee having trouble repaying your loans. Your best bet is to call your lender before any payments are due to discuss your options.

4. If you can, start paying during your grace period

With your long-term repayment plan squared away, consider ways to start bringing your debt down now, Schuman says.

“Don’t let the lending company tell you when you should start paying back your loans,” he says.

If you have the means during your grace period, you could make a one-time payment toward the interest that accrued on your loans while you were in school before it capitalizes, or is added to your loan balance. Another, more powerful option is to start making payments toward your principal as soon as you graduate, while you’re technically in your grace period. If you ignore your student loans for six months after graduation you’ll get used to having more money in your checking account than you will once repayment begins, Schuman says.

“You’re getting the opportunity to develop six months of bad habits,” he says.

It’s important to note that if you start paying off your loans during your grace period, you should ask your servicer to apply your additional payments directly to your principal instead of toward a future monthly payment. That will ensure that the extra you pay brings your balance down faster.

5. Treat your loan like another monthly bill

Repaying your loans isn’t optional: It’s absolutely necessary for your financial well-being. Missing payments and eventually going into default has serious consequences, so you should think of your loan payments as just one more monthly cost that you budget for.

Sign up for automatic debit so your payment comes directly out of your bank account, the way you may already pay your electricity or cell phone bill, Schuman says.

Once you’re used to making regular payments, you can also start to be strategic about which loans you pay off. You can apply extra money to high-interest loans so you don’t accrue big interest charges, which can make it seem like your loan balance hardly decreases. Or you can completely pay off smaller loans’ balances when you’re able to, which Schuman calls the “momentum method.” That can feel rewarding psychologically, he says, encouraging you to keep making extra payments so more loans disappear. Make sure your servicer knows which loan you want to apply additional payments to.

No matter how you do it, repaying your loans should be a top priority when you graduate. Pay them off smartly and strategically, and soon they’ll be off your plate and in your past.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published at USA Today.

 

F&M Bank Craigsville Customer Appreciation Day

Prevent identity theft and shred your documents for free at our Shred Day and Customer Appreciation event, including family fun for all ages!

Join F&M Bank Craigsville for a FREE Customer Appreciation Event!

Saturday, June 10th – 12 – 4 PM

Family fun for all ages! Join us for grilled hot dogs, face painting, water games, vendors, door prizes, Sammy the Squirrel, kid's fingerprinting, child seat safety demonstrations, hearing health booth and more!

Prevent identity theft and shred your documents for free with Shred It, 12 – 2 PM

Give back to the Craigsville Community! The branch will be collecting donations for the Craigsville Food Bank (paper towels, toilet paper, tissues and cleaning supplies needed).

F&M Bank Craigsville | 125 W. Craig Street | 540-997-4162

Broadway Customer Appreciation Day

Prevent identity theft and shred your documents for free at our Shred Day and Customer Appreciation event, including family fun for all ages!

Join F&M Bank Broadway for a FREE Customer Appreciation Event!

Saturday, May 20th – 9am – Noon

Prevent identity theft and shred your documents for free at our Shred Day and Customer Appreciation event, including family fun for all ages!

Join us for grilled hot dogs, face painting, inflatables, games, see a fire truck, meet a police dog, and much more!

F&M Bank Broadway | 126 N. Timberway | 540-896-7071

F&M Bank’s Teacher of the Month for April 2017

F&M Bank Awards Teacher of the Month Certificate for April 2017

F&M Bank Awards Teacher of the Month Certificate for April 2017

In early May, F&M Bank head teller Carol Fogle had the privilege of giving Mr. Jared Brice of Strasburg High School our Teacher of the Month award. Jared was nominated for his dedication to supporting the EverFi Financial Education program in his classroom.

Jared teaches photojournalism, principles of business, and economics & personal finance and is constantly reminding his students that financial literacy is important. He states, “No matter what career path you take in life, being knowledgeable and competent with one’s finances is extremely important. Being able to manage your finances and to both survive and thrive financially is something everyone, of every background and career, must be able to do. I think it is important that students are informed and given the financial skills to make it in the real world.”

Jared uses the online financial education program provided by Everfi Financial Education and sponsored by F&M Bank as a supplement to his lectures and lessons. The students really enjoy the coursework as it is interactive and engaging!

Thank you, Jared, for your dedication to #FinEd and for all you do as a teacher!

Pictured (left to right): Carol Fogle, F&M Bank Woodstock, and Jared Brice, Strasburg High School.

 

Area Students Awarded VBA Bank Day Scholarships

In early March, F&M Bank hosted 23 Valley high school seniors and participated in the Virginia Bankers Association (VBA) Bank Day scholarship program. The results are in, and F&M Bank is excited to congratulate Skylar Wampler and Chandler Showalter on winning the Valley Region!

In early March, F&M Bank, a locally owned independent community bank headquartered in Timberville, VA, hosted 23 Valley high school seniors and participated in the Virginia Bankers Association (VBA) Bank Day scholarship program. The results are in, and F&M Bank is excited to congratulate Skylar Wampler and Chandler Showalter on winning the Valley Region!

Skylar Wampler, Broadway High School, is the Valley Regional winner and is awarded a $2,500 scholarship. Skylar’s essay has been entered in the statewide competition, where she has the chance to win an additional $5,000 scholarship. Chandler Showalter, Waynesboro High School, is the Valley Honorable mention and is awarded a $1,000 scholarship. Both students wrote excellent essays highlighting the importance of saving, investing, and establishing a relationship with a local bank to help pave the way for their financial future. This is the first year in which students shadowing at F&M Bank have won both the Regional and Honorable Mention categories.

The purpose of Bank Day, a statewide effort sponsored by the Virginia Bankers Association (VBA) Education Foundation and the Virginia Bankers Association Leadership Division is to expose students to the banking industry and provide an opportunity for the students to learn about banking, financial services and the vital role F&M Bank plays in its community. During their time at the bank, the students visited various departments and learned about the loan process, the importance of good credit, the profile of a qualified borrower, appropriate etiquette during a job interview, how F&M Bank is involved in the community, the Federal Reserve System, payments, etc. This year, students also had the opportunity to sit in on a Board meeting and visit a local business financed by F&M Bank.

“Bank Day is one of the best short-term, hands-on experiences that a classroom teacher can offer their students—the opportunity to go inside the bank vault, to watch customer/bank officer interaction, to learn about the many services that banks offer, and to start the networking that often leads to part-time and summer jobs, scholarships, and a start on a career path in the financial world,” said Bruce Whitehurst, President & CEO of the Virginia Bankers Association.

F&M Bank is proud of both Skylar and Chandler and wish the students the best of luck as they continue pursuing their education at the college level!

 

F&M Bank Corp. Q1 2017 Financial Earnings

F&M Bank Corp. is pleased to announce that its first quarter earnings rounded out at $2.3 million. This represents an increase of 14.22% over first quarter of 2016. Loan and deposit growth were basically flat for the quarter which reflects typical first quarter results for the Bank. Our net interest margin at 4.39% has been stable over the last several quarters and continues to drive our extraordinary results. Non-performing assets ticked slightly higher compared to year end 2016, but are significantly below first quarter 2016.

F&M Bank Corp. is pleased to announce that its first quarter earnings rounded out at $2.3 million. This represents an increase of 14.22% over first quarter of 2016. Loan and deposit growth were basically flat for the quarter which reflects typical first quarter results for the Bank. Our net interest margin at 4.39% has been stable over the last several quarters and continues to drive our extraordinary results. Non-performing assets ticked slightly higher compared to year end 2016, but are significantly below first quarter 2016.

 

How to Avoid Pay Day Loan Fraud

The bank has noticed an upswing in this type of fraud and would like to help educate our customers as to how this occurs, and what you can do to protect yourself or a loved one from such a scam.

“Pay day” loan fraud is a new trend our bank is seeing where customers apply online for a loan, and as part of the application process, are instructed to enter the online banking ID and password for their financial institution.  Applicants are also asked for the answers to their online banking security questions. The bank has noticed an upswing in this type of fraud and would like to help educate our customers as to how this occurs, and what you can do to protect yourself or a loved one from such a scam.

Once a person enters their banking information into the online application, the unknown fraudster then enrolls in mobile banking on behalf of the applicant, submitting fraudulent checks for deposit through the bank’s mobile app. When the customer comes into the bank to receive their “pay day” funds, they are struck with returned checks that are fraudulent.

Customers applying for loans online that share their sensitive information are not taking into consideration that they have given scammers direct access to their checkbook, including the ability to issue checks from the bill pay feature of online banking.

It is never wise to share online banking credentials! In these cases, an applicant can unknowingly become a criminal suspect themselves as they are referred to as “money mules”, participating in moving money fraudulently. The applicant must then bear the burden of proving that they did not willingly engage in fraudulent activity often involving the police.

When enrolling in online banking, be sure to never share a banking ID, password, or security questions and answers with anyone. A reputable lender will never ask for that information. By following these guidelines, one can avoid a significant loss through a scam.