“Will I ever make enough money?”
I saw this question posted on a social media group. The questioner was working as a customer service rep for a large company.
“I’ve never been to college,” she said, “I talk to people who are spending serious money on vacations and furniture. I can’t imagine ever having this kind of money. I can barely pay the rent. If I had a medical emergency I don’t know what would happen.
“Maybe,” she asked the group, “I should go to college. Do you think that’s a good idea? I’d have a lot of debt but I hear it’s easier to make money.”
People in the group answered based on their experience. Most people who went to college were glad they did. I’m in that category. College and grad school opened a lot of doors for me.
But I also know people who dropped out of college and made a fortune.
My career site focuses on mid-life, mid-career professionals. By seeing choices available to them after ten or twenty years, I’ve learned that people who made certain types of decisions early in their careers tended to have more choices later.
Here’s what I’d say to that person who’s seeking guidance.
(1) Making money is more about mindset than anything else.
Begin by reading Ramit Sethi’s book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich. Many people do just fine by following his advice and managing their own money. As you accumulate significant wealth, you’ll discover whether you’ve got the discipline and head for DIY investing.
For now, Sethi gives you a mindset that will serve you well. Don’t get hung up on saving a few bucks on takeout coffee. Don’t believe you have to buy a house. Figure out what’s going to work for you.
(2) Explore careers as choices, not just as “whatever pops up.”
What are your options? If you can do customer service, can you get into sales? If you can sell you’ll make good money and nobody will care how much education you have (in many fields).
(3) Make sure your present position gives you options to grow your marketability and your earnings.
Can you move ahead in your current field without a degree?
For instance, to get ahead in a hospital you’ll need training as a professional. To get interviewed for some finance jobs, you need not just a degree, but a specific degree from a specific type of school.
But in many fields and in many companies, you can be promoted from within. I met a hotel general manager who started as a busboy in the dining room. Some airlines will hire you as an agent and promote you from within. Some want a degree; some don’t.
(4) In today’s world, your career plan needs to include a side hustle.
If you can find a way to be self-employed, the sky’s the limit. Start by reading Chris Guillebeau’s book, Side Hustle: http://mycopy.info/hustle
I know a dog walker who was making over $60K a year before the pandemic (and she’ll do it again). She had her own company and a good head for business.
A lot of real estate agents and insurance agents never went to college (but they took classes and learned to speak well because most of their clients are college grads and professionals).
(5) Be proactive! Get out there and hustle.
Careers used to be all about looking for your next job…and the next. Fifty years ago, stability was a big career value. You were expected to find a career field — and maybe a specific company — and stick to it.
Today you make your own career, whether you work for someone else or join a company. You can’t wait for someone to hand you a career. Remember, you’re in charge.
Cultivate qualities like self-confidence and listen to your intuition. When you do these things — and they’re not always easy — you’ll most likely find yourself in a stronger position than you’d ever imagined.