Author Topic: Warning: Long post. Looking for life advice+some financial advice  (Read 4359 times)

HydroJim

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Hello all,

I'll start with a little background, then my current situation, and then a summary of my questions.

I'm currently a sophomore studying mechanical engineering in college with all costs fully covered by scholarships and grants. No debt. Currently have $5750 into a Roth IRA. Hoping to have $2750 more contributed by end of the year to max out for the year. Also about $5000 in cash. 2 cars. 1 of them is to flip and make money on. I track my spending and I'm super frugal so I'm saving almost as much as possible. Last Spring, during my freshman year, I worked a part time internship at a local start up for 10 hours a week at $12.50/hr. I think when i was hired they expected me to stay on for the foreseeable future doing full time during the Summer and coming back part-time in the fall. About 2 months after I was hired there, I was offered an internship at a Fortune 500 Aerospace/Industrial Company that was more interesting, more educational, and it paid $18/hr. I left the previous company on good terms, but they said they couldn't guarantee my position back in the fall. While business is business, I'd say my lack of loyalty would keep me from ever being employed there again. Not sure how I felt about this at the time and this later leads to one of my questions. I haven't tried to go back there because I know I can make more elsewhere.

So anyway, I enjoyed my 12 week internship over the summer and I came back to college for the fall and started looking for part-time engineering work. I applied to a few local places and I had one interview so far and I'm expecting another soon.

I had the interview Friday at an automotive parts manufacturer and I'm assuming I got the job because the interview went well. They'll let me know by Tuesday for sure. The other company that I'm anticipating an interview with is an aerospace/military company. I have no idea what they would pay, but they are only 10 minutes away from the campus. The company that I believe I got the job at is 30 minutes away from campus. I drive a 93 geo metro and get about 48 MPG per tank, but the extra commute/wear is something to consider.

The company that I believe i got the job with pays $17.50/hr and offers health insurance, dental insurance, vision coverage, 401k, and a HSA for interns. I currently pay for my own health insurance so this may be a good thing to have. I'd be working 16 hours a week. I think the benefits are pretty cool, but I'm not sure how much I'd really use them. I'm still in a low tax bracket so one of my later questions is regarding how I will handle this.

Looking into the future, I don't see myself staying at company this during the summer. But obviously, if I leave for a better summer internship, I'm not sure if they'd want me back in the fall and I'd be most likely ruining my chances to ever be employed by them again. Again, not sure if that really matters if I can find bigger and better opportunities. I do know that over the summer I'd get paid $19.20/hr and then after the summer I could continue working there to graduation and beyond at the same pay. The company I interned with last summer will pay about $20/hr next summer. Plus with my experience, I'll be looking at other companies that I know pay up to $30/hr for interns. As a sophomore, I think this pretty good pay but my instinct is to never settle and to always be looking for more.

So this leads to my questions:
For those who have been there done that, should my career be solely about chasing the most money? I don't want my reputation in this town to be that I'll leave my company in a heart beat if I get offered $.50 more an hour. But, what incentive are they giving me to stay?

Is it important to have company loyalty?

Does my age impact how I should handle these situations?


I'm very motivated by money, but I also want to enjoy my job every day. I'm very much interested in the automotive, aerospace, defense, petroleum, and energy industries. I really don't know what exactly I want to do with my career yet. If I could study all engineering disciplines and work in all the industries, I would love to do that. But there is only so much time in my life. How does one eventually settle down into a geographic location, an industry, and employer, and a wage?

My instinct is to say that the automotive industry is my passion. I've always loved working on cars, modifying cars, rebuilding engines, and that sort of thing. But I fear that getting into the industry will mean that my hobby will become my job and I'll be unhappy with all the rules and regulations. As an engineer, I won't be able to design the best automobile because it will have to be marketable and appealing to the masses. But the other industries are not what I think about at night or what I am fully passionate about. Aerospace is intriguing and cool, but it's not like I spend my time building high powered rockets and flying RC airplanes like some of my peers do. Nonetheless, I've been thinking that a work/passion separation may be a good thing?

So overall, I'm looking for some life advice from some members of the forum. I don't believe I have anyone else to really talk to about this with because then I come off as a cocky a**hole complaining about getting a lot of money and having so many job opportunities. Truly, I'm just ambitious and work hard all the time but most regular people don't see it that way.

Even with all my questions, I should say that I don't plan on working in the corporate world beyond my early 30s. Once I reach financial independence and no longer have to worry about income, I plan on starting my own company. But, this is all still a plan. Just trying to figure out how I see myself in this world. Do I want to be at the same company for 35 years? Do I want to be a job hopper? Do I want to be retired early? Do I want to be an entrepreneur? I can't seem to answer these questions for myself yet.

Regarding the financial advice,
If I get hired, Should I contribute to the 401k at all? My tax bracket is super low at my age (maybe $15k a year). They offer a S&P index fund with .27% expense ratio. It's the best fund offered. 100% employer match for 3% and 50% for 2%. Immediately vested.

Maybe some kind of 401k conversion or rollover would be beneficial to me? I'm already maxing my Roth IRA so I'm running out of after tax accounts to contribute to while I'm in this low tax bracket.

The HSA has a max of $3350 a year for an individual with no employer contributions. Not sure if this is worth looking into. The current health insurance I have is $1200 a year with a $200 in network deductible. It's probably the best coverage I'll find but I'll look into the company's options. I don't have any medical problems but it's nice to not have to ever worry about much out of pocket at my age.

If you read this whole post, thank you very much and I look forward to the advice I receive.


« Last Edit: August 29, 2015, 10:57:47 AM by HydroJim »

irishbear99

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Re: Warning: Long post. Looking for life advice+some financial advice
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2015, 12:02:18 PM »
If I get hired, Should I contribute to the 401k at all? My tax bracket is super low at my age (maybe $15k a year). They offer a S&P index fund with .27% expense ratio. It's the best fund offered. 100% employer match for 3% and 50% for 2%. Immediately vested.

Lots of good, hard questions. I'm going to tackle the easiest one. You should ABSOLUTELY contribute to the 401(k) to get the match, for the reasons I marked in bold in your post. I rarely resort to absolutes, but I would never leave free money on the table.

Argyle

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Re: Warning: Long post. Looking for life advice+some financial advice
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2015, 12:24:04 PM »
I don't think most people find that their work and their passion are overly entwined.  It's usually the opposite — they wish their work involved more of their passion.  If automotive stuff is your passion, at least try a job, at some point, in that industry.  If you find it irritating, then make a sideways move to a related non-automotive industry.  But I suspect you'll find having passion for your work is a bonus.

As for the jobs, I'd take the better one you're offered now and stick with it over the summer.  You may get a raise somewhere along the line if you stick with it, too.  Jumping from job to job doesn't just discourage employers; it can also prevent you getting raises and continuous experience.  Not to say that it's always a mistake to jump.  But I wouldn't jump just for an internship, unless it's a stupendous-paying internship at the top company in the business.

Goldielocks

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Re: Warning: Long post. Looking for life advice+some financial advice
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2015, 01:30:43 PM »
If I get hired, Should I contribute to the 401k at all? My tax bracket is super low at my age (maybe $15k a year). They offer a S&P index fund with .27% expense ratio. It's the best fund offered. 100% employer match for 3% and 50% for 2%. Immediately vested.

Lots of good, hard questions. I'm going to tackle the easiest one. You should ABSOLUTELY contribute to the 401(k) to get the match, for the reasons I marked in bold in your post. I rarely resort to absolutes, but I would never leave free money on the table.
Yep, even if you withdraw and pay penalty and taxes right away, you still come out ahead.

Trudie

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Re: Warning: Long post. Looking for life advice+some financial advice
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2015, 02:13:32 PM »
I don't think most people find that their work and their passion are overly entwined.  It's usually the opposite — they wish their work involved more of their passion.  If automotive stuff is your passion, at least try a job, at some point, in that industry.  If you find it irritating, then make a sideways move to a related non-automotive industry.  But I suspect you'll find having passion for your work is a bonus.

As for the jobs, I'd take the better one you're offered now and stick with it over the summer.  You may get a raise somewhere along the line if you stick with it, too.  Jumping from job to job doesn't just discourage employers; it can also prevent you getting raises and continuous experience.  Not to say that it's always a mistake to jump.  But I wouldn't jump just for an internship, unless it's a stupendous-paying internship at the top company in the business.

I agree about work and passions not being overly entwined for most people.  I think if you are fortunate you will find work that challenges you in good ways, but yet doesn't wear you out or drag you down so you can't enjoy the rest of your life.  I'm in accounting/financial management for a private company and I feel like I make decent money for the amount of responsibility I have.  The benefits are excellent.  And knowing that I can toil at something I don't loathe (while finding time on the side to pursue my passions) AND that financially I can progress toward my FIRE goals as I wish is enough for me.

When I was your age I was extremely professionally driven.  I thought my career would provide everything.  And then it didn't and I found this a hard transition.  I am much happier at 45 than I was at 25, and I've also pursued things I never would have done in my twenties (marathoning, worldwide travel). 

I don't want to sound really cynical, but I think the pop psychology that has developed around doing what you "LOVE" and learning to "LOVE" your work and find "PASSION" and "MEANING" does more harm than good.  I think people have unreasonable expectations of what their work can and should do for them.  It is no substitute for great relationships, peace of mind, meeting personal goals you're excited about, and for some -- just not me -- having kids.

That is not to say you shouldn't question what you like/don't like about your work, or how it can be more enjoyable.  I think you're asking some great questions.

Kaikou

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Re: Warning: Long post. Looking for life advice+some financial advice
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2015, 02:34:44 PM »
I don't find any problem job hopping while you are in school. I mean don't they know you are in school full time/working part-time? In my mind that means that person could be gone after the semester but more likely at the end of the year. Are you out of state?

BMEPhDinCO

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Re: Warning: Long post. Looking for life advice+some financial advice
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2015, 02:37:30 PM »
I skimmed so if I'm missing something, that's why.  But here is my two cents...

As an engineer, your classes and workload will get more and more demanding, taking a job as close to campus as possible is extremely important.

As an intern, being offered benefits is great, take them and take advantage of it all. Stay with the job as long as you can, don't do any more hopping around, three jobs in school is enough for the resume.

asiljoy

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Re: Warning: Long post. Looking for life advice+some financial advice
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2015, 02:45:39 PM »
Job hop not to chase money, but new experiences. You're still interning, so it's about getting as much useful experience as you can and building your resume.

Also, always contribute to get a match.

Sailor Sam

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Re: Warning: Long post. Looking for life advice+some financial advice
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2015, 02:46:57 PM »
Hi hydrojim, you seem like a thoughtful guy, with a lot going for you. I'm going to join in with my take.

First, absolutely contribute to the 401k. If for no other reason than being automatically vested is somewhat unusual. Go for it!

Second part, I'd advise staying with the company you probably have been hired at. As Argyle said, there are hidden costs that accrue when you bounce around too much. Like raising red flags to the folks in HR. As a student, moving around probably wouldn't raise too many eyebrows,  but sticking in place might help you stick out when applying to your first post college job.

I don't personally see any danger in perusing a career that includes your passion. I get huge emotional satisfaction when driving ships, so I found a career that allows me to drive ships. The critical thing to remember is that even your best loved activity will get boring and annoying sometimes. You may love car widgets enough to snuggle them at night, but at 2pm on a Friday you will probably be loving the upcoming weekend way more than widgets. Since widgets are you job, and not just a hobby, youll have to keep looking at them for another 2 hours despite the fading joy. As long as you can tolerate that, go ahead and mix business with pleasure.

MDM

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Re: Warning: Long post. Looking for life advice+some financial advice
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2015, 03:17:43 PM »
I had the interview Friday at an automotive parts manufacturer and I'm assuming I got the job because the interview went well. They'll let me know by Tuesday for sure. The other company that I'm anticipating an interview with is an aerospace/military company.
Try to have both offers (if indeed you get both or even either) in hand before responding.

Quote
For those who have been there done that, should my career be solely about chasing the most money? I don't want my reputation in this town to be that I'll leave my company in a heart beat if I get offered $.50 more an hour. But, what incentive are they giving me to stay?

Is it important to have company loyalty?

Does my age impact how I should handle these situations?
At this point in your career, a few $/hr isn't as important as the relevant experience you get.  By "relevant experience" I mean the "for example, ..." answers you can give when you interview for full-time work after graduation and are asked how well you can apply academic learning to real world problems.

Quote
How does one eventually settle down into a geographic location, an industry, and employer, and a wage?
Take your best guess, go with your gut feeling, etc.  Don't be afraid to change, but realize the grass isn't always greener, etc.  In other words, there is no absolute guarantee and as the saying goes, "Life is What Happens To You While You’re Busy Making Other Plans."

Quote
Regarding the financial advice,
If I get hired, Should I contribute to the 401k at all? My tax bracket is super low at my age (maybe $15k a year). They offer a S&P index fund with .27% expense ratio. It's the best fund offered. 100% employer match for 3% and 50% for 2%. Immediately vested.
If the company offers (and many do) a Roth version of the 401k, that could be best for you now.  Any employer match (due to tax law) will go into the traditional 401k, but as it is "free money" that's fine.

Exflyboy

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Re: Warning: Long post. Looking for life advice+some financial advice
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2015, 04:43:34 PM »
I Agree with MDM, As an engineer/manager with 30 years of experience I can tell you that RELAVENT experience is far more important than $$ at this point.

Remember you will be competing with other graduates for a real job and having worked in engineering companies doing "real engineering" work.. that's huge!

One other piece of advice.. Do your FE exams BEFORE you leave college.. Not 25 years after you graduate like I did when I realized I needed a PE license! You will forget a ton after a year and it will be much harder.. so get that one out the way even if you decide you never need to be a PE.

Good luck, its a great career!


mozar

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Re: Warning: Long post. Looking for life advice+some financial advice
« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2015, 04:55:33 PM »
I wouldn't worry about job hopping, as long as you are getting a significant improvement and you hop strategically each time. It's not 1950 anymore. Employers are just annoyed that it has gotten harder to take advantage of people.
I have had 4 jobs in the past 5 years. If a recruiter called me a job hopper I would just laugh. They are the ones who are trying to get me to job hop. If job hopping upsets them then don't call me!

HydroJim

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Re: Warning: Long post. Looking for life advice+some financial advice
« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2015, 07:20:48 AM »
Thank you to everyone who responded to my post. It's good to have more food for thought.