Director Jim McAtee speaks to Professional Development Anthropology Class

On February 10th, the Director of the Career Center — Mr. Jim McAtee — visited the Professional Development Anthropology class and talked about “Debt and Finances.” Not surprisingly, many students never had the opportunity to get expert advice about their college debt and fianances, so that’s why I invited Mr. McAtee back to this class again from last year. Like last year, Mr. McAtee provided students with practical, real life strategies to address their debt and finances while they are still in school and once they graduate beginning their first jobs.

Initially and understandably, I could tell that my class was alittle hesitant to talk about these issues yet the way Mr. McAtee approached this very difficult topic, it allowed students to really think seriously about their debt and finances and how best to design a lifestyle strategy for it.

Here are the major themes from Director McAtee’s talk:
A. College Loans
1. Take only what you need;
2. Pay any interest you have on loans while in school;
3. Live cheap the first few years out of college;
4. Work for employers who pay your loans (i.e.. Military, Some private companies)

B. Have a Plan
1. Do a budget and stick to it;
2. Invest in yourself (401k, IRA);
3. Break the credit tradition.

C. Understand Net Worth
1. Assests – liabilities – net worth or wealth
2. Most Americans live in negative or slightly above per net worth;
3. Manage your life to always increase net worth while limiting liabilities.

D. How to Increase Net Worth
1. Have more assests than liabilities;
2. Buy things that appreciate in value;
3. Spend as little money on things that decreases in value.

Wow. This was a talk that every student particularly freshmen need to hear. Mr McAtee highlighted a number of practical examples in which students could learn what to do, but more importantly what not to do. That’s probably the most difficult decision that most college students had to deal with.

Later in his talk, Mr. McAtee used the Departments’ video set-up hooked up to the internet. Here he wanted a website which showed not only the student’s potential job category but most importantly what their potential anthropology job actually makes. This was an excellent surprise for students because it placed all of this academic activity in its proper place. By end of their years at ECU, it is about “GETTING A JOB.”

In addition to his talk, Mr. McAtee had students complete a small exercise in which they were to pick how much money they were going to make in their first job. Not surprisedly, students were somewhat shocked to see what Anthropologists really make.

In fact, I was surprised and I have been in the field of Anthropology for more than 20 years. Learn something new every day.