Finding your path

As a college student, I had a pretty specific vision of my career path. I studied psychology because I loved helping people. Unfortunately, it only took one research internship to realize that the career path I was set on was not right for me and I reluctantly moved back home.

Leaning on other life experiences, I took a job in university fundraising, which I knew very little about. However, I quickly learned that a bit of creativity and hard work can lead to ownership of projects and growth in your role. I got to run new programs, travel the country and work with immensely successful people. I truly enjoyed the work but didn’t quite feel settled.

While there, I decided to get my MBA at night. My corporate finance professor recognized what I was feeling and introduced me to someone who would become a great mentor, a critical experience in my journey.

She worked in wealth management and our conversations made me realize I could combine my favorite things about psychology and fundraising in a financial services role. I ended up working for her firm and, while it was scary to leave the comfort of the university, doing so gave me the opportunity to learn a new industry and discover my specific interest in financial planning.

Networking later landed me at Ancora in a financial planning role where I get to positively impact people’s lives every day. I took an unconventional track to find the right role, but if it weren’t for the journey and staying open-minded, I’m not sure what I would have found. My mom often says that “happiness is a journey, not a destination,” and I think that is true in all aspects of our lives.

The career path sometimes, maybe even oftentimes, is a curvy road. Perhaps the best part of my unusual journey is that I get to remain involved at the university and with the people I have met along the way. As an alumna, I sit on advisory boards and have the opportunity to contribute to the university. As you continue your journey, it’s important to leave the door open behind you. Every role should teach you something new and allow you to build on where you started from.

Keep saying yes to new experiences, keep good mentors close to support you in your decisions and be strategic to build on your core strengths and interests. For me, it always has been and always will be about helping people.

If you asked me when I was in college what my career would look like at age 30, my answer would not have included the word finance. But through a series of experiences, special people and a willingness to keep trying new things, here we are.

Vanessa Mavec King is vice president and financial planner at Ancora