Though many Bowdoin students are concerned primarily about their test scores, Kristina Dahmann '10 is trying to get them focus to on their credit scores.
As an intern for "Are You Credit Wise?", Dahmann is in the process of conducting presentations at Bowdoin and Colby to teach students the basics of being responsible credit card owners.
Dahmann is one of 11 college-aged interns across the United States working for Mastercard's "Are You Credit Wise?" program, designed to teach people the basics of using credit cards.
"It's a portion of MasterCard worldwide," said Dahmann, "and I cringe when I say that. Everyone automatically assumes that I'm selling something."
She is not. Rather than taking money, her aim is to inform students how to manage their own, specifically when using credit cards.
"The program is designed specifically just to help consumers develop sound money skills," she said. It focuses on developing good credit history, preventing credit fraud, and budgeting money in general.
Dahmann became interested in the program during her time working on Capitol Hill this summer. She said she thought she would be able to fit the internship into her current schedule.
"I found that at Bowdoin and the role I play...with life in a social house, it's pretty easy for me to get around and do this stuff," she said.
After being chosen for the internship, Dahmann attended a two-day training program in Washington, D.C. After completing the training, she was provided with materials and a $250 operating budget to finance events at Bowdoin and Colby.
Though some college students may have had credit cards in high school, others get their first credit card sometime during their four college years.
"Fifty percent of all freshmen coming to college have a credit card," said Dahmann. "By the time they graduate, 75 percent of people have one."
Often, when students receive their first credit card, credit score and credit history are the last things on their minds.
"As soon as your credit card is opened, you have a history," said Dahmann. However, she added, students can lose sight of this.
"I asked [students on] Res Life who had checked their credit score, and I think two of them raised their hand," she said.
Before entering the program training, Dahmann said she knew as little about credit cards as most other students.
"I knew nothing," she said. "I know what it's like to be clueless and have no idea what's going on."
In addition to learning about money matters, Dahmann said she has also gained experience, both positive and negative, as a member of the business world.
"The workshop alone was great because it taught me how to do [public relations]," she said.
"It's definitely giving me experience dealing with administration," she added. "It can be really frustrating."
Though Dahmann said she does not know what line of work she wants to pursue after college, she said that the internship has been valuable.
"I go to a liberal arts school...I don't really know what I want to do in the future," she said, "so this is a good experience."