Monday, March 4, 2013

Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was 18

I used to belong to one of those head hunting organizations that specifically focused on finding jobs for recent college graduates and I still occasionally receive emails. I recently saw a request for an accounts payable specialist, offering the prospective employees a whopping $13.50 an hour, for a temporary job that could potentially turn into a permanent hire.  The requirements for said job were a 4 year degree in either finance or accounting. It's unbelievable isn't it? Those 4 years of education is required for a job that pays only $ 28,000 a year.

I'm not faulting the head hunting agency, they do have connections so college grades can at least get jobs, nor the company, they are offering the current market price, but it serves as a reminder. In this glut of college attendance simply going to college and getting a worthwhile degree, Accounting, Nursing, or STEM, is no guarantee of a decent job out of college simply due to the number of degreed individuals. We live in an age were even receptionists, who simply take calls and organize files, are required to have a degree in some instances!

The competition is very fierce, and after I left college it took years for anyone to find any sort of job that was relevant to their degree; and I am talking about individuals who took accounting, finance or a STEM degree. Here are some things I wish individuals told me when I was 18 years old.

1) If you aren't a 100% sure of what you want to do when your 18 then don't go to college! Take a year or two to figure things out, and I don't mean dick around to find yourself, I find some work and live your life like an adult. Chances are you will either find what you want to do via work, or figure out what you want to do. You will also have the benefit of having lived in the real world and will have much more drive because of it.

2) For the love of God do not get a liberal arts degree. I tell this to every young millennial I meet: "I am one of you, a millennial, just a little older, so I know exactly you will experience. And as someone who has gotten both a finance and a humanities degree, I can tell you, no one, who is in a position to employee you, outside of the humanities cares at all about your humanities degree. Outside of your freshman and sophomore year levels it is nothing but a propaganda indoctrination program. If you want to learn how to critically think then save your money and elect to take some sub-200 level philosophy classes in college, or better yet, go on the Internet or the library and read the classics.

3) Unless your private institution is real good and finding paid internships that will get you real world work experience, or a great track record with post graduation job placement*, or is one of the top 3 schools in the country for whatever degree you are getting, that isn't a liberal arts degree, then don't go to a private university. A big name state school will serve you better in the state and region, and will most likely save you money if you are not an out of state student.

4) Minimize your students loans. Try to pay your way through college. You will appreciate what you are learning a lot more.

5) Network. This is something I learned the hard way. The fact is that most people who get decent jobs right out of college either, picked a degree in a field that is in high demand, or were superstars in their program, or had familial connections of some sort or networked profusely.  The college counselors got one thing right, employers want a well rounded individual. And by well rounded I don't mean you spent a lot of time volunteering for puppies. I mean that someone who is smart, outgoing, and driven. A superstar in short. The days of someone quietly working away and achieving perfect grades landing the killer job are over, for 99% of you, the field is intense.

6) Think long and hard about college athletics. This is something I did in college, and admittedly enjoyed it, but in this ever more cutthroat environment you are potentially shooting yourself in the foot doing college level athletics. It's not that I dislike them, I love them, but the fact is that all those hours spent training could also have been spent developing skills that will help you later in life.  I'm not saying you shouldn't do college athletics, but you should think about it first.

7) College is full of morons. Your high school teachers will sell youths wonderful nirvana that college is, full of bright, young, intelligent, and knowledge hungry individuals. Where thoughtful debates flourish and ideas are examined.  Couldn't be further from the truth. Fully 60% of the people I encountered had no business being there, either they just weren't ready, or they were just stupid. As cool as you may think it when one of those morons wastes your class time getting the teacher off track, or asking a million questions because they didn't bother to do their reading, you need to realize that every minute wasted is dollars down the drain. College is full of pseudo-intellectuals who like to feign intelligence, but if they weren't spoon feed opinions, then they would absolutely have nothing to say. Their opinions, deep thoughts, and ideas begin and end with what they heard from some professor or some pop-culture intellectual.

8) Take everything your grandparents and parents say about how college opens doors with a grain of salt. Or in other parlance, don't listen to most anyone over 40. There are exceptions, but by and large, most of the advice I have heard given to young guys like me, and even younger guys and gals like you all, is terrible. It isn't out of maliciousness that you are misled, it is simply out of ignorance. The world was a very different place when they were young, and it truly didn't matter what degree you received back in the when your parents went to college. But what was true then is not true now and you need to remember that.

There is a lot more I could tell you, but instead, I will also direct any young millennial to go to Amazon and buy Cappys book. It might save you a lot of heart ache.

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Seattle resident whose real name is Kevin Daniels. This blog covers the following topics, libertarian philosophy, realpolitik, western culture, history and the pursuit of truth from the perspective of a libertarian traditionalist.