Author Topic: Picking a major/career the Mustachian way  (Read 8987 times)

stashette

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Picking a major/career the Mustachian way
« on: May 23, 2012, 03:53:44 PM »
Whenever reading comments of other personal finance blogs I've noticed a disturbing trend. People always complain that they could never make money in their career as a social worker/teacher/sandwich artist, and therefore life is really unfair. What's wrong with picking a high paying, rewarding career over a low paying, rewarding career?

Here's my story:
My parents were a little alarmed that teenage Stashette was considering jobs with limited job prospects like archeology and marine biology and swiftly encouraged me to pick a profession in the sciences.  My grades confirmed that I was good in science, particularly chem and bio, so I decided that healthcare was the place for me.  Apparently my 16 year old self was still a little too indecisive  (doctor, vet, physical therapy?) so my parents sent me to a career counselor. 

It might seem extreme, but I really believe that it was some of the best money we ever spent.  Through multiple surveys and interviews he really understood my skills and personality and guided me away from fields that really would not have been a good fit.  He also discussed the basics of salary and job outlook with me as well so I had a plan before going to college.  Anyway, six years out of college, I'm very happy with my choice of profession.  It's rewarding, flexible, and well paying--even if it's not as sexy as archeology. 

I'm curious how other Mustachians picked their careers.  Was it your life's passion?  Was it for the hours/money/prestige? Or did you just look at job demand and your skill set and pick?

catalana

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Re: Picking a major/career the Mustachian way
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2012, 04:16:11 PM »
My career was partly picked for financial reasons.  I was considering architecture in the year or two before going into Higher Education, and was studying subjects (Maths and Physics) to enable me to do so.

Then the recession of the early 1990s hit, and architects were being laid off in big numbers.

It really opened my eyes, and as a result I followed another route which interested me, and had much more certain employment prospects - accountancy/business management.  At times I have questioned whether I made the right decision, but as my career has progressed I've been able bend it to suit my need for creativity.

skyrefuge

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Re: Picking a major/career the Mustachian way
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2012, 04:45:35 PM »
For me, I mostly just lucked into a highly-compensated career.  My (electronic engineer) dad tinkered with home computers and got us a TI-99/4A when I was 6 or 7.  I was enough of a nerd to start programming that at an early age, so doing something with computers/engineering just always seemed obvious.  Well, maybe not *totally* obvious; I was always in the top percentiles in test scores, but my verbal scores were actually a little bit *higher* than my math/science scores.  But I guess I was also smart enough to think "how is my top-notch ability to write an essay about Federalism going to make me any fucking money?"  And though I never went to an actual career counselor, I'm pretty sure those career tests/surveys we all took came back saying "um, yeah, you should do something with computers, dumbass".

Conveniently my flagship state school (Illinois) has long been one of the best in the nation in that field.  I actually started out in Computer Science, but those dudes were too nerdy even for me, so I switched over to Computer Engineering where everything seemed a lot more normal and practical.

So parental influence from an early age surely had a lot to do with it, but I also consider myself very lucky that my natural aptitude and interests coincide with something that also happens to pay a lot of money (and with a relatively small investment, my ENTIRE college tuition+fees was $13,319!)  I feel kinda bad for people whose natural talents would put them in fields that people aren't interested in paying a lot of money for.  I feel less bad for people who have the talent for more lucrative fields but choose to forgo them and then whine about it.  On the other hand I do think it is fairly easy for the education culture to get 17 or 18 year old kids moving along a path that isn't necessarily in their financial best interests, and I don't necessarily fault the 18 year olds for that; at 18 it's hard to fully understand how much you might care about money when you're 38.  I was really smart and I never even considered the concept of an early retirement until well into my professional career.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2012, 11:21:15 AM by skyrefuge »

herisff

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Re: Picking a major/career the Mustachian way
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2012, 05:57:37 PM »
I looked at my skill set in high school (good in the biological sciences) and guided myself towards healthcare. While my mom really wanted me to be an MD, I imploded in physics and chemistry - so I went into nursing and am glad. Nursing has been a highly flexible career for me. I've done floor care, ICU, insurance review of all kinds, and now I work in surgery. The compensation has been decent, and the rewards are many. I'm so glad I didn't go into medical school - the loans those folks end up with can be crushing, and the job satisfaction is not always enough to compensate for the hours worked or the headaches of managing a practice.

bdub

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Re: Picking a major/career the Mustachian way
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2012, 07:56:39 PM »
I always loved chemistry and math.  Combined those two with a look at job prospects/compensation and ended up a chemical engineer. 

I didn't expect I would end up in the semiconductor industry, I always thought I would work for a big oil or natural gas company.

arebelspy

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Re: Picking a major/career the Mustachian way
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2012, 07:57:37 PM »
Whenever reading comments of other personal finance blogs I've noticed a disturbing trend. People always complain that they could never make money in their career as a social worker/teacher/sandwich artist, and therefore life is really unfair. What's wrong with picking a high paying, rewarding career over a low paying, rewarding career?

(Emphasis added)

Unlike the above, I didn't pick a job that was high paying, nor did I end up with one.

In fact, I'm a teacher, so the part I bolded above applies directly to me... However, who cares if I can't make a ton of money?  I love what I do, and ultimately it's about how much you spend.   If the wife and I (both teachers) can save 70% of our lowly teacher's salaries, maybe it's the people who are saying they can't make it on that who have the issue? They're spending MORE than 3x what we are, and complain?!   Psshh.

If you live the Mustachian way, you can have any career you want, because any job in the U.S.A. beyond minimum wage is more than enough.  So pick what makes you happy, and live frugally, and you'll be even more happy.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
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D-T

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Re: Picking a major/career the Mustachian way
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2012, 09:16:20 PM »
What's wrong with picking a high paying, rewarding career over a low paying, rewarding career?


I really don't think there's anything wrong with either option. It depends on what you value most.  There's nothing wrong with wanting financial stability and choosing a major accordingly, as long as it is something you can stand doing. There's also nothing wrong with choosing a rewarding career. A career where you wake up each day and love your job can add to your quality of life in more ways money can't. 

Personally,  I picked my major Finance because it was something I really enjoyed and I thought there would be better employment than my first choice of psych. I was worried about career prospects without getting a graduate degree in Psych.

shedinator

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Re: Picking a major/career the Mustachian way
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2012, 09:29:14 PM »
Whenever reading comments of other personal finance blogs I've noticed a disturbing trend. People always complain that they could never make money in their career as a social worker/teacher/sandwich artist, and therefore life is really unfair. What's wrong with picking a high paying, rewarding career over a low paying, rewarding career?

(Emphasis added)

Unlike the above, I didn't pick a job that was high paying, nor did I end up with one.

In fact, I'm a teacher, so the part I bolded above applies directly to me... However, who cares if I can't make a ton of money?  I love what I do, and ultimately it's about how much you spend.   If the wife and I (both teachers) can save 70% of our lowly teacher's salaries, maybe it's the people who are saying they can't make it on that who have the issue? They're spending MORE than 3x what we are, and complain?!   Psshh.

If you live the Mustachian way, you can have any career you want, because any job in the U.S.A. beyond minimum wage is more than enough.  So pick what makes you happy, and live frugally, and you'll be even more happy.

Amen to that :)

There is nothing wrong with choosing a high-income career, rewarding or unrewarding. There is nothing wrong with choosing a low-income career, rewarding or unrewarding. There is something wrong with choosing a career (any career), and then complaining about there not being enough money, but not choosing to do something else, unless you were disadvantaged by life and had no choice in the matter (and I firmly believe there are people for whom that's the case). I just finished the first of two Masters degrees in Theology, and intend to go for a PhD after that. When all's said and done, My post-secondary education will carry a sticker price in the neighborhood of $400,000 (my own cost will not be nearly that high), and if I'm exceedingly lucky, everything above the bachelor's degree will add maybe another $600k to my total lifetime salary. Adjusted for inflation, that's almost certainly a net loss, and I couldn't be happier with that choice.

gooki

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Re: Picking a major/career the Mustachian way
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2012, 10:22:22 PM »
I ended up working in a field I was passionate about in high school.

My enrolment application for a fine arts degree in design was turned down, so I spent a year at University doing what I was supposedly good at (maths an economics), and was bored out of my brain.

Dropped out after one year - enrolled in a Design college, came out with two diplomas and took any job opportunities that I could track down.

cosmie

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Re: Picking a major/career the Mustachian way
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2012, 11:31:21 PM »
Although I haven't fully settled on a specific career, my degree completely caught me by surprise. I never once in my high school life thought I'd wind up in a business school. Hell, I don't think it ever even occured to me back then that they existed.

I am a first-generation college student from my family, so I had virtually no exposure to the varied options out in the world. My grades and test scores were always well above average in every area, and any career/interest surveys I took just my test scores: I had an equally strong disposition at all sides of the spectrum. Although my English and reading scores were much higher than my math and sciences, I never particularly liked it. I always loved computers, so when I went to college I figured "why not computer science?". One intro to computer science class and countless C++ debugging sessions later, and I said screw that (I later found out that my particular school's CS program is notoriously terrible). I then seriously considered software engineering, which I realized was more in line with what I enjoyed doing with computers. I happened to work that summer at a campus IT department, and after observing the day-to-day of software engineers, I decided it'd make me go bonkers doing it for years.

What did I enjoy so much about computers? It was the problem solving process; not so much the programming aspects. What didn't I like about computer science? It was the lack of practical application and the intense amount of required mathematics that wouldn't ever actually be applied, combined with a general dissatisfaction with how I was utilizing my skills. Sure, I could do the math, but it was just so boring.

So I did some deep introspection and came to the following list of criteria for my path:
1. It needs to be practical. If I'm in a class that I can't apply to my life or projected career, I can't subject myself to it.
2. Not math averse, but definitely not straight number crunching for the rest of my working life.
3. Utilize my natural predisposition towards making everything efficient. Whether it was finding the most efficient route to work/school/girlfriend's, or finding the most efficient way to make a pizza when managing a Domino's, I always actively analyze everything to be sure it's being done the most efficient way possible.
4. (Optional) Be able to tell people what to do. I've always been a team player, but I've never been one to follow direction blindly. If I think a decision is ineffective, inefficient, or downright stupid, I enjoy having the ability to effect that decision.

I found my way to a program called Business Analytics that is offered through the Statistics department in the College of Business at my university. It's main focus in the undergraduate realm is on predictive analytics and (minutely) process control. It fit all my criteria:

1. It's very practical. Predictive analysis is used in virtually any field that tracks historical/usage data: customer loyalty programs, supply chain optimization, advertising, business process optimization, market research, census bureau, credit card companies, insurance companies, etc.
2. You have to understand the underlying math that supports the statistical principles being utilized, so that the resulting analysis takes into account the particular caveats of the statistical method utilized, however most of the computations themselves are fully automated by software. So it utilizes my mathematical understanding, but I don't actually have to crunch numbers all day. I simply interpret them instead.
3. Predictive analytics and process control is the embodiment of efficiency. After applying statistical process control principles, you can then apply predictive analytics and simulations to find the optimal method of whatever you're working on.
4. Even within companies, the role is generally consulting with other business units. So I get to be opinionated (via sound recommendations) without risking pissing off the wrong person.

The graduate degree, if I pursue it, further enhances the predictive analytics knowledge while focusing heavily on management sciences principles such as process flow diagramming.

As for an eventual career itself, my degree is as broad as my interests, so I haven't decided on that yet. I've actually had opportunities to do work via my student position managing online advertising campaigns, and find it really interesting. I even have a standing offer after graduation with a web design and marketing firm as an entry-level account manager at 36k/year, sight unseen. With my 2+ years experience (by graduation) managing campaigns for the school, that will probably be closer to 50k/year. However, that itself doesn't really utilize my degree. I'm looking at website usability testing as a possible career path (which does utilize my stats background), but have limited experience in that area. If I can gain experience there, combined with previous web programming experience and the advertising experience, it will be relatively easy to make 75k+/year in a self-employed consulting position within 2-3 years after graduation.

Or I might stay for my Masters; which generally solicits entry-level salaries starting at 75k with a medium of 100k/yr across the board (e.g. not industry-specific).
« Last Edit: May 23, 2012, 11:33:35 PM by cosmie »

Masha

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Re: Picking a major/career the Mustachian way
« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2012, 06:43:27 AM »
I don't think there's anything wrong with choosing a field that pays well, or one that doesn't. I'm sorry I've posted a book below, but my career is a long story....

I happened into the arts after being unschooled until I was a teenager, raised in a family that strongly discouraged university as the only path. So, at 18, after a year abroad(paid for myself with savings from several jobs while I also lived on my own), I had the chance to live super cheap with a friend and took it. First I studied auto mechanics at a community college, then transfered to the local university and created my own major based on classes that were interesting to me at the time. So I graduated with a BA in fun, crafty subjects and worked a series of fun, interesting gigs basically self-employed for seven years during and after college. I've held over 20 different types of jobs, usually 3 or 4 at a time.

Over the years, I also earned a(fully funded)MA from the leading program in my field.  I am a total complainy-pants about my salary, and the salary potential in my field because at 30, I have realized that I could work in a number of other fields and be perfectly happy. Mr. Masha also works in a highly specialized field and his passion for it is beyond anything I have experienced, so it seems my flexibility and frustration needs to be channelled into some useful action that is portable around his work opportunities. I don't know what that is yet, and am hesitant to go back to school.

We never saved anything(until last year), but we travelled all over, took amazing jobs, and did whatever seemed like a good idea, things that would not have been possible if we worked standard jobs. Even so, we mostly paid cash, and our only debt now is a combined 38K student loans. We own both cars, and have built a 'stache, of which I am really proud.

This is where I'm at now, but I don't regret my earlier choices. I have had a remarkable life so far, and accomplished everything I had in mind for when I "grew-up" except FI, which has been of interest as long as I can remember. I had no idea I would do all this so soon, and now I have the rest of my life and no idea what to do next. I admire/envy people who made a solid career choice in college, stuck with it, and have savings, houses, and strong PF...but I also wouldn't trade my life. I just need a new goal and if past experience is any measure, something will materialize soon. So, to answer the question, I just looked at my interests and picked a job, but 12 years later, its a bit more complicated. My skills/experience have changed, so time to pick again!

trammatic

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Re: Picking a major/career the Mustachian way
« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2012, 09:25:04 AM »
I picked my career path simply because it came easy to me.  I breezed through a BS in Math and then spent a year bumming in Italy because I had no clue what I wanted to do with it (since I had ruled out grad school and teaching).  I stumbled upon becoming an Actuary, and that has treated me well since then.

I think the underlying idea is that you should be realistic in what you pick.  If you want to be a social worker, figure out a way to be one cheap and then be content with making $25k/year.  If you don't have a specific occupation zeroed in on, I think the idea of a career counselor would be good.  Figure out a range of jobs that fit your abilities/passions and then look at the outlook for each and make an informed choice.

One plus of mustashianism is that you can spend your retirement learning more/doing another career, if you want.  A good friend of mine got tired of being an MD at about age 40, and by 45 was a successful social worker.  He was able to bank most of his salary and is able to live FI off investments while doing what he loves.

Richard3

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Re: Picking a major/career the Mustachian way
« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2012, 09:39:11 AM »
I lucked in to my high paying career after I studied history and economics at university because they interested me. I think studying stuff that interests you makes university a more enjoyable and useful experience. I wouldn't have worked as hard studying accountancy or whatever and wouldn't have developed the critical thinking etc skills that enabled me to be successful once I wound up in the bottom of my industry.

I think doing something you enjoy for less money is better than doing something tolerable or worse for more money. Unless you're consciously doing an ERE plan where every extra dollar is saved and have a goal. That said, unless you have very good discipline it will be hard as not enjoying your work is a big cause of non-Mustachian spending.

erwannabe

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Re: Picking a major/career the Mustachian way
« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2012, 10:30:16 AM »
What about going an alternative path and becoming self employed or a small business owner instead?

Bank

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Re: Picking a major/career the Mustachian way
« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2012, 11:33:17 AM »
I never had much of a plan.  I went to college to expand my idealistic young mind.  I took chemistry, computer science, and economics courses and enjoyed them all, but I ended up majoring in history and Russian literature.  Graduated and said, "now what?"  Most of my friends went on to grad school and are now teaching in big universities, but I decided that wasn't for me.  I didn't want learning to be my job for 5 years, and I didn't want to get on the publish or perish tenure track wheel afterwards.

I had liked my economics courses, so without much planning I bounced around a couple of finance jobs, got my MBA, and then (thinking business school was kind of a waste) applied and got into law school in Chicago.  Before the planned move to Chicago, I took a summer job at a consulting firm that does corporate finance and valuation work, usually in the context of large firms which are either bankrupt or financially distressed.  I've been here ever since.

I like my job.  It's intellectually stimulating -- I get to spend my day figuring out how to value complicated companies and CDO's and fun stuff like that  -- and financially rewarding.  Since I discovered MMM and realized I only HAVE to do it for another 8 years, rather than 30, I'm really happy coming to work.  And yet I didn't even know this super great career existed before I walked in the door of my current company on that first day of work.

So, some people get where they're going through planning.  I got to where I am by luck and a willingness to try new things. Different strokes for different folks.

darkelenchus

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Re: Picking a major/career the Mustachian way
« Reply #15 on: May 24, 2012, 01:06:12 PM »
I'm curious how other Mustachians picked their careers.  Was it your life's passion?  Was it for the hours/money/prestige? Or did you just look at job demand and your skill set and pick?

I've noticed a pattern with the jobs/projects I've worked on: I come across some subject or activity that poses a challenge, work hard until I get really good at it, and then when it gets boring I move on to something else. Money hasn't been much of a factor up to this point, but that's my new challenge, i.e. working on a project with high income returns.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2012, 02:10:53 PM by darkelenchus »

AJ

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Re: Picking a major/career the Mustachian way
« Reply #16 on: May 24, 2012, 03:39:17 PM »
There is nothing wrong with choosing a high-income career, rewarding or unrewarding. There is nothing wrong with choosing a low-income career, rewarding or unrewarding. There is something wrong with choosing a career (any career), and then complaining about there not being enough money, but not choosing to do something else

This.

I think if you were a Mustachian high schooler getting ready to graduate, the best course of action would be to get a job that paid the best for the least schooling (I'm thinking skilled trades), save like crazy, FI, then go to school for whatever your heart desires without the need to worry about it paying anything at all. Wish I would have done that at 18, but there's no time like the present ;)

darkelenchus

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Re: Picking a major/career the Mustachian way
« Reply #17 on: May 24, 2012, 03:51:00 PM »
I think if you were a Mustachian high schooler getting ready to graduate, the best course of action would be to get a job that paid the best for the least schooling (I'm thinking skilled trades), save like crazy, FI, then go to school for whatever your heart desires without the need to worry about it paying anything at all. Wish I would have done that at 18, but there's no time like the present ;)

Seconded. I gently kick myself everyday for putting the cart before the horse. But hindsight is always 20/20. :-)

Zoot Allures

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Re: Picking a major/career the Mustachian way
« Reply #18 on: May 24, 2012, 04:16:54 PM »
I picked my career path simply because it came easy to me.

Me too, but in my case the word "picked" implies clearer intentions than I really had. I've never been particularly ambitious or career-minded, but in my 20s, when waiting tables got old and I began to realize I wasn't going to be a famous filmmaker, I had to figure out what I was actually good at. That turned out to be proofreading and copyediting, and after a while of doing that, I started to get paid for writing. Somewhere along the way I became a "communications professional."

grantmeaname

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Re: Picking a major/career the Mustachian way
« Reply #19 on: May 25, 2012, 07:58:39 AM »
I think if you were a Mustachian high schooler getting ready to graduate, the best course of action would be to get a job that paid the best for the least schooling (I'm thinking skilled trades), save like crazy, FI, then go to school for whatever your heart desires without the need to worry about it paying anything at all. Wish I would have done that at 18, but there's no time like the present ;)
Best is a pretty strong word.

For one thing, jumping into a skilled trade comes with a lot of social exclusion from people your age when your whole peer group goes off to college and you don't. Plus, you're losing out on the chance to get a way from home gently (dorms, then school-area homes with maintenance men before real homes). I realize that college isn't the only way to come into adulthood, but it's got to be the most graceful one.

Besides, you can go to school in whatever your heart desires and graduate without debt, even without help from your parents... I'm doing it. It's not like the only two options are trade school and crushing debt.

skyrefuge

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Re: Picking a major/career the Mustachian way
« Reply #20 on: May 25, 2012, 08:12:58 AM »
For one thing, jumping into a skilled trade comes with a lot of social exclusion from people your age when your whole peer group goes off to college and you don't.

I had a very similar thought, but saw it as a huge peripheral benefit in this situation!  Socially-excluding yourself from a class of people who expect to be relatively high earners would be a GREAT way to avoid socially-induced lifestyle-inflation, which probably hits hardest in the early post-college years and then is much more difficult to dial back than if you had never inflated it in the first place.

grantmeaname

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Re: Picking a major/career the Mustachian way
« Reply #21 on: May 25, 2012, 08:20:49 AM »
My peers are smart kids at a state school, who chose it and the concomitant scholarships over the Carnegie Mellons and Columbias of the world. That says something for frugality, I think. You may be overgeneralizing to say that college students all expect to be big spenders post-graduation. Yes, many graduate and start to spend money like it's going out of style, but is that really the rule? Many go to grad/med/law school and eat ramen for the next 3-10 years, for example.
If Mustachian 36-year-olds can buck trends and be friends with big spenders without being spendy themselves, why can't Mustachian 19-year-olds?

Bank

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Re: Picking a major/career the Mustachian way
« Reply #22 on: May 25, 2012, 08:28:19 AM »

Besides, you can go to school in whatever your heart desires and graduate without debt, even without help from your parents... I'm doing it. It's not like the only two options are trade school and crushing debt.

This.  Or at least it's worth exploring.  My family had no money and I got into a college that had a big endowment.  My annual expected contribution was only a few thousand dollars, which I managed to cover by working during the year and in the summers.  I actually spent less on my education than my friends who went to public universities.

skyrefuge

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Re: Picking a major/career the Mustachian way
« Reply #23 on: May 25, 2012, 09:59:18 AM »
If Mustachian 36-year-olds can buck trends and be friends with big spenders without being spendy themselves, why can't Mustachian 19-year-olds?

Oh, yeah, of course anyone can buck the trends, and you're living proof of that.  I was just speaking in generalities and averages, thinking that a randomly-selected person is less likely to be brainwashed into lifestyle-inflation if he attends trade school instead of a traditional university attendee.  But I guess in this hypothetical from the OP, we weren't talking about a randomly-selected person, we were talking about an 18-year-old who has already embraced the principles of Mustachianism, and then I agree that person is less likely to be susceptible to brainwashing in any social environment.

But I submit that you're quite the rarity (and I'm envious!), given that most Mustachians (including MMM himself) suffered under at least some level of consumerist brainwashing for a period before fighting through it and seeing the light. 

I always remind myself how sneaky and subtle and powerful the forces of social brainwashing are by looking back at when I first started bike-commuting to work.  I had always been relatively frugal, and *was* smart enough to move to be close to the office.  But I was in my career for three or four fucking *years* before, one sunny afternoon, when I happened to need to drive home at lunch, I thought "hmm, it's a nice day, a bike ride would be fun today...hey, maybe I can ride to the office!"  The shocking and amazing part is that I then looked back and realized I had spent the majority of my life being a pretty hardcore bike-commuter!  I rode my bike to elementary school, high school, and rode everywhere in college.  But despite that, once I graduated and got a job, I suddenly stopped and never even considered riding to work.  It's just not what you do!  I had a real job now, and no one I knew or no one I worked with rode their bike to work.  Actually that implies that I consciously thought about it enough to rule it out, but honestly, the brainwashing is so sneaky that my brain never even raised the possibility.

Of course, maybe I'm just an idiot, but I prefer to blame the devious forces of consumerist brainwashing.  :-)

MooreBonds

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Re: Picking a major/career the Mustachian way
« Reply #24 on: May 27, 2012, 01:11:46 PM »
My peers are smart kids at a state school, who chose it and the concomitant scholarships over the Carnegie Mellons and Columbias of the world.

As a CMU alumni, I'm shocked that their reputation has actually grown enough to be put up in the tier that they deserve. Will never forget when I was caddying during the summer before my sophomore year at CMU. The opponent (it was a state amateur golf tournament) was a college student. He asked me where I was in school, and I told him. His next question: "Is that a 2 year or a 4 year school?" :)

My career path had a LOT of luck -  I always excelled at science and investments/economics, but didn't really know what I wanted to do. My family has a construction company that I kind of assumed I would just default to. As such, my father pushed me into Mechanical Engineering. Being the type that always wants to take on more of a load and get as much done as possible, I always had plans of pursuing additional majors in Business and Economics - however, after my fall semester as as sophomore (when I had my first real taste of Mech E courses), I knew without a doubt I wanted nothing to do with it, and saw Civ E as more relevant to the family business, but I told my dad that I wanted to drop Mech E and just focus on Business and Economics. My father (who never went to college) didn't agree, and simply said that I wasn't going to drop the Mech E. :(

So, I suffered through the rest of my college experience struggling through engineering courses that I couldn't stand, while loving the business courses. Looking back on it, I suppose you could say I'm glad I stuck with it, since the resume looks better. ;)

I graduated, and went to work for my father. After 7 years, despite some very lucrative years as a project manager, the stress was literally killing me (due to both family issues as well as the nature of the industry). I was trying to figure out if I wanted to get an MBA and pursue a career in finance, or try something related to the construction industry (this was in the fall of 2007).

Thankfully, I chose the architecture/consulting engineering field, and bypassed going for an MBA that would have seen me graduate in 2009 - which, although were tough times for the A/E field (with my salary being cut 15% for 3 years), would not have been any easier as a newly minted MBA trying to land a job. Also, looking at my situation today, I really don't think I'd be earning more with an MBA (in a finance field) than I've managed to reach at my current engineering position.

Would I have done anything differently? Absolutely not, as things just happened to have worked out so far, and there's almost no way I would have been able to achieve a better place than where I'm at professionally/personal finance-wise. Relationships, however, are another matter. ;)