“Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost
This series highlights young professionals and their stories, because no matter our path we all have a little to share and a lot to learn. Read and learn from past feature posts HERE.
One of my favorite things about doing this series is that I get to know people better, but it also means I sometimes get to catch up with people I have been friends with for a long time. Today’s profile features Wyatt, who is one of my really good friends from my childhood in Oregon. We fell out of touch a bit through college, but since moving to Virginia we’ve been able to reconnect since he lives here too, down in Williamsburg. Growing up, I remember Wyatt always being a loyal friend, extremely dedicated to whatever he was involved in and had the kind of bright personality that showed he wanted to make sure others were having fun and felt welcome. I have a lot of great memories from that friend group and while I may not know Wyatt as well in his role as a young professional, I feel confident saying that I’m sure many others would echo my thoughts.
He also has an incredible story about finding his biological family and even wrote a book about it! It was incredibly cool to see a friend’s name on a book cover like that and even more so that he felt led to share his story with others and use it to help others.
Name: Wyatt Harris
Hometown: Hermiston, Oregon
College: University of Oregon and Saint Leo University
Degree(s): BA Chinese, International Business and MBA
Current Location: Williamsburg, Virginia
Current Job: Financial Adviser with Northwestern Mutual
I grew up in Oregon and moved out to the east coast to be closer to my better half Christina. We were only planning on being here for a couple years and now its been 6 years. During my senior year in college I found my biological parents in China and turned my journey into a story. I was fortunate enough to have the book published in China, Taiwan and the United States. With donations, corporate partnerships and royalties, the Second Chance Foundation was started with the sole purpose of bringing orphans from Taiwan to study here in the United States.
How did you choose your college and your major?
I always knew I was going to get into business/finance. My grandparents were very big into real-estate and involved with all sorts of business transactions. I chose the University of Oregon to avoid letting my family down as most of us are UofO alumni. Being a Chinese kid in a primarily white society in Hermiston, I was not exposed to the Chinese culture/history. So, I decided that I wanted to learn more about my heritage.
What were you involved with outside of class? Organizations? Internships?
I did an internship in Taiwan for Daikin, a Japanese air conditioning company. I was also very active in student life groups and organizations on campus.
What were your biggest challenges or obstacles in college? Anything you would change?
My biggest challenge in college would be the balancing of school work and social life. The one thing I regret to this day was not enjoying college enough. I was so focused on my classes and graduating early, I missed out on a lot of fun college life. I did however save my parents a year of tuition, but still wish I had another year under my belt experiencing Autzen stadium and the crowd cheering during our home games.
What one piece of advice would you give a student during their senior year?
Meet with a financial adviser in your local area to discuss the value of building sound credit. Also to review what the most common benefits employers are offering so when you get that first job, you know what a 401(k) is and the difference between Roth and IRA.
Tell us about your career so far?
I enjoy meeting new and current clients and discussing more about my clients personal, professional and financial goals. I work with my clients daily to plan for retirement by utilizing IRA’s, 401(k), 403(b) etc. One of biggest responsibility is to protect my client’s goals by using tools like Life Insurance, Disability or Long Term Care.
How have your experiences and involvement in college set you up for success in your career and life post grad?
Networking and learning how to carry myself both personally and professionally to be approachable.
On the flip side, what are the biggest challenges or differences you’ve experienced post grad that you didn’t expect or didn’t feel prepared for?
I didn’t feel like I really understand exactly what career I wanted to be in.
What apps, technology and resources do you use regularly to stay organized and do your job?
Linked In, Good Mobile.
At this stage, what are a few of your strengths and weaknesses?
- Strengths- Follow-up
- Weakness- Time management
How do you stay motivated when work gets really busy or difficult?
I have a strong vision and purpose for why I come in early and stay late. The biggest thing I would suggest when stepping into a new scary position would be to avoid having a plan B. That moment in your career that you have a bad day/week, you will resort to plan B and potentially regret not sticking it out.
Work-life balance? How do you stay afloat and refreshed?
My vision revolves around travel, Christina and our four-legged kid. We go to the beach during the summers and hiking during the cooler parts. It’s important to remember that we work hard to play hard. But, to always remember that your career won’t always be there, but your best friend will be.
What in your #PostGradLife are you most proud of so far?
Being able to buy a brand-new house by age 26.
What does life look like right now? Hobbies and interests? What outside of work are you passionate about?
I play soccer, visit breweries and really enjoy being in the outdoors.
What path are you looking to take next? Any long-term goals?
Long term goals include being Managing Partner one day for the Virginia or Oregon offices.
Just for Fun
What is essential to your morning routine to start the day off right?
Have enough of my favorite toothpaste.
Do you have a must-have vice like caffeine or item you can’t live without in your workspace?
Lotion, chap stick and my Easy Button.
If you were to have another career, all limitations aside, what would it be?
Pilot. My heart and soul belongs in the air. I’m continuously watching Youtube videos of airplanes landing and taking off.
Moment of truth, what do you really miss about college?
Artichoke dip at 1 a.m. with my friends.
I was a little bummed this was the only photo I could find of Wyatt and I together in my files, because I am positive that there are more somewhere. But on the other hand, this does show quite a few of my favorite people from growing up 🙂
Wyatt, thank you so much for taking the time to share a bit of your story. Looking forward to the next time we can catch up when you are in Arlington!