I’ve been reading and occasionally commenting for quite some time but never got myself to write this post.
This post is inspired by the dread I feel when I use a FIRE calculator (or do any compound interest calculation, really ).
I’m a 27 yo swiss university student and this is some background information about me:
- I have a bachelor’s degree in an useless (career-wise) field with a minor in economics. It took me quite a long time to finish, since I was quite indecisive about a lot of aspects in my life.
- I’m currently studying a master’s degree in economics with about 1-1.5 years left. I’m pretty set on this path and enjoying my studies.
- My grades are just about average. I’m working on improving them but will likely never be high above the average student.
- I practically have no (relevant) work experience. I worked as a server for some years and did one short and unimpressive internship.
- I applied to quite a few undergraduate internships but never got anything but a standard rejection (likely because of average grades and lack of work experience).
- I tried to get somewhat relevant student jobs but never got any offer (except one, where they wanted me to assure them that I would be staying for at least 2 years…).
- I basically have no assets.
One career path I’m currently exploring is research work in DevEcon. I’m doing a voluntary research assistance for a month right now. I give this career path a low chance of suceeding but since I’m really interested in the field I wanted to test it nevertheless.
Otherwise I’m pretty much clueless what I want to do with my studies. I find it incredibly hard to gauge what industry jobs are actually like and all my social contacts are pretty unknowledgable about jobs outside academia too.
My experience from the short internships and work experiences however is that I find quite a wide range of work enjoyable and am also fairly good at it.
The questions I’m struggling with the most at the moment:
Where do I actually stand?
My bachelor’s degree took me far too long and trying to get internships/student jobs has proved frustrating. I feel like I have no sense of what I could realistically strive for.
Should I focus more on grades or on finishing my degree quickly?
I think I could bump my grade average from around 4.75 to around 5.1 by adding an additional semester of studying. This obviously has a large financial opportunity cost and is somewhat unappealing as I’m already studying for far too long. However, I got the impression that it’s really hard to get a good starting job/trainee position with a grade average like mine.
Should I search for a student job for the next year?
I have been living on savings for a while and could sustain this by working odd jobs for the next year. This would allow me to focus on my studies and potentially finish faster or with better grades.
Having a job on the side would be a welcome change for me and would allow me to start investing (although not a lot). This would be especially appealing if it was a student job that was somewhat relevant to economics (working for a financial firm or as a research assistant). Finding such a job has proved difficult during the last years. And I’m much less sure if working as a server or something similar is a good idea for me at the moment.
What steps can I take to ensure that I have more opportunities after my studies?
At the moment I’m doing the voluntary research assistance and trying to take as many quantitative classes as possible. I already built some coding experience but am thinking of learning a language (e.g. python) on the side. Other than that, I’m not sure what the right steps could be and would be very happy about any suggestions.
I’d be incredibly thankful for any feedback, answers or advice.