How to 'use' your shares:
If you own common shares in a company (as opposed to a fund) then you have the right (but not the obligation) to excersize one vote per share on questions put before the shareholders. Usually, this occurs once a year. Usually these questions regard approval of auditors. Sometimes they involve officers such as directors on the board. You will be mailed a form to fill out and mail back in.
Preferred shares usually are not voting shares,but common shares always are.
By the way, I do not recommend owning shares in companies. I recommend funds instead,either ETFs or mutual funds. Owning shares in companies puts you at risk of a failure of that company. Owning funds spreads that risk around,thus reducing your exposure.
There are, really, two purposes for owning shares 1) Owning shares gives you the right to declared dividends 2) Owning shares allows you to sell those shares at some time in the future. (Hopefully at a profit)
One obscure thing you can do with owned shares is to 'write' (sell) covered put options. But options are not something that you need to concern yourself with at this point.
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