This is more of a recap of how I got my first job after college. There are a bunch of things I learned before I even started my first “real” job.
You see, college does not prepare you for everything in the real world, so I hope I can cover most of the things college misses out on.
Let’s back up just a little bit and cover my college experience, which was anything but normal.
My College Experience
My first college was the one and only United States Air Force Academy. It was a huge leap for myself at the time. It meant I had to leave mid summer on June 28th and attend basic training until September. This honestly was a mistake because I did not want to go, but I felt obligated to due to family and social pressures. I stayed for around a year at the academy and got through the worst of it. Following that year, my feet lead me back to my home city Atlanta.
After the Academy, Georgia Perimeter became my second college experience. I was pulled between deciding on a career, chasing my sport all over the world or doing something completely different and become an entrepreneur. Two years at this school lead me to take some additional classes here and there to buy time. I eventually was left with a decision. Leave for Sao Paulo, Brazil and chase my sport dreams or give it up finally after 18 years and move on. I chose to move on after a heart to heart with my coach at the time, Felippe.
Felippe had invested a lot in me, and I had grown to truly respect his outlook on life and passion for helping people. A talented individual that lead to helping me make life altering decisions. I owe him my thanks for many things.
Done With My Sport… Now What?
It was time for a career. The problem was, I had no idea what I was supposed to do. This lead me to praying daily for answers and seeking guidance from many people. The irony was that, I soon found out my direction from a random lady in Starbucks, Jeannie! It was a time in my life where I needed to be active and out of the house, so I would study at Starbucks daily. I was mostly studying Russian at this time because… Da?
It seems God had plans because she soon approached me with questions and purpose in mind. She was having a rough study day and I guess needed someone to talk to about it. It just so happened to be me on the other end of the table. What she wanted to vent about was her actuarial exams, and God afterwards.
I was mystified, because I had never heard of actuarial science. Additionally, there were not many resources that could properly describe what actuaries really do or what it entails. All I kept hearing was, “It’s really hard. Not many people can do it and most people give up after the first exams and it pays well.”
Sweet, I thought. A challenge with some money on the end. Math was always my strong suit. Thus, my journey to become an actuary began.
Georgia State University
The following semester I finished my Political Science degree at Perimeter and transferred over the Georgia State for Mathematics and Actuarial Science. Georgia State was famed for having one of the best actuarial programs and one of the longest standing programs. This was pretty much all a lie. It seems a few years before I transferred, Clemson had come over to Georgia and bought out some of the professors to go and teach at their school. Clemson was starting their own actuarial program and thought to buy the best known professors.
Simple to say the professors left over and the ones brought in while I attended, were less than average. I really wasted my money attending that school and would have rather stayed at the community college if the choice was available. The Math department in general was not too bad. The other persisting problem was getting professors that could not speak understandable English, nor could they effectively communicate when presented with questions in after hours. Many times I would literally just refuse to ask questions or clarify problems due to the language barriers.
As you can see, I was not to happy with this university. I would recommend people to go to Georgia Tech or University of Georgia, or even a cheaper school like Georgia Gwinnett College. It honestly is not worth throwing your money away.
Around the end of my junior year, I sought after an internship in my field, actuarial science. The problem is that 99% of all internships were only available in the summer. This did not work for me as I liked to take summer classes. This meant I had to find an internship for the Fall semester some way or how.
When you are looking for your first job, you do not have any clue what you are even looking for. The first tip I would give a soon to be graduate is, every single night you need to be in your bed for 30 minutes looking at job listings. This is extremely important. Just by looking at job listings and applications you will start to piece together several things that you need to know:
- Starting salary. This can vary from company to company, location, hours, expectations, certifications and so many things
- Office locations and areas of high job traffic. Where is your job mostly located? My spots were New York, Atlanta, San Francisco and Chicago.
- What are the requirements for your job? You need to know what most companies are looking for. Your school will not prepare you for a job interview, that’s your job.
- What are the different types of jobs you can apply for? For my specific job, I had no idea that actuaries can work in Health, Life, Property & Casualty, Consulting, rate making, pension and so many more things. Make sure you really dig in and do your homework on your industry and job options. It can make or break your career down the line and lead to huge changes in your career down the line.
- When are people usually hiring for your job? Typically this is in the Fall months for most jobs, but it can vary.
Job searching is as serious as your GPA, resume and career choice. You can work one of the hardest jobs in the world, but with the right company and setting if can be easier than 99% of every other job.
For perspective, it took me 10 months to land my internship. I started in the second semester of my junior year (January 2017) and I landed my internships in my first semester of my senior year (October 2017). I had to go through multiple interviews, being turned down but great places that got me excited and sometimes skipping interviews because I did not like the company reputation.
There is a balance of taking a leap on options, but I wanted a specific job. After months of preparation, nightly applications, studying, expanding my resume, passing exams and constant cold emails, I got an offer. Funny enough, it came from a cold email I sent to the HR department of an amazing firm right in the center of smack dab Buckhead. I never thought my first job would be at the most expensive building in Buckhead, but hey I am not complaining.
The effort, the patience, the struggles, the anticipation were all worth it. The sleepless nights made me more confident, I could do this. October first I started my first day of what would soon become my career at that same company a year later. Amazingly, I started as an intern making $25 an hour. That blew me away as it was a huge blessing for a broke college kid. It goes to show that diligence and hard work does pay off.
What else have I learned? The fastest runner does not always win the race. The Strongest person does not always win the competition. You see, I am not the smartest person. There are better options then me for the position I landed. In fact, they were in class with me complaining that they can not land a job everyday.
The difference was in persistence and honestly being in the right place at the right time. Additionally, I spent every single night in my bed with a computer filling out applications for months and months while they were watching Netflix.
I never really liked Breaking Bad anyways.
The result speaks for itself. Hard work and diligence will reward you later in life. You need to become the complete package to be successful in this world and not just and “A” student.
Work does not stop at 5 and neither should your effort or expectations. To be successful, you need to work your butt off every day and night that you can. You will be 30, 40, 50, and hopefully 60+ one day. Who do you want to be at those stages in your life? Everything you do today, is something your future self will either thank you for, or hate you for. It’s your decision.