This gap year I'm taking is a weird limbo; I'm kind of working, but it's not full time and not at a long-term job, and I choose my own hours. What's more, I have no idea where I'll be for the next four years, so I'm not really settling my roots in anywhere. Plus, I'm staying at Cornell living close to campus. Honestly, my life hasn't changed that much from how it was as an undergrad, except that schoolwork has been traded out for some work work.
My friends, however, all have real jobs, and they have started "real life." They work 40-70 hours a week starting at 8 every morning, most of them at a job they expect to keep for at least 2 years... a lot longer in most cases. They pay rent and taxes and have 401k accounts. They have a budget. This may sound silly, but I actually spend a lot of time asking my friends what that's like.
Anyway, what I really wanted to talk about was money. One of my friends is going down the whole finance, investment banker track. He is very smart and hard working. And he makes a lot of money. I can't go into details, but after his bonus, he will make six figures this year. That's right. Over $100,000 to a kid who just graduated from college. That's if he gets the crappy bonus. If he gets the good one he'll be over 150.
I'm not going into medicine for money. I'm really not. There are some good perks about the job, at least once you finally are a fully-fledged doctor, namely fulfilling work, excellent job security, and usually fairly high compensation. There are downsides too, like spectacular legal exposure, stress, and bad hours. But yes, I can anticipate some day making a fair amount of money.
My friend, though, isn't going to "some day" make a fair amount of money. Right now he is making a more than fair amount of money, and if he continues to perform well, he will go on to make wrath of God money. I have to admit that it's pretty hard not to be jealous when I go to his apartment.
I felt those pangs of jealousy creeping up this past New Years Eve when we started the party off in his apartment. It's a great place in Manhattan, one of the most expensive places to live in the world. Not only is the place great, but he has a beautiful flat screen TV and all the toys to go with it. He was bored, so recently he bought a PS3 on a whim. Some nights out he gets private entertainment at strip clubs; for the record, I'm not really interested in that, but I can think of some other vices I would like to pick up (weekly massage anyone?). He buys all the pretty girls the expensive drinks at the nice clubs too. That's more my style. Sometimes he'll get bottle service. He just... has so much money.
It got me thinking about my financial situation. I have no money. On the bright side, I don't have any debt, as I'm sure many other pre-meds already do. But I have no money. And I'm not going to have money for 5 years guaranteed. I will be operating in the red until I graduate from medical school, and once I graduate, any money I pick up will go straight to paying back loans. I may not have money for 8 or 9 years. I may not have money until I'm 30. I'll probably have a negative net worth until I'm 30.
That's actually pretty scary.