What drives success as you start a career?

I am 21 years old. I have spent the last 16 years of my life in school. The first 12 I was working towards graduating so I could attend college. College is supposed to set you apart in the hiring world. It is supposed to help you make a career for yourself, it is supposed to support you for the rest of your life. But does it really do all these things that it is ‘supposed’ to do?


The average college graduate, on average, makes $50,556 their first year out of college. The average high school graduate makes around $30,000. (http://work.chron.com/average-salary-college-degree-1861.html)  Keep in mind those averages vary greatly for both high school and college graduates. Some college graduates make $30,000 out of college and others make upwards of $60,000, although degrees are costing around the same price, their values are very different.

People are saying that college degrees are becoming expected and not as impressive as they used to. They are almost thought of as the new ‘high school diploma’. According to, millennials are the generation that has the most unemployment making up 40%.

Millennials are expected to make up most of both employed and unemployed in the next coming years. As well as millennials are not expecting as competitive of salaries when they do enter the workforce. As a result, they are delaying their live choices of settling down, getting married, having kids, etc. My generation is different than any generation before us and are making unexpected choices.

The job market is also changing with the new generation. More experienced applicants are taking entry level jobs meaning those who come right out of college are having a more difficult time finding work. This is something that really worries me since both fields of marketing and finance are very competitive. This is leading me to think about more ‘out of the box’ career choices.

I am getting ready to come out of college in the next year, and I have a big decision to make–to enter the corporate world or not to. I could graduate and look for a finance or marketing (very different) job and earn a decent living, or I could try to work for myself. Marketing is something that I think I could enjoy more and finance is something that I think I could be successful at and there are many opportunities. The average starting finance salary for a Finance major out of college is $57,300 and marketing is  $53,400–not too significant of a difference, so income wouldn’t be a huge factor of my decision. Although working in my own business, I could use both marketing and finance.

The corporate world really differs from the personal business world. In the corporate world, you typically have a fixed income and benefits but they come at a cost–some form of loyalty to the firm. In the personal business world, you are able to pick your own hours, decide how much you want to work, and make your own decisions. The cost to that is sometimes you can have a slower year where you might not be as successful and you are responsible for yourself. If I choose to go straight into the personal business world, I may never have a shot at going back to corporate and my degree can become less useful. There is really good pros to both options, and challenging cons, which makes it a hard decision that I will have to face.

Other careers that I am interested in do not require a college degree. I am interested in Real Estate, which just requires a license that you get after taking classes and spending a couple thousand dollars. I am also interested in selling new homes built by big time builders

This is has me wondering…will the 4 years I spent and about $100,000 really benefit the career path that I go into?

In the Girl Revolution, it is discussed that the need for a college degree is a “myth”. It is pointed out that along with a hard earned degree comes mountains of debt. Although Tracee points out that degrees are still needed in fields like medicine and education, but some fields maybe it is not completely necessary.

Something that really struck me was the fact that some people doing things like selling roofs were making more money than college graduates. “I feel a little betrayed that those in blue collar trades made so much more money than me. These were the guys smoking weed and taking shop in my high school,” she writes.  

I believe that you can be successful without a college degree, I have seen it first hand. My Dad never went to college, and yet he is able to fully support my family and send both my sister and I to a four-year university.

My Dad for example. When he graduated high school at 18, he was told he could either pay rent to his Mom and her nasty Boyfriend, or he could move out. He choose to move out. He moved out with nothing. He found a place to live and kept working hard. He watched people get hand outs like their parents paying for college or their rent or their car. That only motivated him more to make something for himself. And today, I have his hard work as my example.

In the Girl Revolution, Tracee points out that because of college, many people are “unemployed and burdened with debt in their 20s.” I believe that the biggest driver of career success is motivation. That is something that college cannot teach you. You need to learn how to motivate yourself. I think that is also to blame with unsucessful college graduates.

Graduates have unrealistic standards about how much money they are going to make or how hard they are going to have to work for it, so they aren’t willing to take jobs that they believe they are ‘overqualified for’.

I am not sure of a dollar amount of money that I think I am going to make as I enter adult life. Like I said, I think motivation drives success. I don’t think that I will succeed until I put time, energy, and sacrifices into my career. If I go into the corporate world, I know that I could make less than if I try to get into Real Estate or selling new homes. If I had to pick a dollar amount to make when I graduate, I would hope I made above $60,000.

Passion is something that is very important to me, but I am also a realist. It is important for me to be successful and able to support myself. I would rather have a successful career that I don’t necessarily love, and be able to support myself. So when it comes time to follow my passion in Real Estate, I will be able to be more comfortable and able to take the risk to make myself happy.

Looking into my future 10 years, I see myself eventually working in Real Estate. I am not sure how I will get there–if I will go to the corporate world or not first–but I know that is my passion and where I would like to end up. I will always want to follow my passion, and I know I will eventually.  I see myself being a residential Real Estate agent being able to sell houses or list houses while kids are in school so I would be able to be a parent and a mom. I realize that’s a lofty dream that I have, but hopefully I will be able to make some part of it come true.

What do you think drives success? How do you think a college degree affects careers? Do you think a college degree is useless if you do not use it in your career? Do you think a college degree is more necessary today or 20 years ago? Do you think that a bachelor’s degree has become the new ‘high school diploma’?