Many works of fiction are showing protagonist arriving in a new world with nothing but the clothes on his back, and quickly advancing to a remarkably high position. I am trying to understand what is really possible, and how long it would take for a person, without any additional luck, to get to at least an average level in a society.
For the purpose of this question, assume that the world is very similar to modern day USA. Our protagonist arrives without a penny or anything that is valuable, but he is fluent in local language, healthy and his "papers" are in good order (i.e. he won't be deported to this world's equivalent of Mexico right away).
- There are no educational records or records of previous employment;
- At the beginning, there is not even a place for him to sleep;
- There is no friend or acquaintance that can help him;
- He has no special talent or professional job experience (but can learn anything just like anyone else), he doesn't have an invention in mind that is unknown in this world;
- His look and accent may mark him as an outsider, but there would be no real prejudice against him;
- He can't do anything criminal or morally ambiguous, like selling his body or parts of it. Can't take high-risk jobs or engage in risky behavior (ex. sleep on the street in a high crime area);
- There is no luck that can help him to advance;
How quickly this person get to make an average income (currently in US average household income is about $60K/year)?
EDIT: He is intelligent (just above the average), but not super smart. He can easily finish college, but he can't get his tuition paid just by his smarts, like Kvothe. He is motivated and hard-working, but not to the extreme. Let's assume that he needs to sleep 8 hours on most nights, but would be willing to spend his free hours working or studying.