Crowdsourcing my Transition to Corporate America

In a previous post, I shared what I learned from my first company. It taught me a ton, but I never figured out how to transition it from a hustle to something sustainable. That realization, my desire to make my parents proud, and an urge to keep up with my classmates resulted in my happily agreeing to work for EY in Atlanta. To be totally transparent, I also wanted to move to a big city and travel on someone else’s dime. (Side note: I almost accepted a job in San Francisco —until they casually mentioned I’d probably need four roommates.)

Personal finance has been a hobby since adolescence; that was a big part of the reason I majored in finance. The summer after college, I was curious what my financial life would look like with a real job in a big city. I’d never lived outside Louisiana, earned a salary, or had benefits before. I decided to create a budget for my new corporate life in Atlanta. My forecast was crude, but the exercise was helpful. Even though I’d studied finance and read avidly about personal finance, my knowledge gap was HUGE. I decided to fill that gap and get perspective from others. My hope was that I could avoid financial pitfalls.

I decided to try to get my forecast posted on a personal finance blog and ask for feedback from its readers. Getting any response from bloggers was a 50/50 proposition, I figured, and I expected a demand for compensation if they did reply. There was no downside, though. From my previous experience, I had learned the value in simply trying.

I emailed my forecast to a popular personal finance blogger. To my surprise, he agreed to post it and didn’t ask for payment. You can see the post, my forecast (don’t laugh), and the feedback here. The feedback came in quickly and was pretty diverse. There were financial suggestions, as expected, but also advice on how to live life. All these years later, I’m still surprised and thankful that this blogger and so many of his readers were willing to help me out by sharing their experiences and perspectives. Their feedback helped me prepare for life in a new city and transition smoothly to corporate America.

Here are my takeaways from the experience:

  • Perspectives – Everyone views life through a unique lens. For a variety of reasons, we don’t all see things the same way. There is value in trying to understand other perspectives (even if you don’t agree with them). Listen with an open mind.
  • Knowledge gaps – Nobody knows everything. Seek knowledge from credible sources and people. It will help you make good decisions.
  • Right answer – The right thing to do may be something suggested by someone else. Getting to the right answer is more important than being right. This is from Ray Dalio’s book, and I agree 100%.
  • Ask for help – People are often willing to help. Think carefully about what you’d like them to do for you. A specific ask will make it easier for them to help, so they’ll be more likely to say yes.