My best friend grew up in a wealthy family. His father owned a successful business. Since his dad owned the business, my friend was able to start getting work experience and good money since age 14 or younger. Sometimes he worked hard, but mostly I found out it was a job paying $12/hour to sweep the floors, organize some things, and whatever odd jobs needed to be done. As a 14 year old in the early 2000s, this was a lot of money for trivial work.
I got my first job at 16 and was happy to finally be making money. My friend always made more and never had to worry about getting time off work for vacations and whatever. Actually, he never had to worry about anything for employment. He always had a job to go to and could take time off whenever and get paid above average of everyone else our age. All because he worked for Dad's business. I never cared about this difference though, but it did bother me when he wouldn't understand why I couldn't just take work off whenever I wanted, otherwise I never cared about these differences.
By the time our college years came around, we were talking about what some plans were for the summer and what we were going to do for employment and stuff. Really I was only thinking about what I was going to do since he always just works for the family business. He mentioned he sees his time as worth $20 an hour since that's what he was getting paid recently. To his credit, his job at dad's business did involve more actual work, but he still didn't have a clue of what it's like having to actually look for and apply to jobs and see that real world sees our time as worth $8-$12 an hour at that time. The higher pay is lucky, anything paying better than that was unusual or found through connections.
In our late college years it seemed like everything just always seemed to go his way or everything was handed to him as he's never had to really apply for anything. It was all through family relations or other connections. Life is like that for some people. I didn't think it mattered because I'd be doing well myself someday since I doing the right things by going to school and getting good grades, but when time came to start applying for internships, I then realized some fatal flaws in myself. My friend had a very strong resume with all the connections and experience of operating business stuff from working with his father all those years. He got a fantastic internship in a different industry than his dad's business, but got it because of his father's association with them anyway. My resume, however, was weak - consisting of regular low, or no skill jobs and a few little awards and volunteer stuff that now seemed meaningless as I couldn't get anything more than what a new high school graduate could do. Even with help making myself look better on paper for a resume I had a low self-esteem because I knew most of it was lies just to make me look better, but mostly because of my most serious fault of not having direction in life. I still had no idea what I wanted to be doing for the rest of my life in it was killing me. I paid for and worked through 3 years at a university and still had barely anything to show for it. I still couldn't get any better jobs, felt like I wasn't getting anywhere in life, and felt alone trying to figure out a better future with no connections to help me.
I felt very lost and like I was never going to have a good future, despite working hard and being a great student throughout my childhood and college. I wondered how many others were like me that have no direction, don't know what they want to do or how to get there. When it came to choosing a career path, I hated when people trying to help would ask what I liked because the things I like don't pay what I want or I'm not good enough to be a professional. I like hiking, swimming, playing sports, games, and other things, but those interests don't necessarily have jobs people would pay you for, or it's low paying jobs barely associated with those activities, or you have to be a professional player.
When I was looking for an internship, people did want to help me, but my problem was that I still didn't know what I wanted. At the time I was leaning towards finance, so I just wanted anything related to finance jobs and see if I liked it to know where to go from there. People couldn't help direct me in the right way because my desires were too general. I at least needed to narrow my search to about three fields. This took a good amount of researching best careers in certain industries, best careers for my major, and thinking about what school subjects I like the most and do the best in.
Once I narrowed my search I felt more confident moving forward, but I wish I had a better resume to get the better jobs and build up. If I knew then what I know now I would've applied for more specific jobs and internships instead of taking whatever I could find that pays the most at the time.
So the question I want to ask all you readers/listeners, is how did you end up where you are? Was it planned? How did you figure out what you wanted to do for a career? I'm going to share a few first job experiences in future posts/episodes and hope people can learn from them as well as sharing some of your experiences.
I hope we can come together through Invested Alternative to be able to help those that have struggled or are struggling finding their direction and I hope all of you find it. I eventually got mine miraculously and I feel like that's how it works for many of us. By luck and chance things start working out. We just have to do the rest of the work on our own to build a better future.
The main focus of our discussion is about what struggles people face trying to get into or maintain a middle-class life and prepare for a better future. What would help? We discuss jobs, economy, politics, inequality, other life observations, and most importantly, helping people. Get to know us better and join the conversation.