by Gavin M.
So you're sitting there, a senior in high school, thinking, "what's next?" Should you go to college? Should you go take up a trade? Or, should you just stop there and try to get a job with just a high school education?
There is no doubt that the statistics show you're better off with some form of higher education. Don't get me wrong, this post isn't about higher education being bad. It's about the expectations the educational system these days set that are unrealistic.
It wasn't too long ago I sat where you sat, a dreamer at 17. I had my future ahead of me - thinking about what to do and where I would be in 5-8 years time. Then comes the idea that in order for us to succeed we need to be good in school, get a college degree and then land a great job. Everything would have been perfect except for the last part - land a great job. Nevermind you're down $150,000 in student loan debt from those crazy 4-years of college you just lived through. Not all of us are lucky enough to have parents who saved up enough of their hard earned money to send us to expensive universities.
The ballooning costs of education pales in comparison to what they never prepare you for - the reality of a job. Remember career day when lots of professionals visit and tell you how cool their jobs are? Then when you actually become a professional or a trades person you see it's not as cool as it was described to be? Not only that, you can just as easily get laid off when the economy is in tatters. So this my friends is what I am talking about. No one ever gives you the real facts even in college. No one tells you that when the economy is in the toilet, your job can be just as easily removed from you and you're back finding a way to pay off your student loans and looking at job ads.
Why would I suddenly talk about this? Because I was an engineer in 2008. I did very well in school - had a 4.0 GPA and graduated magna cum laude. I also kept getting very good job performance evaluations. But when 2008-09 came in, I was one of the first few to get the pink slip. Why? Because the big boys figured, to reduce cost, they had to let go of the "lower" people. I managed through the recession because I am a trader - in essence my engineering salary paled in comparison to my trading income. But what if I wasn't a trader? What if I was like the rest of the people in 2008 who got laid off - wondering how to pay the mortgage, how to pay off the car loans and feed the family?
What I am trying to convey here is that you must continue to have a practical and pragmatic view in life. Set goals that aren't too lofty but high enough that they keep you going. You have to set yourself challenges that are achievable. Jobs and careers are no longer "safe" - such is the new world we live in. IF you don't believe me, find a middle manager who got laid off in 2008-09 and he will tell you, "I gave 20 years to this company, not one day of sickness and what do they do? They lay me off."
In the end, unless you're in the upper echelons of a company, you are nothing but a cost to them that they can easily cut off to save money. As a manager myself, employees are always the biggest cost in any company. When I got re-offered my job in 2010, I took a totally different approach. I accepted my old salary, but this time, I told my company that I wouldn't care anymore. I would go to work late, parked my car not in my designated stall, take 2 hour lunches. Why? What's the worst that can happen? They'll let me go again? I already know how that feels...
This is why I have turned to full time trading. It frees me from societal norms and the constant stress of whether my job will still be there a day from now, a week from now, a year from now?
"Nothing feels better than not giving a sh*t about a job you really don't care about." - Gavin Martinsson c 2010.
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