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Community Advice on Education, Life Choices, and Career

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  • Community Advice on Education, Life Choices, and Career

    This is in response to something MrSnow posted about career choices. I think the seductions community has a lot of high-powered, switched on guys who are a far better source of advice for not only dealing with women, but dealing with life.

    I have two young sons whose future I spend a lot of time thinking about. BD stated that one of the surest paths to wealth/success in life (aside from doctor/engineer/lawyer) is to finish high school, go to work in the marketing/sales department of a good company for two years, read every book on business and management you can, and then start a boring-but-necessary business and be better at it than everyone else.

    This is excellent advice, but I think it doesn't necessarily apply to everyone. Some people just aren't mentally wired for it. My younger son could pull it off, the older one...not likely.

    BD pointed out, and this is VERY true, that college for most people is a waste of money. Read this excellent post:
    http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2011/...ncial-reality/

    If you are satisfied with $30-40K a year when you are 50, then fine, go ahead and get a liberal arts education. Unfortunately, I think that as each year passes, the income that a liberal arts education makes will go down, or the jobs will be harder and harder to get (which results in lower wages). What we in the USA are heading towards is a situations similar to that in many 2nd and 3rd world countries: In order to get a job that pays a little more than minimum wage, you will need an advanced liberal arts degree.

    So, you are a young person in high school, or you have kids, and you want a good plan for the future. Back in the day, "Go to college and get a degree" was enough. Not anymore.

    One thing I have been thinking about is the fact that most kids finish high school without a single job skill. Most high school vocational technical programs are totally useless. Yes, you might learn some stuff, but it's not recognized by employers.

    ideally, I would like my kids to get out of high school with a job skill that allows them to work 24-40 hours a week and make at least double minimum wage while they go to school for degrees that will earn them a lot of money. If necessary, I'm totally happy with them getting a GED. The problem is what job skill? Medical seems the best bet, such as a radiology tech which can be done in about 9 months. What about for engineering/computer inclined kids? I know there are some certifications in things like network administration, AutoCAD, etc. I dont know how easy it is to get a job in these areas or if they pay. My point though is to get them on the road to something useful, because sure as shit, the educational system isn't going to do it.

    I am hoping at least one of my sons will go the doctor/lawyer/engineer route. If you have read "The Millionaire Next Door", you may recall that most millionaires want this for their kids, for the simple reason that they know that a doctor can reliably make good money just by getting his license, whereas luck played a factor in their success. It's a low-risk path to wealth. Example: I had started a company and was grossing a couple hundred thousand a year right up until the recession hit. Almost over night, I had to go back to working for a fire department because credit dried up, and all the potential contracts I had lined up would have required me to get 6 figure bank loans to get the jobs started before payment came in, and that was impossible. Just bad luck/timing. I was fortunate in that I walked away with no debt. Many people weren't.

    For the person who wants to start a business, I think people really don't appreciate the fact that you have to know the business. There seems to be this idea that if you "know business", then you can take any business and be successful at it. Personally, I think thats fucked up, and the ones who manage to do so mainly do it because 1)they get lucky and 2)they have people who assist them who know what the fuck they are doing (like, say, an airline executive taking over a car maker) or 3)Have a family connection to the business (similar to #2). If you want to succeed at a business, you need to totally geek-out and become an expert on the business. The typical example is the guy who starts a restaurant or buys a bar, having no idea how to run either one. If I were going to start a restaurant, I'd start out bussing tables if necessary and spend at least a year learning the ropes, while taking business and accounting classes and probably do a culinary school afterwards.

  • #2
    (This advice is for the US. I bet it applies to the UK, Commonwealth, and Western Europe, I do not know about elsewhere.)

    I have a teen age daughter who is starting college next year. We are hoping she gets into the engineering school at the local Big 10 U. From her grades and test scores, she supposedly has a 90% chance, but when you fold in the PCness factor, and realize that the School of Engineering has 7% women, she is in like Flynn.

    I would not pay to send any kid to college unless they took a lot of honors or advanced math and science classes in high school and got good grades in them and did well enough in Calculus I that they could you know, actually use calculus to solve problems. Then, they have to go into medicine, science, or engineering. Note, I left out law on purpose. We have too many lawyers already, and are turning them out at a rate that is several times higher than needed.

    The truth is, a society only needs a few percent of its workforce to be college educated, and only those college degree requiring jobs lead to the good life. The rest of the grads will end up in crappy jobs with no future, and because the only aid available to the middle class is loans they can never lose, even in bankruptcy court, most will graduate with an enormous loan tied around their neck which will be an economic millstone that will ruin their prospects for a good life.

    If you are not a math and science geek, the smart path is to go to a local community college and learn to do some irreplaceable service, like fixing car & trucks, or houses and the stuff in them, or for women, become a beautician, tooth cleaner, or registered practical nurse. It will take two years, cost under $10K total, and you can live at home while you study, which will suck from a partying and getting laid perspective, but will improve your chances to graduate and have a good life afterwards.

    The other practical course is to try selling used cars and if you are good at that, graduate to selling real estate. BDs essential business is a good idea too. Way better than a $150K degree in English Literature.
    The older the violin, the sweeter the music. Augustus McCrae

    Comment


    • #3
      If you are going to go the college route...

      "..but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." The point of this quote is that we will always need doctors, nurses & accountants. Dentists and physical therapists also do quite well (and typically have better work hours). I have friends & relatives in all of the above fields and they enjoy their jobs (and the size of their paychecks).

      I am a public accountant and I really enjoy my job. The thing I particularly like about the profession is that once you learn your craft it is very easy to transition into becoming self-employed. You HAVE to know how to run a business in order to do your job well. Many of my clients are small business owners and I'm the one they call when they have questions. The downside is that there are a lot of deadlines in my profession and tax season can be kind of intense (i.e. very long hours for several months in a row).

      Anyway, just throwing in my 2 cents. I suppose my profession could qualify as a boring thing you do to make money, like BD was saying. However, it has the added bonus of keeping you up to date with new laws and regulations that effect businesses.

      -Wolf

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      • #4
        I make about $14/hour as a server in a restaurant. I work anywhere from 30 to 40 hours a week. I share a cheap house with my band mates. My share of the rent and all bills comes to about $100 a week. I don't see myself living here forever, but for now it's working great.

        Jim,

        If I were you, I would encourage the sons to get some sort of restaurant jobs while they're still in high school. People tend to think that the hospitality industry is for people without proper 'education' but the truth of the matter is that having restaurant experience can land you a decent paying steady job just about anywhere in the world.

        Johnny

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        • #5
          Woolfwood,

          How could I forget accounting? I made it as far as Cost Accounting II, and my dad was a CPA.

          I guess the best short version is, learn how to do something you'll actually be able to get a job in that pays well enough to be worth the effort and cost.

          A friend from an email group that discusses auto racing had been the big network/server boss for a corporate office building that got closed down due to resizing or whatever. He went back to the local community college and became certified as a HVAC technician, in plain talk, Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning, or fixing furnaces and air conditioners. He had to buy his tools, but he got a job at a furnace & air conditioner dealer installing and repairing furnaces and air conditioners, makes really good money, is out on his own all day with no boss breathing down his neck driving their truck, and he regularly sets up motel dates with MILFs that he meets while fixing the family HVAC equipment. (He is single)

          Way less stress and responsibility, and he never has to work at home, and if he gets called to work at night or weekends for emergency work, he gets paid double an already good wage. (The techs take turns being on call during off hours)
          The older the violin, the sweeter the music. Augustus McCrae

          Comment


          • #6
            Paul Graham - What You'll Wish You'd Known

            I don't have it in me to read this thread thoroughly right now (though I intend to later, it looks interesting) but the title brings to mind this AMAZING essay by Paul Graham:
            http://www.paulgraham.com/hs.html

            T
            o be fair, _all_ of his essays are incredible reads. Some, admittedly, a little more technical than others.

            This one is a speech he would have given to a high school graduating class had they not canceled his invitation to speak. He starts at the popular saying "don't give up on your dreams," and meanders and analyzes until he has a very well thought-out, inspirational essay about education, life choices and career.

            "I think the solution is to work in the other direction. Instead of working back from a goal, work forward from promising situations. This is what most successful people actually do anyway."
            Last edited by SgtGrumbles; 10-24-2011, 08:57 PM. Reason: added quotation

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            • #7
              Originally posted by JohnnyC69 View Post
              I make about $14/hour as a server in a restaurant. I work anywhere from 30 to 40 hours a week. I share a cheap house with my band mates. My share of the rent and all bills comes to about $100 a week. I don't see myself living here forever, but for now it's working great.

              Jim,

              If I were you, I would encourage the sons to get some sort of restaurant jobs while they're still in high school. People tend to think that the hospitality industry is for people without proper 'education' but the truth of the matter is that having restaurant experience can land you a decent paying steady job just about anywhere in the world.

              Johnny
              I've always said one of the most secure jobs out there is culinary. Learn to cook and you will never lack for work. Learn to cook for a lot of people and manage a large food service/restaurant, and you will have good work for life.

              Comment


              • #8
                Assuming you were not born into wealth, as you mature from adolesence to adulthood, you have three options to choose from (I'm referring to the American/European economies).

                1. Low-Class Drone. These are blue collar workers, laborers (construction, etc), unemployed people, and uneducated people. These people make low incomes and are often unemployed.

                2. High-Class Drone. These are engineers, IT guys, middle-managers, scientists, and other cubicle-dwellers. These people are highly educated, very smart, always have jobs, but almost never make more than average incomes.

                3. Self-Made Wealthy. These are business owners, successful full-commission salespeople, doctors, and attorneys. They make piles of money.

                The challenge with college (other than it's way too expensive and the cost-benefit ratio is usually in the negative) is that college teaches you to be a high-class DRONE. It does NOT teach you to be wealthy or be successful. JSJ said it perfectly...college is for people who want to make $35,000 a year at age 50. School teaches you how to be a drone, college teaches you how to be a higher-quality drone. But a drone is still a drone. Drones aren't happy or wealthy.

                Now if you want to be a high-class DRONE, then I guess go to college (and I better not hear you complain about all the stuff you can't afford when you're in your 30's or 40's). If you want to be a doctor or lawyer specifically, then yes, go to college, because that will (likely) make you rich.

                Other than that, college should be avoided if at all possible. If I had gone to college it would have set my entire financial life backwards about 20 years. There are times I shudder to think what my life would be like right now if I had actually followed my family/friend's advice (all of whom were drones) and gone to college. Ugh.
                How to have 3 hour meet-to-lays and nonmonogamous relationships with any type of woman:
                The Blackdragon Blog

                Comment


                • #9
                  One trend I've noticed when studying economic history: As soon as everyone agrees that something is a "can't lose" proposition, it's almost always right at its peak, with nowhere to go but down.

                  Going against the grain here, but I suspect that's the case with both medicine and law. Too many lawyers, and they are almost universally hated.

                  I suppose the US government can keep printing phoney dollar bills to pay for ever-escalating costs, for a while... but eventually people just get fed up.

                  I had accident and life insurance when I lived in the Cayman Islands. I almost never actually had health insurance coverage, even though it was required. I never got sick, never had to see a doctor, and whenever I did, they charged me hundreds of dollars for something I could have just as easily figured out by googling the issue. All this multi-million dollar equipment and 6 figure salaries, exorbitant insurance rates, and people are still dropping like flies.

                  Over eat junk food, and they will be happy to prescribe you a pill. Spend hundreds a month on acne and psoriasis treatments, creams, lotions, soaps, etc, (which I did in the late 1990s) or switch to a healthy diet, drink lots more water, and switch to a $2 a month vinegar bathing regimen and fuck funnelling more cash to pharmaceuticals and the medical establishment. Do we need to pay people $150,000 a year to tell people to eat less doritos, don't use soap on your face, drink more water and use vinegar?

                  The whole system is a racket, and more and more people are catching on to this fact. Also, more and more of us are sick and tired of paying ever-escalating taxes to support obese people, unhealthy, lazy people, tobacco smokers, or just ordinary people being poisoned by the water, air and bullshit they try to pass off as real food in the modern grocery store.

                  And don't get me started on the law... I was going to be a lawyer actually but was horrified at wearing a suit 5 days a week and having to deal with other people's stupidity. I didn't like the idea of profiting over other people's misery. Instead I dropped out of university and became a real estate agent and later a developer. I love taking old beautiful properties that smell like piss and no one else will touch, and transforming them into something beautiful. I never made a ton of money but I made enough to do stupid things like buy a nightclub where I gave more than half of it all back again.

                  I was in 7 lawsuits and I saved tens if not hundreds of thousands by realising that I didn't need a lawyer for a lot of things that other people do. For example I befriended a lawyer and an older real estate agent and I soaked in everything they were willing to teach me, such that I now write all my own lease agreements and don't need to pay a lawyer to review any contract that is submitted to me - or if I do, it's very specific questions and I get billed for about an hour, instead of paying thousands for something to sit on his desk for weeks.

                  I think there will always be a need for lawyers and doctors I just think we are at the point where the tide is turning, there are too many of each and they are paid far too much on average for value delivered, people are catching on and turning away in droves. In my opinion, these OCCUPY protests are a symptom that people are no longer believing in high taxes, ridiculous salaries for ever more lawyers and doctors and government workers, while ordinary people are losing their homes by the millions! If there is ever a revolution in the US, expect the lawyers to be third in line for execution, right after the politicians and bankers.

                  Same with dentists - how many times did they tell me I needed to have my mouth ripped open, miss two weeks of my life, spend thousands of dollars and get my wisdom teeth out. Guess what? I have all four grown in perfectly fine. Dentists, doctors, lawyers, let's face it - they don't make money unless you have a problem. He's not going to make money telling me to bathe in vinegar and stop stressing and drink more water.

                  Sorry for the long rant - I just think that trying to break your ass in law or medical school at this point in our history could prove to be a colossal mistake. Unless that is something you really want to spend your life doing, don't do it because you think you'll get rich. Very bad timing IMO.

                  The rest of the advice in here is rock solid - especially JSJ's implicit advice to be debt free if at all possible at this time. I went against my own advice in 2009 because the bar was just too tempting, but I may just escape yet... time will tell.

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                  • #10
                    Hey gentlemen,

                    I'm a Canadian college student, which is much different from American college, in the sense that its split: university--upper academia, and college--practical/technical studies. It's two, sometimes three times cheaper than university and 1-2 years less of studying.

                    Minimum wage here is $10.25 an hour. I worked last year as a school hired English tutor for a dollar above minimum, and recently I picked up an AutoCAD job for $14. I got myself some sick clothes and fun nights out to show for it, and--fingers crossed--a rented bungalow near my college in two days with my two best friends. Expect Action Reports! Anyway, I'm going to keep this job for a few years, maybe two or tops three after school, and save up while living with my boys/picking up girls.

                    Then I'm going relocate to downtown Toronto (if I haven't already) and attend one of the best schools in Canada (23rd in the world) and study civil engineering and finish with a masters in architecture. About 80 grand for tuition start to finish (Oh yeah, Canadian education--rule of thumb--is half the cost of its American equivalents). Most importantly, over my college time and personal growth I've really fallen in love with this field. I know I don't need to study civil to become an architect but I plan to excel in my profession, and I need the structural/mechanical knowledge to be as skilled as possible. From there its a matter of starting independent practise as soon as its feasible. I'll be my own boss in ideally no more than 12ish years from now, wealthy in 20ish, and all in a profession I'm growing more and more passionate for.

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                    • #11
                      I always saw choosing a career path as a balancing act. On one hand I have passion, just how passionate am I about this job and what I do? The other is income. Am I okay with this amount of income for what I do?

                      Is it really worth compromising doing something you're passionate about for a job simply on the basis of money? It depends.

                      People will ask me this question from time to time, "What would you do if you got a million/billion/obscene amount of money?"

                      I'd invest it. I'd still work, now just knowing that I'll always have a cushion to fall back on for the rough times and I'm a slave to no employer.

                      From the very beginning, I wanted to chose a career that I'd actually enjoy doing, even up until the very day I die. Don't get me wrong, I think saving for retirement is a good idea, but the whole idea of retirement is to stop doing what you don't want to do anymore and have the last 10-20 years of your life doing whatever you want to do. Well why pick up a job you don't like doing in the first place? Is the end goal really just to be sitting on a pile of cash when you're too old and decrepit to fully enjoy it and then go see the world? Not really. My grandparents have plenty of money. They went on a few camping trips around the USA at first, but now just sit around and watch TV all day. They just don't have to work anymore. Grandpa at least has more time to work on his carpentry now though. Sometimes I wonder why he just didn't become a carpenter in the first place if that's where his heart was, maybe he just didn't like the idea of working under other people doing it, I don't know.


                      It's why I'm choosing to be an illustrator. Probably not going to be paid the best. Probably going to be hard to get in, but it's a life challenge I've set up for myself. To not only be successful at it, but to see how far I go. How much of a life I can carve out for myself against the odds.

                      Worst comes to worst, I'll do it on the side and shoot for a middle-management position. But I want to do art. I've got my heart set on it. That to me is more valuable than getting that $150k a year job. Honestly I don't know what I'd do with a lot of money other than invest it. I've never been a man that needed a lot in the first place. I've no desire for yachts, mansions, jewelery or a Mercedes-Benz.

                      Even if I had a billion dollars, at most I'd probably buy a 2-story house, get a new car for under $18k. Possibly go see Europe. Rest? Savings/invested.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by dudeman082 View Post
                        I always saw choosing a career path as a balancing act. On one hand I have passion, just how passionate am I about this job and what I do? The other is income. Am I okay with this amount of income for what I do?

                        Is it really worth compromising doing something you're passionate about for a job simply on the basis of money? It depends.
                        That topic alone could be an entire thread.

                        The simple answer is that you must have some of both.

                        If you give up on what makes you happy and only do what makes money, you'll burn out fast. Or grit your teeth through a life of stress.

                        If focus ONLY on "what you love", you won't make shit for money. Otherwise every teacher, guitar player, veterinarian, and science fiction writer would be a multimillionaire. Careers people LOVE are not usually ones that the market pays well for.

                        So the answer is to find something you at least like doing that also commands a high demand in the marketplace. Best of both worlds.

                        Even if I had a billion dollars, at most I'd probably buy a 2-story house, get a new car for under $18k. Possibly go see Europe. Rest? Savings/invested.
                        Everyone says that. Trust me, if you had a billion dollars, you would not be in a simple house with an $18k car.
                        How to have 3 hour meet-to-lays and nonmonogamous relationships with any type of woman:
                        The Blackdragon Blog

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Blackdragon View Post
                          Everyone says that. Trust me, if you had a billion dollars, you would not be in a simple house with an $18k car.
                          Seriously, everyone says that.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            My career path(s). Thanks for posting this thread, JSJ

                            Mods, feel free to move this to a new thread if you think it is a threadjack.

                            I followed the advice of the drones. I am currently at a very competitive university (around the 15th or so in the field) for Electrical Engineering. I decided I didn't want to have any debt, so I chose the military route. In 20 months, I will be a Naval Officer. Shortly, I will need to make a choice:

                            Submarine Officer: 5 year commitment, realistically making 100K to 120K by age 26.
                            Naval Aviator: 10 year commitment, realistically making 100K to 120K at age 30-32.

                            Everyone wants to be a pilot. That's where the passion is, the sexual stereotype, the dream, the fun, the glory. For this reason, there is VERY slow promotion within the Officer ranks, it is VERY political, and there is lower pay (comparatively). OTOH, the submarine quality of life sucks shit, but you get out after 5 years, and your work is VERY out of the norm, VERY technically enhancing, the pay is VERY lucrative, and when you get out of the Navy, you are VERY qualified to be a "High End Drone".

                            Given the way the quality of life works out, I will either get out after 5 years of a submarine duty, and seek civilian employment OR start my own business, which is a very recent goal for me. If I become a Naval Aviator, I will probably stay in for 20 years, so I can receive a 50K annual pension AND health insurance for the rest of my life.

                            Getting out of the Navy in 5 years represents a risk: if I start my own business, I have POTENTIAL to become wealthy, but also a great statistical probability of having my business fail within the first 4-6 years. I have very little desire to commit 20 years of my life to the government: being told where to live, when to go on a deployment, when to relocate any family I may have down the road, etc...

                            What would YOU pick? Naval Aviation for 10-20 years, or Submariner for 5 years?

                            At the moment, I've taken a page out of BD's book. I am SERIOUSLY considering starting my own business in 6 years, but I need to learn. I have no intention on wasting my precious time and money on a business degree, when ultimately, I would be my own employer. (Employers look for degrees, but if you're a self made man, who needs one?). I'm reading a new book on business every 2 weeks. I know it is a risky endeavor, and that's why I am going to get as good a handle on it as possible.

                            I plan on staying single, so that at the point I am able to start a business, I will have maximum starting capital, maximum freedom, minimal risk to OTHERS, and no responsibility to anyone other than myself. I will have a strong enough technical background to understand HOW things work, and strong enough leadership/social skills, so I am thinking about maybe starting an engineering based firm or company. It's the most logical progression from my current education and experience.

                            Does the risk/reward of starting my own business outweigh the security/benefits of a military career?


                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Blackdragon View Post
                              That topic alone could be an entire thread.

                              The simple answer is that you must have some of both.

                              If you give up on what makes you happy and only do what makes money, you'll burn out fast. Or grit your teeth through a life of stress.

                              If focus ONLY on "what you love", you won't make shit for money. Otherwise every teacher, guitar player, veterinarian, and science fiction writer would be a multimillionaire. Careers people LOVE are not usually ones that the market pays well for.

                              So the answer is to find something you at least like doing that also commands a high demand in the marketplace. Best of both worlds.
                              Is that an offer to make a thread on such a topic? I'd read it.

                              Originally posted by Blackdragon View Post
                              Everyone says that. Trust me, if you had a billion dollars, you would not be in a simple house with an $18k car.

                              Originally posted by Pyro View Post
                              Seriously, everyone says that.
                              Hey I might be wrong. We'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

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