It was a Monday evening, unbearably warm and sticky, as Philadelphia tends to be in September. I was at field hockey practice and, coincidently, received a call just as I was checking my phone during a water break. It was the call I had been waiting for: I GOT IT. I got the Vanguard College to Corporate (C2C) IT internship.
The C2C IT Internship checked all of my boxes: mentoring, cutting-edge tech, AND close to home. But it was only September; the summer had just ended, and next summer seemed so far away. The Grace Hopper Conference for Women in Computing was approaching and I had been instructed by faculty at my school, “don’t accept ANY internship offers until after the conference.”
The day that the conference finally came, I woke up very early. My solo journey included a flight delay, gate change, lengthy taxi ride, and an even lengthier trek, in not so comfy shoes, from the lobby of my hotel across the skywalk and through the Orange County Convention Center. I decided my first stop would be the Vanguard booth. After some wandering up and down the long aisles of the massive room, I found it. I spotted Lynn C., a Vanguard rep from my interview day, who greeted me with a big smile and a warm hug. Believe me, I really needed that hug. She asked me my t-shirt size and showed me all the new “swag” they had gotten for the conference. I stood around chatting with crew in Vanguard’s Technology Leadership Program about my flight and where I was staying. They invited me to dinner the following night before I went on my own to explore.
Many of the other companies at the conference had displays that were massive and showy. I waited in a few lines, padfolio in hand filled with fresh print outs of my resume. I fielded questions about Java classes and my previous internship, and along the way collected some rather over-the-top giveaways. By late afternoon, my mind was made up. I had already attended numerous talks by Vanguard representatives at my school, in addition to two Explore IT Days at their headquarters. I had spoken with multiple recruiters on the phone, and spent the day on campus interviewing. I knew the company’s core purpose, and I knew about their strong emphasis on crew. But hearing about it and feeling it are two completely different things. At many of the other companies I felt like a number holding a list of my accomplishments and capabilities. But Vanguard cared about me, a person. After only a few hours at the conference, I accepted my offer with Vanguard.
I spent my summer internship in Vanguard’s Personal Advisor Services. When I met my manager, Judy, she told me I would be a part of Team Unicorn. She assured me that I would come to understand the name after getting to know its members and seeing their work ethic. Lucky for me, I was included in their project and was able to participate in daily ideation, planning, and working sessions. Right away I found myself writing code that will soon go into production, and participated in a biweekly book club and in the teams monthly “game day” during lunch. A mantra of Team Unicorn is “work hard, play hard,” as each team member places high value on maintaining positive interactions with each other. Now that I had my internship, with work that was engaging and a friendly, supportive team, I feel so strongly that I made the right decision at the Grace Hopper Conference last year.
If you enjoyed this post and want to learn more, visit us at this year’s Grace Hopper Conference! And if you’re ready for a more rewarding, engaging, meaningful career, search our opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
My Story: Vanguard’s Chief Investment Officer Greg Davis
In his last careers blog,Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer Greg Davis uncovered key moments from his time at Vanguard. In this blog, Greg looks back at his upbringing, his early job history, and why he ultimately came to–and stayed at–Vanguard.
I was born in Germany and raised in a U.S. military family. We were a multicultural, multilingual family; I spoke German with my mom and English with my dad. Of course both parents understood the other language, so there was no pulling one over on either of them. Both of my parents worked, and I was co-raised by my maternal grandmother who spoke primarily German. My grandmother was an instrumental part of my childhood and spent a lot of time with me at home. The summer before second grade, we moved to the U.S. and settled in South Jersey.
Throughout my childhood and young adult years, I looked up to my older brother a lot. He achieved a great deal of success in the field of computer science, and he did it without a college degree. In fact, I’m the first person in my family to attend a four-year college. But because I so admired my older brother, I first decided to follow in his footsteps and start my high school education at a vocational-technical high school, where I could spend half my day working on computers. As I was thinking about college, initially my plan was to study computer science or engineering. Once I arrived at Penn State, I loved the math side of my education but found myself less interested in chemistry and mechanical drawing. As a result, I decided to change direction and focus on studying business. Post-graduation, I went into the insurance industry as an underwriter, followed by a stint as a premium auditor. While both roles were great experiences, I still felt as though there was something else that would be a better long-term fit for me.
During these years, I would periodically drive by Vanguard’s campus. Although I never thought of pursuing Vanguard as an employer, I was curious about their trading floor and Vanguard’s approach to investment management. I started researching the markets and the investment side of the insurance industry. I had no idea I was planning my future career.
In order to break into the investment side of the business, I realized I had to pursue an advanced degree, so I went back to school to pursue my MBA at Wharton. This afforded me an opportunity for a Wall Street internship in Fixed Income Sales & Trading. Fortunately the internship was successful, and I was able to leverage that experience into a full-time opportunity at a large NYC Investment bank in a Fixed-Income Trading rotational program. My timing wasn’t great, as shortly after starting the program the Asia Financial Crisis swept around the globe, leaving a very significant mark on many of the Wall Street Banks. Our rotational program was abruptly ended and I was placed into a non-trading role and I was extremely unhappy. The truth is, I felt as though I was settling. I decided to start looking at opportunities at other firms. Then a childhood friend, who happened to be a Vanguard recruiter, asked for my resume. I was hesitant at first, but she finally convinced me to meet with a man named Ken Volpert, who at the time ran Vanguard’s bond index team. During the interview, Ken talked about career options, Vanguard’s investment philosophy, and company growth, but it was something else that piqued my curiosity. Ken spoke about how dedicated he is to developing people and how he makes sure his crew get opportunities to learn and grow. At that moment, I knew I wanted to work for him and Vanguard.
I started as a trader and quickly saw how my values aligned to Vanguard’s investment principles. Not only had I found a firm whose mission I connected with, but I also discovered how many people advocated for me to get exposure to projects, resources, tools, and new experiences. I loved being part of the trading world–getting involved in the markets, owning something right away and seeing it through to success. As I grew and moved into bigger roles, I was able to then provide personal and professional development skills—those that I learned and admired from Ken—to other crew that I’ve led and mentored. It’s refreshing to see the focus on development come full circle.
Because I believe so fervently in developing others–including leaders of leaders–often someone will ask me, “What do you do when someone isn’t performing well?” I advise leaders to start by having an honest discussion with their team member about that person’s performance–what’s not going well, what they need to do to improve, and how you as a leader can support them. There seems to be a misconception that nice cultures don’t give strong feedback, but that’s actually a rather unkind approach. No one should ever have to guess why their career isn’t moving forward.
Of course, there were setbacks along the way. I recall a time when our bond index funds experienced a period of substantial underperformance, bonds that we owned were being downgraded to junk (below investment grade credit rating). It’s quite distressing to see something you’re responsible for underperform. Luckily, the team rallied and reengineered our approach to bond indexing. As painful as that experience was, it allowed the team to learn and improve our process, which helped us be well-prepared for the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. That team-focused mentality is why I’ve stayed at Vanguard for over 15 years. In addition to hurdles, there are also moments of pride: watching my team rise through the ranks to become officers and senior leaders. I’ve also loved watching Vanguard grow–adding a personal advisor business and expanding outside the U.S. This means better outcomes for our clients.
Moving to the U.S. from Germany–and having to quickly improve my ability to read, write, and speak English–taught me a lesson I’ve carried with me from childhood until now: If you’re comfortable, you’re not growing.
You never know, your future just might be in that building you drive by every day.
I recently celebrated my three year anniversary with Vanguard and what a journey it has been! In order to understand how I got here, I think it is best to start at the beginning.
I attended Arizona State University and, like most students, held a variety of jobs and internships to help me figure out what kind of career I wanted. I was getting a degree in Business but wasn’t sure where my skills would fit or what I would be happiest doing. During this time, I had three experiences that helped shape my career path and ultimately led me to Vanguard.
My first opportunity was a leadership internship with a large retail chain that was based in the Phoenix area. I got to spend three months in a retail store shadowing the Store Manager, getting to know the daily operations, and running the store on my own by the end of my time there. This experience opened my eyes to the potential of a career in leadership because I loved working with the team every day and I enjoyed overcoming diverse and frequent challenges. However, I came to the realization that standing on my feet for 9+ hours a day was physically taxing and the long-term career growth in a retail store is limited.
My second adventure was in a commission-based sales position where I sold bridal gowns. I know what you’re thinking: “Wasn’t that job fun and glamorous? Was it just like the shows on television?” After the initial excitement of working in the bridal industry wore off, I was left with the pressure and anxiety of going to work every day knowing that if I didn’t close a sale, I wasn’t going to get paid. There were weeks where I made great money and weeks where I couldn’t pay my bills. I came to the realization that I cared about my clients far too much and I struggled to morally “close the deal” when I sensed hesitation on their end.
My final opportunity before arriving at Vanguard was an internship with another financial services firm. I worked in a branch office helping a few advisors run their books of business. I loved learning about finance and working with clients but I realized that a career as a commission-based advisor wasn’t for me. I saw first-hand the same pressure and anxiety that I had experienced in bridal gown sales and knew my time with this firm had to come to an end.
After graduation, I embarked on my journey to find a career I’d enjoy long-term. Thanks to my internship with financial advisors, I knew finance was something I was passionate about, and began my search for financial services firms in the Phoenix area. When I found a job posting for Vanguard, I did some research on the company and the role since I didn’t know anyone there to reach out to. I read great things about the company culture, benefits package, and unifying mission but was hesitant that it would be a good fit for me. Setting aside my fear, I interviewed in March of 2015 for a front line position serving clients by phone and was extended an offer!
My first day at Vanguard was May 11, 2015 and I vividly remember the fear and uncertainty I felt walking onto campus that day. But, I took a deep breath and stepped into a room full of friendly faces for my Corporate Orientation. I knew there was no turning back now!
One year down at Vanguard, I realized that I connected with the mission, loved the people I worked with, and appreciated the client-focused mentality. Not only that, but I became significantly better at managing my own finances because of the extensive training and guidance that Vanguard provided.
I started exploring career development opportunities and the wide variety of career paths that Vanguard offered. I knew I loved working with clients but couldn’t get the pull to leadership off my mind from my internship a few years prior. Like many people, I had to apply for and be declined from a few jobs to eventually land in the exact opportunity I was meant to be in. I went on to spend a year as an Assigned Representative serving high-net-worth clients and getting to run my own book of business. Getting to know my clients, their families, and their goals brought me joy that was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I laughed, cried, and celebrated with them through all of the major milestones they experienced. However, it was during this time I realized my heart was set on leadership. I was lucky enough to have a great leader who supported me, challenged me, and helped me prepare for my first leadership role at Vanguard.
After a stressful few weeks of networking, applying, and interviewing, I became a Team Leader on November 20, 2017. I walked in on that first day with similar feelings to my first day at Vanguard. I hardly knew anyone in this new department and I was worried about gaining my teams’ trust. To my relief, I was welcomed with open arms by a supportive peer group and wonderful team of crew.
One of the most memorable experiences I’ve had as a new leader at Vanguard was attending Leading Crew to Success. This week long training is held in the Pennsylvania office and Vanguard flies leaders from all over the world in to network and learn together. During this week, I spent countless hours getting to know and learning from other leaders from all levels, departments, and countries. We had fireside chats with Senior Staff, engaging discussions on leadership development topics, we competed in fun teambuilding activities, and capped the week off with a “graduation ceremony” with CEO Tim Buckley. This experience opened my eyes to the diverse group of inclusive, engaging, and talented leaders at Vanguard. It was amazing to see that regardless of what department we are in or where we live, we are all working towards the same goal of seeing our crew, clients, and organization succeed.
I have now been in my new role for ten months and, without a doubt, can say that it is my favorite job I have ever had. I face exciting challenges, learn something new every day, and get to work with the most amazing people. I am so grateful for the investment Vanguard has made in my personal and professional development over the last few years and continues to make every day. Currently, with the help of Vanguard’s tuition assistance, I am pursing an MBA in Organizational Leadership to support my long term leadership aspirations. I can honestly say that three years ago I had no idea that I would have ended up here, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!
There’s a famous scene at the end of the movie Cast Away (if you’ve never watched the movie put it on your “to do” list”) in which Tom Hanks is standing in the middle of the crossroads trying to determine which direction he’ll take his life after spending 1,500 days alone on a deserted island. The scene highlights the power of having options and the factors involved with making decisions that shape the direction of lives. The power of choice can never be undervalued. We have so many choices to make in this life and perhaps none more important than what shapes the direction of our careers.
In July 2015, after 11 fantastic and rewarding years with Vanguard, I found myself at a career crossroad. I chose to leave the organization to explore a different path. It was a very difficult decision as I knew what I was leaving behind: the crew, the relationships, the stability, the mission, and the pride in saying I worked for Vanguard. I chose to leave to push myself outside of my comfort zone. I was intent on taking the life and career lessons learned at Vanguard and positively impacting an entrepreneurial start-up organization. I knew what I was leaving behind, left on the best of terms, and was excited by the unknown ahead.
Returning to Vanguard
My career tenure outside Vanguard did not last long. Fast forward 9 months…in April 2016 I returned to Vanguard as a contract recruiter – a return that was possible based on previous performance and the strong relationships I had built during my time with the organization. While there are many reasons why the other career opportunity did not pan out as I had hoped, the lessons learned, both positive and negative, further solidified my drive and passion to return to Vanguard. Most importantly, I learned the value of humility, as I left Vanguard a full time crew member and returned as a contract resource with no guarantee of being rehired as a crew member. Despite the risk, other full time job offers, and lack of guarantee in being rehired, my heart was set on Vanguard. I was eager to reconnect with my peers and positively impact the organization for a second time.
When I share my Vanguard career journey with external candidates and internal crew, I’m always asked the same question: “Why did you come back to Vanguard?” It’s a fair question as people don’t often return to a former employer. My “why” can be categorized in three key groups: the people, the purpose, and the possibilities.
Vanguard’s people (crew, contractors, interns, etc.) drive business initiatives and innovations that positively impact our shareholders. Throughout my collective 13 years with Vanguard, I am grateful to have worked with smart, inventive, engaged, passionate, and dedicated people who have helped me grow personally and professionally. In turn, they have become my best friends, confidants, teachers, counselors, and extension of my family. I am also grateful to have led so many talented professionals. Watching their growth and development is as equally rewarding as my own career success.
Vanguard’s continued commitment to clients, crew, and community is unwavering. It’s rewarding to work for an organization that strives to put the best interest of clients first, provides rewarding career opportunities for its crew, and consistently serves our surrounding communities. The business initiatives, strategies, and innovations implemented at Vanguard are done to create the best possible experience for our shareholders. For crew who make a personal commitment to own their career journey, perform well in their existing role, and continuously push themselves to learn, opportunities await – whether it’s interesting projects, coaching and mentoring, or a new position. Lastly, I am proud to work for an organization where supporting our communities by volunteering our time, talent, and treasure is part of our cultural fabric and not an organizational obligation.
I originally started my Vanguard career as an entry-level Processing Associate. In the subsequent years, through hard work and taking an active role in my development, I’ve built a successful career in Human Resources in both individual and leadership roles. I’ve gained something from each of my positions at Vanguard while embracing the challenges of new roles and pushing myself outside my comfort zone. I define career possibilities as the opportunity to combine my passions with organizational needs and openings. With hard work, initiative, and an open mind, there are no limits to what your career can be at Vanguard.
At some point in our lives we are all in the same position as Tom Hanks’ character in Cast Away. Each of us will encounter a career crossroads at some point in our lives. Defining your “why” is a critical step in determining the path you take. I have taken the road less traveled and my “why” has allowed me to come back home to Vanguard. The very last words spoken in Cast Away are “thank you”. The words simplify the gratitude Hanks’ character had for his journey and the ability to determine his path – regardless of which road he chooses. Thank you Vanguard for allowing me to choose the road less traveled and ultimately to choose the road back home.
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our career opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
I’ve always believed that in order to grow, you must first step outside of your comfort zone. So, in 2015 I decided to take a leap of faith. I had graduated from college in 2013 with an undergraduate degree in Marketing and was working in Media and Advertising Sales. Honestly, I loved it. But, I reached a critical point in my professional career where I felt ready to advance.
I had a decision to make. I could either stay put and hope a promotion opportunity arose in the next 2 years—Or I could take a step back and transition to another company with vast opportunities for advancement and growth.
Somehow, I moved from a career in Media and Advertising Sales to Financial Services. I started my Vanguard journey in Retail Services as a Client Relationship Associate in October 2015, where I spent time servicing our direct Retail investors and learning the ‘ins and outs’ of Vanguard and the financial services industry. Once I was comfortable with my role, I started branching out and seeking opportunities to network and explore career paths. I started saving job postings that interested me and taking note of hiring managers who I wanted to meet. I found this was a great way to demonstrate genuine interest and learn more about the various departments across the organization.
After 10 months as a Client Relationship Associate I moved over to Select Services where I piloted a 3-month internal internship program. The program was an opportunity for Client Relationship Associates to further develop their relationship management skills and expand their investment and business acumen. Furthermore, the internship program established a talent pipeline within Retail Services to facilitate career mobility. After successfully completing my internship, I was hired as a full-time Select Services Investment Professional. In this role I gained exposure to high-net-worth clients and deepened client relationships by pairing investors with Vanguard financial advisors and assisting with asset consolidation. Outside of my normal daily responsibilities, I had opportunities to represent the department and host several “sit-withs” and overviews with senior leaders from across Vanguard who were looking to gain insight into Select’s business model. This was a great opportunity to positively affect change and have an impact on future business decisions. I used these opportunities to showcase my skills and provide meaningful, real-time feedback on daily operations.
Upon joining Select Services, my team leader took a proactive approach in aligning my skill set and career aspirations with department initiatives, such as joining a communication council for our Retail Investor Group. The council’s goal is to maintain an open line of communication amongst client-facing crew, Marketing Managers, and User Experience Designers to ensure Vanguard is providing the best-in-class digital client experience. This was a fulfilling experience because I was viewed as a subject matter expert and I felt that my opinion mattered.
What’s next? At this point, I’ve been at Vanguard for about 2 years and already held two full-time positions and an internship, built a network, and had opportunities to provide value to the business.
Currently, I work as a Senior Relationship Analyst in Retirement Plan Client Services. In this capacity I am now supporting Relationship Managers and helping Vanguard to deepen relationships with our Institutional clients. Learning an entirely different business is challenging, but my Retail acumen and my skill set from my previous career allows me to add value in a unique way.
In short, that “leap” turned out to be a great investment.
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our career opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
From designing buildings to building financial plans
In my last blog, I shared with you the moment I knew leaving the world of architecture behind for personal finance was the right move. This is how I was inspired to come to Vanguard.
In the fall of 2012, my school awarded John Bogle the “Pioneer Award” for his efforts in starting the Index Fund and persevering through the hard road for this phenomenon to catch on. Here I was sitting, on the edge of my seat of course, several feet from a titan of finance!
After the Q&A session, I had the pleasure of having lunch with Mr. Bogle and his team. He autographed my copy of The Little Book of Common Sense Investing and shared a few more stories. Later that day, I helped him carry his Pioneer Award and a large framed painting of a ship from Great Britain’s Royal Navy to his vehicle. I also made sure to tuck my resume in the portfolio of one of his recruiters.
Several emails and a few college transcripts later, I landed an interview with Vanguard’s Business Development Group. By this time, I was a pro in navigating Vanguard’s campus as I had visited during one of their EXPLORE days. Two weeks later, after the phone screen and four hour interview I was offered a full time position. Not only was I going to start my career with a top investment management firm, but I ended my job search before I even graduated!
After several weeks on Vanguard’s campus in Malvern, PA, I felt at home. Now I knew why so many investors trusted Vanguard with their life savings. Everyone from peers to leaders was dedicated to helping not only our clients but also crew members like myself, grow as professionals. The management team was engaged in my development and my peer coach was ready to provide job aids and resources to help get me off the runway.
By the end of 2013, the economy was continuing to stabilize, cash flows into Vanguard were steadily increasing, and the phones were ringing off the hook. Vanguard announced they were rebranding its advice offer, now calling it Personal Advisor Services® and that it was going to revolutionize the world of advice. We were going to provide high-quality, low-cost advice to millions and I couldn’t wait to be a part of this investment revolution!
Shortly after the announcement, I began studying for the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification. I was amazed to see how interconnected all of the financial planning topics were. With this amazement came a sense of need, knowing that these are real areas where people struggle. I experienced firsthand my family and friends scratching their heads and guessing at how to allocate their portfolios, determining how much they’ll need to comfortably retire, or even recite the definition of a balance sheet. Personal Advisor Services® was my shot at helping the masses get their financial lives on track.
After spending two years working in sales, going toe-to-toe with the competition, I was headed to Personal Advisor Services®. Again, my peers and leadership team went right to work on helping me get up to speed on the new technology, investment methodology, and best practices of managing the relationships I would build as an advisor. Now, with a few years of giving advice under my belt, I couldn’t imagine doing this for any other firm!
Looking back at it all, I know I made the right decision. I never thought I could develop the relationships I have with my colleagues, leaders, and company in the way that I do now. It’s been five years since I first stepped foot on Vanguard’s campus and believe it or not, I still get that day one feeling.
And John Bogle and I are on a first name basis.
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, learn about our careers in advice atwww.vanguardjobs.com.
Growing up, toy blocks ruled my world. Spaceships, sky scrapers, submarines – you name it, I built it. So… it came as no surprise to Mom when I declared I wanted to be an architect when I grew up. It made a lot of sense why I would choose this profession. I was the kid who was passionately curious about everything. The kid who asked for tools as Christmas gifts. The kid who hooked up the VCR at age 4. I was also the kid who took all the screws out of the dining room table, resulting in us ordering takeout that night. I had the brain of an engineer, the soul of an artist, and a mother at her wits’ end.
Fast forward to 2007. High school was in my rear view mirror and I was heading off to college to study the works of Frank Lloyd Wright, Zaha Hadid, and I. M. Pei. When grades were posted over winter break, Mom’s flashbacks of my childhood antics slowly dissipated after seeing a 3.6 GPA. I finished out the rest of my freshman year strong and had one of my designs featured in our school’s newspaper. Despite all of the hard work and long road ahead of me, I was feeling good about my decision to study architecture.
In the fall of 2008, things started to feel different. Internship postings on our school’s career website began disappearing, newspaper headlines warned of troubling times in the housing market, and I could see an uneasiness in almost every adult I knew, including Mom. By the end of the year, the S&P 500 was down nearly 40%, the unemployment rate was on its way to doubling, and the world was in a panic.
My engineering mind needed to know what was happening and more importantly, WHY? I began reading financial websites, looking for answers. After asking almost every adult I knew “what’s going on?” I discovered that no one, other than those who had a hand in it, knew what was happening. When the market finally bottomed in March of 2009, the mystery was over. The subprime mortgage lending business, the securitization of risky bank products, and Wall Street’s greed led to the greatest recession of our modern world. It would take years for the economy and housing market to recover. My dream of becoming an architect was over.
In the fall of 2009, I did what every logical 19 year old would do after a global financial meltdown. I changed my major to finance. I wanted those around me to have a resource to lean on for financial help. After a few semesters, I learned about the world of personal finance and was again energized to make a difference. It wasn’t until a college professor assigned The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by John Bogle that I realized how murky the waters of financial planning were. Virtually anyone could market themselves as an investment advisor as long as they had a nice suit, firm handshake, and knew a joke to put your mind at ease. So what could I do about it?
Stay tuned for Part 2, where I share how I met the man who changed the investment world and inspired me to join Vanguard.
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, learn about our careers at www.vanguardjobs.com.
It’s the end of the day as I know it – and I feel fine
As an undergraduate, I was lucky to have taken a class taught by Charles P. Kindleberger, who was instrumental in creating the Marshall Plan, which provided aid for Europe’s reconstruction after World War II. I was excited to hear from a professor who was not strictly an academic but actually had practical experience in economics. To this day, I have no recollection if Prof. Kindleberger discussed rebuilding Western Europe, but I vividly recall his engaging and humorous chronicling of history’s financial crises. He had me at manias long before I heard of irrational exuberance. So began a lifelong interest in the psychology of the financial markets.
An introduction to finance
Upon graduation, I began work at a private bank in New York where I got to sit at a very large mahogany desk, fill in ledgers with numbers, and occasionally use a relatively new computer program called Lotus 1-2-3. The work was tedious, which would have been OK for an entry-level position, but the culture lacked a soul and slowly eroded my enthusiasm for the finance profession. Perhaps I was naïve, but I wanted a job where I left the office most days feeling as if I had made just one person’s life a bit easier. As my disenchantment grew, one Monday in October, things got interesting. The institutional brokers that sat across from me were smoking more than usual, executives were leaving their offices, and the normally staid atmosphere took on a frenetic air. By the end of the day, the Dow Jones was down by 22%. To me this meant nothing. I barely had money in my checking account, let alone the stock market. But I did get to witness history firsthand, a real live market crash. I quit several months later, feeling free to pursue something more meaningful.
A circuitous route
Photography had always been a hobby of mine. While I figured out whether to go to business school or law school, I took a job in the photo library of The Associated Press. Immediately, it felt like home. My new colleagues were intellectually curious and incredibly dedicated. We had, dare I say, fun? There was never a doubt that we had a mission to accurately and objectively inform the world. A job that was supposed to be a bridge to graduate school turned into a 19-year career where I got to travel the world and gain a global perspective from my colleagues both here and abroad.
In 2007, my position was eliminated. Initially I was a little disoriented but I left the office that day determined to pursue an old career in a new and profound way. I was going to become a certified financial planner.
In 2014, I read that Vanguard was rolling out advisory services for 30 bps. I’ve primarily worked at fee-only firms that believe in low costs and extraordinary client service (fee-only firms have a fiduciary responsibility to act in their clients’ best interest). The only difference was that my current firm was charging 100 bps. I immediately wanted to be part of this. Vanguard’s approach was going to change the landscape of the industry and bring advice to millions in a cost effective way. So, I interviewed for a senior financial advisor position and was excited to start my new job. Unfortunately, it’s hard to begin a new position when you haven’t been hired. I knew I was a perfect fit for Vanguard, but as with many things in life, the timing was not right.
But persistence paid off, and in 2018, I started working at Vanguard as a financial advisor. I’ve finally found a place that combines my love of finance and psychology with the qualities of the best mission-based organizations. As with my journalism colleagues, our crew is dedicated to goals beyond individual accolades, share their knowledge freely, and understand that the best work is a result of collaboration and diverse ideas. I’m excited about what we can do for advice as a company as well as looking forward to the many opportunities I have as a Vanguard crew member. Whether that means being a mentor, obtaining my CFA, or working with external financial advisors—the possibilities are endless.
Since I’ve joined Vanguard, I finally have that feeling I was searching for – that each day I leave the office knowing I’ve made someone’s life just a bit easier.
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our careers in advice at www.vanguardjobs.com.
After reflecting on this question, a few things come to mind:
From day one, I was fully aware that I had a very basic understanding of the financial industry. I was hired alongside people with advanced degrees and years of experience. But I needn’t have worried – Vanguard offers a thorough training program, allowing me and my peers to work on our financial acumen skillsets, and eventually talk confidently to clients about their portfolios. If Vanguard can take someone like me and make them financially literate, I know they can do the same for you.
Although I only had one formal mentor growing up, I’ve had many great examples in my life who have inspired me to become who I am today. Since starting at Vanguard, I’m continually impressed with the responses I get from my fellow crew, some of whom are much higher up the chain of command than I, yet still take the time to answer my questions and counsel me on my career development. My own leader meets with me regularly to discuss my career aspirations and is the type of leader I want to become one day. It feels great to work at a place that has so much support, opportunity, and interest in my professional future.
Nearly one year later
Now as I write this, sitting at my desk here in Vanguard’s Scottsdale office, I am so thankful that I was determined in my endeavor to get hired by Vanguard. Because of the work and effort I put in, I have a job that provides for me and my family, I am an employee of an institution I trust, and I have a stellar team of peers who support me and drive Vanguard’s values forward.
So, yes. It was worth it.
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out career opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
Why I didn’t give up on my dream of working at Vanguard
“Thank you for coming in to interview with Vanguard, unfortunately…”
I didn’t get the job.
I felt like my world was over.
This was me in 2016: I was approaching my last semester of college and had no job lined up. I had also just found out my wife was pregnant. Needless to say, it was a very challenging and frightening time. And even though being declined for a job feels lousy, I knew immediately I would apply again.
You’re probably thinking, why reapply at a company that rejected you? Truthfully, I’ve always been fascinated with Vanguard! I come from a single-parent home with a tough military-widowed mother. My mother did an exceptional job raising three kids, however, I never had a good understanding of how investing works. In college, I would observe personal finance classes and try to glean as much info as I could. The more I researched, the more intrigued I became with the process of choosing investments wisely and setting appropriate goals. I also came to understand how much people trusted in Vanguard and came to really believe in its mission to stand up for ALL investors. I knew that if I had to start my finance career anywhere, I needed to start it at Vanguard.
So I applied again, and again I was called in to interview. This time, I focused on a set of principles to help demonstrate the interests and abilities I felt made me a good fit for the company:
You have to show your passion in both words and actions. During the interview, I discussed starting my own consulting practice to gain more experience in the consulting space. I shared what I learned from taking on such a big endeavor and how it related to the role I desired.
After you’ve shown that you can confidently take initiative, can you endure? While at school I was passionate about business and social impact and found an organization that combined both. By an interesting turn of events, I became the president of the organization. Although I was new, I didn’t let my naïveté slow me down and was able to lead the group through several projects. I shared in my interview how these experiences trained me to face demanding situations successfully.
I’m a firm believer that hard work over an extended period of time can yield great results. When I was first turned down by Vanguard, I made sure to keep my skills fresh and gain knowledge: I enrolled in a career prep class to enhance my interviewing skills. I studied everything I could about Vanguard: their products and services, their marketing style, and their culture. I even brought a portfolio of my past projects and an academic manuscript to show that I could dedicate myself to Vanguard and its mission.
A couple weeks after the next round of interviews, I got THE call again:
I was being offered a position in the company! It was a lot of effort and a long wait, but achieving the goal I had worked so hard for is indescribable.
So, was my journey worth it? Has it been everything I hoped it would be? Stay tuned for part two where I’ll share what it’s like to work at Vanguard – and how I feel now that I’m hired.