I grew up in a small town and spent the first 18 years or so of my life just hanging out, not really sure what I wanted to do. At the last minute, when I was about to graduate high school, I finally decided I wanted to go to college. My parents hadn’t saved money in preparation for this, as college is somewhat uncommon in my family, however they supported me through it anyway. So, I went to college, fairly aimlessly. I liked the idea of business classes, however I didn’t know that I really liked them until the 300-level leadership courses. Once I lost my scholarship support, I knew I had to kick it into gear. After 3 years in Montana, I came back to Anchorage for the sweet, sweet in-state tuition. I graduated 0.01 point away from cum laude, (close enough in my book), with a BBA in Management and a minor in Economics. I then landed a job as a Segway Tour Guide, which was fun. I worked there and did Facebook & Google marketing for them on a small scale, and eventually moved onto Alaska Solar.
Since I grew up in construction and spent most of my younger working years doing general contracting with my dad (building furniture and eventually installing solar panels), I always aimed to get out of construction to “use my education.” I landed a job with Alaska Solar as Sales Support & Solar Design. I started grad school in January of this year for MBA program. I am grateful for my opportunities, however I felt like the job market was skewed in favor of employers back when I graduated. It felt like a bachelor’s degree with not differentiating enough to land the glamourous jobs I see on CNBC. I want to be someone who stands out from the crowd due to my knowledge and education, thus the MBA seems like a perfect fit. It is hard though.
My father is a carpenter, earning enough money to support our entire family. My dad grew up here, in Anchorage, and moved out of home at 15 or 16. He tells me he never figured out how to get his life together until he was in his 30s. This lesson is interesting, as it proves a person can be successful no matter when they begin working toward their goals. Naturally, he didn’t go to college, let alone mention that he has ever thought about it. He says that by the time he had been a carpenter for a few years he was making too much money to quit and eventually got “stuck.” He has always told me he wishes I could choose my path, rather than be “stuck” like him. My mother was a long-term employee at Safeway. She recalls fondly how they were making good money back in the 80s, working with her friends and her roommates. She was able to purchase her first home from her job there! Amazing. She has never expressed any traditionally lofty goals, but she is happy with her life. This lesson tells me it is more important to find my fit than to fit somewhere I don’t want to.
Once I started making more money, it did not take long to realize that it needs to be saved and invested. I have always taken a hands-on approach, avoiding the advice of my banks to automate my savings, that way I could send money wherever my heart desired on a whim. I generally invest in my robo-advisors, my IRA, and Bitcoin. Pair that with the ‘Wall-Street Revolution’ of ‘younger traders’ entering the market through Robinhood, and I soon felt like my bachelor’s gave me an upper hand in investing compared to my peers without the business education. I had started to dispense my non-professional advice to my friends and partner. “Open an IRA!” “Save $500 a month!” “Bitcoin is gonna make it big!” “Get a robo because the stocks you pick on Robinhood do not make a diversified portfolio!”
I began to realize I was more interested in finance than I thought. That in turn helped fuel the desire for a Master’s Degree in Business, especially with the recent increase in wages from the COVID crisis and the big banks announcing the raising of entry-level analyst salaries to $100k in New York.
Then my professor, Ajit Dayanadan, sent out an internship opportunity with APCM. My first reaction when seeing a job opportunity at a finance company was not one of confidence. Somehow I met the qualifications for working on spreadsheets, market research, and presentations! I can certainly do that. Naturally, I ended up here. I have accomplished my goal of “using my education” and moving away from construction. I remember reading through the employee bios on the APCM website and thinking “wow, these people are qualified.” Conversations here are a bit above my head, however I love it because it is so challenging. It makes me realize I need to keep a tighter lid on my financial advice to my friends!
I am not sure what my future holds, between Finance or Solar. I can’t tell where my best fit in finance will be just yet. It is too early for me to tell. Luckily, my intern role allows me to interact with different levels of the organization, and I am currently working on projects that interests me and helps expand my knowledge. I can’t think of anything more to ask for…well, other than landing a full time position once I finish college. We’ll see how that goes.
Client Relationship Intern