It’s been over 20 years since I heard my college graduation commencement speech. I can’t say I remember very much of it except that it was like hearing some sort of State Of The Union speech. So many kids will be graduating school soon and beginning their journey into Real Life 101. You’ll be getting unsolicited advice soon from friends, family, professors, and then inevitably some final words of wisdom from a renowned speaker at your graduation. Here are five things you won’t hear from speaker at your graduation, but you will hear it at Your Smart Money Moves.
- It’s Rough Getting To The Top – Most people coming out of school have some idea about what they want to do for a career. Most dream of getting to the top and making six figures and more before the time they hit 25. However, school and the commencement speaker at graduation hardly ever spend the time to tell you just how hard it is to get to and maintain being at the top. Generally, the first three to five years you go to work out of school you’ll be overworked and underpaid. Even if you get into a new job and people at your new employer seem less skilled than you do, it will be a lot of effort to work your way up the food chain. Not to mention the notion of company politics that they never teach in college. Or, what the people in human resources will think of you. If you aim to go at it being an entrepreneur, most of you won’t become Mark Zuckerberg. Get prepared to spend 5 to 7 years before you’ll really see something steady and big with your business. No matter what, getting to the top is like fighting 15 rounds with Mike Tyson when he was in his prime.
- It’s Not What You Know It’s Who You Know – Got straight A’s in school? You scored a 98 in your course in statistics at college? You graduated from U.S. News and World Reports top 50 schools? Once you get into your first job, a lot of these statistics don’t matter a heck of a lot for your career. Of course, it does help a few times a year if your team is good at college football or basketball. The truth is, the time you spent at your fraternity, playing intermual sports, or being active with your Alumni group (and how powerful they are in business) is what will begin to matter. Growing your career within a company and finding new jobs in the market place often come down to who you know not what you know. If you plan to stay local in your state, sometimes a state school will have a much larger and more powerful Alumni base than some small well ranked independent school.
- Follow Your Passion, Don’t Follow The Money - A lot of kids coming out of school are in pursuit of getting a high paying job. You can quickly go through your 20’s climbing the corporate ladder and getting to a six figure income. However, once you hit your mid 30’s you end up trapped in a career and job you really don’t love, but it’s hard to get out of because you have financial and family responsibilities. What you should do irrespective of what income your make is to follow the passion of what you love to do. If you are good at it the income will follow.
- Blue Collar Businesses Are Good To Own- If you went home to mom and dad and told them that you were going to open up a plumbing company or start a scrap metal business, what would they say? In fact, most parents would probably flip out if their new college graduate came home and said that they were going into a blue collar business. The truth is I see millionaires by the week now who run and operate very successful blue collar businesses. Sometimes I think we have too many consultants, financial people, lawyers, and other ‘professionals’ based upon what pressure society puts on how we use our college degrees. There are some great opportunities to get involved in and own blue collar companies that you should keep your eye in the future.
- The School Will Routinely Be Hitting You Up For Money – We all want to help out our alma mater especially if we want our children to go there in the future. What they won’t tell you at graduation, giving becomes more like soliciting. Expect that a short period of time after you graduate that your school begins a campaign on you. You’ll get mailers showing you how benevolent your other classmates have been, and the longer you are out of school the higher the expectations will become for you to give.
This is an exciting time for college graduates. Is this the last summer vacation before real life begins? Or, are you going to be working here soon beginning June 1 at that career you have been dreaming about? Like most commencement speakers, I recommend as well that you shoot for the stars and take advantage of all of the talents that you have acquired over the last four years. After 20+ years in the work world having been a high level corporate executive and now a serial business owner, I thought I would share a few smart money moves for you to think about as graduation day approaches you!
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Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder of oXYGen Financial, Inc – The Leaders in Gen X & Y Financial Advice
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