It’s 2:45 a.m. and I’m already sweating bullets. Bright red numbers are flashing all over my screen. I’m scanning through charts of currencies, gold and oil, all the while patiently waiting for London market trading to begin. Japanese currency intervention has become the norm, while Europe’s financial situation is quickly imploding. Investors are rushing to gold in fears of more downgrades from the rating agencies, and oil, well, is always moving higher. It’s now 3:00 a.m. Markets are a go. My focus is uncanny as I observe, recognize patterns, and battle other traders for the best prices. Two hours later and I’m back in bed trying to catch some sleep before my 8 a.m. ISyE class.
Sounds like the life of a typical Tech student, minus the trader references, of course. Always moving, working and learning. Heck, that is why employers love us so much. During any of those late night cramming sessions, though, have you ever taken a moment to really consider whether the time (and money) you are investing now will actually benefit you in the long run?
Being one of the leaders for the largest student-run endowment in the nation, I get to talk to a myriad of students that want to get into the world of finance. Whether it is investment banking, wealth management or trading, I love talking about it all. Each semester I have been a part of this group, though, I never fail to hear the most mind-blowing response to a simple question. I will ask an older member, “So what are your plans for after Tech?” After a moment of silence they respond, “Not sure; maybe something in finance.”
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that picking a career field is an expansive task, but I thought college is where you come to realize your passions in life and go after them. With student loan debt quickly approaching one trillion dollars and an economy that can barely stand on its own, you would think you might want to spend your money (and time) a little bit more wisely. Just because I am an ISyE student does not mean I am stuck on the conveyer belt to become the next employee at UPS. My goal in life is to be a hedge fund manager, trading and investing in markets all over the world. How am I supposed to escape that fallacy that I must find something within my major to enjoy, though? Not by applying to random leadership groups or by finding jobs I have no interest in, but by applying myself to organizations where I know I will enjoy myself, while at the same time grow.
There are a plethora of talented individuals that come through our committee every semester, yet so few of them have that determination to do whatever it takes to succeed. Nearly every major on campus is represented within the group, including a couple of Masters and Ph.D. students. 95 percent of those people love the idea of becoming professional investors and running their own fund one day, but they do not want to put forward the effort to get there. So what if you are taking six classes and a part of two other organizations? If you are really passionate about something, you will make time for it. This philosophy applies to any and every student on campus, even teachers if they are reading. You are never too young or old to muster the motivation to change yourself for the better and go after what you desire.
This overbearing rant has come from watching countless individuals float through life, forgoing all their distant dreams for the comfort of a mediocre life. America is in a time of need for innovation, creative thinkers, and leaders who believe not only in themselves, but also their people. I still believe we are the greatest nation in the world, but we have lost the passion and desire to keep moving forward. Tech provides you with the utmost solid platform for jumping into the pool of success; you just have to decide whether you want to take the first step. Do more than your buddies at that school in Athens and realize what you want. Make a plan toward that goal and execute to the best of your ability. There are no excuses in life.