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June 22, 2010 / Suzie

Suzie Stumbles to the Web

Most college students in America will agree that saving money while getting an education is difficult, reserved for the most feisty and savvy of our generation. The amount of time devoted to our studies limits most of us from a fulltime job during the academic year, and the looming growth of our loans––and now dwindling job prospects––does nothing but depress the average 18-22 year-old consumer. As a senior at a private liberal arts college, I have certainly not been exempt to these conditions. In fact, I think I might even have a spending problem, which is why I have started this blog. I’m Suzie (or Suz, pronounced Soooz), and I am gong to be exploring smart financial options as a senior in college.

At this point in time, I am not in school. It’s summer and I, luckily, have enough credits to forego classes during pool season this year. As fate would have it, I am in DC for an unpaid internship at a nonprofit.

Okay, so this is a blog about saving, right? Why would I settle for a something unpaid?

Great question. And I have a few great answers:

  • Finding an internship over the summer can be surprisingly difficult in this economy. More mature students with masters’ degrees are now taking conventionally college-focused internships. In essence: yeah, finding a paid internship in DC is hard. Hopefully it won’t always be that way.
  • I am making great connections here. As a senior it is my priority this year to match myself up with a recognizable company that will pay well (okay, so maybe I am being a little unrealistic, but aim high, right?).
  • I like the work I’m doing, which counts for a lot. As someone who wants to go into communications, this internship is providing me with some solid experience that will ideally make me look like a better candidate by the end of my stay. In other words: résumé building.
  • People know this company, or they at least know its founder, the World Bank.

Yet the greatest problem with this internship is that it is unpaid. The costs:

  • I get a $150 stipend for travel for ten weeks of interning. With DC public transportation costs, I am in the hole -$187.50. Why is getting to work so expensive? Well…
  • I’m living at home. My parents recently moved to Northern Virginia, which means driving to the bus stop, taking the bus, then rail, then walking, everyday, twice a day, one hour and fifteen minutes each way. I am also paying my own grocery bill and doing chores so that the Mom and Pop will keep me.
  • No source of income for fun this summer! Because I leave the house at 9:00AM and get back at 6:30PM, I don’t have any time for a part-time job.

Essentially, this job is an investment. I am hoping that the recommendations, connections, and experience that I get will make all the financial and transportation hassles worthwhile.

Fortunately for me, I am not starting at zero. Because of some savings for the past few years, I will be able to make it through this summer without going further into debt.

As an unpaid DC intern, I will explore the following until I get back to school:

  • How to have fun without spending money as a college student
  • Where to find extra sources of income on a limited schedule
  • How to manage the savings that I am living off of
  • How to make the most of my internship

This won’t be an easy road, but at least you’ll be with me.




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