What If Young Adults Just Won’t Take Advice

Mentorship can help people avoid costly mistakes in their 20s and 30s, but what if they’re too stubborn to listen?

Financially, I struggled pretty badly as an undergraduate. Working part-time for a company that cut every employee’s hours as much as possible, I needed a way out.

Desperate for something that paid a college student’s living wage, I turned to SnagaJob.com.

After several applications and a couple of interviews, I found what I thought I was looking for. The position promised career growth, on-the-job training, and the ability to hit six figures.

Great, I thought. I won’t be able to earn that with my history degree. Maybe, I can just do this job full-time and teach history part-time at a community college.

I would soon learn, however, that selling life insurance on commission isn’t a job for college students or transplants.

My first red flag was when a family member who’d been down that path tried to convince me against it.

My second red flag was when the life insurance office manager asked me if I was sure I wanted to quit my minimum wage job after he hired me.

But tired of being undervalued and underpaid, I heeded none of it.

It turned out that selling life insurance is similar to selling a pyramid scheme.

They start you out with a blank sheet of paper and a pen and ask you to write down the names of everyone you know. Then, they want you to contact those people, some of whom you haven’t spoken to in years, and try to sell them your product.

If that doesn’t work, they give you existing customers to try to up-sell and to get leads from.

If that fails, they take you to service prospects and existing customers so you can “see how it’s done” and gain leads in person.

If that still gets you no leads, you’re basically on your own.

The home office isn’t paying you a salary, so if you stick around without making sales, it’s no skin off their back.

After two months of making $1,200 in pity money, I contacted a friend who once told me he worked in life insurance in his younger days.

He made it very clear that he wasn’t in the market to buy insurance and invited me to his home for lunch.

I explained that I was only working the job for survival until I could get my degree. I had interviewed at a few places without receiving any offers, and I was desperate.

He told me that most people who sell life insurance plan to make a career of it and questioned whether it was wise to rely on it short-term. He knew the manager at a nearby Lowes, where I’d previously applied, and urged me to let him contact his friend and see if he could get me hired there.

He told me that since I was getting a degree and planned for a career in that field, it’d be best to work a basic hourly job for a couple of years until I got out of college.

He explained the problems he’d had with the life insurance profession and his boss — problems I was already seeing myself.

He made convincing arguments. But, in my stubbornness, I wouldn’t listen.

All I heard was a challenge. I was going to succeed where this old-timer failed. Continue reading…

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