It’s the first day of 2016! Time to take stock of what happened in 2015, and look ahead to 2016.

Overall, my 2015 was great. In fact, it was even better than my 2014.

Quick review of 2015:

  • I finished my master’s degree. I completed the last 9 semester hours in Creighton University’s Master of Investment Management and Financial Analysis (MIMFA) in 2015. My goal was to complete the MIMFA with a 3.9 grade point average and I somehow managed to survive with a perfect 4.0. Mission accomplished!
  • I also became a CFA Level 3 candidate. The implicit task in becoming a CFA Level 3 candidate is that you first must pass the CFA Level 2 Exam. In late July 2015, I got the news that I indeed did pass the CFA Level 2 Exam. While obtaining my master’s degree was a great feeling, nothing quite matches the euphoria of passing a CFA Exam. Most people would probably rank my completion of the master’s degree as the bigger of the achievements, but I would disagree. Almost anyone could finish a master’s degree if they were given the resources I had and they marginally applied themselves. It was far from easy, but success is far more common at the master’s degree level compared to CFA Exam pass rates. To pass the CFA Level 2 Exam requires an unparalleled level of commitment regardless of resources available.

Despite my pledge last year at this time to not focus on my peripheral goals, MS Excel, R programming and  German language, I did manage to dip my toe a bit into R programming.

There is this weird period of time after taking a CFA Exam, where you suddenly have an abundance of free time while you wait for your results. It was during this time period last summer where I completed the Data Scientist’s Toolbox course, via Coursera, with John Hopkins University. I also started two other R programming Coursera courses, but never did finish them. My CFA Level 2 results came out and suddenly my priorities shifted. MOOCs (massive open online courses) are free, or close to it, which makes it really easy not to take the classes seriously. Compared to my master’s degree’s courses where the penalty for failure is high, I can understand why completion rates for MOOCs are so dismal. One good thing about MOOCs though, is that there is always another one starting right around the corner.

As expected, I barely touched MS Excel and my German language skills continue to fall short of my expectations. These are things, along with R programming, that I can work on after I take the CFA Level 3 Exam in June. Which brings me to 2016 and the way forward.

Priorities for 2016:

  • Pass the CFA Level 3 Exam. This will be the largest obstacle for me to overcome in 2016. Time is getting short. With only 154 days until I sit for the exam, it is time to get busy.
  • Improve my MS Excel skills. Unfortunately there is minimal overlap between studying for the CFA Exams and mastering MS Excel. After the CFA Level 3 Exam in June, I will be tackling MS Excel with vigor.
  • Improve my R programming skills. Once again, there is minimal overlap with R programming and studying for the CFA Exams. So, after the CFA Level 3 Exam, I will be working on my R programming skills along with my MS Excel skills. I would like the take some more MOOCs with John Hopkins University, and eventually finish their Data Science specialization.
  • Become conversationally fluent in German. This is just a point of pride for me. I can speak enough German, that when combined with pointing, gesturing or “Denglisch” (the combination of English and Deutsch), I can successfully navigate everything from ordering a ribeye steak to discussing a fender bender in the old town center. It would be strange though to tell someone that I have lived in Germany for nearly a decade and have not mastered their language beyond a rudimentary level. I don’t even think it would take that much effort to improve tremendously.
  • Network like a ninja. I also must start to pay more attention to my résumé, which is not nearly as fun for me as any of the priorities listed above. The more interesting aspect of networking is actually corresponding with those who are working in the industry. My days as a soldier are numbered. I only have about 13 months remaining until I am a civilian again. You can check the highlighted link above to see details on my plan of action for this.

To all my readers, Happy New Year! I hope you have a great 2016.

As you can see, there is much to do. Off I go.