After going to my first baseball game at Tiger Stadium in Detroit, Mich., I was hooked. I told my father that I wanted to visit other stadiums to really get a feel for the game, and he provided me with the challenge of a lifetime: Visit all 30 Major League Baseball (MLB) stadiums in the United States and Canada.
This was something I wanted to do before starting my final year of college while I still had the finances and the free time. So, two of my close friends and I began planning our journey. And as the school semester came to a close, we rushed through our final exams, packed our bags and headed east to start crossing stadiums off our list. In order to keep hospitality costs low, we simply stayed in campgrounds instead of forking over the dough for a hotel.
If you're thinking about tackling a similar agenda, here's how to do it:
Do Your Research
Sure, a good portion of our adventure was based on spur-of-the-moment ideas, but we were sure to do our research ahead of time, too. Sites like Ballparks of Baseball provide in-depth information about each MLB field and the surrounding area, including everything from parking to local landmarks and tourist attractions. Have a plan in place detailing where to head once you roll into town.
In order to make the trip affordable, we created a budget for all our expenses including the costs of parking, camping, food, tickets and gas. If you're traveling with friends, split costs wherever you can; it'll be cheaper for everyone involved. Find cheaper game tickets online at StubHub or fan sale sites, but don't worry about where you are sitting; just enjoy the baseball atmosphere.
Pack Your Lunches
When preparing for the trip, Fuelzee reminded us to avoid unnecessary meal costs. Eating lunch on the road seems cheap at first, but we quickly learned that filling up the cooler with packed sandwiches was more affordable than a five dollar hot dog (don't get us wrong, we still enjoyed some affordable local dining along the way).
Find Affordable Fun
While our time in each city was limited, we still wanted to get the most out of the journey. Whether it's visiting monuments in Washington D.C. or walking through Central Park in the Big Apple, find sites unique to the area that won't burn a hole in your wallet.
After nine days of driving, the three of us had visited eight Major League Baseball parks starting in Cleveland, Ohio, and ending over our northern border in Toronto, Ontario. The trip totaled more than 3,100 miles with 45 hours spent on the road between stadiums (including our return to Detroit, Michigan).
Here’s the final roundup of the stadiums we were able to visit:
|Toronto Blue Jays vs. Cleveland Indians||Progressive Field||Cleveland, Ohio.|
|New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox||Fenway Park||Boston, Mass.|
|Miami Marlins vs. Washington Nationals||Nationals Park||Washington D.C.|
|Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburg Pirates||PNC Park||Pittsburg, Pa.|
|Baltimore Orioles vs. New York Mets||Citi Field||New York, N.Y.|
|Baltimore Orioles vs. New York Yankees||Yankee Stadium||New York, N.Y.|
|New York Mets vs. Philadelphia Phillies||Citizens Bank Park||Philadelphia, Pa.|
|Boston Red Sox vs. Toronto Blue Jays||Rodgers Centre||Toronto, ON.|
Looking back, I wish I would have documented our experience throughout the trip because it's a story I continue -- and will continue -- to tell. Don't let your finances hold you back -- use available resources and start planning the road trip of your dreams.
Are you dreaming of sandy beaches and blue waters, but your bank account balance is holding you back? You shouldn't need to save for centuries to have the time of your life. Here are 10 tips for traveling on a tight budget.
Book a Hostel over a Hotel
Hostels are a great money-saving option for school groups, friends and solo travelers. Check out sites like Hostel World or Booking.com and compare rates. Bring a padlock for your valuables and a few bucks to rent sheets/towels.
Make Your Own Breakfast
If the room says, "breakfast included," you're paying too much. Compare the cost of a room with breakfast to a room without. Sometimes, that difference is $20/night. That extra cash could buy a lot of granola bars. Plus, you'll truly appreciate your mom's pancake breakfast when you return home.
Find Flights During the Week
According to a study by Expedia and ARC, the "magic moment" for cheap tickets is Tuesday around 3 p.m. Eastern Time. Check numerous sites and check them often. Once you see the best price you've seen all week, jump on it. If you see a better price two hours later, don't panic. Most airlines and booking sites allow you 24 hours to cancel your purchase.
Use Alternative Transportation
If you have time to spare, try a slower (but cheaper) option. Compare the cost of a cross-country train fare with a plane ticket. Try renting a bicycle as opposed to a car. Take a ferry ride if you're hopping between islands. Depending on where you're headed, the slower transportation options are usually cheaper.
Choose Free Activities
Mother Nature provides endless "free" options. Traveling during the summer? Check out this article on activities for the budget conscious. Are you traveling to a large city? Find out what days the local museums offer free admission or discounts. Research and make a list of different free options before you arrive.
We know it's hard. But, do you really need one more pair of shoes? Is it really hard to do a quick load of laundry? Lay out everything you want to pack, then cut that in half. Then, cut it in half again. If everything fits into a backpack, you'll save on airfare, at your hostel and you'll save effort by not lugging around an over-stuffed bag.
Share Your Meals
Traveling with a friend? Order one meal big enough to split between two people. If you get hungry later on, there are always those granola bars.
Choose a Low-Cost Destination
You may have dreamt of spring break in Paris or winter break in Cancun, but chances are you'll have a great time anywhere. Check out lower-cost destinations like South America for adventures, Eastern Europe for cheap food or southern regions of the U.S. for sandy beaches.
Sleep in the Airport
It may sound uncomfortable, but sleeping in the airport can save you a bundle. You don't need to be Tom Hanks in "The Terminal," but one night on an uncomfortable bench between destinations is worth the savings. Review the "Guide to Sleeping in Airports" before you spend the night.
Set a Travel Budget
Setting a budget is the best way to save on vacation. If you're new to budgets, get some advice for your first vacation budget. Decide how much you can spend and what is most important. If you spend less than projected, you'll have more money to spend on fun and souvenirs.
Traveling should be fun, educational and affordable. Whether you're hitting the road or backpacking through Europe, use these tips to save some cash for your travel stash.
Last month when I reached into the back of my pantry in search of something that might qualify as dinner, I found several cans of food with expiration dates somewhere in the mid-2013 range. I had an epiphany: I was throwing money away -- month after month -- by letting food go bad in my own kitchen.
Apparently I'm not the only one. According to a report by the National Resources Defense Council, the average American ends up tossing out 25 percent of the food he or she purchases each year. Considering that most people spend about $150 a week, or $600 a month, on food, that's a whopping $1,800 a year gone to waste, just like that.
If you're tired of throwing money away on groceries, it's time to change your ways.
Pay Attention to Expiration Dates
It seems like a no-brainer, right? But how many times have we all rushed into the supermarket on the way home from work and grabbed the first milk container off the shelves only to then get home and realize it expires within 48 hours? And it's not just perishables. Even pantry items have expiration dates, and if you let them go too long, you'll wind up with a host of stale products on your hands. Take the time to see when things expire before you buy them, and you'll save yourself some good money.
Avoid the Lure of the Sale
We all love a good deal, but sale items only count as a good deal if they're things you already use or need. If your favorite cereal brand is on sale for half-price and it's something you eat every other day, by all means, stock up. But don't buy sale items just for the sake of feeling like you're getting a bargain.
Plan Your Meals in Advance
If you're the type who believes food should be an experience and an adventure, the idea of planning out your meals for the week might seem a little stifling. By locking yourself into a menu, you're committing to eating specific meals at predetermined times. Not only that, but you may even have to eat some -- gasp -- leftovers during the week. But if you do plan out your meals ahead of time, there's a good chance you’ll wind up saving money on your grocery bills while accomplishing the very important goal of not wasting the food you bring home.
Stick to the List
It happens to all of us. You walk into the store with a list of seven items to purchase and get sidetracked by the big display of snacks and condiments. Suddenly you're buying up one of each type, because who wouldn't want to try the new chipotle-honey-mango dip with orange-mesquite potato chips? The people who set up those supermarket displays are good at what they do, but don't fall into the trap of buying extra products you simply don't need. Make a list before heading to the store and commit to sticking to it.
One of the best ways to throw out your money is to buy things -- especially perishables -- that you already have. Instead, keep a running inventory of what's in your fridge and pantry, and update it weekly before buying groceries.
We all work hard to bring home the bucks, so it's time to put an end to the madness that is food waste. With a few simple steps, you could be well on your way to slashing your food bills and reducing your own personal surplus -- and that's something to feel good about.
When it comes to planning a vacation, figuring out your airfare and hotel costs usually comes first. In fact, travelers often base their travel schedules around the best deals available. But, if you're a pet owner, there's a travel cost you don't want to overlook: pet care. Our furry friends need accommodations, too.
Perhaps you're lucky enough to have friends or family pet-sit for free, but often pet owners must look (and pay) for professional help when they go out of town. Depending on how comfortable you are with strangers in your home, you can either have a dog walker stop by to walk your pet a few times a day, or you can pay someone to stay and keep your pet entertained overnight. Some pet sitters prefer that you drop your pet off at their home instead, and of course pet hotels and boarding facilities are a popular option for travelers with pets.
According to care.com, the average cost of boarding a pet can cost you $20-25 per day. Pet hotels cost more but offer more luxuries and can range from $35-90 a day for each pet. The average cost of a dog walker is $10-25 for each dog, and Pet Sitters International's 2014 State of the Industry Survey indicates that the average for a 31-minute dog-walking visit is $18.23. Overnight visits average $62.18 per night.
Last year I planned an 11-day vacation and needed reliable pet care. I used Thumbtack to look for dog sitters in my area, and since it was a longer trip, I wanted my two dogs to stay at home instead of at a boarding facility. On Thumbtack, you submit your request (days needed, amount to be paid) and professionals respond with their bids. You can read your potential sitters' bios and reviews (if any), and choose the best one for you. Care.com and Yelp are also great resources to utilize that feature reviews for pet-sitters, too. I finally decided on a Thumbtack sitter who bid $20 a day for two dogs to be walked for 30 minutes (you can also get your plants watered and mail checked). By contrast, dog boarding for two dogs would have cost $40 a day in a shared indoor/outdoor facility, not including added playtime and other optional services.
Up in the Air
If you want your pet to travel with you and you're flying, you'll have to research airlines that accommodate pets to find out their policies. For example, United, American and Delta allow an in-cabin pet as an extra carry-on subject to a $125 service charge each way in the U.S., except Hawaii, and the kennel must fit into the seat in front of you. Spirit also allows in-cabin pets for $110, and you can fly with your pet for $100 each way on JetBlue and Alaska Airlines. According to their websites, American Airlines, Spirit and Southwest do not accept checked pets. Southwest charges $95 per pet one way on domestic flights only. Another cost to consider is acquiring an airline-approved pet carrier for the flight. Most airlines only accept smaller pets in the cabin. Also, these fees do not apply to service animals.
Road trips are easier to plan, but you'll still need to find pet-friendly lodging. Websites like bringfido.com and officialpethotels.com are both great resources that make it easy to find a place to stay with your furry companion.
With a bit of planning, pet owners can enjoy a vacation without worrying about their pet's well-being.
When I was twelve years old my parents sat me down and shared some big news: My grandmother, who had died a few years before, had left us some money, and my parents were going to give me $1,000 in a savings account. At that time we were poor and living in a cozy rental under the redwoods in Northern California, and I couldn't begin to wrap my head around such a large amount of money. I was excited and had questions, but my folks were never patient when I went into investigative-reporter mode, so the money sat in the bank and I occasionally took out my little savings passbook to admire it.
Then It Was Gone
A few months later my family hit a financial pothole. I never found out what it was -- maybe the gas was cut off or we fell behind on the water bill -- but my dad told me he'd borrowed the money and would pay it back with interest when he could. This didn't sit well with me.
By the time I was a teenager, I was pestering my parents about the money they'd said was mine, asking when I might get it back and how much interest I would receive. I wanted to buy clothes, music, books and all the coffee I could drink. They rebuffed me, but I asked again and again.
A new bank account was opened in my name and I finally got the money back. But something had gone sour between my folks and I: They were disappointed that I wanted the money back; I was upset that they expected fiscal maturity from a twelve year old! My mother repeated snarky things my dad said about me when he'd gone to the bank to make it right, and my feelings were deeply hurt. I also didn't trust him not to pull the same thing again. We were never fully clear of financial trouble; why would this time be any different?
Spending > Saving
As soon as I got the money, I began to spend it. I cut my community college classes, walked downtown to buy albums, cassettes (this was many years ago) and magazines. I would withdraw cash and spend it on silly gourmet jelly beans, coffee drinks and other things that seemed exciting in the moment but had no lasting value whatsoever. I made do with out of date textbooks, but ate expensive Ben and Jerry's ice cream while I studied. It took almost no time to blow the $1,000 and have nothing to show for it.
That recklessness was fun, but my shortsighted behavior was the same trap my parents kept falling into: Having fun now without a plan for long-term security. I needed a plan, and it took a few more stumbles before I actually began saving to ensure I'd never be in debt to a credit card or one paycheck away from disaster. But I got there, and it's one of the things I'm most proud of. I don't blame my mom and dad for failing to teach me better money management (they didn't know any better themselves), but I'm glad my grandma's legacy led to some wisdom on my part.
Saving grew muscles where I hadn’t had them before and made me think about the future with care, and that gave me peace of mind where before there was nothing but constant worry. I still worry sometimes, but since I've started saving (it's hard, I know -- just try to put those dollars away) the path the becoming debt-free is clear.
My husband and I like to say that we spent our first two years of marriage basically dating while living under the same roof. Yes, we were husband and wife, and had a nifty little certificate to show for it. But as far as life's big responsibilities went -- buying a house, having kids -- well, we just weren't ready. That said, we did put some thought into our finances early on to make sure we were on the same page. We also opened a joint savings account to start putting money toward the things we definitely weren't ready for but knew we wanted down the line.
While there's nothing wrong with kicking back and enjoying the newlywed phase, there are a few money moves you ought to make at the start of your marriage:
Decide on Your Financial Goals
Maybe owning a home is important to you. Or maybe it isn't, and that's okay. The key, however, is to figure out where you see yourselves long-term and how much money you'll need to get there. If, for example, there's a certain neighborhood you both want to live in where the cost of a house averages $300,000, you can establish a savings goal to afford a down payment in five years. Another thing to consider is children. Kids cost money, so if you're interested in having them, the sooner you start saving, the better.
Establish an Emergency Fund
You never know when you might lose a job, wreck your car or get injured and wind up with a pile of medical bills in the process. It's always a good idea to have a safety net, and you should aim to put aside enough money to cover six months of living expenses. You may have to build that fund slowly, but you should make it an early priority.
Create a Budget
One of the best moves you can make early on in your marriage is establishing a budget and sticking to it. Figure out how much money you need to cover your usual bills, add in a cushion for unexpected expenses and leave some wiggle room for travel and entertainment -- because this is, after all, the time to enjoy each other's company and experience new things together. Just be sure to also leave yourselves enough money to set up your emergency fund and start saving up for your goals.
Get Your Banking in Order
Perhaps it makes sense for you and your spouse to keep separate bank accounts. Or maybe a joint account will serve you better. Take some time to explore your options and figure out what's most beneficial.
Make a Plan to Pay Off Debt
The last thing you want as a married couple is a wad of debt hanging over your head. Perhaps you're still paying off your wedding, or one of you has leftover student loans. The sooner you start chipping away at that balance, the sooner you'll be able to start saving for your future goals.
Create a Will
If you don't already have a will in place, now's the time to take action. Even if you don't have many assets, it's still important to have a document in place that dictates where those assets will go in the event of your untimely demise.
Remember, being financially responsible doesn't have to detract from what should otherwise be a fun, carefree year of getting to know each other and enjoying one another's company. The sooner you get on the right track, the less financial stress you'll have down the line -- and that's important for any marriage, regardless of what stage you're in.
By the time I was 24 I'd lived in three different countries, on three different continents and gone to three different universities, all in the quest for adventure and experience. I've slept in airports and trekked through bus stations (why do they always smell like pee?), gotten lost, made friends, eaten delicious food I couldn't pronounce and made friends that will hopefully last a lifetime.
During my junior year of university my parents somehow put aside their worry and let their then 20-year-old daughter travel halfway around the world to live in the Middle East. This was before ISIS, but smack-dab in the middle of the Arab Spring that was raging in the surrounding nations. But, Amman, Jordan became my home for an academic year, and I even extended my stay three additional months. I also 'accidentally' missed my first flight back to the U.S. to get an extra day in the country I'd grown to adore.
In the second semester of my study abroad program, a friend and I got jobs at a local bar and restaurant. This particular place was known for being a hot spot for Western tourists, and its lax adherence to typical Middle Eastern laws also made it a gathering place for the local LGBT crowd. My friend and I gave it a shot, thinking this would just be a couple weeks of getting paid next to nothing just to have a new experience. We were wrong.
Seven months later we were still working for next to nothing, but enjoyed working 10 hour shifts, six nights a week while still attending classes. The job paid $1/hour, plus tips. Was it glamorous? Absolutely not! The experience itself was frustrating, fascinating, interesting and a myriad of other adjectives.
Once school was over we continued to work, carrying drinks and plates into the wee hours of the warm Middle Eastern mornings. We watched the moon rise over the Amman hills at night and our academic Arabic morphed into the everyday slang Jordanians spoke, plus a smattering of other vocabulary we learned from our coworkers who represented 14 different nationalities.
This first experience working in Jordan gave me the courage to go back less than a year after I had finished my degree in the U.S. to work at a local media agency. Slightly more career-like than the bar, but nowhere near as exciting.
Work Hard, Play Hard
I currently live in Northern Ireland where I have just finished my Master's degree in Political Psychology. I make my living as a freelance writer, an employment path that lets me pay rent, buy groceries and occasionally take a cheap Ryanair flight. Websites like FlexJobs and UpWork have allowed me to pursue my writing career while I travel, and CouchSurfing has put me in touch with some extraordinary people who are willing to give me a place to crash, a cup of coffee and interesting insights into their city.
Going to university abroad has lent itself to a whole new realm of experiences. I am confronted by an entirely new culture and social atmosphere every time I leave my house, and I enjoy the chance to build a new life in a new location. The hardest part is knowing that this set of circumstances -- this city, these friends, this life -- will change eventually.
I'm lucky enough to have been able to achieve my academic goals while living and working around the world. I eat a lot of pasta and rice, but that's a small price to pay for the memories I've made and the memories I will continue to make in my life lived traveling.
Americans on a whole seem to be voting less these days than they were 50 years ago, but the statistics are much more glaring for millennials. Whereas more than 50 percent of those aged 18-24 went out to vote back in 1964, in 2012, less than 40 percent in that same age range made it their business to hit the polls.
This recent lack of interest in voting could be due in part to the fact that today's candidates aren't focusing on the things that are most important to millennials. Here are some of the most pressing issues for millennials to consider when they take to the polls:
The US Economy
According to a 2014 poll of voters aged 18-34, 28 percent of those surveyed said that the state of the economy was the single most important issue for young people to care about. It makes sense. Though the economy is in better shape today than it was five years ago, unemployment and underemployment are still major concerns for those in the early stages of their careers. With college costs continuing to rise and graduates coming away with more and more debt, the lackluster economy is still a major source of dissatisfaction for younger voters. Along these lines, U.S. debt and spending is another looming issue on millennials' radar, with 16 percent of those surveyed identifying it as their primary concern. And speaking of debt, 60 percent of those surveyed are currently in debt themselves.
This one's a no-brainer, as terrorism is obviously a very bad, scary thing. A good 15 percent of those surveyed picked terrorism as the number one issue our country is facing today. While efforts have been made since the 9/11 attacks to beef up security at airports and other major targets, many feel that we still have a long way to go.
Education is a loaded issue these days and encompasses everything from grade school to college and points in between. For those still reeling from the impact of ridiculously high student loans, the notion of free community college is a major talking point. Then there's the whole college bubble in general, and the fact that someone ought to do something to help make it burst. And although many millennials aren't yet at the stage where they're having children, they're still concerned with what education will look like in the coming years.
Utter the word "ObamaCare" in a crowded room and you're likely to get a host of spirited reactions. For better or worse, healthcare is a major issue among millennials, and for every young voter who supports ObamaCare, it seems like there's another who wants to watch it die a slow death. ObamaCare may not be the best solution in its current form, but millennials--many of whom don't have any other form of health coverage -- are certainly invested in potentially seeing a better one.
Of course, these are only some of the issues millennials are paying attention to. Others include:
- Gay marriage
- Legalization of marijuana
- Gun ownership
- Climate change
No matter where your personal priorities lie, if you're serious about making your vote count, you'll need to commit to educating yourself on the key issues at hand. This means watching the news, tuning in to debates and taking the time to learn where candidates stand on the things you find most important. It may be less entertaining than reality TV, but it'll put you in a better position to decide who truly deserves your vote.
Are you planning to vote this year? What issues take priority for you?
Do young people care about voting? Believe it or not, the answer is yes. Sure, we millennials may be all Twitter-obsessed and glued to our smartphones, but many of us are also politically inclined -- or at least interested enough to drag ourselves out to the polls.
High Voter Turnout Is Likely Among Millennials for 2016
Whereas voter turnout may have been lackluster on the part of millennials for previous elections, there's good news for 2016: In a recent survey, 77 percent of millennials claimed they are "absolutely certain: or "very likely" to vote in 2016, and another 14 percent said they will "possibly" vote, thus potentially bringing the total up to 91 percent.
This increase in young voters could really swing the election, as many studies indicate that it was the younger vote that propelled Obama to victory during his two successful runs for office. According to the Pew Research Center, the last two presidential elections have had the widest gaps in voting between young voters and older voters since 1972. In 2012, 60 percent of voters under 30 chose Obama, while only 48 percent of those 30 and over followed suit. In 2008, 66 percent of voters under 30 gave Obama their votes, compared to 50 percent of voters 30 and older.
Furthermore, in 2012, those aged 18 to 34 made up 19 percent of voters -- a small increase from 18 percent in 2008. But interestingly, only about half of millennials who were eligible to vote actually hit the polls -- which is why it'd be great if we could somehow get to 91 percent the next time around.
Here's another interesting point: While men and women don't always agree on everything, both young males and females feel that voting is important. Of those surveyed, 88 percent of men aged 18 to 34 said they're likely to vote, while 95 percent of similarly aged females have similar plans.
Of course, if the 2014 midterm election is any indication of how things will shake out next year, here are some interesting factoids:
- Millennials represented an estimated 21 percent of total voters, which was on par with stats from years past.
- Roughly 9.9 million people between the ages of 18 and 29 turned out to vote.
- Democratic candidates took more of the millennial vote than Republicans.
That last stat certainly makes sense. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 51 percent of millennials identify as Democrats, whereas only 35 percent consider themselves Republican.
How Will Millennials Vote Next Year?
So the big question is: Who's going to get the young vote? According to Fusion's Massive Millennial Poll of those aged 18 to 34, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the top choice among young Democratic voters, while New Jersey's Chris Christie came away as the top Republican candidate.
Of course, there's still a fair amount of time till the next election, which means all the candidates in question have ample opportunity to sway young voters one way or another. And let's not discount the possibility of a major scandal to really shake things up.
Either way, one thing's for sure: When it comes to politics, millennials are paying attention. In fact, our collective social media fixation may be a good thing when it comes to fueling voter turnout. Only time will tell how millennials wind up impacting the next presidential election, but the fact that they're itching to vote is a positive sign.
If you're on the fence about voting, take some time to read up on the issues at play. You never know how your say might make a difference.
So you're working a summer gig at a fun office. The people seem happy, the environment is perfect and the company is thriving. It's too bad you'll need to give up your job to finish up your senior year of college -- or will you? If the company is growing and you've managed to build a reputation as a hard, efficient worker, there may be an opportunity for you to pick up where you left off once your senior year is complete. Here are some tips to help you snag a full-time role post-graduation:
Keep in Touch
The last thing you want is to be forgotten when you abandon your summertime post and head back to school. Be sure to exchange contact information with your managers and coworkers, and make a point of staying in touch. You can do this through sites like LinkedIn or by shooting your old colleagues the occasional email to check in. Better yet, if your college is local, or if you're in town frequently for visits, make plans to meet up with some coworkers, have lunch with your old boss or even stop by the office to say hi. This way, there's a good chance someone will think of you if a new long-term role opens up.
Freelance or Work Part-Time
If you're a full-time student, full-time work probably isn't an option. But if you attend college locally, you could try taking on a part-time role at your company while you complete your studies. If distance is an issue, ask if it's possible to freelance from afar. You may be able to work on specific projects from the comfort of your dorm room. Similarly, you can look into interning as another alternative. Your company might jump at the chance to continue using your services on a part-time basis and transition you to full-time once you're done with school.
Keep up Those Good Grades
Your GPA isn't everything, but if you continue to rock those term papers and final exams, you'll be sending the message that you're a focused, hard worker. Remember, even if you've built a good rapport with your boss and coworkers, by the time you get closer to graduating, there may be a different hiring manager in charge who's never met you. And there's a good chance that person will want to study your resume before deciding whether to make you an offer. So tempting as it may be, don't flake out your senior year.
If you're serious about snagging a job at your company after you graduate, talk to your manager before you leave and find out what it'll take to make that happen. He or she may be able to offer some concrete tips that'll help you secure that coveted full-time, post-college role. If, for example, you spent your summer at an advertising company, your manager might suggest that you try to squeeze in a couple of extra marketing courses to beef up your skills. You really have nothing to lose by having an open conversation.
Of course, just because you discuss the possibility of a full-time role doesn't mean you'll actually get one -- even if your request is met with enthusiasm. Over the course of a year, circumstances can change, company needs can shift and finances may go south. Your manager may have every intention of hiring you back once you complete your studies, but if he or she encounters unexpected roadblocks, whatever informal offer you have may quickly be rescinded. In other words, even if you think you're all set job-wise, have a backup plan. It never hurts.