At 20s & 30s, most of your friends from childhood to college start to take very different roads in their lives. Some people get married right after college or even after high school. Some people go on to get a master’s, Ph.D., or a professional degree. Some people take up a job after college. Lives after school years start to diverge quite a bit. Around this age, in respect to everyone’s future money-making potential, majority of differences may be cast in stone.
Unless you graduate with a more specialized college degree such as engineering, finance, or accounting, your college degree may not be a front row ticket to the job that you want to do, assuming that you know what you want to do. By the time when you get out of college, you should really know what you would like to do at least in some particular field, if not a specific job function. Doing volunteer work or better yet money-earning internship will help you to understand what you like and don’t like about a particular job. The work experiences from your internship will help you later in landing in a (better) job offer in the same field. By doing internship, you can also realize firsthand on what course works you need to do your job better. Work experiences during college years are very supplementary to your studies and your future. If you didn’t go to a nationally top-rated university, and you didn’t graduate with a specialized degree, chances are that it is relatively tougher for you to find a job. In that case, you should really work on your connections and networkings thru friends, schools or other organizations. Or you can also decide to go for a professional degree after college, such as MD for medical doctors, MBA for business managers and accountants, and JD for lawyers. (Good) MBA programs usually prefer to accept students with certain amount of actual work experiences under belt. In that case, you may want to plan your ways to MBA program, after some years at the job. In any case, further professional degrees are always desirable. Those degrees can give you the best match towards potential employers.
Once you get a job, you will be earning the very first significant paycheck, experiencing the first taste of total financial independence. But it is crucial to choose your first job carefully because it will determine the future direction on your career. Your first years on the job determine the first impression that you will be making to your current colleagues and managers, and also your future hiring managers. The work experiences that you obtain in the very first years are actually more important than your actual earnings. You want to gain experiences that will enhance your future earning potential. A current good salary that does not accompany with valuable work experiences to increase your specialized skills is not good for you in the long term. Having a long term prospective on your career is important to increase your earning potentials in the long run. Especially the first few years, I will trade salary wage for any opportunities that enhance my skills & knowledge. Of course, salary needs to be reasonable too. You don’t want to become a complete slave for the next great IPO company that may never happen, and simply take home shares of yet-to-be-IPO instead of cold, hard cash.
At last, in your 20s & 30s, it’s the best time to take some managed financial risk to join a start-up or start-up your own company preferably before you have a family. Without taking risk, your potential reward is definitely less (although more steady and certain). Since you don’t have much to begin with, you don’t have much to lose either. The only big thing that you can lose is your time, and you have plenty of that since you’re young still. Therefore, taking some measured risk on your time and salary for a bigger potential financial reward, with career-enhancing work experiences, is definitely advisable. How much time you want to spend (and potentially waste) in such ventures is entirely up to personal preferences. Some eternal optimists can go on without stopping even into later years. I’m more conservative, and I will pay attention to slowly build up a nest egg, given the passage of time. After all, it does take time to build up your wealth. You don’t want to be so busy trying to create wealth, while at the end, have nothing to show for it.
In summary, I recommend that people to take the following activities to build up their potential for creating wealth:
- Get a specialized professional degree if possible.
- Pay attention to work experiences, and build up some solid skills.
- Take some managed risk to try a smaller company or start-up one’s own company.
And of course, it goes without saying that building your networking and connections throughout the years is important at all times. By having a long term perspective on your career (and maybe a second career while you work), you will be able to create wealth with all the necessary skills & experiences.