Monday, August 29, 2016

From Summer Job To Just Plain Job: How To Turn Your Internship Into A Promising Career



You’ve fetched coffee, made copies and done all the typing and filing for an entire department. Congrats! You’ve finally finished your summer internship! In many ways, just going back to school would be a wonderful relief, but you might be looking for more.

You took this internship as a stepping stone in your career. If you want to take the next step, though, you’ll need to transition it into an actual job. That can be an intimidating process.

Here’s the the good news: You’ve made it through the door. Most companies prefer to hire and promote from within. They don’t want to go through the interview process again any more than you do.

The bad news, though, is that doesn’t make it automatic. If you’re expecting the company to do the work of finding a place for you, you’re going to be disappointed. That said, it’s not impossible. It just takes the right combination of accomplishment, luck and know-how to get the position you’ve been dreaming about.

If you’re struggling with planning how to convert your internship into a full-time position, remember these five pointers!

1.) Ask for a specific position

One of the biggest mistakes job-seekers generally make is asking the broad question “Are you hiring?” The answer may be yes, but it’s unlikely – especially at large firms – that anyone knows about every possible position. For external applicants, doing the legwork to track down potential openings is tricky. That’s one of the advantages of the internship.

Keep an ear to the ground for new projects, new teams or new promotions. Those are places where there are likely to be new positions opening. Your immediate supervisor may not be in a position to make a hiring decision, but they can probably put you in touch with the person who is. A recommendation from someone within the company will go a long way toward putting you in that office.

2.) Time your ask

The last day of your internship is not the right time to have the first conversation about your future with the firm. Timing like that makes you seem like a procrastinator. You’re giving the impression that you put off thinking about your future until the last possible minute. This is not a trait companies want in their employees.

Ideally, you’ll want to ask about a new position after a big win. If you’ve just finished a major project, you’ve got the limelight, but only for a brief window. It doesn’t have to be one of those cinematic, vital to the life of the company projects, but it should be a significant success that shows your skills and determination.

When you reference this accomplishment, always do so with a humble-brag. Ask your immediate supervisor if the task was done to their satisfaction. Getting them in the headspace of singing your praises will make them much more likely to recommend you for another position.

3.) Be everywhere

Part of the benefit of an internship is the chance to see the inner workings of a company. Yes, you’re gaining experience doing a specific set of tasks, but you’re also learning about different aspects of a business in your field. You don’t do that by keeping your head down and doing the work in front of you.

Instead, take every opportunity to visit and work with other departments and people. You never know who you might impress! The more people in the company who know your name, the more likely it is you’ll get to stay.

4.) Become indispensable

Lack of experience is typically seen as a liability by employers, but you can turn it into an asset through your internship work. That you don’t have any experience provides you with tremendous flexibility in how you tackle tasks. Find some piece of technology, new practice or set of procedures you can master. This means taking every training opportunity and looking over the shoulder of as many folks as possible. Your objective is to become an expert at the company in something.

The truth is, it doesn’t matter what. If you’re the only one in the department who knows how to run the copier, that’s a strong argument for keeping you on. Running the copier may not be your dream job, but it can get you in the door.

5.) Be professional

The best attribute you can display in your internship is follow-through. That means showing up on time every day, dressed like you’re there to work, and taking on every task — no matter how menial — with enthusiasm and dedication. Demonstrate to your employer that you’re the kind of person they want to hire.

The summer internship can be a great start to a great career, but — like every opportunity — you get out of it what you put into it. With a lot of work and a little luck, it can be the first in a series of career successes.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

What are my options for digital banking?



Plenty. We live in the digital age, where you don't even need to leave your couch to do anything; from buying groceries to meeting the love of your life. First City Credit Union is one of the many financial institutions allowing you to bank from a mobile device and through mobile apps.

In fact, The digital age is ushering in a new era of green banking, and the planet is healthier for it already. Mobile banking saves gas that you would spend on making a special trip to a branch. It saves paper that would be used on statements or receipts. Sites like Paypal or GoFundMe allow you to pay or be paid instantly, which cuts out the need for paper in checks or, again, receipts and paper money. The same goes for the ability to pay bills automatically online, through our online/mobile banking page.

Are there any risks to digital banking?

While the benefits are fantastic, digital banking does come with a few small risks. Some people find keeping a budget to be more difficult when they can just look at their phone and rationalize a purchase they don't need simply because their balance seems okay. This is best solved with separate accounts for savings and spending, so you never think you have more money than you do. Also, although you can do quite a lot of your banking online, you can't do everything. There are still some important tasks that you need to do in person or by mail, such as signing loan documents and making deposits over a certain threshold.

Of course, the biggest concern with banking in the digital age is the ever-looming threat of hackers. Robbery no longer looks like a tall man in a ski mask with a revolver. Instead, most robbery happens through identity theft, perpetrated by a much scarier, faceless criminal who could be anywhere. Protecting security is at the forefront of everyone's minds, and First City Credit Union uses industry-leading security protection technology. You can help by choosing strong passwords and avoiding online banking from public computers. Fortunately, identity theft is still quite rare. About 4% of the U.S. population was victimized by identity theft in 2013 (Sources: World Bank, CNN Money, Javelin Strategy and Research). In fact, online banking has helped reduce much of the danger that comes from having paper with personal information on it sitting in the garbage can for anyone to find. The benefits that online banking provides continue to outweigh the risks.

Are there any banking initiatives that directly support environmental sustainability?

For starters, an ethical financial institution is one whose primary goal is to support sustainability and the long-term health of its community. Credit unions nationally have led the charge by identifying and supporting local businesses. The less distance goods have to travel, the less CO2 gets pumped into the atmosphere. You can help these efforts when you purchase a car or a home. Buying an energy-efficient car or building green features into your home can help build a sustainable future.

How can this help me?

In addition to the long-term benefits of going greener, sustainable banking offers many advantages. Online banking can be done at any time and any place - no waiting for the branch to open, no wasting extra gas money driving to the ATM. Having receipts and monthly statements emailed to you keeps them all in one place, which allows for easy organization and budgeting.

The ability to be paid instantly allows you to, well, be paid instantly. No more waiting for a check to cash or losing it at the bottom of your purse. With automatic bill payments, you can put the bills right out of mind and never have to worry about forgetting them again. This does great things for your stress level and your credit score. Greener auto loans or mortgages allow you to save money on things that might have previously been more expensive, making them worth the hassle. In the end, saving the earth can also save you time, money and energy.

How can I go greener in my banking?

In the year 2016, greener banking is easier than ever. If you're ready to be a part of the future, take these four easy steps:



  • Set up direct deposit to split your paycheck between your savings and your checking and/or to make loan payments.




First City is here to help make your life a little greener, digitally.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Catastrophy Or Opportunity? What The Brexit Vote Means For Homebuyers And Homeowners Part 2 of 2

The recent decision by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union has led to serious turmoil in stock markets around the world. Many investors are panicking and selling off stocks in a hurry. Smart investors, though, can be prepared to ride out the storm by making a few savvy moves.

In times of trouble, people tend to look for the safest possible investment. These generally fall into three groups: stock in big companies, bonds of financially stable governments and real property. That last category should be of interest to homeowners and house hunters alike, as the recent Brexit vote is likely to be a boon to real estate markets everywhere outside the United Kingdom.

It’s not that people are flocking out of the UK and looking for houses to buy. Rather, many people are looking to invest in real estate, but the British pound sterling is experiencing a loss of value. On the other hand, for people looking for real estate either as living space or as an investment, the time has never been better.

Let’s take a look at how this could affect each group individually.

Real Estate Investors

Owning rental property is a big wealth-building strategy component for many people. Whether you serve as landlord yourself or turn the property over to a management company to handle the day-to-day operations, rental income is as close to passive as it gets. You get the rent minus expenses, plus the appreciation of the property.

One of the biggest costs associated with buying rental property is the mortgage. Very few landlords own rental property outright. More often, they mortgage the property and use the rent to cover the mortgage payment.

Interest rates have been historically low as a means of economic stimulus for quite some time, so costs have already been modest. With the uncertainty created by the Brexit vote, most experts expect the Fed to avoid raising those rates. Mortgages will stay cheap into the foreseeable future.

Moreover, investors seeking to invest in a more diverse real estate portfolio are buying mortgages at an accelerated rate. They’re doing so because they’re seeking a safe investment, and prime mortgages (loans made to people with good to very good credit) represent a pretty safe place to park money. Since there are more dollars available to lend, the cost of those dollars (the interest rate) will drop further.

If you’ve been on the fence about buying an investment property, the time could be right. Low rates and rising property values could make it a valuable part of your retirement strategy.

Homebuyers

Most of the reasons why home ownership makes sense for investors also make sense for people looking to buy a home for themselves. There’s one more factor, though, that could tip the scales in favor of buying a home.

One of the other effects of increased mortgage availability is an easing of mortgage requirements. The door is open for borrowers with less-than-optimal credit scores. Many of these people have been scared away from the mortgage market because they fear they won’t be approved. The increased availability of credit, though, may make mortgages easier to get. Working through a community lender like First City can offer borrowers the personal guidance they seek along with access to loan options that are not always widely available on the open market.

Homebuyers with good or very good credit may be able to up their price range a bit. If you’ve been on the market for a while and had little success, it may be time to take another look at payment projections and re-evaluate how much house you can afford. With interest rates approaching 3-year lows, you may be able to find an affordable house payment on a more expensive house.

Homeowners

If you’re a current homeowner, these rates should be attractive to you, as well. If you’re thinking about selling your home, now’s a great time. Cheap loans and rising rents will continue to push more people into the housing market, and more demand means prices are sure to continue to increase. Now might be a good time to get an estimate or test the waters to see how much you might get for your home.

If you’re happy with your home but want to make some upgrades, getting a home equity line of credit to do those remodels is another way to take advantage of low rates. Remodeling a bathroom or kitchen using a home equity loan could help you take advantage of the surging real estate market, and it could make your house a happier home in the meanwhile.

If remodels aren’t in the cards right now, it may be a wise opportunity to refinance. If you got a loan when you had less than perfect credit but have been making payments consistently, you could qualify for a significant savings in your monthly payments. The same is true if your mortgage is more than 10 years old. Refinancing now could lock in some serious savings and take some pressure off the budget each month.

Don’t buy into the hype. The Brexit vote is not a time for panic. It’s not a time to stuff your money in a mattress. It’s a time to make smart moves to protect your investments, when disciplined investors can significantly improve their position. You can do it, and First City can help!

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Sky Isn't Falling: Financial Repercussions Of The Brexit Vote Part 1 of 2

Listening to financial pundits, it's easy to think that the end of the world occurred last month. The
United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in a contentious referendum. While the implications of this decision are many and wide-ranging, there's no need to panic.

 What the Brexit does

The referendum in the United Kingdom was to leave the European Common Market. The Market is a
network of countries (called the Eurozone) that don't charge each other import or export taxes and
simplify the process for citizens of any Eurozone member to get permission to work in any other
country. The Brexit vote means that the United Kingdom is leaving that network.

For citizens of the United Kingdom, this decision could have very serious implications. On one hand, the country will get more control over its immigration policy. It is no longer obligated to follow European Union rules on migration or refugee handling. The desire to secure their borders was, in large part, the motivator for those who voted in favor of leaving the European Union.

What most financial experts are concerned about, though, are the trade implications. The United
Kingdom will have to negotiate its own trade policies with every other member of the Eurozone. Over the short term, this will be incredibly complicated. For the past 20 years, British trade policy with the rest of Europe has been determined by the Common Market rules. It will take time to reestablish trade policies with the many nations of the Union.

No need to panic

The one thing that drives markets down more than anything else is uncertainty. If no one has reason to believe that trade will occur and profits will be made, there's no motivation to invest. That's the current circumstance. There are no clear trade rules governing Britain's participation in the Common Market, which is driving investors in both European and British markets away. This same fear is also impacting other markets of countries that do business with the United Kingdom. This behavior is driving concerns about a short-term recession.

Ultimately, trade agreements will be mended. The United Kingdom and the rest of Europe are too close, both politically and economically, to remain at odds for long. Business as usual will return sooner rather than later, and short-term losses will rebound.

This is small consolation to those who will lose their jobs due to the economic slowdown, though the
most pronounced effects of this loss will be in the United Kingdom. U.S. companies that conduct a great deal of business with Europe and the United Kingdom may have some staff reductions, but job loss should be minimal in the U.S., at least over the long term.

Normalcy will return

Many doom and gloom economists and pundits predicting mass economic ruin rely on a number of
things happening, each of which is unlikely. First, investors must abandon the Pound Sterling, the British currency, en masse. This is unlikely. The British government's ability to pay its bills is still sound, and the currency holds enough value to resist the impulses of speculation.

Second, those who predict financial catastrophe assume a trade war will spark between the United
Kingdom and the rest of Europe. Such analysis ignores the likely galvanizing effect that the Brexit vote will have on British moderate voters. As Prime Minister David Cameron has recently resigned, and with opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn likely to do the same, new elections will install a new British government shortly after the British leave the European Union. Those who were opposed to the Brexit referendum, but stayed home because they considered it impossible that the referendum would pass, will heavily influence this new government. These voters will elect moderate leaders capable of returning a degree of normalcy to trade relations, and thus preventing a trade war.

What this means for your portfolio

Over the short term, stocks and foreign currency funds will likely take a significant beating. Resisting the urge to cut and run from these positions will take discipline, but it will reward investors with the courage to ride out the storm. When normalcy returns to international trade, these positions will rebound. This sudden downswing may mean postponing retirement for a few years in order to take advantage of bargain-priced securities in the interim, but investors who sell now may end up regretting the decision. For those still saving for retirement, it may be prudent to find another place to stash gain-seeking money in the interim. Instead of investing in the typical instruments, consider long-term share accounts.  As governments in Europe cut interest rates in an effort to stimulate their economies, traditional safe instruments - such as government bonds - will lose some of their luster. Long-term share accounts will keep current interest rates through the economic trouble and provide a better 3- to 5-year return than many other traditionally safe investments.

The bottom line

The Brexit vote will likely cause some damage to the global economy, but the damage will probably be minimal. After an interruption of trade, everyone will get back to business as usual across Europe. Some companies may cut their staff down for a short time, but they will re-expand once the economic
situation returns to normal. Keep calm, and keep saving.

Your Turn:

What do you think of the Brexit vote? Was Great Britain right to want to control their borders at the
expense of their economy, or did they act rashly by breaking ties with their biggest trading partners?
Let us know!


Friday, June 10, 2016

Zika Virus – How To Keep Your Family Safe


Summer is a wonderful time to enjoy the great outdoors. Whether you’re involved in recreation league sports, hiking, or barbecues, there’s something for everyone. Usually, flying pests are just a nuisance. The worst they do is provide a minor irritation to an otherwise fine outing.
This year looks to be different, though. The Zika virus, a blood-borne illness transmitted by mosquitoes, has been identified throughout the United States. Florida, Texas and Kansas have already confirmed cases and more states are likely to follow.
The symptoms of Zika are not terribly severe. Infected people may experience body aches, fever, rash and eye redness. That’s, of course, if they experience any symptoms at all. Odds of death from Zika are remote and hospitalization is rare. People with compromised immune systems may be at greater risk, but the greatest threat posed by Zika is the risk of birth defects.
A woman who is pregnant may transmit the disease in utero to the fetus. This infection dramatically increases the risks of a birth condition known as microcephaly – an underdeveloped brain. Babies born with microcephaly will face risks of seizures, developmental delays and the loss of sensory function.
There’s no treatment, vaccine or cure for Zika virus. The only step you can take to reduce the risk of transmission is to reduce the primary risk: mosquitoes. Some municipalities have begun sterilization and spraying efforts to control these pests, but individuals can also take steps to reduce their exposure to Zika.
The panic surrounding Zika has also led to an upswing in aggressive sales tactics for mosquito eradication products. Unscrupulous salespeople will exploit public fear about the disease and promise to sell products that will eliminate mosquitoes. If such a product existed, it would be used around the world by people everywhere. If you’re worried about mosquitoes and your family,  it’s best to be pro-active and eliminate mosquitoes on your own terms, rather than find yourself duped into the latest scam fad.
Before diving to the home improvement store and filling your cart with mosquito repellents, remember that not all solutions are created equal. Let’s run down the most popular products and consider the pros and cons of each, so that you can make an informed decision on how to keep your family safe...
1) Traps
Mosquitoes find humans through three different means: heat, scent and breath. Mosquito traps draw mosquitoes in, then seal them in a collection container and kill them. These devices usually run between $50 and $400, with more expensive versions having more complex mechanisms to attract mosquitoes and more efficient means of killing them.
The best part about mosquito traps is that they’re entirely passive. Attach them to a power supply and let them work. They’ll require some cleaning and maintenance to ensure their effectiveness, but they’re the least labor-intensive of options we’ll discuss. The biggest traps claim to be effective over about an acre of land, although independent reports have yet to verify this claim.
The biggest downside of mosquito traps is that they’re an incomplete solution. Mosquito traps only kill adult mosquitoes. They do nothing about eggs or larvae. Since these systems will never be 100% effective, traps alone are not enough to combat Zika.
2) Extermination
There are a variety of steps homeowners can take to stop mosquitoes from spawning in the first place. Some of these are fairly obvious, like draining areas of standing water and filling them to prevent the puddles from forming again. Doing so prevents mosquitoes from breeding nearby and can help eliminate the threat. For more intensive measures, some people use chemical insecticides, either in a scheduled misting system or as a one-time treatment.
The use of chemical insecticides seems, at first glance, like an easy solution. Many chemical sprays not only kill adult mosquitoes but also prevent mosquitoes from spawning in those locations again. Using a controlled quantity of chemical can prevent any health risks.
However, chemical sprays are powerful environmental influencers. If applied insufficiently, they can produce resistance and immunity among the pests. If applied in too great a quantity, they can cause damage to plants, pets and people. Their use is best left to professional exterminators, which raises the cost.
3) Repellent
This is by far the easiest solution, although many people find the process annoying. Keeping a bottle of spray-on insect repellent by the door and spraying yourself down before every outside session may seem irritating, but it’s one of the most effective steps you can take. More traditional remedies, like citronella, may provide some repellent, but are no more effective than any other smoking candle.
When choosing a repellent, the chemical attribute which ties most highly to success is DEET concentration. For serious, long-term outdoor activities, concentrations of 30% provide maximum protection for the longest duration. For family barbecues or fireworks shows, concentrations of around 10% provide a smaller range of coverage for about two hours. Because of the risk of accidental consumption, 10% concentration of DEET is the highest level that is recommended for children.
For those concerned about spraying chemicals, the FDA has approved a clothing treatment insect repellent. Look for products containing permethrin, or the brand name Insect Shield. Both the CDC and the EPA endorse these products for use in insect control.
When it comes to the safety of your family, make sure you separate truth from fiction. If anyone claims they can make mosquitoes disappear overnight, run the other way. The best approach involves a combination of efforts to make sure you get all the protection you need.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Solving a 21st Century Problem with a 20th Century Solution

How does your money measure up?


Thirty years ago, trying to spend more money than you had wasn't just embarrassing; it was a scandal. Since checks didn't process instantly, a shopkeeper would have no way of knowing until days after the purchase. Writing one bad check would cost you check-writing privileges at that establishment and possibly land your likeness on a "wall of shame."

Balancing your checkbook was critical, since there was no online account history you could check. You had to document every transaction in the checkbook register for keeping an accurate running balance. You got a statement once a month, which you would use to double check your work - and the work of your financial institution!

With modern technology, many people don't bother to balance their checkbooks any longer. Most transactions that had been made with a check are now made with a debit card. Many consumers don't even carry a checkbook, which means no register. But who cares, right?

You should! Balancing your checkbook can still do wonders to improve your financial awareness and security. Let's look at the hows and whys of this "ancient" art and what mastering it in the 21st century can do for you.

A check register for a new age

At its core, a check register is just a running list of credits and debits (money in and money out). You could just keep a notepad, but it could be easy to lose. Plus, it's just one more thing to carry around. It's much easier to put something you already have to work.

If you always carry a checkbook, the pages in the back can still be an effective check register. If you'd like something a little more modern, there are plenty of options. A quick check of an app store shows more than a dozen checkbook balancing apps for both iPhone and Android devices. If you're looking for something shareable, a Google Sheet that you and your partner share could help with a joint account.

Whatever you use, the process is the same. You write your current checking account balance on the first line. Whenever you write a check or use your debit card, you write the check number if it's a check, the date of the transaction, a description of the transaction, and the amount. Follow a similar process for online bill payments or automatic withdrawals. Then, subtract the debit from your balance and write the new balance next to the transaction. Any time you add money to your account (a credit), do the same thing, but adding instead of subtracting.

Once a month, sit down with your checkbook register and compare it to your account statement. Put a checkmark next to items that appear on your account statement. This is called reconciling your checking account.

Say goodbye to overdrafts!

The most obvious reason for keeping your checking account balanced is to have constant tracking of your finances. You'll never have to worry if this tank of gas is going to put you in the red or that you can't really afford to meet friends for drinks. In fact, this method can actually provide you MORE security than checking your balance on a smartphone app.

Different transactions process at different speeds. If you run your debit card as a credit card, that transaction goes to a payment processor, then to your credit union, then back to the payment processor, then to the merchant. The whole process can take as much as 3 days (more if it is over a holiday weekend). If you use your debit card at a busy restaurant, the manager may not get around to processing the receipt until a day or two later. Of course, if you write a check, the person you write it to may forget about it until the next week! All of these can cause your account balance to inaccurately represent your funds available.

By updating your account balance as soon as you make the transaction, you can avoid the chain of overdrafts that can really put you in a bind. Even if you never have a problem with your account balance, the security that comes from being sure is invaluable. You can't put a price on that peace of mind.

Fraud alert!

Double-confirming your transactions is a great way to stay ahead of identity thieves and other forms of fraud. Because you've documented all your transactions, you should be able to quickly spot any irregular expenditures. You'll be able to spot stolen cards, fraudulent purchases and merchant overcharges quickly, and your record will be an excellent form of evidence on your behalf.

Cutting out the things you don't need

A lot of us have monthly subscriptions we're not using. Maybe you signed up for a free trial of a cloud storage product or music streaming service and forgot to cancel. Maybe it's a magazine subscription you thought you canceled a year ago. Whatever it is, it's easy enough to not think about it.

When you perform your reconciliation and really examine your statement, you'll see your spending habits differently. You'll see (and have to record in your register) all those little expenses. This makes a great time to cancel those recurring charges!

Being forced to write down all your spending also forces you to put an extra step between desire and gratification. Would you really be so quick to whip out plastic to grab a snack if it meant an extra transaction to record? Could you, at the end of the month, justify all those daily indulgences? Keeping records can be a great way to get your spending under control.

Keeping a checkbook register might seem like an outdated habit, but knowing where your money goes is a timeless need. If you would like help setting up a checkbook register or want to better understand how you can take charge of your finances, call, click, or stop by a First City branch today!

It might be the first step you take on the road to financial security.