Career Advice for a recent college grad

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James_0011
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Career Advice for a recent college grad

Post by James_0011 » Wed Nov 09, 2016 11:45 am

Hi everyone!

I recently was introduced to the idea of financial independence and have been reading all I can about the concept, and thinking about how I can achieve this in my own life. I am going to be finishing up college soon and need advice about which route to pursue with the goal being financial independence.

My situation:
24 years old (took time off of school and worked)
19k in debt (I plan on paying this off asap)
BA in Math
My university is well respected in the NYC area, but not really anything special nationally. Wall-street firms recruit here like Goldman Sachs, just to give you a better picture of the kind of school it is. I don't think I am competitive for finance jobs though.

Option number 1:
I interned this summer at a startup doing vertical agriculture as a salesman, I enjoyed the work and see this as a potentially lucrative field in the future. I also have a desire to work for something that I believe in as opposed to just a check. I have the option of going back to work full time at this venture after I finish school, making about 40-45k a year excluding commission. Now the real reason I think this is a good option is because of the possibility of having my own company in the agricultural sector in a few years. During my time off from school I was working in aquaculture, and I recently applied to a startup accelerator run by Elon Musks brother that is funding people to start vertical farms. I think I would be an excellent candidate for funding due to my background - I am fairly sure they would accept me but who knows.

So, this route could potentially lead into running my own business (which would be fun for me), and may be a decent money maker long term. I am also interested in improving my communication skills so this would be a great opportunity to do so.

The only downside about this situation would be having to move from my parents house and as a result pay rent. Also, the startup is in DC which has a high cost of living.

Option number 2:
My other idea is to work as a growth hacker/digital marketer, and hopefully find a company that is willing to let me work 100% remotely. Growth hackers make about 80k on average with the potential to get up to 120k or so depending on the location. Although I don't think this option would be as "fun" it would certainly be a way to ensure a steady decently high income and I could live at home to save money on rent. If I could swing the remote thing, I might move to a cheap country like Mexico or Thailand so I could save most of my income.

The downside here is that there is no clear path to starting my own business through this route ( which I would like to do eventually) ,and the work may not be as meaningful (or it may be depending on the company).

Option number 3:
Working as an actuary, although I hate statistics and would likely be miserable doing this. I am not sure if I could deal with hating my life for a decade. Also, actuaries make almost the same income as growth hackers do - except growth hackers don't have to take a bunch of tests.

Option number 4: Get any random office job I could find. The downside here would be obvious as it would definitely be boring, and would not allow any of the benefits of the first two options (location independence, or interesting work).

Option number 5:
Learn to code. I don't really have any thoughts about this one. I took one comp sci class and liked it, but don't really have any more experience doing this. I guess the benefit would be that I could work location independent, and there are a lot of jobs.

I am open to any suggestions or comments that anyone may have. Thank you so much!!
Last edited by James_0011 on Mon Nov 14, 2016 9:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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daylen
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Re: Career Advice for a recent college grad

Post by daylen » Wed Nov 09, 2016 12:02 pm

Our situations are strikingly similar (I'm 21, about to graduate with b.s. in math, 15k debt...).

I looked deep into both the actuarial and data science fields. Both look okay, but recently I have had a change of heart. I require very little money to be happy, and so I think the most likely scenario for me is to just be a math tutor while I work on my writing. Not very glamorous I know. I would be severly underemployed with my math + coding skill set, but I am just looking for an easy, straight forward way to pay the bills and save while I use my brain power and time for more pressing issues.

Perhaps less ambition and more free time/energy is also a consideration for you.

James_0011
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Re: Career Advice for a recent college grad

Post by James_0011 » Wed Nov 09, 2016 12:05 pm

daylen wrote:Our situations are strikingly similar (I'm 21, about to graduate with b.s. in math, 15k debt...).

I looked deep into both the actuarial and data science fields. Both look okay, but recently I have had a change of heart. I require very little money to be happy, and so I think the most likely scenario for me is to just be a math tutor while I work on my writing. Not very glamorous I know. I would be severly underemployed with my math + coding skill set, but I am just looking for an easy, straight forward way to pay the bills and save while I use my brain power and time for more pressing issues.

Perhaps less ambition and more free time/energy is also a consideration for you.
What kinds of things do you write? I have ambitions of writing novels, which is one of the reasons that I want to reach FI.

How much do you think you could make as math tutor? Would you set up your own business? I feel the same way about not needing as much cash and valuing my free time more.

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daylen
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Re: Career Advice for a recent college grad

Post by daylen » Wed Nov 09, 2016 12:21 pm

James_0011 wrote: What kinds of things do you write? I have ambitions of writing novels, which is one of the reasons that I want to reach FI.

How much do you think you could make as math tutor? Would you set up your own business? I feel the same way about not needing as much cash and valuing my free time more.
I like to write short story sci-fi and non-fiction (though I have not written much of that yet). Depending on the area, I would say tutors have a wide range of income levels. For full time gigs (self employed or through an employer) somewhere between 30-80k (I am no expert though). I imagine I would start by being employed (just applyed for gig at my university) then slowly move to being my own boss. By the way, I have thought about teaching, and I think I would hate it...I don't like kids when they crowd up (or any crowds really); I prefer small groups.

There are several perks to tutoring, such as:
- Don't take work home with you
- Self employable
- Can be remote (although less demand for remote tutors, I think?)
- Scalable, as in pay improves with experience
- Social, can meet new friends or satisfy your need for human connection (could also be a negative)
- Seasonal to some extent (less demand in summer), this is a positive for me as it leaves a good window for travel or taking a break

bottlerocks
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Re: Career Advice for a recent college grad

Post by bottlerocks » Thu Nov 10, 2016 3:57 pm

BSc in Math here, a little further along than yourself. Anecdotally the skills that have benefited me the most in my career progression are: Applied math (aero/physics[radar,kinematics]/DSP/numerical analysis/machine learning[classification, Kalman filtering]), Scripting (Python/MATLAB), and being willing to experiment/troubleshoot/learn on the job.

I took the first baby steps to the actuarial path (studied for and took the P/1, failed with a 5). If you don't like stats then I wouldn't consider it. I love stats and it was still quite a lot of material for just 1 of the 8 main tests. Once I FIRE I'll go back and see if having more time makes studying for the tests more appeasing. The insurance industry will see amazing changes in the next 10-20 years due to demographic and climate shifts.

Finance was a non-starter for me due to the culture surrounding it. I've never met someone in finance that isn't stressed out constantly.

I've worked in defense since graduating and the ROI has been good. It took me a while to find a program I was comfortable with as far as societal-value goes but it did eventually happen. I've jumped to several different technical areas (data analysis, algorithm validation, general systems engineering) so it's been somewhat flexible as well.

Overall if I could start fresh out of a school again I would focus 100% on my coding ability, put together some kind of portfolio centered around machine learning, and try and get into a larger company heavily investing in data science. I recently had a job offer from a local company focused on TV/Radio ratings who are really embracing new ways to exploring data. It was an amazing opportunity aside from the fact that the salary was about 3/5 of what I make now...but if I was just graduating I would have snatched up that offer in a heartbeat even if it was 35k/year.

Final note, I took grad classes while working and got a MSc in Operations Research and while it was fun and looks good on a resume, I would have been better off dedicating that time to development or side hustle income. I was much more eager to learn 5 years ago than I am today.

James_0011
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Re: Career Advice for a recent college grad

Post by James_0011 » Thu Nov 10, 2016 7:34 pm

bottlerocks wrote:BSc in Math here, a little further along than yourself. Anecdotally the skills that have benefited me the most in my career progression are: Applied math (aero/physics[radar,kinematics]/DSP/numerical analysis/machine learning[classification, Kalman filtering]), Scripting (Python/MATLAB), and being willing to experiment/troubleshoot/learn on the job.

I took the first baby steps to the actuarial path (studied for and took the P/1, failed with a 5). If you don't like stats then I wouldn't consider it. I love stats and it was still quite a lot of material for just 1 of the 8 main tests. Once I FIRE I'll go back and see if having more time makes studying for the tests more appeasing. The insurance industry will see amazing changes in the next 10-20 years due to demographic and climate shifts.

Finance was a non-starter for me due to the culture surrounding it. I've never met someone in finance that isn't stressed out constantly.

I've worked in defense since graduating and the ROI has been good. It took me a while to find a program I was comfortable with as far as societal-value goes but it did eventually happen. I've jumped to several different technical areas (data analysis, algorithm validation, general systems engineering) so it's been somewhat flexible as well.

Overall if I could start fresh out of a school again I would focus 100% on my coding ability, put together some kind of portfolio centered around machine learning, and try and get into a larger company heavily investing in data science. I recently had a job offer from a local company focused on TV/Radio ratings who are really embracing new ways to exploring data. It was an amazing opportunity aside from the fact that the salary was about 3/5 of what I make now...but if I was just graduating I would have snatched up that offer in a heartbeat even if it was 35k/year.

Final note, I took grad classes while working and got a MSc in Operations Research and while it was fun and looks good on a resume, I would have been better off dedicating that time to development or side hustle income. I was much more eager to learn 5 years ago than I am today.
Interesting post. The thing is I am not really that good at math and probably would have chosen to study something else if I had to do it all over again. I mean, I am good enough to finish the degree, but I am not a top performer by any standard.

I've heard the actuarial exams are extremely rigorous, it seems like one could make just as much money coding without all the hassle of taking the actuarial exams. Working in defense would be tough for me as I generally don't support military intervention/ aggression. But, I am sure there is some research that is of value to society/people.

Yes, I thought of grad school as well, maybe an MBA. However, like you said it kind of seems like a waste of time and money. I would rather just try to start some sort of online business or spend more time on hobbies.

JamesR
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Re: Career Advice for a recent college grad

Post by JamesR » Thu Nov 10, 2016 9:47 pm

Option 1 sounds good to me. But it's not gonna be easy, and you may end up in considerably more debt. But if you work your ass off, find a product/market fit, and SELL something that people will BUY, then you can get somewhere. And even if you fail, you'll probably have learned a lot.

You might check out https://www.udacity.com/course/how-to-b ... tup--ep245

Augustus
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Re: Career Advice for a recent college grad

Post by Augustus » Fri Nov 11, 2016 12:21 pm

Engineering or actuarial sound promising. No one loves their job, focus on boosting income and selecting an employer that legitimately cares about their employees. Internships are a good way to get your foot in the door. Whatever you do don't bounce around for longer than a year or two, pick something that has a high barrier to entry and is in demand, do it really well, and stick to it for the next decade or so.

James_0011
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Re: Career Advice for a recent college grad

Post by James_0011 » Fri Nov 11, 2016 1:32 pm

JamesR wrote:Option 1 sounds good to me. But it's not gonna be easy, and you may end up in considerably more debt. But if you work your ass off, find a product/market fit, and SELL something that people will BUY, then you can get somewhere. And even if you fail, you'll probably have learned a lot.

You might check out https://www.udacity.com/course/how-to-b ... tup--ep245
Yes that's the one I am leaning towards as well. Money wouldn't be an issue if I can get into this accelerator program (which I think I can). I would never take out debt to do it.

Thanks for the link, I've actually already been through that course though. Have you had experience building a start-up?

James_0011
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Re: Career Advice for a recent college grad

Post by James_0011 » Fri Nov 11, 2016 1:34 pm

Augustus wrote:Engineering or actuarial sound promising. No one loves their job, focus on boosting income and selecting an employer that legitimately cares about their employees. Internships are a good way to get your foot in the door. Whatever you do don't bounce around for longer than a year or two, pick something that has a high barrier to entry and is in demand, do it really well, and stick to it for the next decade or so.
Thanks. Yeah I agree no one loves their job, but I really hate doing statistics. I don't think I could deal with that for a decade and not loose my mind.

Software engineering is a possibility, I just need some time to learn how to code properly.

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daylen
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Re: Career Advice for a recent college grad

Post by daylen » Fri Nov 11, 2016 2:26 pm

James_0011 wrote: Thanks. Yeah I agree no one loves their job, but I really hate doing statistics. I don't think I could deal with that for a decade and not loose my mind.
Just curious, what makes you hate statistics so much?

James_0011
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Re: Career Advice for a recent college grad

Post by James_0011 » Fri Nov 11, 2016 3:33 pm

daylen wrote:
James_0011 wrote: Thanks. Yeah I agree no one loves their job, but I really hate doing statistics. I don't think I could deal with that for a decade and not loose my mind.
Just curious, what makes you hate statistics so much?
I find it very repetitive and dull. I don't know how to explain it. I am more of a big picture thinker, my original major was physics, but I switched to math because I thought I would have better job prospects. If I had to do it all over again I would either not go to university at all, or I would study something like economics.

Hence I am looking to move towards solving business ("people") problems instead of quantitative problems - I feel like I would be able to use my big picture orientation more effectively. Tutoring sounds like it may fit in with bigger picture thinking though, as a tutor is really trying to solve the problem of how to best present material to a student, or how the student learns best.

My favorite math class was graph theory, as it seemed to be less based on details and more on intuition and visualization.

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Re: Career Advice for a recent college grad

Post by pukingRainbows » Fri Nov 11, 2016 5:32 pm

I would do Option 1 as a starting point. It's a great way to gain experience, build skills and be involved in something you like and see a future in. It also seems the most time sensitive as you need to act at a certain time or miss the opportunity.

While you are doing option 1, you could also pursue option 5 at whatever pace is manageable.

Can you do Option 2 during this time as well but maybe part time? I have no clue about that industry. However, doing a job, exclusively for the the side benefits is more a fall back option in my mind. It's something to pursue after not being able to do something you want to be doing.

Option 2 or 5 also might make sense as a way to generate income while you are starting your own business. For your situation, this would be definitely after Option 1 has been fully explored.

I would keep options 3 and 4 as the last possible resort, in that order.

Good luck!

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Re: Career Advice for a recent college grad

Post by JamesR » Fri Nov 11, 2016 6:10 pm

Statistics is a bit hard to get into, especially frequentist statistics. Bayesian statistics is a bit more intuitive to reason with.

Ironically I would imagine there would be a certain amount of statistics in economics, especially due to the empirical nature of it. Growth hacking & internet marketing & analytics & conversion rate optimization could potentially touch on statistics too (most marketers get sample sizes & confidence measures completely wrong and usually contaminate their A/B tests), but in general you probably don't need to know it.

James_0011
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Re: Career Advice for a recent college grad

Post by James_0011 » Fri Nov 11, 2016 10:55 pm

JamesR wrote:Statistics is a bit hard to get into, especially frequentist statistics. Bayesian statistics is a bit more intuitive to reason with.

Ironically I would imagine there would be a certain amount of statistics in economics, especially due to the empirical nature of it. Growth hacking & internet marketing & analytics & conversion rate optimization could potentially touch on statistics too (most marketers get sample sizes & confidence measures completely wrong and usually contaminate their A/B tests), but in general you probably don't need to know it.
Good point about there being statistics in growth hacking I hadn't really thought of that, although based on what I have read about the field there is a lot of other types of skills involved in the role? I have gone through tutorials that demonstrated techniques to do A/B testing without rigorous stats knowledge, but I am not sure how accurate these methods are compared to a more statistical approach.

The reason I image economics would be a more interesting major just due to the fact that it involves the complexity of the human factor, which is more interesting to me than subjects that are purely quantitative/numerical/abstract. My understanding is that growth hacking is like this as well - there is some analysis involved, but it is important to understand the client/market too. Does this sound about right?

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Re: Career Advice for a recent college grad

Post by JamesR » Sat Nov 12, 2016 5:35 pm

Yeah, growth hacking (aka internet marketing), would be more about market research etc, and applying existing tools, etc. Probably some understanding of copywriting, landing pages, etc. Check out Ca$hvertising, it's a pretty easy read.

James_0011
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Re: Career Advice for a recent college grad

Post by James_0011 » Sat Nov 12, 2016 8:51 pm

JamesR wrote:Yeah, growth hacking (aka internet marketing), would be more about market research etc, and applying existing tools, etc. Probably some understanding of copywriting, landing pages, etc. Check out Ca$hvertising, it's a pretty easy read.
What is your profession by the way? Or are you FI?

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Re: Career Advice for a recent college grad

Post by JamesR » Sat Nov 12, 2016 9:55 pm

I did some internet marketing before back in 2009-2011. I was essentially self-employed, just doing paid advertising and promoting CPA offers. It wasn't something that I hustled with, it felt rather scammy, and it required spending money to test traffic sources and campaign combinations, so it always felt risky (I was in debt in those days) so I never pushed it as hard as I could have. Ended up going back into web development as that was something I'd been doing since before internet marketing. Been working as a Ruby web developer for the past 3 years, aside from a 9 month "sabbatical", still a year away from ERE I suppose.

dropoutretire
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Re: Career Advice for a recent college grad

Post by dropoutretire » Fri Mar 31, 2017 7:41 am

Its too bad that I didn't have my site out 10 years ago before you started the whole high school and college mess. I would have sent you down a totally different path. Maybe if you know of any young people that you can save them from the whole high school and college mess here is my Facebook page called, Dropout and Retire Early and its a good page to use with this Early Retirement Extreme Site also. Here is my site https://www.facebook.com/dropoutandretireearly/ :) :)

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Smashter
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Re: Career Advice for a recent college grad

Post by Smashter » Fri Mar 31, 2017 9:12 am

As for option number one (vertical farming startup), make sure you don't go into it with rose colored glasses on. One of my best friends is an entrepreneur at the NYC location of the Tobias Musk funded startup you mentioned. I've spoken with him extensively about the experience, and I have visited the farm a few times.

He started in October with big dreams of developing his own business, helping the environment, and building relationships in his community. He, and all the other farmers, had very detailed crop schedules all laid out in neat spreadsheets. All they had to do was plant the seeds, show up to farmers markets, and the rest would be history.

A couple months later, the spreadsheets had become useless, everything was behind schedule, the farmers were fighting about strategy, the founders were giving conflicting messages, everyone was losing money, and the whole thing had gone to hell in a handbasket. It was going to be a ton of work just to recoup the loans he took out to run the farm, let alone make a profit. They rarely saw Tobias Musk, as he was often traveling to conferences on his private jet to tell people how great the startup was doing :D

My friend has been putting in 40 and 50 hour weeks at this (unpaid) job just to keep his head above water. And he got into this with a lot of farming experience! Most of the other entrepreneurs he works with came from non-farming backgrounds. 80% of the group has basically given up. They don't show up to meetings, don't put in effort, etc. Infighting and complaining are rampant.

It seems like the founders sold the members of the "accelerator" on the idea of being able to change the world via local greens grown in shipping containers, but the result was a lot of angry and confused recent grads wondering how the heck they were going to sell a 4 oz bag of lettuce for $17.

Fortunately, my buddy seems to have turned a corner and he just might have a path to profitability. Plus, he's kind of the golden child of the group. He's been getting the royal jelly from the founders, as they say. Still, it's been a slog that required an incredible amount of work. Just want to give you a heads up in case you are getting starry-eyed and drinking that startup kool-aid!

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