Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Best Investment Ever

* Little warning: This is a pretty long post, but it’s some really solid stuff. Sorry for the tardiness again. I am getting better though. Oh, and all external links (ones not to my site) open in a new window.

Being a site about education, I think you can guess where this is going. The best investment you can make is not in stocks or bonds; it is in your education. This isn’t just random home-crafted cheesiness though; this analogy holds a lot of credence.

The return you get on your investment (ROI), 0% to 10,000% or more depending on how you live your life. You are in control of how much money you make. You dictate how this “stock” of You Co. fluctuates. "How can I do this?" you may be asking. Well…

Invest capital (money) on yourself

Not only will investing in your education make you smarter and better it will also increase your assets or net worth.

I mentioned earlier that I was studying for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) during my hiatus. A very high score can be very hard to get. So if someone has a high score, they stand a better chance of being accepted into medical schools. A high score, in this case, is quite valuable. It pays to invest in resources that might give you a higher score.

Knowing this, I would estimate I spent roughly $1700 on resources to help me learn for the MCAT. I probably could have spent much less. In fact, I would say I spent the most of all my friends taking it. However, even if $500 translated into one extra point, I would say it’s worth it. I have to mention that my family and I aren’t rich or anything like that, this is just a matter of priorities and investing for the long-term. Ask some people around October 19 how much they would pay for 4 extra points on the MCAT; it may surprise you.

However, I don’t just mean that you should only invest in formal education. Anything from a documentary about the struggle over oil to a book about eating habits can be beneficial. All sorts of tools can improve your stock’s value.

Invest your time in fields you want to improve in

Or: Don’t invest your time in fields you do not care about. Most companies heed this warning: Stick to your product/customer base. Do not spread yourself too thin.

I’ve never seen Pepsi selling lingerie, and Victoria’s Secret does not sell drinks. They focus their effort on the niche markets they are already a part of. I’m not saying you should just stick to one small field and never budge. Moving around a bit is ok. Expand your horizons. Diversify your portfolio. By the way, do you know who owns Tropicana?

What I am saying is that you should not spend your time doing things that aren’t bringing you towards something greater. Your time is valuable; you should treat it as such.

Let me elaborate. Many times I go shopping and the workers are pretty… how shall I put this delicately… pissy. What they seem to forget is: A job worth doing is worth doing well. Conversely, a job that you wouldn’t bother to do well is not worth doing at all.

For the sake of discussion, I’m going to assume (since you have access to a computer and the internet) that you are not seriously impoverished. If you are, some of these points may not stand, but it’s still solid stuff.

If you have the choice of doing something that may give you more money or safety versus one that advance you in any other way – academically, physically, emotionally, mentally, even spiritually – it is better in the long run to go for the one that improves your value. This is investing for the long haul.

Many of my friends, are caught in a dilemma for the upcoming year or the following summer. They must choose between a non-prosperous research position (maybe volunteering), or a more lucrative non-academic job. Well, actually this is a false dilemma, because you could just choose neither, but I digress.

In choosing between the two jobs, you have to consider which is the better long-term investment. If the research position causes you to be a little poorer, while allowing more doors to be opened up later on because you now have a "Research Experience" section on your resume, then it seems like research is the better investment.

Yet this is not to say that any non-whatever-you-study jobs are not good investments. If that other job improved your speaking abilities, bolstered your confidence and so on, then you should consider this option as well. What I’m saying here is that you have to think about the long-term here.

If you only stick with seemingly good short-term gains, you might end up like Enron. If you focus on investing for the long-term you can end up like Hershey or Berkshire Hathaway.

Remember: You are worth investing a lot of time and money in. Invest in that company, do whatever you can to make its net worth grow in the long-term, and watch that baby grow! Once you are paying out crazy dividends and your cash flow is a flood, remember ol’ Josh at The Gravy Way: I accept all donations. ;)

If you enjoyed these learning tips and motivational strategies, maybe you'll enjoy the other posts. Please bookmark this page (Ctrl-D) or check out the archive/categories to the right. Better yet, tell a friend! (Click the envelope below this.)

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At 9:39 AM, Blogger *ellie* said...

josh, you make me smile.

let me just say one thing about the dilemma you brought up at the end of your post. last summer, when i was miserable in the job i was doing and had decided that research was a field i wanted to get into, i started contacting professors at our school in early september who were in any way related to my field and begged them to let me be their bitch so i could get some experience (sorry for the profanity, note that the phrasing didn't actually occur in any of the emails i wrote).

i heard back from every professor that i wrote to, saying they would be happy to take on a volunteer (i guess they all really want some bitches, probably because a lot of their summer students had left). i met with all of them, and because of time constraints, settled down with one lab. for all of first semester, i did work that was pretty much the suck. coding and inputing data is a part of research that really makes you reconsider the whole deal.

however, second semester then came around, my supervisor had started to like me and realized i was around for the long haul, and offered that i come to a conference with her in the summer and present a poster that her and i would write. furthermore, she offered me a job for the summer, at a very reasonable rate of pay (cha-ching! $$$), since i had done my time doing the bitch-work that is volunteering. even better, the paid job was doing data collection, which is a way more enjoyable part of the research process.

now, i have a very boastful 'research experience' section on my cv and i am still gaining more experience. through my supervisor's connections, i was able to get another job working for a prof at mcgill, and this year my supervisor and i are going to publish a paper with the results of the data we collected this summer. she has also given me excellent advice on where, for what, and how to apply to grad school.

so, this is what i'm trying to say:
you only get as much back from something as the time you put into it. i chose to get the bitchwork side of my initiation into the research field over with when i wasn't scrambling for money, and it gave me great rewards when i was. i think employers are more likely to take a shine to you when they see that you really are eager to work for them (not necessarily when everyone is eager to work for them), and if you have to prove it to them, then so be it.

At 12:17 AM, Blogger Joshua Hwang said...

Wow, that's pretty sweet. I like how you mentioned paying your dues and working hard to reap the rewards. It's a pretty simple idea that many people can forget.

And I forgot to mention the side benefits, so I'm glad you mentioned them in your post. Advice for the job or future education can be extremely valuable - literally worth hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Very nice.


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