5 Tips on a better August Vacation


Exams are over for most of you and that long awaited break is here. Some of you may use this time to rest and relax, while others take this opportunity to get one step ahead academically. Whatever you decide to do for this mini break, use it to further develop yourself, strike a balance and win.

Here are a few tips we think can get you the most rewarding summer vacation. Please feel free to share these tips with your friends, discuss it with the adults around you who can help you find these activities that match your interest.

  1. Follow a passion

Do you love the outdoors? Hiking? Sports? Or maPASSIONybe painting or photography. Find your passion and go after it, it’s never too early, as the saying goes, “do what you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”.
Get into a program that you will enjoy who knows maybe your pastime can help you shape a career you never knew you were interested in.

  1. Get a taste of a future career

Try to connect with people who move you, and what you would like to do in the future. Start by calling businesses and organisations related to your chosen field about internships. Most professionals go out of their way to motivate and mentor students who would are willing to learn, even if you don’t land a job, the opportunity to talk to these individuals and get their advice and suggestions can be just as enlightening.  During a job search, students may come across a potential employer — someone who inspires them or to whom they’d love to apprentice — who just can’t afford to hire them. One option is to offer to work for free. The job skills gained may be worth their weight in gold.mapyourcareer2_640x402

Side note, when reaching out to the professional world be sure to put on your adult face.  A cute or inappropriate email address will not create a good first impression. Recipients of mail from mzzcutegyal@gmail.com or topshotter@gmail.com will be unlikely to see that person as a viable intern or employee.

  1. Use it or lose it.

It’s easier to forget things than to remember them. We encourage you to make your study material your best friend. We know this sounds disenchanting but all it takes is at least one hour a day to read through some notes or do a practice test, even call a colleague and quiz each other for fun. It can prevent you from having to take time to relearn that material later. week-2-brain-theory-26-638

  1. Volunteer

Taking part in charity work is a great way for you to learn about life and about yourself. It can help you develop leadership skills that will last a lifetime. By discovering how to help others, you discover yourself.  Charity work allows you to see the impact your hard work has on your own community.Volunteer work on your resume can also help you stand out from the rest. It can also improve or build self-confidence and public speaking, which can also be applied in the classrooms in the future.VOLUNTEER

  1. Read! Read! Read!

Whatever you decide on doing this August vacation….Read! Read! Read! Reading opens the mind and takes you to other worlds while sharpening key skills such as vocabulary and articulation. Create a reading list based on your interests, be it fashion, current issues, creadlassic literature such as science fiction or international settings, biographies. Whatever you like just read.


Cyber Insights – Securing your data through Encryption

cyber insights banner. FAW

The term “encryption” has been recently used a lot with securing data through the Internet. However, encryption has been around for centuries and has also played an important role in the protection of information. The Great Julius Caesar was known to use encryption to secure his private messages, in which only the recipient of his messages would be able to read. The method used to encrypt Caesar’s messages had its limitations, but today’s encryption methods have far surpassed Caesar’s own and when implemented properly can stop hackers from accessing your private information.

If a hacker were to monitor your online activities, they could steal both your personal and financial information. This is the reason why encryption is important. Encryption protects you from hackers spying on your online communications with a bank or online retailer. Enabling encryption on your personal computing devices and ensuring that encryption is enabled on a website, provides you better security while conducting business transactions.

Most modern encryption techniques use mathematical algorithms to encrypt data. However, you must understand how to use encryption and when it is enabled. Here are some key observations and activities you must consider when using encryption:

1. When conducting financial transactions online, always ensure that you are using a website with “HTTPS” protocol enabled. “HTTPS” is enabled on a website when you can observe the following:

  • https:// in the website’s address;
  • A padlock icon in the left hand side of your browser’s address bar;
  • Your browser’s address bar has a green highlighted area;
  • See the example below:


2. When enabling encryption on your computer or smartphone, always use a passphrase or long password as the key.

3. Always secure your devices by enabling password access, regularly updating apps and installing an anti-virus program.

4. Whenever connecting to a public Wi-Fi network, always ensure you use encryption whenever possible.

5. If you are ever required to choose a method of encryption, always choose the strongest one.


Cyber Insights

Your First vision into better security practices.

First Citizens Cyber Banner

We live in a world where information is at our fingertips. The Internet has made it possible to speak with people in far-off lands and order retail products and services, online. However, this increase in online services and products through the Internet has equally increased the danger in conducting business online. Scammers, hackers and other cyber-criminals prowl the World Wide Web (WWW) looking for unsuspecting victims for the purpose of stealing their identities, online accounts or even worse, their money.

First Citizens Bank has recognised the need for increased security awareness for customers while conducting banking transactions; whether it is done at the ATM, the Teller or through our Online Banking platform. Additionally, we have seen the need to proactively educate the public on personal security, while using our services. Thus in order to ensure customer satisfaction, we are determined to reinforce these security practices through the Cyber Insights social media campaign.

For the remainder of 2016, First Citizens will be using our social media platforms (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) to educate and share content with our customers and followers on how to develop better security conscious habits. This will assist customers in improving their self-awareness of phishing activities, which involve the use of messages to trick online users into giving hackers their personal or financial information. Other similar activities are the primary methods used by criminals to mislead their victims.

First Citizens has always been at the forefront of financial technology services, which we are pleased to offer to our customers. We are continuing this effort through our Cyber Insights campaign, which further enhances these services by providing you, our customer, the knowledge needed to make better and more informed decisions while conducting your affairs online or with us.


Seth Sylvester: More than Words

by Evelena K. Bruce


Seth Sylvester – Champion of the 2016 First Citizens National Poetry Slam at his St. Augustine home. Photo Credit: Lopes and Lopes Photography.

On Sunday May 1st 2016, twenty-three-year-old Seth Sylvester, bested 13 other performance poets and walked away with the TT$20,000prize at the First Citizens National Poetry Slam.

The powerful performance that won him the top spot was surprising for some followers of the slam, who had been unfamiliar with Seth prior to 2016 – this year was only his second time entering the competition. After forgetting his lines in the semi-finals of the 2015 slam he was knocked out of the contest. Seth describes his experience in last year’s slam as “a good one”, but admits that he hadn’t prepared properly and wasn’t ready for the competition.  2016 however has definitely treated him well; a video of his semi-final performance was a social media sensation, earning thousands of likes and shares relatively over-night. Seth though, had no expectation that the piece, that some fans have dubbed “Ode to Desha”, would have garnered the attention it did

“…I didn’t think it would have done so well. I thought it was alright but the day after, JC (Jean Claude Cournand – 2 Cents Movement Founder and Director) asked me for the words so he could share it, it was at 20 shares. The next morning it was like the whole island was talking about it. I was getting called to appear on Morning Edition – I don’t even get up that early!”.

He also took the opportunity to clarify the issue of his unrequited love for television news anchor Desha Rambhajan

“I thought it was a good topic. People told me I sounded like a stalker but I don’t have TV here (at his St. Augustine apartment), so I’ve only watched the news twice in the last 6 months. So as far as stalking her goes – I think I just chose a good topic is all. One that lots of people could relate to.”

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Teachers’ Son- Seth grew up in Point Fortin, the last of four children. His Mother and Father are a primary school principal; and a pastor and retired secondary school vice-principal respectively. Photo credit: Lopes and Lopes Photography


A Biology major at the University of the Southern Caribbean, when he’s not studying or at his job as a Pharmacy Technician at SuperPharm Valsayn, Seth says he likes to spend his days at home in Point Fortin with his family and misses life in his hometown. Given the depth of his message and his new-found popularity, naturally we wanted to sit down with Seth to get to know him better by asking him a few questions of paramount importance…

Do you say ‘Bake and Shark’ or ‘Shark and Bake’?

‘Bake and Shark’…I never heard anyone say Shark and Bake before.

There’s a whole debate over it, I’ve heard people say it before

Who? People from where? Trinidad?

D.C. or Marvel?


Is it Desha or nothing for you?

No, no, I wouldn’t say that. I wouldn’t say any such thing. At the end of the day you can’t help who you fall for.

What are the top 3 qualities you look for in a woman?

She has to love God. She has to love herself so she can love me. I’d hope she was well educated.

What Secondary School did you attend?

St. Benedict’s College.

How many siblings do you have?

There used to be 4 of us, my sister is 30, brother is 29 and I lost a brother last year, he would have been 27.

If you could choose one age and be that age forever what age would you choose?

9! I’d be 9 forever. When I was 9 I had no worries in the world! I was just running up and down in school kicking a ball and coming 1st in test.

What’s the first song on your music playlist?

Sade “Cherish the day”. I can listen to Sade all day… (he goes on to list his favorite Sade songs)…other than Sade, Corrine Bailey Rae and Gospel music.

If you could have 3 wishes granted, what would they be?

To go back in time to when I was 9; for the cure for AIDS to be available for all and to have my brother back.  

You can invite any 4 famous persons to dinner, whose names are on the invitations?

Samuel Selvon (author of A brighter Sun); God; Sade; Zinedine Zidane.

If you could learn any skill, what would you learn?

I always wanted to learn to play the violin. The Alternative Quartet, they amaze me! Do they teach classes?

Have you ever played an instrument?

Yes. Drums (trap set)… the heel and toe used to really throw me off. I used to use my toes alone. 

Ever rode a motorcycle?

I would never do that. I remember one time this guy was going on an interview. Going up the mosquito creek and rain just burst out and there he was in his nice shirt, nice tie, nice pants, Clarks on his feet. Going up on his motorbike and rain just come down and soak him. I was laughing so much! He had an envelope too eh! With documents. The envelope soaking wet. Why would you do that?

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Smiling Seth – Seth laughs while answering his interview questions. Photo credit: Lopes and Lopes Photography.

If you could go anywhere in the world for a visit where would you go?

Africa. I really want to visit Africa. I want to see some lions, some elephants…

If you could eliminate one thing from your daily schedule, what would it be?


If you could choose an imaginary friend. Who would you choose and why?

Well the thing is, I had an imaginary friend until recently, but I had to get rid of him. He was taking up too much of my time. His name was Matthew. Can’t remember why I called him that, but his name was Matthew. He was around a good few years.

If you could sit on a bench in the most scenic place on earth and have a conversation with one person, who would you sit with?

My Grandmother…most of the things she used to say, I was too young to understand them but now that I’m older, I realize some of the things she said were really true. I really miss my Grandmother. She was the only grandparent I ever knew.

If you could be in a movie of your choice, what movie would you choose and which character would you play?

Justice League. Batman.

If you could live in any time period in history, when would you live?

…Maybe 2047. If I’m still alive by then. I think the world is going to end in 2047. 47 is the most recurring number in the universe…I’ve always wanted to ask Dwayne Bravo why number 47. Why 47 on his back? Depending on the answer, then I’ll know if the world is ending in 2047

(no pressure Dwayne Bravo)

10 years from now, where is Seth Sylvester working? What is he doing?

Hopefully changing lives. Making the world a better place for others.

 Most importantly, how do you think Game of Thrones ends?

(He laughs) Bran controls the dragons and destroys the white walkers. Fire is the only thing that could destroy the white walkers.

Which characters do you think survive at the end of GoT?

(He stops to think for a minute) I really don’t know, BUT IF THEY KILL SANSA STARK!

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A Brighter Sun- Focused on completing his undergraduate degree in Biology, Seth already wise beyond his years, hopes to change lives.


Benefits of Credit Cards

A credit card is an easy and convenient alternative to cash. They also help in times of emergency but the benefits of credit cards go way beyond just convenience. In this post we will tell you how to reap the most from your credit card.

Convenience and flexibility

Let’s further elaborate on this point. You can use your credit card virtually anywhere it is accepted wherever in the world you are. If you’re short on cash at a restaurant or shopping in Paris, simply pull out your credit card and you’re covered. They are also very handy when it comes to those unexpected or emergency costs because it allows you to make a significant purchase and pay the balance later. Replacing or fixing a broken appliance comes to mind…

It helps your credit rating and helps you save money

Regular and responsible use of your credit card can work wonders for you financially. By using your credit card frequently and making your monthly payments on time, you can build a solid credit history that tells potential lenders you can be trusted. If you choose to accomplish big financial goals in future such as qualifying for a loan or a mortgage, your chances will greatly improve because of your credit history. With a high credit rating you may qualify for low-interest rates on these and other big-ticket items down the road, which could save you money.

Online Security

Online shopping has been made safer thanks to modern security and fraud measures. Credit card transactions are closely monitored by banks for fraudulent activity, so if you check your statement online and see any suspicious transactions you can immediately report it and your bank will take care of the rest. Additionally, credit cards are safe to travel with abroad; if it gets lost or stolen internationally you can report it missing and be issued with a replacement card.

Earn great rewards

There are many extra benefits that you can receive with your credit card that you don’t get with using cash. You can earn points which can enable you to get discounts off your favourite stores, travel miles that you can use for a future vacation, and getting cash back off your purchases to name a few. When choosing your credit card you can consider the rewards that will benefit you most.

Peace of mind when traveling

Some credit cards offer benefits such as travel and emergency assistance or other travel-related features. Chchipcardseck the reward benefits of your card to see what travel advantages are available.

Want to find the right credit card to match your lifestyle and interests? We have a vast array of credit cards along with their related rewards here at First Citizens. Click here for more information.

Mortgage Tips

Now that you know all the things you can accomplish with a mortgage, it is time to examine the best tips to get you there once you have it as one of your goals this year.

Consider all of the costs

Sit down and work out your budget before applying for a mortgage. You will need to be sure you can borrow enough to cover the purchase of the property and that you will have enough to cover all of the associated costs and fees. Make sure you have enough cash on hand for the following:6870884823_96247bde94_o

  • Down payment (on a mortgage loan it’s 10% of the purchase price that’s required)
  • Property inspection
  • Closing costs (including property appraisal, legal fees and settlement fees, home-owners insurance and property taxes, loan fees)
  • New appliances and furniture for your new house as well as lawn and garden equipment
  • Home improvement projects.

Consider your credit history

Your credit history is very important to lenders as this is one of the criteria they will base their approval upon. Try to get a copy of your credit report from TransUnion so you will have an idea of your credit position and take steps to improve if need be.

Don’t hide any information

Help your lender by providing them with as much information as possible upfront, even if you think it may hurt you. Your lender is there to help you obtain that mortgage and it’s much easier to find a solution upfront rather than during the final approval when the clock is ticking!

Deposit all income

If you receive dividends, rent or you’re self-employed, we urge you to deposit all earnings into an account as this assists in validating income.

Make more frequent payments

Under a fortnightly payment plan, a home-owner can save thousands in interest. With fortnightly payments you basically pay one additional instalment every year (26 fortnight payments = 13 months). As interest is amortized monthly the additional payments every year will effectively reduce the amount of interest you pay over the term.

Want to know more about our mortgages? For all things mortgage, visit http://www.mymortgagefirst.com

What a mortgage can do for you…

First off, let’s define the meaning of the word mortgage. A mortgage is simply an agreement between a financial institution and a borrower where the financial institution  lends money to the borrower against the value of  a specified property which is used as collateral/security for the loan. You can apply for mortgage financing for any of the following:

Buying a Home/ Buying Landmortgage_house

Some people choose the option of buying a home, or they may buy land in hopes of building on it at a later time. Here at First Citizens, first time home owners can benefit from significant cost savings to make home ownership affordable.

Building a home

If you already own land or you are thinking of buying land with the intention to build your own home, you will require Bridging Finance.

Bridging Finance is a special type of financing, ensuring that funds are made available in a timely manner during the construction phase. Once the dwelling has been completed, you will need to submit a completion certificate along with an updated valuation report so that the bridging financing can be converted to a long term mortgage loan.

How does this work?

Funds are released in draw downs, based on site visits conducted by the bank officer and the submission of quantity surveyors’ reports which highlight the progress of construction.

Interest is charged by the Bank only on the funds actually utilized during construction. Principal repayment is not required during the bridging phase.

The building must be constructed in accordance with approved building plans.

Home equity mortgage

If you already own your home, it is important to note that you can take advantage of the equity in your property to finance another goal.

This equity can be accessed to fund renovations, consolidate debts, expand your investment portfolio, purchase another property, go on vacation, pay off medical bills or finance tertiary expenses for your children.

Here’s an example:

If the present market value of your property is $1,000,000 and the present balance on the mortgage is $300,000 then the equity in the property can be calculated as follows:

Market Value – $1 million

Bank’s maximum lending value – 75% of $1,000,000 = $750,000

First Mortgage balance – $300,000

Then equity in the property – $750,000 – $300,000 = $450,000

Switch mortgage for cost savings:

A switch mortgage is a legal transfer of the mortgage on a property from one financial institution to another. If you currently have a mortgage at another financial institution, you can “switch” your mortgage to benefit from significant savings as most times the switch mortgage is done at a lower rate.

As you can see in the examples above, there are many things you can get accomplished with a mortgage. You can also take a mortgage for business purposes which we would explore in an upcoming post. If you are interested in a First Citizens mortgage you can always contact our experts at: http://www.mymortgagefirst.com/mortgage/mortgage-experts.html or visit any one of our conveniently located branches.