Quad-Fi is proud to assist students in reaching their career goals. This week we spoke to a Political Science graduate who became a seasoned investment professional, regarding his career path and personal finance habits.
In the interview below, you will learn about his experience following a non-traditional career path, personal finance advice for students, and general tips for choosing a career.
Question #1: How did you choose your education and career path?
I was really interested in investigative journalism, so I chose to pursue a degree at Carleton University because of its excellent journalism program. By the time I started first year, however, I had already decided that it wasn’t really a fit. I switched my major to Political Science during my first year; my initial interest was in Canadian politics as I was very involved in the electoral process. Over the years, my interests shifted to global politics and the interplay of class, gender and anti-colonialism in what were then called “developing” countries. Diving into these research areas really kept me motivated to stay in my program.
Like a lot of other graduates, I left university with different career aspirations than when I started my undergraduate degree. Sometimes opportunities come up unexpectedly. Mid-way through my graduate degree, I had an amazing opportunity to work at the heart of the Ontario Government – this turned my two-year degree into a four-year journey but also changed my career path forever.
Question #2: Did you encounter any financial obstacles while supporting yourself through school? If so, how did you resolve them?
I resolved them by leaving school. After my Masters degree I started a Ph.D. and shortly afterwards, we bought our first home. The financial strain – and my changing priorities — encouraged me to take a job opportunity to work for a union which led me to public pension plans and, in turn, a new, unexpected career path as an investment professional.
Question #3: Which personal finance strategies would you recommend for students looking to get started?
My personal finance habits have taken a lifetime to develop and I’ve learned that the earlier you start to think about financial health, the better. My advice is to save money and start investing as early as you can. Even if you have debts, investing a little amount every month in a RESP, RRSP, or TFSA is a great way to get in the habit of planning for the future. You will make mistakes — but think of them as learning opportunities.
You should also remember to distinguish between what you want, at a moment in time, and what you really need, over the long-term. The world is full of companies who leverage your personal data to sell you something you don’t need—so be careful about consumerism and keep in mind that financial security provides true peace of mind, long after you’ve forgotten about past purchases.
Debt consolidation is also important – take all your highest interest debt and see if you can replace them with one loan, at a lower rate. The savings can be very important. For those who need to restructure debt, especially if they are young or a newcomer, Quad-Fi’s refinancing platform is worth exploring.
Question #4: Do you have any career advice for students who are unsure of which career they want to pursue?
After having considered and tried a few careers myself, my takeaway is that you should always have a clear idea of what you want to achieve, but that you also need to be ready to change those ideas to adapt to opportunities and experiences that come your way.
For example, I could have never envisioned myself as an investment professional at the beginning of my undergraduate degree. Accept that you will always have shifting interests and priorities, and that it is okay to pursue new, exciting opportunities that aren’t what you originally had in mind.