The hardest part of the International Business Seminar program is waiting for your trip to start. And then, for me at least, it was gathering the funds to actually attend the trip. As soon as I decided to take part in this trip, I began brainstorming my financial strategy. I sat in my room and looked at my checking account and my savings account, did some simple math, and some extreme budgeting. It didn’t take very long to figure out that I would need some assistance in the fund department.
The first thing that comes to my mind when considering financial help for anything school-related is scholarships. There are so many scholarships on the internet. All you must do to find them is to use any search engine, type a few keywords that fit your circumstances, press enter, and suddenly you have hundreds of scholarships at your fingertips. However, every other student with access to the internet can perform the same exact search and have access to the same exact scholarships. So, in order to make your chances of receiving a scholarship greater, apply to scholarships that take a bit more effort. Fewer students are likely to apply to scholarships that require work compared to scholarships that only require you to fill out your name, college, and major. Luckily, International Business Seminars offers two great scholarships to which the pool of applicants is significantly smaller: The Founders Scholarship and the Digital Ambassador Scholarship.
I decided to apply to The Founders Scholarship because I did not have a camera or space on my phone to complete the other scholarship. Although you may apply to both. This scholarship requires you to describe your goals for the program, your financial strategy, and why the scholarship is vital to your financial strategy. And honestly, this topic writes itself. It’s everything you must consider on your own before you make the decision to take this trip. So, within no time, I had a scholarship essay I was proud of. But, while the scholarship covered a significant portion of the trip, it was not going to cover all of my costs, so I continued to search and think of different ways to acquire the money I still needed to pay for the trip.
From my searches, I found that crowdfunding was very helpful to many students in my situation. However, I was much more reluctant to turn to crowdfunding because I felt uncomfortable asking the general public for money. But I soon realized what an amazing platform crowdfunding is for those who may need a little help. It allows them to reach out to friends and family who can decide to help if they have the funds to do so. I am so glad I decided to use this platform. It enabled me to receive help from friends, family, and even complete strangers! No matter the size of the donations—the sheer fact that so many people saw my trip as a cause worth donating to was very surprising and uplifting. The abundance of positivity spread through my crowdfunding platform was my greatest motivator to try my best during my fundraising journey.
The most common website for crowdfunding is GoFundMe. But there are many other websites available. In fact, Facebook now has fundraising capabilities that make donating as easy as a few simple clicks. It is also easy to share and to update your Facebook friends, as well as those who contributed to your journey that may not be on your friend list, before, during, and after your trip. Additionally, when deciding which crowdfunding platform you want to use, it is important to consider the fees the companies charge to use their site.
Ask And You Will Receive
After telling my parents about the trip as well as my current financial strategy, I asked if they had any ideas that could help make my strategy stronger. My mom suggested that I write letters to local companies asking for donations or sponsorship. I was so excited about this idea because I didn’t recall seeing it online so I thought it must not be a common course of action and even if it didn’t help much, I could at least say I tried something different. So, after looking up how to write a proper donation request letter, I tackled yet another facet of my financial strategy. I also attached a copy of my essay I submitted to IBS for The Founders Scholarship to show the companies that I was doing everything in my power to put myself in the best financial position for this trip. The essay also helped to convey the importance of the trip by listing how I planned to grow personally, professionally, and academically. In my letter, I tried my best to convince the companies that I was worth investing in and I think including the scholarship essay was important in doing so.
Things to Consider
Now, if this is something you wish to include in your financial strategy, keep in mind that the more letters you send out the better. I sent out nearly eighty letters to local companies. Not many of the companies donated in response to my letter, but the ones that did really helped my fundraising significantly. Also, aim to make the donation process as easy as possible to increase the probability of a donation. Offer as many means to donate as possible. For example, Venmo, Paypal, Cash App, “Send a check to *insert address here*,” or even mention your crowdfund. The companies may be more likely to donate if they know that others will be able to see their good deed, so providing a public crowdfunding platform could benefit both parties.
After constructing a letter for local companies, I typed a more personalized letter for close friends and family. I attached a copy of my scholarship paper to these letters, too. This is a great thing to do because even if they cannot donate, it’s always nice to update your loved ones on big plans and accomplishments in your life.
Rather than only considering raising money, I also thought of ways to save money. While choosing a trip with IBS, you have the option to choose a trip including plane tickets for a higher price than a trip with no plane tickets. I saw this as a challenge to find my own flights at the cheapest price possible. I investigated all secrets about booking cheap flights and did plenty of research before booking my flight. Another option to consider is that you may have friends or family members with SkyMiles who are willing to pass on to you. What could it hurt to ask around?
Nevertheless, I would be very careful not to book any flights that you are unsure of. Even if you book your own flights, the IBS staff is always available and willing to help answer any of your questions. The staff is very efficient and they do everything in their power to make sure everyone’s trip runs as smoothly as possible.
While it’s obvious that you must pay International Business Seminars the balance for your trip, it’s also imperative to consider spending money for your trip. Look up the cost of activities you may be interested in beforehand and make sure to consider the cost of meals. I think it is safe to say that you will be spending more money on an average day on your trip than an average day at home—so make sure to be realistic. I would recommend overestimating your spending when deciding how much cash to bring. There is no such thing as being too careful while budgeting.
My financial strategy required a great deal of effort. It was a great endeavor to apply to so many scholarships, write several different letters, manage a crowdfunding site, as well as to work extra hours, and exercise more self-control with my spending. I am especially proud of myself for accomplishing all of this while carrying out the normal duties of a school semester. It was worth every bit of effort that I put into it.
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.”