In case you missed the first part of my story, you can find it here.
Great, now that we are all caught up, let’s jump into round two.
At the age of 20, I became a Legal Assistant with a (regionally) well-known employment and business law firm. Talk about a crash course in professionalism. Coming from working in a tattoo shop and on construction sites, I was as green as they come. I managed to get the hang of things fairly quickly and did well.
The month after I began working for the law firm, I enrolled in evening classes at a local community college (fondly referred to by locals as “Harvard on The Hill”). Apparently, the influence of working with educated and intelligent individuals was enough to motivate me to get my butt back to school.
I Wanna Work All Day and Go to School Every Night
I spent three years working full-time as a Legal Assistant while going to school at night at the community college before earning enough credits to transfer. I transferred to a (regionally) well-known private liberal arts school. I will expand on why I chose a private school versus the state school in a forthcoming post.
Two more years of full-time work and night school and I graduated with a BS in business at 25 (better late than never, wouldn’t you say?). I took a nice, long two-week break and then jumped into the MBA program at the same school (more on this decision to come down the line, including the pros and cons of said decision) in an effort to improve my career prospects and fulfill a goal of mine. Another two years of full-time work (now as a Paralegal) and night school and I graduated with my MBA at 27.
An Early Start to Some of Life’s Biggest Events
During the 7 years of full-time work at the law firm and attending school at night, I also married my high school sweetheart and the love of my life (at 23), bought our first home (also at 23 – in fact, we closed on the house the day before our wedding) and welcomed our first baby (at 26). Only until recently did I realize how early we got started with some of these things, comparatively speaking. It all seemed so natural at the time, so I never really gave it much thought.
Also worth noting is when our first baby was born, and after careful thought and much planning, we became a one-income household. Mrs. DH has been a full-time mommy since the fall of 2013. She is an absolute natural and is truly living her dream. Do we sacrifice to make this happen? You better believe it, but it is something that is very important to us both and in our minds, totally worth the sacrifices. Now, if I could just get paid to be a stay-at-home-daddy.
A Warm Welcome to Startupland
The month before I graduated with my MBA and after 7 years of working in the legal field, I was finally able to breakout and do something I was really excited about. I became the Operations Officer of an early-stage startup.
I have always been interested in, and fascinated by, the startup world and when the opportunity presented itself, I was beyond excited. I was very well aware leaving a stable job at a well-established firm to join an early-stage startup was inherently and overtly risky. The starting salary was higher than what I was making in my legal job and the position offered generous and meaningful equity plus significant income potential.
I did my best to weigh out the pros and cons of making the move and ultimately decided to take a calculated risk. My wife was onboard and supportive so I took the plunge. Little did I know, what I had hoped would be a swan dive, turned into a big, fat belly flop. I was laid off due to financial hardship of the company a mere 11 months after joining the startup (you can bet your britches there will be more posts about this experience).
Holy crap! In the third and final installment of my story, we will take a look at job loss and the reality of moving from a one-income family to a zero-income family. Oh hey, by the way, we also found out we were pregnant with baby number two shortly after I lost my job. Talk about a roller coaster of emotions! Stay tuned …
Did you have a nontraditional education experience or were you the poster child for the traditional college experience? Have you ever lost your job? Have you taken a calculated risk only to have it implode shortly after?