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  • The Top 5 Must-Haves for a Smooth Career Launch After Graduation

    By Inland Empire Success | June 20, 2024

    Hey there college graduate, kudos on completing your college journey.

    Graduation is a big achievement. You should be incredibly proud. Whether you’ve conquered the challenges of a four-year college or university or aced the programs at your local community college, you’ve reached a major milestone.

    If you are a first-generation college grad, this journey is a dream come true not just for you, but for your entire family. Celebrate!

    Now, it’s time to turn that hard-earned education into a successful career.

    The Inland Empire offers a wealth of career opportunities. Launching a career can feel overwhelming. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with the top 5 must-haves to ensure your smooth transition from hard-working student to professional go-getter.

    Must-Have #1: Maximize Your College Resources

    Your college isn’t done with you yet! Most colleges and universities have dedicated career centers that offer helpful resources for recent grads. Take advantage of resume workshops, mock interviews, and job fairs. 

    Also take advantage of the people on campus. Career advisors are eager to talk to you. Don’t forget about your professors! They have helped students like you explore career ideas. They’ll have suggestions that will inspire you.

    • College Career Center: Your college’s career center guidance and events will help you polish your skills and connect with potential employers. 
    • Your professors: Professors are experts in their fields and can provide valuable advice and recommendations. 
    • Career advisors: Schedule meetings with career advisors to personalize your job search strategy and identify career paths that align with your skills and interests.

    Must-Have #2: Craft a Standout Resume and Cover Letter

    Your resume and cover letter are your first impression to potential employers, so make them count. You never get a second chance to make a good first impression! 

    Create well-written materials that showcase your skills, achievements, and relevant coursework. These materials will highlight your qualifications and make you stand out as the ideal candidate for the job. 

    You’re not alone in this! Ask friends and family to look at your resume and cover letter. They’ll have ideas and will help you catch typos.

    • Research: Research keywords used in job descriptions for your field and incorporate them throughout your resume and cover letter. 
    • Brand yourself: Tailor your resume to each job you apply for. Highlight experiences that demonstrate the skills and qualifications the employer is seeking. 
    • Cover letter: Briefly explain why you’re interested in the company and the specific position. Be sure to include a few sentences about why you are a good fit for what the employer is looking for.

    Must-Have #3: Build Your Professional Network

    Finding a great job is not just about what you know, it’s also about who you know. Building a strong professional network can open doors to exciting career opportunities and provide valuable guidance along the way. Here’s how to get started:

    • Create a LinkedIn profile: LinkedIn is the premier platform for professional networking. Create a profile with a headshot that highlights your education, skills, and experiences. Invite classmates, professors, and professionals in your field to connect with you and build your network. Here’s some good advice for creating your first profile.
    • Use your network: Don’t be shy! Reach out to professors, classmates, and alumni on LinkedIn. Request informational interviews with professionals in your field of interest to learn about different career paths and gain insights from experienced individuals. 
    • Attend job fairs and events: Attend industry events and conferences to meet other professionals and expand your network. 

    Remember, networking isn’t just about getting a job; it’s about building relationships and learning from others.

    Must-Have #4: Explore Different Avenues

    Majoring in a specific field doesn’t lock you into one career path. Your interests may evolve after graduation, so keep an open mind and be proactive in exploring your options.

    • Explore career options: Research various job opportunities within your field and related industries.
    • Gain valuable experience: Offer your time free of charge or take on internships to gain practical experience in areas that intrigue you.

    Investigating different career paths and engaging in hands-on experiences will help you discover your strengths and refine your career goals. Don’t hesitate to step outside your comfort zone and explore new possibilities.

    Must-Have #5: Embrace Lifelong Learning

    The job market is constantly evolving, and building a successful career requires a commitment to continuous learning. To stay ahead and remain competitive, consider the following action items:

    • Enroll in online courses: Keep up with the latest trends and technologies in your field.
    • Pursue industry certifications: Gain recognized credentials that can enhance your resume.
    • Attend workshops: Participate in hands-on learning opportunities to develop new skills.

    By actively expanding your knowledge base, you’ll become a more valuable asset to any employer. Remember, the journey of learning never stops!

    Step Into Your Future with Confidence

    Launching your career can be an exciting adventure. By following these five must-haves, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the job market and land your dream position. You have a strong support system behind you—your family, your college, and your new professional network. 

    Celebrate your achievements, stay proactive, and be confident in your abilities. The Inland Empire awaits the incredible contributions of the next generation of first-generation professionals. Go out there and make your family proud! We’re here to help power up your career!

  • Cash for College: Most People Qualify for Free Financial Aid

    By Inland Empire Success | June 20, 2024

    College in the Inland Empire is within your reach, regardless of your family’s income. There are plenty of opportunities for free financial aid available to many students!

    Your family doesn’t have to be wealthy to afford it. Free money (yes, free) is available to many students! 

    Don’t Believe Myths About Financial Aid!

    College is not just for rich kids or students with perfect grades. Financial aid helps all students, including those whose families haven’t had anyone go to college before, and you might qualify for it!

    The financial aid process might seem complicated, but it’s accessible to everyone. 

    There are different types of financial aid. Grants and scholarships are basically free money you don’t have to pay back. Work-study programs help you earn money for school with part-time jobs.

    The Keys to College Cash: FAFSA and CADAA

    The most important step to getting financial aid is called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA ( Qualified students should also take a look at the California Dream Act Application, or CADAA

    First, let’s cover the CADAA. The California Dream Act provides a separate financial aid option for undocumented students, DACA recipients (valid or expired), U Visa holders, and students under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) who live in California. 

    If you think you might qualify for CADAA financial aid, be sure to check out the program’s website

    Now let’s look at the FAFSA, which every student will want to complete.

    The FAFSA is used to determine how much financial aid you qualify for. Sources of financial aid will use your FAFSA to determine if you qualify for their programs. 

    The FAFSA isn’t just for federal financial aid. State programs and even the programs run by schools use the FAFSA.

    To fill it out, you’ll need your tax returns or your parents’ income information. 

    There are deadlines to submit the FAFSA, so don’t wait until the last minute! FAFSA opens on October 1 each year, and the earlier you submit it, the better chance you have of getting the most grant money possible. 

    Every financial aid program has its own deadlines. That includes the deadline for filing the FAFSA. Filing early gives you the best options.

    Seems complicated? Don’t worry. You can also find more information by visiting the financial aid resources page on this website. If you’re in high school or college right now, be sure to take advantage of the resources your school offers.

    Let’s take a quick look at the different kinds of financial aid you might be able to get by filling out a FAFSA on time.

    Free Money: Grants 

    Grants are a kind of financial aid. They can be thought of as “free cash” to students who show financial need. The more your family needs help affording college, the more grant money you might qualify for. 

    There are lots of grants out there. The federal government has several grant programs, including the Pell Grant. So does the state of California through the California Student Aid Commission

    Every grant has rules about who can qualify for them and how much money anyone can receive. Most of them also have rules about how you spend the money. So it’s not quite “free” cash, but it’s close.

    More Free Money: Scholarships 

    Scholarships are another type of free money. They’re awarded based on your achievements, like getting good grades, having great skills, or volunteering in your community. 

    Colleges often have scholarships for students with specific interests or talents. Local groups like community centers and businesses might also offer scholarships.

    You can start looking for scholarships today! Check out the College Board’s BigFuture website, which helps you search through over 24,000 scholarships available right now.

    Earn While You Learn: Work-Study

    Another kind of financial aid is available through work-study programs. They let you continue your studies while working at a part-time job on campus. Jobs can be anything from helping out in the library to working in a computer lab. 

    You earn money to cover college costs while gaining valuable work experience that looks great on resumes. This can help you land internships or jobs after graduation. 

    Responsible Borrowing: Loans 

    Even with a grant or scholarship, there might be college costs left. Student loans can help cover these costs, but it’s important to borrow responsibly. 

    Student loans help you bridge the gap to your future earnings. But remember, loans are money you need to pay back later – with interest! Don’t take out more than you absolutely need.

    Be sure to shop around. Many loan programs offer students ways to have their loans forgiven. Some offer better terms than others.

    Some loan programs are only available to people who qualify. Students who are undocumented or who meet certain other qualifications can get special loans through the California Dream Act.

    Check out Let’s Go To College California’s website for more about student loans.

    How Much Will College Cost? College Affordability Calculators 

    How much will college really cost? Online calculators can help estimate your financial aid eligibility. They also help you understand what all the costs of going to college are. 

    Tuition is just the start. Textbooks can be expensive. If you plan to leave home for school, you’ll need to pay rent. It adds up!

    The net price of college is an important piece of information you can get from an affordability calculator. The net price is all the costs that aren’t covered by financial aid. You might need to take a part-time job or borrow to cover the net price.

    The California Student Aid Commission hosts a calculator that covers colleges throughout the state. You can access it by clicking here.

    Just plug in some basic information to see how affordable different colleges might be. 

    Free Money is Waiting for You – Go Get It!

    Don’t let myths stop you from applying and getting the help you need for your education. College is affordable with financial aid, making it accessible for everyone. Take advantage of free resources and plan early. Access our financial resources section and start your financial aid journey with IESuccess.  Our articles and videos on financial aid can help you make college dreams a reality!

  • Which Application is Right for You? FAFSA vs. CADAA

    By Inland Empire Success | June 20, 2024

    Choosing the right financial aid application is crucial for securing the funds you need for college. Depending on your specific qualifications, you will need to apply with either the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the California Dream Act Application (CADAA). Here’s a guide to help you determine which application is right for you. 

    Apply with the FAFSA if You Are: 

    A U.S. Citizen: If you are a citizen of the United States, you should complete the FAFSA. This application will help you access federal financial aid, including grants, scholarships, work-study programs, and student loans. 

    A Permanent Resident (Green Card): If you hold a Green Card, you are considered an eligible non-citizen for federal financial aid purposes. Completing the FAFSA will allow you to access the same types of aid available to U.S. citizens. 

    An Eligible Non-Citizen: This category includes individuals with specific visas, such as T-visa holders, and other classifications that make you eligible for federal financial aid. The FAFSA is your gateway to securing these funds. 

    Apply with the CADAA if You Are: 

    Undocumented (with or without DACA): If you are an undocumented student, whether or not you have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, the CADAA is the appropriate application for you. This application will help you access state financial aid, including grants, scholarships, and fellowships. 

    Have a U-Visa: U-Visa holders are eligible to complete the CADAA. This visa is for victims of crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity. 

    Have Temporary Protected Status (TPS): Students with Temporary Protected Status can apply for financial aid through the CADAA. TPS is a temporary immigration status granted to eligible nationals of designated countries who are present in the United States. 

    Start Your Journey: 

    Choosing the correct application ensures that you maximize your financial aid opportunities and receive the support you need for your education. If you are a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or eligible non-citizen, the FAFSA is your go-to application. If you are undocumented, have a U-Visa, or hold Temporary Protected Status, the CADAA is the right choice for you.  

    By understanding which application to complete, you can take the first step toward a successful and financially supported college experience. For more detailed information and guidance on each application, visit our Financial Resources page.