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In today’s society, is it possible for someone younger than 30 to be as successful as someone who is in their 40’s or 50’s? Is it possible to have a career that pays an excellent wage and benefits at such a young age? Maybe it sounds impossible to buy a brand new house when you’re younger then 30? It’s not impossible and I am a perfect example of that. I was hired as a full time firefighter and paramedic when I was 23. In my first year I was making 60,000 dollars and I had a full benefit package while working only two days a week. At 25, I was blessed to marry the woman of my dreams and within months after our wedding we bought our very first beautiful brand new home together.

My good friend Owen Garitty has asked me to explain what I had to do to become successful. Now, I know there are different kinds of success depending on who you are, personal life style, your own future goals and how you define success. My most important words of advice would be to start young.

I started interning with a fire department when I was a junior in high school. I wasn’t doing much during my high school internship but it still had great value. It gave me exposure to the fire service and I was taught first hand what it took to become successful in this career. No matter what you want to do, go out there and get exposure. If you are reading this and you are still in high school go to your career counselor and tell them you want to start on your future now and begin interning. If they can’t manage to set up an internship or mentorship, be ambitious and do it on your own. Getting exposure early will put you ahead of the person who isn’t.

Secondly my suggestion would be to go to college. Going to college, for most people, will give you the skills and knowledge needed to achieve your dream career. It will teach you patience, dedication and it will help you mature from a high school student into a young adult ready to take the next step towards their career. A lot of college freshman have one thing on their mind… parties. To become successful you need to learn self-control. I won’t lie and say that I never went to a party, but moderation is key, and learning to be responsible is what is going to take you from the college freshman to the successful 23 year old. You need to always be conscious of the consequences and realize one stupid night could ruin everything you worked hard for…it is not always worth it.

I know being young the last thing on your mind will be, “how will my spending now, affect my future and career later?” Don’t put this in the back of your mind. Some companies and corporations run credit checks in order to see how responsible you are with your money. Keep your credit high and debt low. In order to get that brand new car you want and the house to match you are going to need a good credit score and your debt to income ratio needs to be within a certain range. I find this very important because I know how easy it is to not worry about your debt and credit score while enjoying yourself in college. Don’t let your hard work go to waste over debt and a poor credit score.

I am sure sometime in your life you have heard that first impressions matter and I am here to tell you that is absolutely true.  Be careful not to give a bad first impression that could potentially follow you even if you work hard and give 110%. It is easy to destroy your image but extremely hard to fix it.

Be ambitious. Hard work, determination and a strong desire to achieve your goals will not go unnoticed. Currently I am overseeing new students on my shift that got accepted into our program. The determination that they show on a daily basis separates them from the rest of group. You might not think anyone is around or paying attention but actions and hard work never go unnoticed.

Now that you have achieved your goal and are doing what you love, you still need to remember that you are new, you are at the bottom of the food chain and if you can accept this you will succeed. First put your ego aside and listen. Everyone you work under has more experience and knowledge than you do. Listening to their mistakes, tips and instruction will only help you succeed. You are new and you don’t know everything so make sure to stay humble. If you notice a senior employee doing a job or task that you can do, offer to do it because this is an easy way to earn respect. Be early for work and offer to stay late, especially while you are new. My motto is, you should leave for work with enough time that if you got a flat tire, you would have time to fix it and still arrive early.

Remember, getting experience young, always trying to make good choices, working hard and listening to people who have already achieved the goals you aspire to achieve, will only help you become successful.

By Garrett Robertson

About the author:

Garrett Robertson is a firefighter in Redmond, Oregon.