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Where Do I Start? Career Advice for Lost Youth

Career advice for the lost. If you’re in university, Don’t drop out, and get a useful degree(leverage).

Don’t waste time on doing things you can’t leverage.

So you’re young and 18, and even graduated high school. Sorry, but no Congratulations here, pretty much everyone else has.

There’s a lot of crappy career advice out there.

Taking your first steps into the adult world is hard, and career advice from feel good inspirational videos on YouTube, isn’t going to cut it.

You need guidance and a shove. I will lay out 3 simple paths you can take and commit to today.

The years 18 – 22  are the ones where you will build foundational skills to provide for a future family, business, or other venture. Not just financial and professional, but personal skills as well.

This career advice only works at a young age. The earlier you start on one of these paths, the easier life in your 20’s and 30’s will be.

The later you start, the older you’ll feel, and the more behind you will be.

Life is short, and each passing year will feel shorter than the last.

Path 1 : College

The Goal:

After graduating college in a degree in either Engineering OR Finance / Business, the career path is simple and straight forward.

When you graduate and earn a middle class income you can invest your spare time in side hustles, and businesses / enterprises . Do this in your twenties and you’ll be rich by the time you are 30. 

Here’s the end goal for any career advice:

The ultimate career allows you to start a family, travel the world, or say “FUCK YOU” to your boss.

It’s all about leverage and flexibility.

Unless you are going to be a doctor, don’t even think about a science, philosophy, or other BULLSHIT liberal arts degree.

The two major career paths you will find among your peers are either engineering/technology, marketing, sales, or entry level business “analyst” (aka M.S Excel Spreadsheet Pusher).

If you’re reading this article, most likely I will assume you didn’t get into university straight outta high school.

You’re probably dis-motivated about university since all your friends are partying, and you aren’t.

And it’s totally OK.

The most fun you can have is overcoming the challenge of being independent.

Besides, if you can make friends at a community college, your social skills will be 100x better and is more like socializing in the real world.

You social life won’t Peak like the frat dude next door after graduating. And that’s the greatest fear for every college senior out there.

This is why community colleges exist. If you choose Path 1, community college and go through with it, you will be handsomely rewarded in your twenties.

Here’s why

     1. Speed

Community college isn’t sexy, and can be downright boring, but the college credits you earn, are just as valuable as in any other university.

Community college classes are easier. This means that you can stack multiple classes per quarter or semester. You will earn more academic credit faster than peers at universities.

If you play your cards right, you can graduate university in a total of 3 years for a non technical degree. (For a technical degree like engineering, it takes a lot longer).

     2. Cost and Time

Community college is cheaper. You may or may not care, but it is. Your parents save money, but what does it matter to you, right?

Since you will be staying in the same city for the first two years of college, a part time job will allow you to accumulate wealth and work experience faster than other students.

You’d be an idiot to not get a job while going to community college.

It’s hard for students in universities to find jobs because you’ll move back and forth between semesters. Additionally University on campus jobs are reserved for lowest income work-study financial aid students.

     3. Prestige, Discipline, and Change of Environment

Community college gives you a higher ceiling to which universities you can transfer to. There is just too much competition for students straight out of high school.

You have a high potential to get into a mid to top tier university by being a transfer student.

As a community college student, your study habits and motivation will be far superior. Your inner motivations will be to graduate and perform .

Students who go to college straight out of high school become too comfortable. Their complacency and sense of comfort makes them tend to slack off and drop out.

Here is the statistic that nobody looks at, but is the only one that matters:

57% of students enrolled in college are not done after six years. Of that 57%, 33% of them drop out entirely.

– Credit Donkey

The disciplinary benefits earned, and the change of environment when you transfer will all play into your hand at a successful graduation. Being at the same school for 4 years SUCKS and is BORING no matter what university you get into.

So why not split up your four years between community college and university?

Being independent is fun. By the time you transfer to university, (IF you WORK) you’ll have enough saved up for a used car, and left over money for beer, pizza, and textbooks.

Path 2: Military

The Goal:

Starting at 18, After four years in the military, you will pass into reserve service, when you are 22.

The four years you spend in the military will teach you discipline and maturity. If you’ve been following along, it’s one of the only things that really matter.

This Path only works if you take community college classes part time. The trick is to shave off as many years of potential college education as possible, while earning a basic middle class income (accounting for cost of living). You also obtain college finance benefits.

You will be delayed in your graduation (probably graduate in your mid twenties), but your finances will be a lot stronger. Harness the discipline earned in the military to hustle in college.

Many people fail at college after the military and end up at STARBUCKS… You wouldn’t hustle in the military to end up where you started right??

Furthermore, the friends and networks you build will increase the possibility of cultivating a future enterprise or business in your twenties.

All the people that shipped out with you, will be in the same boat as you by the time you are 22.

Lastly, if you enjoy the military, you already have your career laid out.

Here are the 3 reasons why joining the Military can be a good idea:

     1. Clearance Jobs

I don’t know why career advice counselors or recruiters never mention this. It’s probably because they have no industry experience in the first place.

One of the top advantages to joining the military is to get a clearance and exercise its use.

By obtaining a Secret or Top Secret clearance, your future civilian self will thank you.

The clearance which you obtain can be used as leverage when obtaining future employment in the Aerospace / Defense / Tech / Federal Employment jobs.

Ideally you will want to graduate in a technical field to take advantage of this, but jobs also exist for non graduates (ex. lab technicians don’t need degrees but can earn a lot).

A college degree, when combined with a clearance can land you a career in any Federal Agency.

Lastly, leverage your history of clearance possession to negotiate a higher salary.

     2. Jobs with Transferable Skill and Leadership experience

Choosing a job in the military with transferable skills will make your work experience more relevant.

For example you can work in Cyber Security or in the Medical Field . Even though the military IS A COMMITMENT, it’s better than working at a McDonalds or Starbucks.

Do I need to say more?

You can also market your work experience in the military to employers as demonstrations of leadership and discipline.

Leverage your military leadership experience  to earn management positions faster than others.

     3. Benefits & Independence

Do I even need to list them?

The four years you spend in active service with zero cost of living translates into four years of savings and possible investments. — AWAY FROM MOM AND DAD.

Through the military, you can get a decent portion of your college tuition paid off. When you transfer into reserve services, you will also receive a housing allowance which scales up or down based on the cost of living on the city you choose.

The reserves can serve as side-income as well, allowing you to earn more than your peers.

Path 3 : Trade School

If you don’t want to join the military, and don’t want to go to college, the only other career path is to go to a trade school.

The internet is filled with horrible career advice telling teenagers to go to trade school because of their lack of academic discipline.

Here’s what I mean:

Since you are 18 (or as young), you think you might be passionate about a certain “Trade” because college is hard, and the military is “evil”.

The problem is, with trade school, you get cornered into that specific trade. A college degree, or military experience (with clearance) is a much more flexible path for success in your early twenties.

If you decide one day that welding is boring, the past 4 years + work experience of your life is worthless in the future.

Here’s something which career advice counselors never mention:

Being committed to a single career SUCKS… You need flexibility to switch professions if you get bored, or your passions change:

  • Welding school and work experience can’t be used to go into HVAC, and vice versa. The lab radiology technician can’t become a carpenter, and the schooling for it will be a waste if you decide to become a nurse.

A Business Major can decide to be a financial analyst, switch to become a marketing specialist, or go to Graduate school.

An Electrical Engineer can easily become a Web Developer. Engineering careers are so reputable, they can transfer into any industry.

However if you really think that you will enjoy working at a Trade, then please consider your choice carefully. It is a lucrative field, but offers less flexibility.

Flexibility and Leverage

Going to community college puts you ahead of other university students with less investment, and greater chances of success. The Military is beneficial because after 4 years, you get benefits and generalized + transferable work experience.

Now, I’m not saying trade school is a bad idea. But consider the career advice of Paths 1, and 2 with more scrutiny.

As a tradesman, if you stick to it, you can make BANK $$$ in your twenties, but if you get BORED, you’re screwed.

You’ll eventually find yourself going  to college again, which means you should do it NOW instead of at 30.

Trade school gives you no flexibility. Without flexibility you won’t be allowed to pursue other interests.


The ages of 18-22 is the time where you will lay the foundations to your future career path and income generation.

Most people will switch careers in life, start businesses, or families.

The best career advice to take away from this is that, you need a flexible foundation which you can leverage, and is suitable for multiple career paths.

Keep this career advice principle in mind as you make a decision:

You don’t know exactly what you may want to do yet, but building a foundation which lets you pivot to different industries and leverage a higher income is the first step to success.

Without these two principles (flexibility, leverage), you will be stuck in a single profession, and in a single income bracket — and it’s difficult to change.

Recommended Reading:

How to Negotiate A Killer Job Offer: The Job “Secret Agent” Series (Volume 1)

Comment below on the path you chose, and why? What pitfalls have you experienced and how have you conquered them?

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  1. gomnim gomnim November 2, 2018

    Good read and very insightful! I hope to hear more from you in the future.

    • James Sanders James Sanders Post author | November 4, 2018

      Thanks! What path did you choose and how did you start in your career?

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