Editor's note: We are pleased to highlight student Liam Yaker's education and career choices along side Treasure Valley business leaders and their own unique perspectives and best advice for those just starting out. Read more in Boise Lifestyle and Meridian Lifestyle.
I am a freshman at Boise State University with a paid internship at a wealth-management firm. I want to share my story about my journey with respect to my career and education.
I graduated from Lakeridge High School in the spring of 2021 in the city of Lake Oswego, which is about 15 minutes south of the Portland metropolitan area. At the time, I made the decision that I would attend Boise State University as a part-time student because I knew I wasn’t quite ready to jump right from the big endeavor/load of high school to the big load of college and all that would entail. I also wasn’t yet sure what major I wanted to declare.
So, I made getting an internship my priority. I chose wealth management as the industry because I had always been fascinated with that line of work. In September of 2021, I cold-called a number of wealth-management firms in the Boise, Idaho, area—lining up a few interviews rather quickly. I am pleased to report that I got myself a job with Legacy Wealth Management after just a few weeks of interviewing! The firm offers a unique approach to wealth management. Not only do they manage your assets for you with unique option-hedged strategies, they also act as your Chief Financial Officer, your insurance provider, and your tax preparer. They have given me a unique opportunity to work under and learn from two of their top advisors while also helping the firm out in other ways as they see fit, giving me an opportunity to have first-hand experience with many aspects of their operations.
This robust exposure to their business is on point as the media has featured a number of stories about companies across the country who are realizing that if they can teach a trade to younger, more-scrappy people then it can be advantageous for both parties in the long run especially as these are challenging times for many employers seeking qualified or high-potential team members. I found that during my interview process, some of the firms were hesitant to hire such a young person for an internship as their internships are typically done either in the summer or usually when the student is a junior or senior in college.
I successfully convinced Legacy Wealth Management to take me on, and I ended up working with them for seven months. To be candid, I learned that there is a lot about the wealth-management industry that I like and a lot that I do not like. I feel that a college degree is definitely important so I do still plan to complete my degree. I feel better armed to do that because of the incredibly valuable real-world experience I was able to get by working in the sector. It allowed me to see if what I thought I might enjoy was really going to end up being something that I genuinely did enjoy.
I was inspired to take my different path from the traditional “go straight on to college after graduating from high school” as I knew so many people who had studied something in college and then graduated only to realize they didn’t like working in that industry after all, wasting so much time and money studying for that degree—often building up tens of thousands of dollars in student debt.
I think if more people heard my story, some may be inspired to do something a bit different from "the pack" in what career and education sequence they choose for their own lives. For me, what worked was to drop out of school to pursue my internship full time followed by my plan to head back to school in the fall. By doing this, I feel that I am better armed and ready to declare my major with the knowledge and experience I have gained.
For me, it was all about getting real-world experience right after high school rather than starting any college studies to help me feel more confident about my choices. Everyone’s experiences are different though I believe that if as a society we teach our youth that alternative paths like mine may be advantageous depending on their circumstances, we could potentially set up more people for success.