5 things I’d tell my teenage self about career selection

August 9, 2012 — Leave a comment

August 9, 2012

Ever wish you could have given your teenage self tips? Here’s the good news: you can’t and your path is already chosen! Oh well, I can still pretend… here’s what I’d tell myself about career selection:

Current me: Wow, great to see you young me! That’s crazy, I’ve hardly aged at all!

16 year old me: Ha, ya right, you look like an old man now. Are those real gray hairs?

Current me: Screw you, why don’t you quit living off mom and dad and stop being so awkward around girls at school.

16 year old me: Ouch, that hurt. Good to see I haven’t matured much.

Current me: Sorry, that was below the belt. Anyway, let’s talk about career selection. The good news is we’ve done well so far and have made some money. The bad news is we’re still trying to figure out what we want to do with our life.

16 year old me: Really, you’re this old and not a millionaire yet?

Current me: No, not yet. However, we’ve been investing for the long term and we will be some day.

16 year old me: Sounds boring… is my future wife hot at least?

Current me: Yes, but quit being so shallow. I want to give you some advice on how to select your career as you get older and graduate college. The good news is I don’t regret the career path I’ve gone down so far, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. Write these 5 things down on your iPad – oh wait, you don’t know what that is. Anyway, here are my 8 tips for choosing your career:

1. When you select the university you want to attend and your degree, remember to do a cost analysis to see if it’s worth it. For example, if you decide you want to be an art history major who won’t ever make money, don’t go to Harvard. Stay at a cheap university and don’t rack up a bunch of debt.

2. Don’t try to be the best at everything. Instead, figure out what you’re better than everyone else at and continue to get even better. As Charlie Munger said, “You will have to figure out where your talents lie, and you will have to use your advantages. But if you try to succeed in what you’re worst at, you’re going to have a very lousy career.”

Current me: Dude wake up, are you even paying attention?

16 year old me: Yes of course, you said don’t waste your money or do things you suck at.

Current me: Ok, close enough. Here are a few more:

3. It may take you a long time to figure out what exactly you want to do in life, but remember to always learn as much as you can from your jobs. Ideally, you should select jobs that allow you to build a network, improve skills, and make good money – this is what I call using your job as a tool.

4. Don’t go into debt! I know you probably will anyway because that’s what I did when I went $50,000 into debt, but if you do, make sure you do your best to fight out of it. If you go deeply into debt, then you will be stuck at your job because you’ll have to remain there so you can pay your bills. Debt removes a lot of freedom from your life.

Current me: You ok to keep going and rally through this?

16 year old me: Sure, but can you at least tell me you drive a Ferrari or something cool?

Current me: I don’t and you shouldn’t either because new cars suck if you can’t afford them. Listen up on this last one because it’s very important.

5. When you’re in college, you’ll be forced to pick your career path by way of choosing a major. This is very intimidating because you feel like you’re determining the outcome of your entire life right now. However, it’s not really like that. Our generation will switch jobs every 2.3 years or so and most people don’t even work in the areas their degrees would suggest.

16 year old me: Interesting, I guess that takes some of the pressure off

Current me: Yes, it should. Now I’m going to give you two more bonus pieces of information. First, read up on how to work smart and how to adjust to the new way of work by becoming a consultant. Next, try to do as much as you can to find things you love doing – volunteer, intern, and explore. You may not see a benefit now, but it will definitely benefit you later in life.

16 year old me: That’s what you call “bonus” information? You know my future, and that’s the “bonus” information you’re giving me?

Current me: Sorry, I can’t give away any secrets because it might change our life trajectory – think Back to the Future. I will tell you one thing though – actually I’ll just whisper it to you….

16 year old me: Yikes.

Current me: It’s not that bad, just be careful next time you play kickball!

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