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How to pay off your education loan

MANY young people have a serious problem on their hands today - they have a degree which does not help them get a nice job. They have taken a loan to get that degree, and they have no place to stay in a big city.

Welcome to the American lifestyle. Children who have left their houses to go to a bigger city to get a degree - quite likely an MBA are wondering what to do. The actual scenario may be a little different from case to case, but it is somewhat like this:

Here is a boy or girl from a not-very-well-off family who has been enticed into doing an MBA with a huge bank loan. However, by the time the student completes the course the market is in a downward spiral and he/ she is unable to find a job. Actually not enough jobs are being created. In this situation what can a student do? Well, here are some useful tips:

1. Go get a job, any job: It is quite surprising as to how people can sit at home and twiddle their thumbs WAITING to see what to do in life! Go get a job, any job. This has to be the most important advice for an MBA graduate or also an engineering graduate! If you think an MBA degree should get you a Rs. 500,000 job at the least, it may not always happen in real life. I have seen MBAs working on a starting salary of Rs. 6500 (year 2009) and are not badly off for it!

2. Stop thinking sales job should not be done: There are many MBA students who have unfortunately got into a mindset that sales jobs are bad. Sales people bring in the money for the organisation to run, so selling is not so bad after all. If you ever want to be a CEO, go and learn how to sell. Other tasks can be outsourced, but if you have a product, YOU NEED to be passionate about it. Learn selling skills is very important – do a quick arm-chair research on how many Managing Directors have reached that post from the sales side of the organization. If you have to be on your own, then you need to be passionate about sales. That is one very important characteristic that venture capitalists will look for if you are seeking funding for your project.

3. Try to defer your student loans: Just check out the possibility of deferring your student loan repayment. The bank may agree to charge you interest for the deferred period, but at least the day-to-day worry about the month end payment is postponed. If your parent has given the guarantee, keep them informed and let them know that you will not be able to meet the commitment either in full or part.

4. Take no chance with insurance: Ensure that your vehicle insurance, medical insurance and life insurance payments are up to date! These are the easiest of payments to skip, and tempting too. Do not delay or neglect to pay - if you break your leg you still need medical insurance. Make sure that you have a cheap term insurance and some minimum medical insurance at least.

5. Keep your chin up: Learn to laugh about what is happening in your life. I am sure that this is easier said than done. I recently heard of a client whose daughter was in coma for 9 days. Would not have been easy, but he was holding his chin up. So remember, tough times do not last, tough people do.

6. Move back to your parent’s house: If you have moved from your town to a city to study or take up a job, seriously reconsider moving back. It is all right to come to town for interviews instead of incurring rent at a new place. This is really a tough call - it is a mix between wanting to be where the action is and saving some money. Tough call kids, but you have to take the call.

7. Join groups: Alumni, HR groups - any group to keep in touch with the corporate world. All colleges have (and need) such groups which meet - accounting, finance, Human Resources, just about anything. There is some chance of meeting a potential employer!

8. Some small companies will happily let you work for free! Well, if they offer you Rs. 5,000 per month, do not get into an ‘I am a MBA’ kind of aggressive mode. Just take it. Yesterday heard of a kid who moved from Rs. 5k a month in a production house (media companies are perhaps the worst exploiters!) in the year 2007 to freelancing today at a price of Rs. 80,000 a month (year 2010) . Yes, on an assignment basis! It pays to have a worn out sole and some time spent in the sun.

9. Learn some skills: Public speaking, dramatics, Excel, Power-point, basics of business finance, sales marketing, and written communication - all are useful skills. See what you can learn for free, and what you can learn cheap. Offer to do some marketing for the organizer – tell him you will get them five people signing up – and can you attend for free? No harm in asking. See if you can get something free or for a pittance. Learn everything that you think is transferable...all this can add up.

10. Be clean: Say no to drugs, tobacco, alcohol - all these have a terrible way of catching up in your corporate life later on. Be clean, be clean, be clean, need one say more? No drunken driving, getting into trouble for anything illegal. And do not get into some bravado about doing something like this and putting it on Facebook. Enough numbers of HR people keep prowling FB for tell tale signals.

11. If you rely just on job websites for a job, you are doomed! Be on job sites, be on networking sites, be on Facebook, be on LinkedIn, just connect, call, meet and get a job. If you still cannot get a job (be honest to yourself, not to me) there is something wrong with your attempt.

12. Keep that credit card at home: If you do not know how you will repay a loan, do not take the loan. Carrying a credit card with you everywhere is not a great way of avoiding temptation. If you know you cannot resist the urge to buy, destroy the credit card. Get a new card when you have a job. By that time if you have learnt to live without a credit card, rejoice! An eight percent growth economy creates enough jobs. You will find yours, for sure.

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