We have one child, a son, who didn’t find his passion until he was 25 – and what he chose surprised us all.
As an undergraduate, Jon studied history at a leading U.S. university. With two parents who were history majors themselves at college, and wide-ranging conversations that covered everything from the Bible to WWII and the current state of affairs in the Middle East every night at dinner, it’s no wonder Jon leaned toward social studies as a favorite subject in middle school, and by high school, was in AP history classes each semester. A history major in college seemed the natural choice for this young man.
The history major enters law school
Armed with a history major, it was just assumed he would immediately enter law school, which he did the September following his May graduation. What none of us were prepared for was how much he disliked the curriculum and law school overall. After giving it a full year of effort, he left to return home. It took us all a while to get over the fact that what Jon had planned on pursuing – for years – didn’t materialize.
Our then 24-year-old was suddenly possessed with a new sense of energy and decided to look for a job, rather than return to school. With a tedious search ahead of him, he gave it every ounce of his energy, staying glued to his computer, day-in, day-out, canvassing sources and following up every lead. He was open to anything, really, at that point. It was just a matter of finding a position within commuting distance that paid a decent wage.
What happened at the bank?
Nothing progressed for quite a few months, but Jon never wavered: He never gave up. Then, one day, months after he left law school, he responded to an ad for a teller at a local bank. He went on several interviews and was hired. The irony was that Jon was working all day with money and math – and math was never his strong suit. In fact, he had a math tutor throughout most of high school. While I suspect the job became boring at a certain point, something magical must’ve also happened at the bank, for Jon decided to take a business class, essentially an accounting class, at a major university to see if he liked the field. He decided, while he was at the bank, if he was going to get ahead, he needed an advanced degree, and he figured this accounting course would be the foundation for a possible MBA. And he was right.
With help and guidance, by phone, from his grandfather, a CPA, Jon took the class, did well, and decided to apply for a Certificate in Corporate Finance at a private university’s graduate school of business. If he did well in the set of classes that were required for the Certificate, he could bypass the GMATs and head right into the MBA program. But he didn’t have to wait to complete the Certificate courses before being accepted into the MBA program because he did so well in all his classes. He applied to bypass the GMATs and was accepted to earn an MBA in Finance at the same school. Now here was an opportunity.
Up for every task
With virtually every class came intense math instruction – not just math, but complicated financial analysis including creating and understanding the formulas used for derivatives. Jon excelled at every assignment he was given – something none of us could have envisioned for him even two years ealier. And there was also a heavy writing requirement – he just completed a 16-page paper – so his training in writing rigorous history papers – and his ability to communicate fluently in writing – enabled him to write remarkable papers. The words just rolled onto the keyboard as he set his mind to tell the story of a company and its financial standing or how a certain product should be marketed. And he became an expert in Excel, where all the numbers landed, and in PowerPoint too, having to give several presentations as part of the comprehensive curriculum.
At this writing, Jon has two more classes to complete to receive his MBA and is on target to graduate summa cum laude. He is meeting with a career counselor later this week to try to stake out his future in finance, now that the groundwork for his education has been laid – and he has found his passion, which developed over time. And sometimes, time – and the right opportunities – are just what we need.