Issue: November 2008
In This Issue:
Have you heard the news? America's youth proved their power at the polls on November 4 when 24 million 18- to 29-year-olds cast their votes for the next president of the United States. This was a historic election—and a historic number of young voters. As one contributor to Scoop08, the open-source website where hundreds of high school and college student journalists from around the country covered the presidential election, put it: "It's about time we cared about how we impact tomorrow."
What will you remember most about one of the most energized presidential elections in history? Here's some food for thought:
Brett Tinder, the 21-year-old president of the Rutgers University Democrats, spent six weeks in the summer of 2008 as an Obama Organizing Fellow. He and six other students were responsible for organizing Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign in Norfolk, Virginia. Brett, a political science major at Rutgers in New Brunswick and a 2005 graduate of Voorhees High School, believes Obama has helped make politics cool. "I think young people are recognizing their power in the voting process and more than ever understand that the decisions made in Washington impact us pretty heavily," says Brett. "The younger generations are fighting the two wars we're engaged in and will be the ones paying back the debt we're accumulating."
Tinder, who campaigned tirelessly this year on campus, has figured a few things out about the game of politics. Here's his best advice: "The college life affords the college student a lot of time to get involved in politics, so make the most of that," he says. "But don't get too caught up in presidential politics; also, stay anchored to local politics and campus politics. And always remember, it's just campus politics, and don't get an ego from your involvement in it. You have a whole lifetime of that if you stay in politics."
The election hasn't been the only headline-grabber in the past few weeks. Rivaling John McCain and Barack Obama for front-page ink has been the nosediving economy, which, by the way, is one of the top three issues on the minds of America's youth. All this talk about bankruptcies and job losses is enough to scare anyone away from a future that has anything at all to do with finance, which happens to be one of New Jersey's most important industries. Fear not. The economy works in cycles and the stock market will rise again. Just to lighten the mood a bit, njnextstop has devised a few ways for you to have fun with finance:
1. Pass "Go" with Games & Puzzles
The boardgame Monopoly is a fun way to get into the money game, because it helps you get comfortable with money and real estate. The Web is a great resource for challenging your financial knowledge in other ways. You can play online games and simulations about credit management, buying a car, paying for college, budgeting and more at http://www.italladdsup.org. Also, stop by Money Puzzles at http://www.money-puzzles.com for puzzles and problems that will test your critical thinking skills and your financial literacy.
2. Get Face-to-Face with Finance
While you may spend a lot of time on Facebook, online social networking is not always as much fun as getting out there in the real world. Finance is actually more than bills and budgets, it's also a big money-related industry that does lots of business in New Jersey. Your home state is a great place to do some career exploration, even in these tough times. Look into big companies like Pershing and Merrill Lynch to see what kinds of internships and job shadowing opportunities they have available for high school students. Some high schools have co-op programs that allow students to work in real jobs and shadow professionals in different fields. During her junior year in high school, Tasneema Hakim, who graduated from James J. Ferris High School in Jersey City a few years ago, took part in a job-shadowing program at Pershing to learn about spreadsheets, the stock market and actual stock trading on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Even if your school doesn't have a program like this, you should still work on getting some face time in finance. Professionals love to help students who are eager and engaged.
3. A Little Portfolio Play Time
Don't even think about using real money to play the stock market—but there are ways to learn about investing in the stock market without actually taking a financial risk. Several virtual stock market games on the Web let you trade stocks and manage your own portfolio of stocks for free. A few suggestions include:
Young Money's Free Fantasy Stock Market Game at http://www.youngmoney.com
Virtual Stock Exchange at http://www.howthemarketworks.com
Prudential Financial—otherwise known as "The Rock"—is located in Newark and is one of New Jersey's largest financial employers. This company is best known for selling insurance, but also has an investment division, a real estate division and a business that handles benefits like company retirement plans. Prudential sits atop the financial rock.Marietta Cozzi, Prudential's vice president of staffing, offers some insight to students who might be considering a career in the financial sector, particularly at a company like Prudential:
As an employer, we look for a broad set of skills, ranging from mathematics, business, computer skills, and communication skills. We also need students that are able to analyze problems, and use data to design fact-based solutions. We want students who can think critically so that they can apply good judgment and make decisions in difficult situations. To improve your chances of getting a job, do your research before your interview. We expect that young people interviewing for a job know about Prudential, understand our history, and how we compare to our competitors. Ahead of the interview, you should network and try to speak to employees and learn about the culture and business challenges. Do Internet research and read press releases. Coming prepared to the interview shows us that you are serious about the opportunity and resourceful.