Next summer, my son will graduate from university, hopefully clutching in his hands a first-class MEng degree in electronic engineering and computer science.
Armed with such a degree, he will undoubtedly find himself the target of numerous recruiters from UK engineering companies, such as vacuum-cleaner maker Dyson, which just this week announced that it plans to boost the size of its very own UK engineering team from 350 to 700.
But despite the fact that numerous excellent opportunities exist at such prestigious UK companies, I’ve advised my son not to take a job working for someone else, simply because you never get rich that way. And I’d like my son to earn more than just the going rate after studying for so hard and so long.
Admittedly, I have my own selfish reasons for this too. After all, since I was the one that forked out almost £10,000 per year for the four-year degree, I should surely get some sort of decent return for my investment. Unless, of course, Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, becomes the next prime minister and decides to scrap the Trident nuclear defence system and repay me the tuition fees from the proceeds.
So with that in mind I have advised my son to start his own business, and – just like James Dyson – make lots of money which he can then hand back to me so that I can retire stylishly on a Polynesian island surrounded by attractive young ladies who will fan me with palm leaves and bring me alcoholic beverages.
What’s more, I’ve recommend that his new business avoids the pitfalls involved in manufacturing any mechanical, electronic or electro-mechanical product. Developing a useful piece of software is by far the easier and less expensive option. Going that route, you don’t need an army of researchers, you don’t need a factory – either here or in China – or an expensive distribution channel. All you need is a computer.
The last piece of advice that I have given him is that he must ensure that the software product he develops will not only be useful, but also quickly attract the interests of other large outfits such as Google or Microsoft, who must be so impressed that they purchase his new company for as large a sum of money as possible.
To encourage him further, I have been bombarding him with a number of interesting, yet unsolved software engineering issues that he might like to get his young entrepreneurial engineering head around. And there are plenty of them around if you look hard enough – more than enough, in fact, to create yet another twenty-something millionaire.
But in case none of my ideas really whet his interest, I also have a back-up plan to ensure that my desert island dreams come true. Yes that’s right. If he does feel the need to work for a company, I have suggested that examines the opportunities on offer at one of the large investment banks in the city where he can use his expertise to develop software that can automatically and profitably trade stocks and bonds. After all, the banks need as much engineering help as anyone else, if not more. And the pay might be better there too.