Skip to content

Why did you pursue a job in leadership development?

6 min

To be honest, I really wanted to move away from where I felt pigeon-holed. My major was in finance and naturally, I ended up in financial services. 


To bring more context, I want to explain why I thought the factors of why I continued to study finance and how my initial thinking has changed. I saw choosing my college major as one of the first bigger life decisions I made (apart from choosing which university to attend). These are some of the reasons that I told myself to justify my decision:

  1. I wanted to prove my academic counselor wrong.

  2. I wanted to study abroad and graduate on time, so I wouldn’t let myself switch majors.

  3. I wanted to make my parents proud with a challenging degree.

I wanted to prove my academic counselor wrong

After receiving one of my lowest grades in my college career in my major course, I decided to seek professional academic advice. It was the last week of my sophomore year of college, and I was questioning whether I was supposed to be thriving in major courses. 

My academic counselor told me to pursue a different degree. She said marketing might be better suited for me and inferred it was because it was the easiest major that business students pursued. I wanted to prove her wrong that I could do it.  She wanted me to back down after receiving a C- in my first finance class. Her judgment of my lack of tenacity to pull through insulted me. 

After realizing that wasn’t the advice I wanted to hear, I went to go see the guy who gave me this awful grade in the first place (and retired the following year). We walked through the final exam that I failed after he reluctantly agreed to show it to me. Tears streamed down my face that came out from the frustration of my stupid mistakes. I had never failed something as badly as this exam. He said that my F wasn’t so bad. The fact that I didn’t drop out like the other half of the lecture hall shows that I have what it takes.

Leading up to every class I was challenged. It never got easier and that became my new normal. 

I wanted to study abroad and graduate on time, so I wouldn’t let myself switch majors.

Going to a school in Ohio at Miami University, I wanted to take advantage of their study abroad programs. The students had extended Winter terms to take sprint courses over 3 weeks called “J term”. I am forever grateful that I had the privilege to study abroad for 2 of these extended periods. During my freshman and sophomore year, I traveled to places I otherwise wouldn’t have. This was studying civil rights during my freshman year in a castle in Luxembourg and studying social rights in Fiji from a village. After getting a taste of what it was like to go abroad, I wanted to go for a longer period to be able to fully immerse myself. These shorter terms gave me a taste, and I  wanted to be able to fully immerse myself.

With my perpetual curiosity of the Netherlands and family living there, it was an immediate exploration of which to study there. This is what lit me on fire. Figuring out how to apply and go on exchange at the University of Amsterdam. This became a non-negotiable. 

I expressed these interests to an alternative counselor (than listed above) who made it clear that it was a tight turnaround. If I got all of my courses to transfer and that senior year would be far from smooth sailing. I also knew I  would fall into the statistic along with a third of other college students of switching my major again if I did it once. My decision to go to Amsterdam drove me to push harder to take advantage of the opportunity.

I wanted to make my parents proud with a challenging degree.

A core family value that has been ingrained within me is that education is the smartest investment of money and time that someone can make. 

Ben Franklin said it best: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

Growing up with grandparents who are immigrants from the Netherlands and Poland, where their formative years were shaped around survival during World War II and education was an afterthought. By pursuing the American dream they shared stories about why hard work is essential. My grandpa told my dad who reminds me often: “if it was easy, everyone would do it.” This maxim implicitly affirms that more doors will open where persistence is essential. It drives me to find bigger challenges to conquer.

The values of my grandparents were passed onto my parents. As my dad puts it– if you’re the smartest person in the room then go find another room. Both my mom and dad are two highly educated individuals that have granted me many more opportunities than they had, like going out-of-state for college, joining extra-curricular clubs, and traveling abroad. This caused extra pressure to be at peak performance with all these extra opportunities I was blessed with. 

If anything goes to show from all of this– something may seem permanent but it is the story you tell yourself that is the largest factor. I thought I wanted a linear path with job security, but honestly, it can be quite dull. So spice up your life. 

Why did I pursue a job in leadership development?

I fell into my job into leadership development. It excited me after looking into different opportunities to escape where I was previously. My minor in management and leadership is what I truly enjoyed. I went looking for opportunities that aligned with those interests instead. My intent of going into finance was for the wrong motives.

  1. I was blinded by the sunk cost in my degree

  2. I wasn’t feeling a connection or impact on people

  3. I realized that this didn’t match my core competencies

The job security in the industry lured me in. Then I found out: I didn’t directly impact people and was surrounded by individuals in the financial services industry that I didn’t look up to. I was a spectator from the sidelines and wanted more human interaction at work rather than staring at an excel spreadsheet all day where my manager reprimanded me for asking him too many questions. 

I thought they were crazy for finding the work we did fulfilling. I looked around and would ask myself what was wrong with me? Why am I ungrateful for such a secure and successful job? Don’t get me wrong, doing analysis on risk factors is essential to running an effective business. The monthly risk committee meetings were absolutely critical to pass on big picture findings to leadership to forecast,  but that was the only time that people intentionally gathered to interact. I thought I could change what was important to me. I tried to mirror those around me in order to eventually feel content like my peers.

I realized after this third internship that I could try my best to change my core competencies through my experiences, but it wasn’t going to be a long term fit. My natural tendencies and motivations were not aligned with the job responsibilities, company or people around me. I came to this realization and never sought out the full-time opportunity so that I could pursue a new job search. All of my closest loved ones and friends thought I was crazy. I had so much going for me.

It’s not a  novel concept to change your mind on what you want to pursue. There are studies that can attest to more than 40 percent of college graduates not following a career path that corresponds to their major. 

I started to follow my intuition in partnership with my analytical thinking. It took me some time to overcome viewing this decision of my finance major as a sunk cost. It is rather an investment in my long term development. Through this process, I have become aware of my tendency to people-please and to let my logic get the best of me. 

I made a decision to invest in a new path. The experiences and the behaviors of people around me help me to learn as opposed to relying heavily on formal education. Thus far, this has been one of the best decisions I’ve made. I passed the alarm clock test and look forward to getting out of bed.


My 2022 Annual Review

My 2022 Annual Review

My 12 Hour Walk

My 12 Hour Walk

Subscribe to receive the latest posts in your inbox.