My Story: Struggles of Young Adulthood and Finding a Career
May 9, 2016
Without any true direction following high school, I went to Bowling Green State University in the fall of 2004 because I had some family ties to the school and it was an easy transition. It wasn’t too big, but not too small either. Being an athlete in high school I was naturally drawn to sports in college. I played club rugby and began studying exercise science as my major. I thought—I’ll get this degree and be a strength and conditioning coach—I like sports & I like to coach—if only it was that simple. During the summer of 2008 and my final summer semester at BG I had the pleasure of completing an internship at a sport performance facility in central Florida. During my time at the internship I was responsible for their summer sports camp. I was tasked with building and implementing the curriculum for these athletes to do some training and some game play. This camp was essentially a glorified summer camp for the kids with some planned athletic activities scheduled.
So how do we get from this summer internship to running a mortgage practice at State Bank?
Following my internship in Florida I returned to Ohio to have found an interest and passion in education. The teaching aspect of my experience allowed my passion for teaching and educating to blossom through this summer sports camp. In the winter of 2009, I promptly enrolled in a Masters in Education program to get my PE and Health Teaching Certification. This program was going to allow me to get the education classes I needed while still counting my sports and exercise classes I had obtained in undergrad. I was going all in on this—I had found what I loved to do and nothing was going to get in my way. I was going for the cliché—PE/Health teacher who also coaches football. During my Masters program, I started coaching football at Hastings Middle School in Upper Arlington, OH.
“Big deal, Zach—you struggled to find your foot hold in life….welcome to the club”, you might say. Well, there is another chapter to this and I promise we are getting closer to being introduced to the mortgage industry.
In spring 2011 I was lucky enough to be hired as a long term substitute teacher in a local school district. This was my big break. I was going to get hired on permanently—it was the perfect happily ever after to my journey toward a true career. Well—sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. The permanent teacher did return the following year and the school had no room to keep me on. I put my name in for every PE job the following school year and personally sent my resume and cover letter to every elementary, middle and high school in central Ohio. I began substitute teaching as much as I could in several districts in the area. Unfortunately, timing isn’t always the best because at the time I was working so hard to get in to a school, the majority of school districts were cutting jobs, thus leaving no room in the budget for a kid who has a master’s degree and tries really hard.
“Okay, Zach get to the true turning point—how did you get to where you are now? What caused you to pivot from education to mortgage?”
In the spring of 2012, my wife and I found out we were expecting our first child. What an exciting time for us! We were going to be parents! And all I could think about was, “Holy Shit, this just got real, and I’m still just subbing around.” So, I devised a plan. I was going to take a job as a teller at bank to help provide some stable income while still chasing the dream of being a teacher by taking as many sub jobs as I could fit into my schedule at the bank. In November 2012, my first daughter Giuliana was born and I had been working as a teller for 3 months and had barely been subbing. As any parent can attest, a child changes you. It’s hard to explain, but the overwhelming responsibility to this little miracle is enough to make anyone do anything necessary for those big brown eyes. I was becoming worried that everything I had worked for since 2009 was in danger of just disappearing. All that time studying, traveling to sub jobs, hours spent printing and sending resumes; all on the verge of being forgotten. I was not enjoying being a teller (to this day, top 3 worst jobs I’ve ever had), I had a daughter, I wasn’t subbing, I wasn’t happy with what was happening in my career (or lack thereof), and I didn’t know what to do.
I struggled as a teller for a few more months until my mother-in-law who had been in the mortgage and real estate industry for 20+years at the time offered me an opportunity to come work with her at Bank of America as a Mortgage Loan Coordinator. I didn’t know the first thing about mortgages, I didn't want to know anything about them and I didn’t want to work in a cubicle, and this was just further down the path that I didn’t think I wanted to go down. But those big brown eyes on baby Gigi told me different. I had to take this job for the betterment of our family and I had to make the most of it. During my time with Bank of America, my interest in finance, mortgage lending, and business began to grow. I began studying the real estate industry, from how to invest in property, to financing options, and how a mortgage could help someone create wealth. One of the biggest things I learned during this time was that I would do what I saw the other loan officers doing, but better. I knew I could take a little bit from the “out of the office” go getter and a little from the “behind a desk all day refi guy”. It became abundantly clear to me that I could be a loan officer, still coach football, and provide a financially lucrative career for myself and my family.
After spending 1.5 years studying the industry, I was ready to make the jump to being on my own. I was going to brand myself as “Your Mortgage Coach” because I do mortgages and I coach football, but more importantly because I find that the average home buyer is severely overwhelmed with the home buying and lending process. I was going to take everything I utilized in my teaching career and apply it to the mortgage industry. I planned on educating the clients in detail on what to expect during the loan process and make sure they understood everything. Up to this point in my “career” I was very uninterested in anything to do with “sales” and the real estate industry, especially the mortgage industry is “sales” 24/7. So, to help myself I wasn’t going to sell, I was going to educate.
I took a position with a bank in Dublin, OH and honed my mortgage education skills over a 2 yr period with them. I learned a lot about building relationships with other industry professionals and how to build a business on exceptional service. My plan of educating clients as opposed to selling them on a mortgage was working for me. I was gaining some traction in the business but felt I needed a change. In January 2016, I took my mortgage practice to State Bank who is local bank in Central Ohio who had just made a huge investment into residential mortgage lending by constructing a brand new corporate office in Dublin.
Having now settled into my role at State Bank, I often reflect on the long road to get where I am. It has taken me 7 years to become fully comfortable in my career and path I chose. I know helping people purchase homes is where I am meant to be. Educating clients on the nuances of the mortgage process is my calling. It took me some time to find my footing in my career but every experience I had previous to my current mortgage business has provided me with the skills necessary to be successful in home finance. I love to coach. Whether it’s football or first time home buyers—coaching is my calling. I’m here to coach you through the home buying process. Whether this is your first house, 2nd, or 100th, I’m here to help provide guidance and encouragement toward the closing.
I sincerely thank you for taking the time to read My Story. It’s long by most blogging standards. Many of my blog posts are industry or business related, but I wanted to start getting more personal. I think it’s important in helping build a relationship with future clients and/business partners who I might have the opportunity to work with.
Please comment and share if you can relate to the finding your passion through your own journey.
Zach is a Mortgage Advisor with State Bank in Dublin, OH. He writes and speaks regularly on personal finance, business development, and leadership. His focused approach on educating clients through the mortgage process allows him to help hundreds of new homeowners each year.