Is being a student or having a full-time job more difficult?

Depends on the job. Speaking as a Software Engineer, being a student was tougher for me. I had about 4–5 programming assignments due every week. I had literally no free time. I was sleeping in the computer labs and surviving on instant ramen and popeyes chicken and Red Bull for 4 years. Each Final you had to tediously study hard for because it was worth like 60% of the final grade, and it was usually at 7am-8am in the morning, and the whole class average is like a C+ at best. Most of the professors at my lectures were inevitably East Asians or Indian or East European which meant that they had an accent that was impossible to understand.

Then I had to study for all these interviews and the first jobs out of university are the hardest. You can only get the junior positions or internships, no one wants to hire a guy who has almost no work experience. You have to pass the grueling algorithm challenges against 1000 other students also looking for a job , and you get paid peanuts.

When I am a full time worker, other than the occasional overtime day, I come in at 9 and I leave around 5 or 6. I have free time after that to do what I want. I have enough experience to change companies easily. I can ask for higher salaries for the same reason. The actual coding experience at companies isn’t nearly as difficult as the coding challenges you undertook getting there. Yeah you have to deal with your boss and coworkers, but overall I would much rather be a full time worker. Did I mention that you make money? As a student I was surviving off of pennies made from various part time jobs in university.


10 Ways to Make Money

You miss 100% of the opportunities you don’t take. You’re rejected by 100% of the girls you don’t ask out. You are rejected by 100% of the companies you don’t apply for. If you are afraid of failure, then you’ve already failed. Those who dare to fail greatly, often achieve the greatest success. Life is too short not to take risks. The greatest risk is to not take any risk at all. So take that opportunity. The only thing standing in your way is fear. And the only thing we should fear, is fear itself.

Over 2 years ago, I wrote a post describing how if you live modestly, graduate debt free, have dual incomes with a spouse, and invest in stocks and real estate, you could be a millionaire by age 36. That is completely doable. To me, money is something that takes a while to save up, but once you work enough for money, you can get money to work for you.

I was born into a relatively poor family. My dad was a farmer and my mom was a city girl. We luckily had the opportunity to move to Canada when I was young. But even then, my dad had to work very hard to make ends meet. It wasn’t easy for us. My parents had to work hard to get where they are. And when I see today’s international students, sent to America from China/Korea/Japan, loaded with cash and whose parents invest in real estate and buy expensive cars for them, I don’t think they realize how money is made. When you are born into wealth, you don’t know how to make money. When you start from the bottom and work your way up, then you know how to earn money.

1) Study a major and find a job that is in high demand. According to this article, the best jobs right now are Nursing and Software Development. Therefore, you should study Computer Science or Medical Science, because those fields are in high demand and have high salaries. This is the first step. Find a good occupation. Making enough initial capital requires working for several years to save up money.

2) Invest your money. Invest your money in a basket of risky and non risky assets. Ideally, invest 75% into stocks (small cap and mid cap) and 25% into government bonds. Bonds are guaranteed returns, so they are always safe. Stocks will provide high return but require more risk. Each paycheck, after the necessary budgets are accounted for, should go into investing. This is how your money will make more money. If you know something about investing, take some workshops for foreign exchange trading in London (or wherever you are) to broaden your knowledge and portfolio. As you get older, shift more into bonds / T-bills, so it becomes safer. This also includes other areas such as minerals, energy, foreign exchange, BitCoin, mutual funds, ETFs, derivatives, money market vehicles, etc.

3) Buy real estate. Now is a great time to buy real estate. Houses are very cheap right now, because of all the foreclosures and the recession. Investing in real estate means you can repair the house and furnish it, then rent it out, and hire someone to manage it for you. You can buy many properties this way, and ones in favorable locations such as Florida, Hawaii or SoCal will have high demand. Trouble is, real estate requires a lot of initial capital to work with (several hundred thousand), but property has historically been the best way to accrue wealth.

4) Start your own company or freelance. Entrepreneurship is risky, but rewarding, especially for software engineers and web developers. It’s very easy to start a web business, develop a web or mobile application, develop a facebook, xbox, steam or iPhone game or kickstarter project, and start making money off it. Find a niche for your product that caters to people. Market it. Develop it. Expand it. There is great consumer demand right now for mobile applications, mobile games, and for emerging markets like India and China. These can all be exploited (for example taking an idea abroad). The opportunity is out there, but it requires a lot of time, effort, money and risk to do this.

5) Exploit supply and demand. This is what most dealers and scalpers do, they find the hottest products out there, and find out who wants them the most, and make profit based on people’s emotions. For example, Apple products are almost always hot around the day of release. When the new iPhone5S and PS4 got released, the demand was much higher than supply and people who took advantage of this just turned around and sold them to other people who wanted them more, at a higher price. Or take advantage of products not being available in other countries until much later, like China, and sell them on the black market.

6) Write a book. These days its so easy to publish your own book on the marketplace, because of Kindle and the other eBook platforms. I could conceivably just wrap up all my blog posts in a book, publish it, and make some spare money from that. This is the approach a lot of famous people go once they retire (politicians, diplomats, athletes, musicians, etc).

7) Collect rare collectible items and sell them. Some people have gotten rich from suing companies in court from collecting rare collectible items, keeping them for a period of some decades, and selling them. This is obviously not a fast way to make money, and it depends how rare and valuable the item is, but it’s relatively easy to do. Vintage/rare cars, guitars, art, stamps, coins, baseball cards, even computers, have risen in value tremendously if you purchased them 30+ years ago.

8) Be a contractor, tutor or consultant. If you have expertise in a business or field that most people don’t have knowledge about, then this is another way of making money. Start charging for your knowledge, offering advice, and it could become a successful endeavor. This is the approach some people when they are middle-aged and have a specialized amount of skill/knowledge in some areas.

9) Gambling. This is obviously not a very safe approach, and very risky, but it can make you money, so I’m putting it here. Go to Vegas, or somewhere where gambling or betting is legal, do some statistics (for sports betting), or strategy (for blackjack), and hit the tables. You might win, and you might lose, but its an option.

10) Use your talent to become famous. This is the most risky method. But there are those lucky few who have the God given talent and/or good fortune to become discovered. Musicians, Composers, Comedians, Actors, Writers, Directors, Athletes, Artists, Pro gamers all fall into this category of making money. Lately it has become easier because of Youtube to become discovered, but still very rare. However, if you have a unique talent such as singing or writing songs, acting, or playing football, this method will easily lead into the millions of dollars. Usually only charismatic people can make money this way, and it requires a lot of skill and luck.

And that’s 10 ways to make money! A person could conceivably, have a lot of those practices at the same time. You could be a superstar who is working a day job on the side, investing in real estate and stocks, AND having your own company! Think Dr.Dre, Jay-Z or Magic Johnson. Read Think and Grow Rich for more details on growing wealth. The most important thing, I think, is that people think money is the solution to all of life’s problems. Money cannot mend a broken friendship. Money cannot bring back a deceased family member. Money cannot get you the girl of your dreams (unless that girl is materialistic). Money cannot make you more charismatic. Money cannot make you taller, younger or more handsome. Money cannot make you undo your past mistakes. Money cannot cure cancer or other such diseases. Money is merely a means of surviving, and it’s not as difficult to earn it as people think. And most of all, Money cannot buy love or happiness.


Computer Science education

The only CS course I’m taking this semester is a Capstone Design project. This semester’s theme is CS education. There’s about 6 students in total including me in the course, and each week we write a summary about a research paper that a group of CS professors have done, and discuss them. Our assignments are all CS-education related; having to write an assignment or comparing algorithm visualization tools. We also have to do a project proposal, carry out the research, and present it.

I chose to study how internships really affect how we learn. At UofT, we have an internship program called PEY, so its a 16 month internship program. I want to sample students who are graduating this year, those who have done PEY vs. those who haven’t. It’s not obvious whether or not an internship year would have a huge effect on what students know, after all. So my plan is to interview a few students, and give them some technical questions, Amazon/Google style. One set of questions is broad and general but rather basic. This tests the general knowledge of the student. The other set is more in depth and the student will do a think aloud and walk me through what they are thinking – this part is going to be suited to the student’s knowledge domain. The main internship knowledge domains are Software Dev, Database, Networks, System/Low level design, Graphics/UI design, Web Dev, and Testing. Depending on what the student did, I’m going to ask them these type of questions. If they didn’t do PEY, then most likely I will ask Software Dev/Algorithmic related questions as the other ones we don’t quite focus on at UofT. Then I will compare the different sets of students to see if the way they answered the questions is statistically significant, and make my conclusions.

I’m having a hard time starting out gathering the data though – mostly because I have a hard time approaching people. It’s strange that I can be so open online yet when it comes to in person, the worst thought I have is of disturbing someone or having them ignore me. I have to overcome this fear and do what’s needed to start this project! This entire month is pretty much dedicated to this course – project has to be done by the end of this month, writing up a sample assignment, and doing the weekly summaries. For a half credit course, the workload seems like two courses. There’s also a test after this month, but it’s right after I come back from San Francisco, so I basically have to study for that this month because I have no time next month. Good news is there isn’t a final exam for this course, though the test could be thought of as one. Oh well… this month is looking to go by pretty fast, as usual.

Edit: I’ve decided to do a questionnaire instead because it’s more portable, but still having trouble with people answering the technical questions. They have very little incentive to do them, most are busy with midterms, and it takes close to an hour to write out the algorithms and everything. I’ve made all the questions not too easy (it would defeat the purpose of the project) and not too hard (no one would do it). But it still seems people are shying away from doing those questions. I’ll have to think of a better incentive than to just say its good job practice, but having a hard time doing so.