Career confused college grad wants money in NC
June 5, 2007 8:50 AM   Subscribe

I just graduated cum laude with a degree in Liberal Arts and a minor in Philosophy from CSU (thats Colorado State). Assume my primary motivation is simply to make as much money as possible as fast as possible, ethically (not damaging the environment, breaking any laws, selling shoddy products, no corruption, etc). What should I do?

Any money making ideas welcome: Career Ideas? Further education? Solid investment schemes? A plan combining all three is ideal!

Further Details: I just moved to Cary NC, but could move anywhere around Raleigh-Durham-Greensboro or even as far west as Charlotte. I know the Research Triangle Park is in the area but I don't know much about what businesses are in it that I would be qualified to work for.

I have no impressive job history to speak of; what I do have is mostly summer jobs doing sales, marketing and political canvasing. I feel reasonably confident in my sales abilities. I communicate well, I am reasonably tech savvy (can code rudimentary stuff in Python, for example, and am learning more), and I suppose I am creative in my own way. I am reasonably good with numbers (got top scores on AP Calculus in HS) but have not touched a math book for four years so would require re-education if I entered a numbers heavy field.

I always pegged myself as an "intuitionally smart" people person, not an analytical, bookish, detail oriented engineer type, though I enjoy esoteric and "geeky" subjects for fun.

Keep in mind that I am a recent college grad so, while I have no debt, I have no capital either.
posted by DetonatedManiac to Work & Money (15 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Wow. The only thing off the top of my head is that you need to get involved in sales for a technical company - those departments are usually involved in commissions and if you're good at bullshitting and making promises that you don't know are actually going to work, then you'll do fine. Acting skills are a plus. Considering the fact that you have no real work experience, a non technical degree, and an attitude for details that would make any investment, hedge fund, or business challenge totally wasted on you, and seem to think very highly of yourself, you'll probably be pretty successful at sales.

Luckily, I know someone who lives in Cary NC and I forwarded you his question. Here is his response.

"I'm not sure about ways to make fast money, but if you are looking at getting a job, you've got a difficult time ahead of you. While Raleigh is a good place to find a job, it takes a while to do so. Most people I know who moved into the area did not find a job in their field of choice for anywhere from 5-12 months. Most end up working a service job while they search for something 'better'.

Jobs in the research triangle park are a challenge to get. Most research triangle companies are startups or research firms who mainly look to hire people with graduate degrees or a long work history (at least, in the fields of science).

The two largest areas for career growth in the area are education and health care. Wake Country is growing at a large rate, as you know, and they are desperate for teachers. You can substitute teach without any teaching certificates. One of my neighbors became a substitute teacher (he was an education major in college) and worked a retail position for a few months. After six months, he’s now got a full-time teaching position. If you want to go back to school, you can always go for health care. The area needs nurses and you can make pretty decent money right out of it. In my field of work (I work retail, not my career of choice at first, but I like it now), I meet many new comers to the area who moved for the nursing jobs.

Anyway, good luck with your search. Sorry I don’t have any get rich quick schemes for you, but if you work hard, you'll find the research triangle area a rewarding place to stay. And if you need a quick retail job to get you on your feet, I may be able to help you with that. Good luck!"
posted by Stynxno at 9:30 AM on June 5, 2007

Making Money in Research Triangle, in Three Easy Steps:

1. Return to college, and get an undergraduate degree in computer, electrical or mechanical engineering.

2. Get an MBA

3. Profit!
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 9:52 AM on June 5, 2007

Best answer: Is there any reason why you're totally set on the Research Triangle area?

I know lots of people who've come up from that area to DC, because the money and job opportunities. With your history you could easily get a 'starter job' with a political consultancy or lobbying firm, or on the corporate side, something in sales or possibly even entry-level business consulting. If you can sling bullshit, this is the town for you.

DC seems like an area that's better suited to a Liberal Arts / Philosophy grad than the Research Triangle.

I used to room with some guys who were UNC grads, and they used to drive down for weekends pretty regularly. It's not that far away.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:54 AM on June 5, 2007

Response by poster: "Considering the fact that you have no real work experience, a non technical degree, and an attitude for details that would make any investment, hedge fund, or business challenge totally wasted on you..."

I was trying to give an accurate, no bullshit assessment of my skills, but perhaps I went overboard to say I am "not an analytical, bookish, detail oriented engineer type" when what I was trying to explain was that after doing mechanical engineering I realized I liked interacting with people so I switched to Lib Arts. I CAN be a number cruncher if needed, but I PREFER communicating with people as a primary job focus.

I know I am not going "get rich quick" but I just wanted to get a feel for what the hot career areas in NC were since I suddenly found myself here this week after living in CO for 6 years. The point is I want a career with a future, and if NC has any good investment opportunities (i.e. hot real estate markets) I want to make sure I am looking into those too.

Retail is acceptable if it is a company I respect and there is opportunity for advancement.
posted by DetonatedManiac at 9:59 AM on June 5, 2007

Best answer: I'm in my 20s and make a lot of money. Looking back, I think the course I set on after college is a pretty good one to wind up where I'm at today. Here's what I suggest:

1) Recognize that as of today, you know nothing about nothing. As Rummy would say, you don't even know what you don't know.

2) Try to get a job in a small business. There you'll have more responsibility and thus experience more things.

3) Pay close attention to what you like and don't like about the job. You won't do well (for very long at least) in anything you hate doing.

4) Pay attention to your company, your industry, etc to see what works and what doesn't. What will change in the future? In short, try to see the "big picture" because most people do not.

5) Recognize that high pay generally only comes from high risk. You have to put your own money up to start your own business, buy stock, etc.

6) To make a lot of money, you have to work a lot. Some people prefer to work 9-5 and go home to family, friends, TV, etc. Others find meaning in their work. If you can find meaning in your work, you're ahead of 75% of the crowd already. This goes back to enjoying what you do I guess, but it's really the most important factor.
posted by b_thinky at 9:59 AM on June 5, 2007 [3 favorites]

If you sleep with a Congressman, Larry Flynt will pay you $1 million for the evidence.
posted by commander_cool at 10:00 AM on June 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: "Is there any reason why you're totally set on the Research Triangle area?"

No, I have thought about DC, it's just there was a seismic family shift towards NC so after I graduated this is where I landed last week.

Thanks for the advice, I will look at DC as well... any further thoughts or specifics in DC I can checkout online?
posted by DetonatedManiac at 10:04 AM on June 5, 2007

Best answer: You'd probably do well in sales for a high-tech company. Generally you start out in inside sales. Those positions are usually base + commission. I'd focus on software publishers as the money is usually better there than in system integrators. It's not a terribly stable business though because if you have a hot product eventually a big company will buy you out and you have to look for a new job. Another caveat is that they probably want employees who already have experience even if it's retail.

While you're looking you might want to do some networking. A great way to meet people that know people is to work as a temp. Sign up at a temp agency and tell them you are looking for work in an office and preferably jobs in which you interact with many people.

At the assignment be visible by the quality and quantity of your work. People will ask what kind of job you're looking for and if you appear like they'd feel comfortable recommending you for something, they will. All of those people have spouses, neighbors, friends, etc. that work in a company where you want to apply. It's much easier getting an interview when you've been assisted by a colleague.
posted by Soda-Da at 10:10 AM on June 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

Go to law school.
posted by TBoneMcCool at 10:23 AM on June 5, 2007

Best answer: My BA is in philosophy and I spend 8 or so years climbing the ladder in finance and marketing at a Fortune 500 company -- though I started out in a customer service/inside sales position. Pay wasn't great at first because of my non-trade-specific education, but once I proved myself, my salary rose fairly quickly to what it should have been. In retrospect, it makes sense -- there were a lot of gaps in my knowledge, and the first few years were spend filling them in, picking them up on the job. By the time I left the company, I was in an excellent position to pursue a life-long career (though I've chosen otherwise, at least for now).

Which leads me to the point I'd intended to make. What made me a valuable contributor to the company were my abilities to think critically, listen well, and learn quickly. This may not answer your question in terms of how to make money FAST, but in the long run, I think that bringing a sharp mind and sense of integrity to whatever you do can take you a very long way. Getting your foot in the door is another matter -- starting in sales or something sales-related isn't a bad idea.
posted by treepour at 10:48 AM on June 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

Law school, focus in contract law. You'll be in a much better position in 3 years than a corporate route. If you're lucky you'll be working in the basement of a big firm cranking out contracts to a six figure salary.
posted by geoff. at 1:04 PM on June 5, 2007

I started like you, ended up going to med school. Other traditional liberal professions mentioned above also fit the bill. Consider consulting, i-banking, or the securities industry if you can get involved. Unfortunately a 'Liberal Arts' degree doesn't give you much of a head start...
posted by objdoc at 3:11 PM on June 5, 2007

Whatever you do you will have to work your butt off. I think hard work is the most demonstrative thing a young person can do to earn money. You work hard, you have solid proof to give to an employer for a raise. It's called proving your worth.
I know that most people who get into law do it because they love it. But if I worked my regular 40 hour/week job and took a 20 hour/week job on the side in retail, I'd earn the same as my friend (who clerked for the chief justice of a state's supreme court out of law school for some time) and still work less than he does. And I'm in a major metro area. So I don't think law is a good route unless you are prepared to work a lot and not have a life. Same goes for med school.
People who want to just earn, earn, earn need to get into sales. Have you considered real estate? Either consumer or commercial? Many times all you need to do is take a 8 week class, pass the state test and you can be an agent. Or sell (or better yet, service) medical equipment.
Good luck!
posted by FergieBelle at 3:16 PM on June 5, 2007

Nthing take out a loan and go to lawschool ... Best possible ROI from your current position.
posted by jannw at 7:22 AM on June 6, 2007

Law school is a terrible investment unless you can get into a top-six law school. And even then you still have to be a lawyer. And for money, it's less preferable than going to an investment bank.
posted by commander_cool at 6:44 AM on June 10, 2007

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