When you’re young, you likely have little to lose and few obligations. So what better time to take a risk?

Fresh Out of College? Time to Risk Everything and Lose Nothing

Fresh Out of College? Time to Risk Everything and Lose Nothing

As you get older, taking risks becomes harder and harder. Help your students understand the benefits of taking more risks when they are younger because they have less to lose and more time to learn.

Taking risk with their career is something for your students to think about now rather than later. The younger you are the greater the risk you can take.It’s 7:30 p.m. We just finished meeting with a newlywed couple who are trying to get their joint finances in order. My internship at a wealth management company is nearing an end.

Summer break from college will be over in two weeks. I’m sitting across from my boss, finishing up the last of the paperwork. I can tell he wants to know whether or not I want to work at the firm full time after I graduate — I have only one semester of school left.

I open my mouth: “I’m not really sure I want to become a financial advisor right now. I feel like there are other things to explore before committing to a lifelong career. I say ‘lifelong’ because this is a career where, once a person gains traction, it would be crazy to stop and change careers. The more clients a person gains, the more success and more money, too. It’s not something I’d want to stop doing in 10 years to explore something else.”

“That’s true,” Brian replies, “but will you really come back? What happens if you start working somewhere else and begin earning, say, $60,000 per year? You’ll get accustomed to that lifestyle. If you were to quit to come here and be a financial advisor, chances are you won’t make anywhere near that for your first year or two. It’ll be a lifestyle shift in a negative direction. You may not want to become an advisor at that point because you won’t be able to keep your house, cars, boat, etc.”

He sees my understanding face and continues at a faster pace. “But if you become an advisor right after college, you’ll make way more than you’re making in school. So your lifestyle can go up and continue to rise for the rest of your life. There will be no ‘stepping back’ in salary. Opting for a career as an advisor later on in life is riskier.”

He made a good point. While you’re young, you can take monumental risks while losing essentially nothing. The younger you are, the riskier the choices you can make.

Why Risk Is Good Right Now

Aside from your student loans, you’re pretty free from major commitments. You’re probably financially responsible for only yourself. You probably don’t have a mortgage. You probably don’t have too many bills to pay at the end of the month. So obviously the time to risk it all is now. Even if the risks don’t pay off, lessons learned are always more valuable than money lost.

Another reason to take risks early on is because, typically, the younger you are, the bigger you dream. I once interviewed at a company and was told that they actually prefer hiring recent college grads because our minds are fresh and haven’t been polluted with the culture and limiting beliefs of another company. Sometimes people’s dreams evaporate as they get older. The time to pursue a dream is when you have one.

There are other risks worth taking in your career, like picking a job based on the company’s culture, rather than on salary. Or getting a job abroad. Of course, risks can go very, very wrong. But that’s the beauty of taking them while you’re young. You don’t have much — if anything — to lose.

You really have nothing to lose in terms of lifestyle. You’re already probably just scraping by. The emotional setback will hurt far more than the financial one.

If you’re not fresh out of college, there is still a way to embrace risk while losing very little. Start living like a college student again. Put away the extra money you are earning. Use it to start a business or to motivate you to quit your current lucrative-but-boring job. Downsize your dwelling. Buy a cheaper car. Do what it takes to be in a position to take risks again.

Living a simpler life enables you to start a business; take a lower-paying but more interesting job; travel the world for a year; go back to school… The risks and rewards can be yours.

Check List

  • What are some risks you can take now that you would not consider taking when you are older? 
  • What are the rewards you hope to get from the risks you mentioned above? 
  • What are the specifics of what you are willing to risk today? What are the potential costs associated with these risks?
  • Have you considered the consequences of these risks in the long-term? What “opportunity cost” might come from taking these risks now as opposed to the future? 
  • Is there a point at which a person should give up on a dream for more practical considerations such as making enough money to pay rent? 
  • Does age matter when it comes to risk? Why or why not?