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Four Learnings From My Nonlinear Career Journey

by Richard Amaechi

Making Waves Education Foundation » Resources » Four Learnings From My Nonlinear Career Journey

My name is Richard Amaechi (he/him), I’m a San Francisco native from the Visitacion Valley neighborhood. I went to San Diego State University and graduated in 2020 with a degree in international business with an emphasis in Japanese language.  

I’m a Wave-Maker alum, and was part of Making Waves’ college and career success program. Currently, I am a financial consultant at Fidelity Investments. 

But my career journey didn’t begin there.  

As soon as I graduated from college, I attained my first full-time career role at Vanguard. This came through my experiences having done multiple internships, being involved on campus, and with support from my network. I started at Vanguard in their leadership development program and then launched into a role as a retail sales supervisor. 

I then took a promotional opportunity to go to UBS in Charlotte, North Carolina, where I was able to lead training as a manager in their wealth management division. I then pivoted to my current role as a financial consultant at Fidelity Investments. I am back in the Bay Area, and it feels good to be back home.

With all that said, my career journey has not been linear, but it’s been worth it and I’m here to share some of the learnings. Here are my tips for recent graduates or job seekers thinking about pivoting in their careers. 

I am a very proud alum of San Diego State University. I didn’t go to the fanciest school. I didn’t go to UC Berkeley, UCLA, or Harvard, and I’m doing just fine. You can make your name stand out wherever you go to college. Whether you go to a big school or a state school or somewhere else, you can get involved and make a huge impact. Most importantly, you can graduate with opportunities lined up. Just put your name out there.

Once you enter corporate America or your chosen career path, no one cares where you went to school. It’s honestly fair game. Where you went to school might only matter for your first job out of college, but not your second, and definitely not your third, so don’t feel discouraged and go make a name for yourself. 

When opportunities present themselves, regardless of the location, take them! It doesn’t have to be forever in that location. I went from San Diego, California, to Scottsdale, Arizona, to Charlotte, North Carolina, to Palo Alto, California. I ended up loving all of these cities and would have never had the chance to had I not been open to exploring opportunities.  

Being flexible might mean trying to go to a better company, even if it means that you’re going to be paid a little bit less. Don’t have too much of an ego about how much a starting job out of college is paying. Most people, including myself, don’t start off making six figures, as you might have to be making $40k, $50k, $60k, and just take that hit for a couple years, live with a roommate, but get the skills you need so that you’re more marketable. Be flexible and do not chase money so early; it will come.

Hone in on your own personal growth and career progression. Be open to pivoting and taking a chance on yourself. Typically, in careers, high risk usually correlates with high returns. Focus on what you can control and always remember that your path doesn’t have to be linear.

I’m excited that in my current role at Fidelity, I have the opportunity to grow and develop new skills that I can leverage in my career long term. Fidelity is a great company that has several locations all over the country and I am glad I found a branch that brought me closer to home in San Francisco.  

Your support system is so important. I have mentors and support systems that I’ve met through college and during conferences and people who were willing to help me with finding job opportunities, like my current job. A support system is pivotal.  

Making Waves is an incredible organization in your support system. One of the things I’ve always prided them on was the mentorship they provided, especially from my coach, Dr. Kristina Wright.  

Take advantage of the coaching opportunities and try to explore different avenues of leveraging your scholarship. For example, I used my Making Waves scholarship to go to Ethiopia and Ghana during college, and those are experiences I would have never had if it wasn’t for this organization. It’s a privilege to have their help.

Be resourceful and make sure you’re leveraging everything that your college, your company, and your support system have to offer. Great things will come out of it.


At Making Waves, we are committed to educational equity. Making Waves Education Foundation is a Bay Area nonprofit that supports Making Waves Academy – a public charter school with more than 1,100 5th through 12th grade students – and leads college and career programming with more than 430 college students.​

Knowing the opportunities that come with a college degree, we partner with historically underrepresented and underserved students to help make college affordable and graduation attainable. Centering the journeys of our students, our personalized approach includes college and career coaching, scholarships, and financial planning.​

Our alumni network includes more than 730 college graduates, who earn their degrees and land jobs at more than twice the rate of their first-generation, low-income peers, with 85% graduating debt-free.

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