Until recently, I wasn’t sure “what I did,” “why I do it,” or “what the point is” – I graduated from JMU in 2010 with a degree in Finance. As a bright eyed 22-year-old with the whole world ahead of me, I did the only thing that seemed logical. In the fall of my senior year my brother offered me an internship to work for him making $12/hr. Of course, I took it. Knowing early in my senior year that I didn’t need to buy a suit, create a resume or meet with someone from career services made it an obvious choice. Sure, I had classmates going to work in big firms in big cities, for small salaries and long hours, I guess I could have done that. My mom would have been excited, but that seemed like a lot of work.
I was an intern from May of 2010 to February of 2011. In February, I bought a one-way plane ticket to Lima, Peru and booked two nights in a hostile. I was on the trip of a lifetime to South America with no return date in sight. Six months later, I returned home with some great memories, 25 pounds lighter, no money, no career, still no resume and certainly no “interview suit.”
That fall, I took a position as a Financial Advisor, entering the world of financial services. Looking back, interviewing for a career as a financial advisor was an entertaining experience. I showed up to an extravagant office in a big building with nice furniture. The interviewers explained to me that I could have a career without limits on my income and all the flexibility I wanted. That’s the sales pitch every 24-year-old wants to hear: make a million dollars, work whenever you want. Of course I signed up for that.
At that point, I was finally employed at a large investment firm, but I still don’t know my “why.”
I stayed at that firm for 18 months before I realized it might not be a good fit for me. Something I have learned to understand as “right person, wrong seat. Financial services is the right industry for me, but I was working at the wrong firm.
April 2017 will mark 4 years at my current firm and 5 ½ years as a financial advisor- “right person, right seat.”
At my current firm, I realize the incredible impact I have on people’s lives through my career. Helping people plan, save and protect their finances and family is truly important. It is incredibly fulfilling work.
My career is not who I am. My college education is not who I am. What I learned at JMU has allowed me to develop the skills I need to be successful in my career, and to discover my “why.”
The greater purpose in all that I have learned is the ability to use my talents and skills to give back.
As a recent alumnus a lot of my giving back has come in the form of giving back to James Madison University.
As I started my career I got involved with the Hampton Roads Duke Club – we raise money for athletic scholarships for JMU. Did I get involved because I knew it would help fulfill my “why?” Of course not. I got involved for all the selfish reasons a 24-year-old in sales gets involved in anything. For the past five or six years, I have served on the tournament committee, as co-tournament director and as tournament director for the JMU Rockfish Shootout. This is the Hampton Roads Duke Club signature fundraiser and at times has been the single largest regional Duke Club Fundraiser in the country. Over the past few years, I have been able to use the skills developed throughout my career to help the tournament and its committee to grow the event exponentially in terms of both dollars raised and number of participants.
There is no better feeling than applying what you have learned in the world to be able to give back in a meaningful way.
A recent development in my career has allowed me to give back to JMU in a way that I see as much more meaningful. In the past few months I have taken on a leadership role within my organization. This will give me the opportunity to bring new people into the industry and onto my team. I see it as an incredible opportunity to give graduating Duke Dogs the same opportunity I had. To come into an industry with endless opportunity for growth and the ability to truly discover their “why.”
As 2016 has now turned over to 2017 many people have set goals and resolutions and have joined a gym and are juicing and not eating sugar and doing any number of things to make a change in 2017. The problem with a New Year’s Resolution is that by definition it isn’t permanent. It is something you are trying to change for a year or something you are trying to do better for a period of time.
I challenge you to make a lifestyle change. I challenge you to discover your “why.”
People often seem to be going through the motions of life. Monday through Friday going to work and really living for the weekend.
Why not change that? Why not create purpose in what you do? Why not have an understanding of why you do what you do?
Is my “why” giving back to James Madison University?
My “why” involves giving back. Right now, I am in a position in life that giving back to JMU makes sense. The life lessons I’ve learned at JMU and in the professional world have put me in a position to give back to the university that has given me so much.
My career does not define me. JMU does not define me. What I have learned and how I use my tools to fulfill my “why” defines me.
By title, I am a Leadership Director with the Virginia Agency of Massmutual Financial Group
I have worked in financial services for over five years and am a 2010 Finance graduate of JMU.
I was born, raised and still live in Virginia Beach. I have a twin sister, two brothers, a brother in-law, 2 sister in-laws, 3 nieces and 3 nephews. We all live in Virginia Beach.