By Alexis Scott and Bill Parker, Chattanooga, Tenn., — Class of 2015 and future graduates: As you count down the days until you walk across the stage and earn your diploma, let us take a moment to thank you for your hard work and contribution to the well-being of our great university and to the city of Chattanooga.

As a token of our appreciation, we would like to send you off with some helpful tips and advice that will undoubtedly have a positive impact on your (and your future family’s) life.

Job?: “Have you secured a job yet?” Let us apologize on behalf of everyone who keeps asking you this question; we know how difficult the employment process can be. Our advice: stick with it! Keep doing everything in your power to make yourself more and more marketable.

Take small steps towards your dream job and trust in yourself and your judgment that your perseverance will eventually pay off.

If you have to take a job to make ends meet until the perfect opportunity arises, find the silver linings that the job offers and turn them into resume builders that will make you more qualified for your ideal position. You can do the same by volunteering!

Student loans/debt: Things are getting out of hand, here. Of course we are just preaching to the choir at this point, but this is worth noting.

The average amount of student debt continues to increase, year after year. Whatever you do, keep in contact with your loan servicer (speaking about federal loans)! Find out who your servicer is today by logging into your account on and clicking on your loans.

You will contact them if you’d like to take advantage of an income-based repayment plan, and you will definitely need to contact them if for some reason you cannot make a payment.

They are usually very willing to work with students, as long as you maintain correspondence, letting them know about your hardships, etc.

Although you typically have a six month grace period before you loan payment becomes due, we recommend you contact them in case you need to lower your payment and so that you know exactly how much is due and by what date. Delinquency, whether accidental or intentional, will hurt your credit score.

Defaulting on your loans will essentially kill your credit for several years. Don’t wait, or you might be too late!

Saving: Often, people think that once they get a “real job” where they make more money then they can start saving money.

However, once people make more money, they often spend more money and their lifestyle adjusts, which leaves them still living paycheck to paycheck.

Take our advice: begin saving for an emergency fund of 3-6 months of expenses, and begin saving/investing for your future. Your emergency fund can serve as a buffer for any unforeseen financial crisis.

Your investments in a Roth IRA or through any employer sponsored investment account can be what makes you wealthy. Einstein even said “compounding interest is the 8th wonder of the world.” We think he was a relatively smart guy.

As with all things money management, our advice is simple, yet not easy. You will need to decide what you value/identify your priorities. Send us an email (, we would love to help.

The UTC Financial Wellness Center is holding its last “Live Like A Student” event Wednesday, April 15 to help all students, including seniors, about how to secure a job and financially preparing for the future.

Aimee McLandsborough, Senior human resources business partner for Amazon, will be the speaker in the Raccoon Mountain Room in the UC at 5:30p.m. We will have pizza, and a drawing for a $100 gift card!