Author Topic: Career Advice for a 30-something  (Read 5928 times)

jday

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Career Advice for a 30-something
« on: October 01, 2014, 07:49:31 PM »
Hi All,

So I am 34 years old. No debt, paid off car, a little money in the bank, and just renting. No investments or 401k or anything. I have my MBA and a general background in sales and management. Nothing too specialized.

In other words, practically just starting down the trail of "early retirement", although it wont be that early at this point.

The most I have ever made is 40k a year even with my MBA that I received while taking night classes. I actually wanted to get into IT but was convinced that an MBA would be better for me.

My question to all of you is what career option would be best for semi-early retirement. And is it worth it to go back to school. I am interested in engineering and computer science, but just not sure if it would be worth it.

Should I look to get some certifications, learn programming languages? Im looking at all options currently. Going the financial route (CFA, Series 6, 63, 7, etc.) or the IT route (Ruby, Python, SQL, etc.) I am also in the process of getting my real estate license and would even have the option of just saying screw the corporate world Im going into home remodeling like MMM currently does. Fix and flip houses, and do homes sales.

What is everyones thoughts? Thanks in advance!


Note: I posted this in a different forum but it seems its better posted here. Thanks!

mozar

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Re: Career Advice for a 30-something
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2014, 08:39:38 PM »
So do you have a job? What are your expenses and income?

Setters-r-Better

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Re: Career Advice for a 30-something
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2014, 05:54:16 AM »
Do you have any student loans from your previous degrees?  What is your undergrad degree?

jnc

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Re: Career Advice for a 30-something
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2014, 06:18:59 AM »
If you have an interest in IT, I would recommend you take some programming courses and see how you like it. No need to get a degree in CS at this point, instead learn some web languages such as Ruby, Python, etc... and then build a portfolio... Alternatively you could look into mobile development (Android, iphone, etc...) and build your own apps, again initially for fun and just practice, and then potentially down the road for profit.

There are lots of great courses offered online on platform such as Coursera, EdX, Udacity that will cost you nothing.

Best of luck.

TurtleMarkets

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Re: Career Advice for a 30-something
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2014, 07:17:01 AM »
Programming takes a certain type of person to be good at it. Not everyone can make money or enjoy it. I personally cant. I was in a similar situation as you and realized I hated programming.

If you are really interested in IT you can learn more about it and become a Business Analyst. With a MBA and the ability to talk to people you could get a pretty good job. Downside is I have no idea how to do it part time or remotely.

catccc

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Re: Career Advice for a 30-something
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2014, 07:35:34 AM »
To learn some programming on the cheap, try treehouse learning.  If this is something that interests you, I think programming is an area where employers are beginning to focus less on formal education and more on actual knowledge/skills.  I think MMM did an interview with the guy behind treehouse learning, sounded like a good option.

Whatever you do, pick something with an actual money making job at the end of it, and just plow forward.  It sounds like you are all over the place with your MBA, sales background, real estate endeavor, and dreams of an IT career.  If early retirement is your goal, you need to pick something and stick with it, managing expenses along the way.

Good luck!

juuustin

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Re: Career Advice for a 30-something
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2014, 07:41:40 AM »
With an MBA might I suggest public accounting?  Even if you can't get into the "Big 4", accountants are in high demand and I am sure your MBA would bump you over some more inexperienced candidates.  You would need to make sure you have 150 credits (which you should with an MBA) and be able to pass the CPA, but the starting salary would be 20K+ the highest you have ever made and the subsequent raises and bonuses are very generous.  I am just getting into the field and what I understand, most people double their starting salary in about 5 years in big public accounting.

With that sort of income and already a penchant for living off less money, you could be on the track to FI pretty quickly!

Scotch & CPA

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Re: Career Advice for a 30-something
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2014, 11:12:46 AM »
"and what I understand, most people double their starting salary in about 5 years in big public accounting"

This is a myth that Big 4 recruiters and partners love to quote, but it isn't true. You're salary will definitely increase, but it will not double. You're looking at probably a 50% increase from your base after 5 years. That being said, definitely ask yourself if you really want to do accounting, or your just doing it because of the money. Everyone will tell you it's a "great" career, which it can be if you truly find the work to be interesting. However, if you lie to yourself and you don't think accounting is interesting, the work will be extremely mundane and like so many of your co-workers, you will spend a lot of time complaining about the long hours, ridiculous documentation requirements and the potential office politics that will ensue.

Also, I'm curious what your definition of "generous" is when it comes to bonuses? In the corporate world, they definitely can be, but in public accounting, I would tend to disagree.

Source: I've been at a big 4 firm for the past 5 years.

My recommendation - if you're good at selling, go into sales. There is the potential to make a lot more selling insurance, than there is for the first 6-7 years of your accounting career, while requiring many less hours.

TurtleMarkets

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Re: Career Advice for a 30-something
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2014, 11:50:54 AM »
Like Scotch & CPA says. My friend became a CPA and after a few years hated it so much he quit on the spot with no new job lined up. Lucky for him he was mustachian and just took a mini retirement and came back to work in a new field. Did some training on the retirement.
He said some people do like accounting but he hated it.

Scotch & CPA

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Re: Career Advice for a 30-something
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2014, 11:58:08 AM »
Like Scotch & CPA says. My friend became a CPA and after a few years hated it so much he quit on the spot with no new job lined up. Lucky for him he was mustachian and just took a mini retirement and came back to work in a new field. Did some training on the retirement.
He said some people do like accounting but he hated it.

@TurtleMarkets - I'm in your friend's boat, and seriously considering that move. What line of work did your friend move into after the mini retirement?

TurtleMarkets

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Re: Career Advice for a 30-something
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2014, 12:20:20 PM »
@TurtleMarkets - I'm in your friend's boat, and seriously considering that move. What line of work did your friend move into after the mini retirement?

Software Developmentish Not 100%,  but kind of a one off type job that you cant apply for but fall into. He did a lot of self learning and  networking.

catccc

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Re: Career Advice for a 30-something
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2014, 12:33:06 PM »
Another CPA here.  That thinks public accounting sucks.  @Scotch & CPA - You could use your current education and experience for a cushy corporate accounting position that will get you to FI relatively quickly.

BTW, I started in public and only stayed for 2 years.  By year 4, I had doubled my salary, but I was seriously lowballed on my first job offer in public right out of school.  The year was 2003 and my starting salary was only $36K.  2 years later, I left public at 45K, and within 2 years (and one job hop) in industry, I was at 73K.  8 working years later I'm only at $85K, but I'm essentially at the same level/title as I was in 2007, owing to the fact that I don't care to climb the ladder.  I estimate I could be making 15-20K more if I'd manager tracked my career, but I'm happy being a highly paid Sr. Accountant.  I just do a good job where I am and take that paycheck home for eventual FIRE, which hopefully is 5 years out.  All told I will have spent a good 17 years working when I stop at 40, but that includes pit stops for things like having babies, being a SAHP, other such life events.

Scotch & CPA

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Re: Career Advice for a 30-something
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2014, 12:56:45 PM »
@CatCCC, that is a valid option. I actually tried it, and ended up back in public accounting. Not sure if going back to PA was the right move (I took a $12k pay cut to go back, it's true what they say about cushy corporate jobs. My raise to leave as a 4th year SA was close to $20k). Anywho, moral of the story is, I'd have to really want that cushy corporate job, but I don't.  Are you at a private company, or a public company?

jday

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Re: Career Advice for a 30-something
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2014, 02:11:42 PM »
To answer the first couple of questions...

I have very little expenses (moved back from CO to PA, living with parents currently), no income as I havent even gotten a job yet, only been here a few weeks and settling in.

I just bought a car in cash, and I have about a year living expenses even if I went to rent an apartment. Wanted to figure job situation out before I commit to an apartment though.

Ive considered accounting before but my undergrad is in Political Science (<---talk about useless). I wish I would have majored in computer science or engineering, had the grades and everything for it, just wanted the easy route out of college.

Spent a ton of time traveling all over the US, got some serious and some not so serious jobs along the way, did school portraits for about 7 years which gave me all summer to travel.

I always joke Ive been semi-retired from the beginning and my resume is not the greatest to really nail an awesome job.

Again, going back to accounting, my MBA didnt give me the basic accounting classes to even enter the field so I would have to go back for those anyhow.

Programming seems more creative, more fun, and generally just a better move than accounting overall. I am very entrepreneurial and I could see the benefits to opening my own accounting firm, but then Im stuck with it and like to keep my options open. (Myers Briggs ENTP).

Photography fit me well, but I made the tough decision to move back around family and I worked for a small company so I dont have the same opportunity here in PA. So I figured why not get the highest paying job I can get. Even if it involves some retraining.

keep your thoughts coming. thanks!

mozar

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Re: Career Advice for a 30-something
« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2014, 06:15:09 PM »
I don't think ENTP and accounting go too well together. And you don't have the classes anyway. You can learn some programming in your spare time, or you could go hardcore and get a masters degree in engineering. Some good engineering threads on here.In the mean time you could get an entry level IT job like customer service desk.  You could look on craigslist in the business section, for sales or position where they train you to become CEO. IT, business, and engineering are all very different. You should pick one. Definitely take some programmers out to lunch so you can ask them what they actually do.

thedayisbrave

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Re: Career Advice for a 30-something
« Reply #15 on: October 02, 2014, 08:13:19 PM »
I don't know that there is ONE career suited to early retirement, per se.  It's more a question of what YOU see yourself doing while being conscientious of income vs. expenses.  Can't say much about tech, but I have my real estate license and am studying to take the Series 7 in December.  I did the real estate thing cause I had some time between college + grad school and figured why not, I was bored working part-time at Starbucks.  The Series 7 is for a job that I accepted in finance.  I don't know how long I will want to do finance - but I may last longer than I think given that I won't be in investment banking, etc.  I know a guy in investment banking who regularly works 80+ hour weeks but makes BANK.  If he wasn't such a partier I'd think he could have retired a year or two ago.

You sound like you like to have your hand in multiple pots... nothing wrong with that, clearly I'm the same way too.  But at some point you have to just pick something.  Pick something that you enjoy and want to learn more about - work and learn all you can - then re-evaluate a little further down the road.  I'm getting the feeling you're having a bit of 'analysis paralysis' - no worries cause I was right there with you earlier this year.  I picked finance, who knows what I'll be doing a year from now.  But I'm learning at least what I do and don't like!

jday

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Re: Career Advice for a 30-something
« Reply #16 on: October 03, 2014, 07:17:49 AM »
@thedayisbrave - Id be very interested in finding a job that sponsors me for the series 6, 63, and/or 7. Ive been looking for the right fit and may go with a local bank when it is all said and done.

Im getting my real estate license because even if I dont actually become a realtor I do want the knowledge and the ability to either fix and flip houses or do rentals in the future.

I think I am just gonna sit my butt down and become a good coder. The problem is I need a job in the meantime while I get good enough at coding to earn a job in the field.

Its not so much analysis paralysis. It was more, "Im comfortable and dont want to make the effort to learn anything new." (Still learning stuff just not career related skills). Now that I have left my job and moved without a job lined up Im just trying to see what all my options are. And I will make a quick decision once the right job decision presents itself.

But Im always learning and always moving forward. And I always do pick something eventually. ;-)
« Last Edit: October 03, 2014, 07:19:48 AM by jday »

frugaliknowit

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Re: Career Advice for a 30-something
« Reply #17 on: October 03, 2014, 08:24:39 AM »

I can share some of my experiences with you.  I am in my fifties, have an undergrad business degree, then got my MBA from a mediocre school via my employer back when they reimbursed 100% for just about anything.

Key experiences to share:

1.  I got my real estate license after swearing off the banking/corporate culture.  I sold property for about 5 years until I was personally bankrupt (expenses > income).  I just could not earn enough after expenses to swing it.  Earnings fluctuate like crazy after earning basically zero for a year.  If you're not married to or partnered to someone who can back you up it's a real tough or impossible way to make a living.  The expression "10% of the people making 90% of the money" is very true.  If you are average, you will starve.  You really need to be a talented salesman.  I am a brilliant counselor, polished presenter, great problem solver, excellent appraiser, and would write a brilliant contract on the hood of my car when I needed to, but guess what, the ticky tacky GD equivalent dressed in sweat pants who is always late, who can sell ice to an eskimo, writes crappy contracts with holes in them makes the most money.  They make the most money because they can sell.  Also, for some reason, women are more successful than men (they bond with the (female) decision maker???), so if you are male, your odds are slimmer.  So, my license remains "inactive status".

2.  My next and current career is IT related.  Ultimately, I wanted to get into programming when it was super hot around 2000.  I took C++ and Java courses at colleges at my employer's encouragement.  My employer subsequently outsourced all of their coding overseas and did not help me land any coding assignments.  I looked outside and everyone's question was "what have you coded outside of academia?".  Since then I've landed several certifications, most recently one in Project Management, and am trying to land a related position.  Again, I am getting the question, "What projects have you managed...?"  and I have to provide an appropriate answer..."I supported XYZ project..."  Employers do not want to train and in general are not placing much emphasis on education and certifications.

If you think you would enjoy project management, I would see if your current employer could formally use you on some projects, then either expand on that skill set with your current employer or try to get hired elsewhere.  There's very good demand for experienced people.  Then hire me. 

jday

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Re: Career Advice for a 30-something
« Reply #18 on: October 03, 2014, 08:26:49 PM »
@frugaliknowit - I do believe sales is a skill like any other. It is practiced and perfected like any other. 5 years is a long time to go on something not making you money. I've heard you either make it the first year or two or you are done. I have also heard women do the best, but guess who all the brokers are? Men. Real Estate is being self-employed no doubt.

I agree with your second point too. Employers dont want degrees, they want someone that can get the job done. If youre gonna do it, youre gonna find the way to get the job done, even if you have to work for free to get experience. Unfortunately for you I do believe there is some pretty solid age discrimination in the tech world.

I currently have no employer. I chose to work for a small family owned company for 7 years and it is honestly hampering my efforts to break into the areas I want to get into. I do plan on getting a job with a bigger corporation and seeing what kind of inside opportunities I might find. Or just keep looking around till I find the right fit.