College Days: Meet Your Future Employer, Gain Financial Literacy

Use college time to meet prospective employers and learn investing.
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Summer is over, and it’s time to hit the books.

For young adults (and maybe not-so-young adults), college beckons. A college degree can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional earnings over a lifetime versus a high-school education, according to a 2011 Census Bureau study. Plus, recent data from the Economic Policy Institute shows the average hourly wage for recent college graduates is 76% higher than for those with a lower level of academic attainment.

This is the time to get serious about both your financial future and your career prospects. Luckily, at college, many of the opportunities to do both are within reach.

Going to the Fair

Prospective employers often line up to meet graduating students at colleges and universities, whether at recruitment or job fairs. Tanja Hinterstoisser, director of Champlain College’s Career Collaborative, says students are starting to network with prospective employers at these events, even as freshmen. Students need to have their “collaterals” ready, such as resumes and social media accounts, but fairs are a good way to get face-to-face practice at job interviewing.

“The more you do it, the more comfortable it becomes,” she said.

Don’t overlook potential employers that might not be in your major. Rachael Flores, manager of campus and diversity recruiting for TD Ameritrade, is encouraging all students from all disciplines at Creighton University and University of Nebraska’s Lincoln and Omaha campuses to attend the TD Ameritrade College Recruitment Day on September 28. They want everyone to see what the company is about.

“It’s a misconception people have—they think you need a finance degree to work here, but you don’t. Part of our recruitment day is to teach students about the markets and what it’s like to work here,” Flores said, adding that it’s an opportunity for students to meet top TD Ameritrade talent like JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist.

Bone Up on Financial Literacy; Take on a Challenge

Many students will graduate from college with debt, so understanding concepts like juggling rent, food, paying off student loans, saving, and investing are key to get them on the right financial footing. It’s a lot to take on.

Hinterstoisser said Champlain College has classes geared to financial literacy, and they see students who take these classes becoming more comfortable and enthusiastic about finances. “Once they get confident, they get to be more creative and are willing to start to take little risks and start investing in the financial markets. Some even may join financial competitions,” she said.

There are ways to learn how to save and invest that go beyond simple textbook examples and theories. One is the thinkorswim® Challenge, a four-week trading competition from TD Ameritrade U. College students create teams of up to four people and compete nationally to see which group will be crowned the paper-trading champs. Registration closes October 2.

Competitive virtual trading gives students the chance to practice trading and get real-world experience with investing in simulated accounts. Each team's paperMoney® account is funded with $500,000 in virtual dollars so contestants can try their hand at trading stocks, options, and exchange-traded funds. Challenge participants can compete for a variety of prizes.

College Students: Want a Challenge?

Are you ready to trade against college students nationwide for a chance to win big prizes? Get a team together and register for the thinkorswim® Challenge. No purchase necessary. Subject to Official Rules.

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