Things Texas People Like

Blogging is hard.  I haven’t gotten to the point where hundreds of ideas just flow through my mind until I’m rolling in ad endorsements.  My primary forte has been finding groups of people to poke fun at and I quickly exhausted my resources of Utah county (although this election cycle provides plenty of new material, but I’ll just leave that to every media outlet).

For those of you who didn’t know I moved to Texas, I moved to Texas.  It’s been about two months now and in that time I still don’t understand the root of Texas pride.  However, I have been able to see that many things are, in fact bigger in Texas: trucks, alcohol tolerance, and waistlines (San Antonio: 8th largest in the nation!) for example.  There is a whole group of people down here with their own culture and stereotypes that must be spoken of.  And so continues the saga with Things Texas People Like.

Driving the speed limit

When someone strikes a nerve with you while driving, do you ever glance at them while driving past them to see if they look as bad as they drive?  Since I’ve been in Texas, it has taken a great deal of self-control to keep watch where I’m going and eyes on the road.

“Is there a 7 care pile up ahead?”

No! It’s just half the freeway population doing 5 under the speed limit!

Coming from Utah where the average speed is 10 over (I’m not implicating myself as a reckless driver, it’s everyone else), if you pulled that speed here, you’re likely to be bigger target for cops than sprinkled doughnuts on a stake out.  I half expect there to be a dog or family of otters in front of all these cars to explain their speed.  But I am always left disappointed that I have yet to see a family of otters running through the freeway.  In Utah, I used to hear all the time what bad drivers we are.  I think a more appropriate statement would be:

(Insert your state here) has bad drivers”

Talking about Restaurants you’ve Never been to (and shooting down the ones you have)

One of my first weekends in Texas, we had just finished a successful trip to IKEA in Austin (about an hour and a half drive).  We were hungry and wanted to find somewhere good to eat.  Consulting Google, we found a place called Rudy’s with excellent ratings.  As newbies, the employees treated us to a small, free platter of samplers to see what we liked.  We proceeded to consume a satisfying meal of brisket, half a loaf of bread (calories don’t count if you don’t count them!), and creamed corn that tasted like ice cream.  We were content.

Later that week in class, we told others of our experience.  All we wanted was for others to be happy of our decision.  What we were told instead was that we should have gone literally anywhere else.

“Oh sure, Rudy’s is fine, but it’s a franchise and you can find that anywhere.  You should have tried…”

Then came a more heated discussion than the blue/gold dress of 2015 as everyone but us Utah folk contributed to the conversation and disagreed on where the best BBQ places are. What I came to understand was that it didn’t matter if we bought some good-looking chairs, we wasted a trip to Austin. If I had a nickel for how many restaurants have been recommended to me down here, I still wouldn’t be rich, but I would have just an absurd amount of nickels.  Even after we go out and try a recommended place, there is always someone to disprove our decision and give us 10 other alternatives.

So, if you ever come to town and are looking for recommendations, please don’t ask me, and whatever you do, don’t tell anyone where you decided to go.  Also, you’ll likely have to travel to Austin because apparently all the best restaurants are not in San Antonio.

Blue Bell


A play off the moniker “What happens in Vegas…” is “What’s made in Texas, stays in Texas.  They’re very selfish with their BBQ sauces, HEB grocery stores (one of the best things in Texas), and especially Blue Bell ice cream.  Once I decided to pay nearly $7 for a half-gallon of buttered pecan (pronounced pee-can), I was immediately  hooked and went and bought another tub the next day upon finishing the first (don’t judge me).

Yes, there was a Listeria outbreak last year in which over 8 million gallons were recalled.  Yes, a few people did die from it.  But, since they used the phrase “we’re rebranding” during their comeback, like Chipotle or Wells Fargo, I completely trust them.  It’s just so good!

If you want a small taste of it in Utah, they serve it at Ike’s Creamery in Provo Beach Resort.


I’m not a sports guy.  I love attending events, but watching random games on TV isn’t my favorite idea, and don’t expect me to know any stats either.  It took me about 5 years at BYU before I could hold my own in a conversation about BYU football, always made difficult by the fact that the lineup changes constantly (stop graduating for just one year, please!).

Now I feel like an idiot all over again.  My class is made up of students coming from big football schools of the south.  Naturally, the topic comes up…quite frequently actually…everyday as a matter of fact.  It’s usually the morning conversation as everyone follows up on their fantasy football stats.  Sometimes in order to deflect my lack of knowledge, I feel like saying:

“Can you all shut up? I’m getting ready to learn!”

or I just keep it vague:

“I like when the team you like gets more points than the other!”

But those both make me feel about as comfortable as getting stabbed, so I keep it to myself.

Texas is fine as far as states that start with T go.  I’m not sure where Texas pride comes from yet (unless it comes from Blue Bell, then I completely understand).  Another year may help me understand that, but also give me more things to write about.

Stereotypical Summers

After a long winter and a spring season that can never make up its mind what climate it wants to be, summer is a much anticipated time for all types of people. Whether school, work, or pleasure opportunities, many of these plans have been in the making for months, while others are more spontaneous.  Take a look at your own group of friends and you may find those who fit these categories.

Summer Sales

It’s time to dust off those uni-colored polos (typically orange or gray) and matching snapbacks.  The field is white, all ready to harvest those commissions that will nail you the top salesman award at the end-of-year cruise.  Although the days are long and hard, the weekends provide the opportunity to show off what you’ve accomplished at the gym over the past nine months; documented through pictures at the beach, skins vs. skins volleyball games, and even more time at the gym (don’t forget to flex!).  When the summer is over, with all the money you made, you don’t have to worry about working for the rest of the year.  Focus on the essentials like getting you and your bros to the gym on a scooter, house parties, and hot tubbing. #squadgoals


On the way to the hot tub after a clutch day of sales!

Study Abroad 

Not to be confused with a sudden increase in European art or Asian literature, a study abroad program provides students the opportunity to study things they have relatively no interest in or will not use (obviously not in all cases) while simultaneously receiving a cultural experience by being able to take pictures next to well-known historical icons.  Imagine, a whole summer of asking people: “Will you take a picture of me while I stare pensively at something vague in the background?”


For a great Instagram account making fun of these types of pictures, follow @socalitybarbie

Or taking a picture every time you’re on a plane.


Airplane wings. Letting the world know you didn’t ride first class

Other opportunities abound such as finding love in a foreign place with those in your group.  Back home, it was easy for the person you liked to give you the slip when they didn’t want to date you.  Now they’ll be stuck with you for six weeks in close quarters with no chance of escape.  Act now!  You’ll be all the rage back home among your friends as you show off all your pictures and all the places you went.  Just hope that they don’t ask you about the artistic style of Botticelli during the Renaissance, you weren’t paying attention.


Congratulations!  You’ve decided to get your act together, stop frolicking abroad, and realized that your sex appeal to do sales disappears in your 30’s.  You’re thinking long term, which has landed you this prestigious internship.  If you’re anything but a business major, you’re likely staying local.  Unless you get with an up and coming non-profit based out of New York, then you move out, live in a van, and share a community garden with everyone else since it’s unpaid.  If you’re a business major, you’ve gone through a vigorous vetting process to get there (unless your dad knows people).  Now, with your overly-tight suit, faded haircut, and skinny ankles, you’re ready to move to a foreign land (sometimes as far as Phoenix or Dallas) and running endless excel formulas and cleaning out companies’ databases (aka grunt work).  Hopefully you get a job out of it.  If not, you can at least do sales until you hit your 30’s while you think about your next step.

Going Nowhere

This isn’t to say you’re not ambitious, but perhaps none of these circumstances apply to you.  Either you don’t fit the summer sales mold, you’re not far enough in school to do an internship, or your parents won’t pay for another study abroad.  This leaves you in the exact same spot you’ve been for the last year.  But you need to show all your traveling friends that you can have a good time too.  One popular past time is slacklining – because nothing says daredevil like walking a foot-and-a-half above a grassy hill.  Hammocking is another enjoyable past time.  Set up a hammock and take a nap until a like-minded person passes by and asks inquisitively “You hammock too?”  They grab their hammock, then you are both hammocking.  When you ask someone to take a picture of you hammocking so you can Instagram it, make sure your instafriends don’t recognize the hammock is set up in your front yard.  They’ll think you’re trying too hard.  It shouldn’t be too difficult to come up with fun summer ideas: house parties, bonfires, mocktails, card games, Taco Tuesday, etc.  Just don’t get too carried away with ideas:

It’s not riding an elephant though . . .

*As a disclaimer, I have been a participant of some sort in all these areas . . . which means I can make fun of them.

Apathy and Uninformed Voters: Our Nation’s Downfall



Almost 250 years ago, a distinguished body of men gathered together to lay the framework of what the United States is now built on.  This Constitution has provided order and government since and now stands as the supreme law of the land.  Majority of these men had taken part in the Revolutionary War ten years previously and were willing to die for what they believed in.  After the war was won and it came time to found a nation, differing opinions and political ideals were set aside because there was a greater purpose in mind.

The preamble of the Constitution is widely known and yet largely not understood:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

How many people understand that “ensure domestic tranquility” means that it is the government’s purpose, duty, and responsibility to make sure that people can live peacefully within the boundaries of the nation; that they will not be afflicted by riots, rebellions, or wanton criminal activity?  Why does it seem like instead of promoting general welfare, there is an ever-widening gap between social classes?  Why does it seem like the government’s sole purpose today is to take away people’s rights?

Distinguished* individuals still sit up on the hill today.  With their ivy-league educations, years of experience, and debate finesse, our Nation should be operating successfully.  Why then, are both political parties at constant, unresolved impasses? Why then, has our country turned from a mindset of “we” to “us vs. them?”  And why, isn’t anything being done about it?

We the People, have no one to blame but ourselves.

Did you know that you can help elect the people who make the big decisions at a local, state, and national level? You did? Then why aren’t you doing anything about it?  In 2014, just 29.6 percent of elibible voters in Utah cast a ballot, a record low for the state.  Out of those who do vote, how many do so because they know the issues? Or is it because they personally know the candidate, heard an ad for them, align with the same religion, or just wanted a sticker?

We get mad at the leaders making decisions for us, but we put them there in the first place and aren’t doing anything to get them out.  Perhaps out of fear that Utah voters are actually becoming educated and involved, the Utah Senate is currently calling on Congress to repeal the 17th Amendment – so that state senators can again select U.S. senators.  This means that rather than being elected by the voice of the people, the Senate would become an exclusive club.  Don’t worry about it though, it’s a lot easier to remain unaware of what’s going on than to get involved.  Ignorance is bliss. (Read article here)

Donald Trump perhaps said it best after he won the Nevada caucus on February 23: “I love the poorly educated.”  It may not be realistic to expect everyone to be well-informed on every political aspect, but having an understanding of current issues that affect us, along with an active voice, is critical to determining the future of our nation.  Too many leaders today thrive upon the apathy and those who are uneducated politically to push their agendas and campaigns.  The few who do take up an active role have difficulty rallying the majority needed to make significant change.

The field of politics and elections has shifted from civil debates proposing deep and thoughtful policy responses, to constant mudslinging, insults, and exposing others weaknesses while pushing their own strengths.  This current state is nothing new to politics, but now it seems that all of these actions take precedence over providing solutions for our problems.

What makes Donald Trump an effective candidate for the Republican nomination is his ability to fuel the fire the general public has towards the government.  He tells people what they want to hear without providing concrete resolutions.  What’s interesting is that people were upset with Mitt Romney four years ago for being a wealthy businessman who told things as they were (47%) and provided realistic solutions.  Donald Trump is an even wealthier businessman who chooses to sympathize with his supporters by throwing blame at the establishment and creating larger-than-life expectations.  All while being crass, rude, insulting, and arrogant – qualities not commonly associated with the POTUS.

In any business, SMART goals are encouraged (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound).  For an effective goal to be met, these guidelines should be met.  If Trump supporters actually thought hard about the promises being made to them, they would see that those ideas are flawed and seemingly unrealistic.

A few examples

  • Building a giant wall along the border PAID FOR by Mexico – If the US hasn’t been able to provide the funds for a wall, then where would Mexico come up with the money? The former Mexican President recently stated that “I’m not going to pay for that f—— wall.”
  • Deporting all immigrants – You may not stop to think that perhaps the house you live in, the burger you were served, your gas attendant, may have all been provided by an immigrant workforce. If 12 million immigrants are deported, not only is a giant portion of our nation’s workforce depleted, but hundreds of thousands of families will be torn apart.
  • Healthcare – Trump plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act his first day in office. If he does, that leaves insurance companies free to drop their “expensive” customers, leaving perhaps millions of people without access to healthcare.  He has not provided a resolute alternative in its place.
  • Ban Muslims from entering the US – Not only disregarding a right guaranteed by the first amendment, but creating nearly 1.6 billion enemies across the world.

By fanning the public’s anger by bringing up these hot topics, Donald Trump continues to gain supporters, no matter how crass, insulting, or how many countries he offends in the process. How can he expect to be leader of the free world if he has offended every other nation in the process?

Donald Trump is not the only person monopolizing the uninformed voters.

A lot has been said of my own generation, the millennials who are the future leaders of this nation.  The reputation we have gained as lazy, entitled children is embarrassing and the topic has been so thoroughly discussed that to further press the matter would be beating a dead horse.  So I’ll beat it a bit more.

What has seemed to stick with our generation is that if you make a big enough fuss about something, it will be fixed.  Riots, protests, and excessive sharing via social media are platforms on which to accomplish these demands.  Much of this demographic is currently “feeling the BERN,” and throwing support to Bernie Sanders socialistic ideas of a political revolution.

While Bernie Sanders may have some compelling ideas, many would require extreme and radical changes within the government, unlikely to gain support from those currently in congress.  Many people agree with the ideas he presents, but may not seriously consider how they are to be met.  The following clip shows a student lobbying for free education, but struggling to explain how it would be funded – further emphasizing the importance of understanding the issues.

Building off the ideas presented in the clip and concepts of socialism, the idea of distributing wealth and taxing the rich obliterates the longstanding ethos of the American Dream.  The American Dream used to denote that success can be achieved through hard work.  With such a social divide today, this is not necessarily the case and seems to be the exception.  But in such cases, what would drive someone to be successful in a socialist economy if you do not get to reap all the fruits of your labor.  The American Dream then becomes the ability to achieve mediocrity to avoid high tax rates.

Millennials don’t seem to comprehend the full meaning of socialism now, as students and early careerists and view the 1% as the bad guys.  Only once their own income rises and begin to pay more taxes will they become more averse to government social spending.  Why So Many Millenials are Socialists from The Federalist website does a great job at showing millennials stating what they want, but not knowing why they want it or how it is going to happen.

Of course, there are problems and concerns with other candidates that people don’t know about: Why has Marco Rubio never accomplished anything in the Senate? Why is Ben Carson still running? Who is John Kasich? And why does Ted Cruz have such a remarkably forgettable face? But the two previous candidates provide the most extreme examples to draw from.

Now, more than any other time is when our nation is in its greatest need of inspired and thoughtful leadership.  But at no other time besides the civil war have we been more divided as a nation.  Stop relying on the candidates to bully you into a vote and get to know who they are and what they stand for.  We can’t be responsible for the occasional (or frequent) immoral and unjust decisions our leaders make, but we can be responsible for ensuring they never get another shot at a term in office.

There may still be people who believe in the Constitution and fight to uphold it.  So often, their voices are drowned out by the overwhelmingly negative messages portrayed through the media.  It’s time for every citizen to rise up and return America to what it once was (I refuse to use the phrase “Make America Great Again” to avoid and unintentional endorsement).

For anyone interested in knowing what the Constitution says, you can read it here.



It’s that time of year again; when the lines are drawn for one of the most divisive standoffs of the year that is even more intense than the #teamedward/#teamjacob debate of the Twilight era, more trivial than the blue/gold dress debate of 2015, and more petty than the current Republican debates.  It’s the time of year when couples and single people face off: couples going overboard to profess their love (of not being single) and single people counteracting by trying to prove how great it is to be a young millennial who can do anything without being tied down.

From Provo, Utah, these lines are made even more inflated by the articles in BYU’s Valentine’s edition newspaper.  The week of the holiday, multiple stories can be found from the perspective of the marrieds, and the rebuttal of the singles.  Past pro-marriage articles have included favorites such as “I do at BYU” and “Tying the knot in College,” which use statistics and quotes to dishonor those still frolicking in singularity.  Married students are highlighted and classified as “part of the 25 percent of married students on campus,” The “1%,” anyone? They also give out unsolicited advice such as encouraging their single friends to get married so they can start hanging out again.

To show that being single still has its advantages, articles have been written in past years about this wild and fun crowd that include “Single’s Awareness: The Five Stages of Breaking Up,” and “Relationship status impacts self-image” . . . Hmm, actually, maybe more current articles work as better rebuttals: “Students experience three levels of dating fears” and “Studies show negative effects of hookups.”  Uh . . .

What do statistics and data know anyways?  Let’s take a look at the actual night of Valentines.  While couples are dressing up, going out, and feeding each other fondue, singles are hosting their own, themed parties.  Maybe you might have been invited to one of them:

  • Lonely Hearts Club
  • Broken Heart’s Party
  • SAD (Single’s Awareness Day) Party
  • Swipe Right for Awesomeness! (Not sure what exactly will happen here)
  • Galantines Day (Girls going off in groups and leaving men even more alone)
  • We’re Lonely and Have No one to Turn to (Not very subtle)
  • EPIC Dance Party! (Because a weekend in Provo wouldn’t be complete without a dance party)

Most of these parties include baked goods, party games (mafia, smurf, manner of the adverb, etc.), and small talk.  These parties usually finish up when either the food is gone or curfew is met.

In the midst of this clash, there are many who change their allegiance by the next day.  These turncoats may begin the night amongst single friends, but slowly leave as a couple to do their own thing.  By the next morning, you discover that they are now engaged to be married, never to be seen apart again.  If you want to play a fun party game, take bets with your friends on how many engagements will show up on tomorrow’s Facebook feed.

Valentine’s Day is a day of celebration.  It’s up to you what you are celebrating though: Independence or togetherness? Perhaps by next year, you can set resolution’s to either have someone to be with, or throw the largest Anti-Valentine’s party on the block.

Beyond Salary: What Makes a Company a Great Place to Work For?

I began working at the early age of 8.  I delivered Thursday’s newspaper beginning at 4 A.M. with the assistance of my dad (who I now appreciate even more).  I brought in a sizable $30 a month – significant at that age.  From that point on, I usually held some form of work: mowing lawns, scout camp counselor, grocery store stocker (the kind that puts the food on the shelves, not follows people around), restaurants, life guard, custodial work, call centers, acting (I was a Jew in a feature film called Yankles – $3.99 on Google Play), voice work, valet parking, and currently a plans representative at an Insurance company (not to be confused as a salesman).  Needless to say, I’ve held quite a few positions and have worked for a number of companies.

As I’ve gotten older, I have taken notice at what makes a great company to work at.  A decent salary is always appreciated, but how about insurance, fitness facilities, appreciation, and just a good fit within the company?  Although you may be demanding a higher salary, do you feel appreciated and fulfilled within your role?  This has been my limited experience as an employee and how I plan to incorporate this knowledge as a future employer.

I currently work at SelectHealth, a not-for-profit insurance company (how does that work??).  My position is a Personal Plans Representative – no that is not a fancy phrase for insurance salesman.  I help people who have questions about insurance plans and help them navigate through the ACA (Affordable Care Act (for those who view it favorably, Obamacare for those who do not)) as it pertains to them.  I took the job for a number of reasons:

  • I needed a job
  • I needed to pay off student loans before I accumulated more loans
  • Furnish my lavish lifestyle – eating large quantities of Costco churros is expensive
  • Commuting to work signified I was actually an adult and not a useless millennial

The main reason was that the position would educate me on the provisions of the Affordable Care Act as it is critical to my future as a healthcare administrator.

During orientation, I learned that SelectHealth was voted as one of the best places to work in Utah, and had received that honor for the past 8 years.  “What is so great about working at an insurance company?” I thought to myself.  During the past 3 months I have been employed, I have come to realize that no matter the industry, a company can make its employees feel valued and special.

Before I continue, I’d like to talk briefly about a former company I worked for.  I won’t use their name, but will only say that they are known for their aggressive sales tactics and were given an F by the Better Business Bureau.  During their orientation, they boasted a company culture similar to Google: free lunches, gyms (critical at this company), parties, volleyball courts, and free swag giveaways.  In theory, this sounded great and should have been a great place to work for me; out of all those things, I love free lunch the most.  So why was it that in the three months I worked there, my anxiety and dread towards going to work prevented me from enjoying my food and just made me sick to my stomach?

This company’s culture works for many of its employees.  Perhaps I am just an anomaly (along with my two friends who joined me when we all quit together).  We took calls on the phone from both customers and representatives.  Many calls were from angry customers.  These calls would often relate to unfulfilled promises, damaged homes, and the occasional disbelief that a rep was attempting to sell to someone’s parent who has Alzheimer’s.  Anything for the sale, right guys?

What was frustrating was that there was such a lack of communication between departments which created so much confusion and inefficiency.  Even more upsetting was that we were unable to tell off these representatives for their blatant errors and dishonesty because they are “the lifeblood of the company.”  I never felt valued or appreciated for the work I was doing and quit as soon as I had another job lined up.

At SelectHealth, I work with agents and brokers (representatives) who are less concerned with how swoll they can look and more concerned with the wellbeing of those they help (nevermind the fact that most are middle-aged family men).  We still deal with the occasional angry member, but more often than not it is due to uncontrollable circumstances (having to get insurance and the price of premiums, #ThanksObama).  We are trained to be completely open with people and if our plans aren’t a good fit for them, we will refer them to other carriers.  It is common to be thanked sincerely at the end of a call, which offers a sense of satisfaction not found from the previous job.

Aside from job responsibilities, SelectHealth goes to great lengths to ensure its employees are satisfied and happy coming to work.  A full gym is provided to employees at a cost of $2.50 per paycheck, however, they provide additional benefits for staying fit such as $50 per quarter.  Even more convenient is that the gym is nearly empty now since most people have given up on their resolutions to be fit (please see Realistic New Year’s Resolutions).

What has impressed me the most is the executive team at SelectHealth.  They realize that each employee makes a difference and contributes to the success of the company.  During my orientation, an executive member came down to speak with us new hires and joined us for lunch.  From her busy schedule, she took 2 hours to come have an enjoyable conversation with new employees.

A few weeks after I began, I received a letter in the mail.  It was directly from the CEO and President of SelectHealth welcoming me to the team. Yes, it was a printed letter that is likely a template for everyone.  But it was addressed to me and personally hand-signed at the bottom.


A few weeks later around Christmas time, I received another letter in the mail.  This time it was a Christmas letter signed by all the executives of SelectHealth.  As you can see, it isn’t a very personal letter, but I won’t hold it against them since they did this for over 1,400 employees!  How much simpler would it have been to forward a “best wishes” email out to every employee instead?  This attention to detail makes me appreciate the time (and likely cramps) that went in to these letters and appreciation for every employee.


At the end of the year, everyone received an email explaining that due to the excellent performance of Intermountain Healthcare/SelectHealth throughout the year, each employee would be receiving an end-of-year bonus dependent upon the number of hours worked.  In a world full of executives receiving millions of dollars in bonuses and inflated salaries, how many companies can boast that their CEO receives the same bonus they do?

All of these small examples signify to me how much the company values its employees and the lengths it will go to in order to prove so.  Obviously, each person will determine a great workplace based off of different variables.  Maybe salary is the only factor or perhaps it is job security.  For me, a great workplace comes from receiving praise and appreciation for the work you are doing and knowing that the company appreciates each and every employee; not just those at the top.

PS – I am writing this post during a redeye flight on Southwest Airlines.  I had never flown with them before, but heard how enjoyable and different the experience was from other airlines.  Some things worth mentioning:

  • I tried trading in my pretzels for one more bag of peanuts, what I got was the stewardess dumping a handful of peanut bags on my tray and enthusiastically say “Have four more!”
  • Their safety announcements:
    • “In the case of an emergency and the oxygen masks drop down, please place the “I can’t believe it’s not butter” cup over your mouth first and then any children with you. If you have multiple children, choose your favorite child.
  • Due to unassigned seats, being able to go clear to the back and stretching out on the empty seats beside me

It takes a great company culture to be able to pass the positivity on to its employees.


How my Education Nearly Prevented me from Getting a Job


Is the title stretching things a little bit? Perhaps.  I could always find some sort of job if I wanted to.  What I am referring to was the ability to secure a relevant job/internship within my chosen degree of finance.  Some may take issue and point out that I just didn’t try hard enough or blah blah . . . “American Dream” . . . blah blah “lazy.”  They could be right.  But I believe that for the time and effort I spent submitting applications for finance internships and the placement rate boasted by the finance program, I should have been able to at least interview for a position.  Instead, I proactively went a different route that has paid dividends since then (finance joke).

Before I go off and make it sound like I am ungrateful for my education, let me make it clear that I do value the learning experience I had at BYU and that I gained a quality degree at low cost.  They know that as well, which hasn’t stopped them from asking for donations.  That also hasn’t stopped me from poking fun of my Alma Mater and its unique culture.  Except in Leonardo DiCaprio’s case, sometimes it’s fun to poke the bear.

Halfway through college, I found myself on the waitlist for the finance program.  I hadn’t been accepted into the business program so I was considering alternatives in the meantime: “An economics major sounds smart, but I hated the class,” or “humanities would be simple, but I want to be able to provide for myself in the future.”  Through some higher power, I was accepted from the waitlist.  In the back of my mind, this didn’t make sense.  Due to an unforgettably enjoyable, yet underachieving freshman year, my cumulative GPA had been brought to the minimum acceptance parameter.  Besides writing an awe-inspiring essay, how did I get into the more competitive and specialized finance program rather than the more simple and general business program?

Around this time, I allowed phrases such as “divine intervention,” “meant to be,” and “#blessed” to float through my head.  I did well in most of the classes. Most classes I understood the material.  A few classes, I feigned understanding like the rest of the class and relied on the curve – very unrepresentative of what I had actually learned.  I probably would have gotten more out of an Ancient Greek Poetry class through a Humanities major.

From the start of the finance program, we were encouraged to begin applying for internship opportunities early.  I would submit at least two applications daily for various positions that opened up on the school’s career board.  Teachers and faculty encouraged students to attend information sessions for visiting companies and “network” with those individuals.

I never much cared for these meetings.  Out of a full room of 60 students, half were there to network, the other half waited patiently for the food at the end, and a few people realized they were in the wrong place, but were too polite to leave during the presentation.  These meetings usually ran late due to the stalwart networking students deciding to ask brownnosing questions on everyone else’s time.  Those students will deny it, but everyone knew what they were doing.  The students there for the food were usually disappointed when they discovered they had wasted another hour that week for cheap Little Caesar’s Pizza and were another step closer to dying of heart disease.

Out of the dozens of applications I submitted, I heard back from roughly half of the companies; and that was only an automated message telling me that I was not being considered for the position.  I was competing with students who considered a 3.95 GPA to be a disgrace to their family name.   How was I supposed to measure up to employers who were predominantly basing their decisions based on GPA and on-point brownnosing? Should I buy a more skin-tight suit? Not wear socks with my shoes? Perhaps pay $50 for a faded haircut?  Or get suit pants that cut off just below the calf? All of these traits gave the impression of a seemingly successful candidate within the Marriott School of Business.


Only the students with the highest GPAs can wear a suit on a beach

Admittedly, I am not a very good classroom learner.  I find it hard to focus, fidget constantly, and come out looking average on paper.  Instead, I have focused more heavily on experiential learning, participating in various part-time internships while I went to school (which could have contributed to my lower GPA).  How is someone who is working to put themselves through school supposed to put in as much time to schoolwork as those who receive scholarships or have their parents pay for school?

Around January, having been put off by the extremely competitive and cutthroat atmosphere of the Tanner building and world of finance (we were actually told by a teacher that “investment banking is the sure road to divorce”), I began considering a career in healthcare administration.  I found a local internship through Intermountain Healthcare at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center which provided great exposure to the healthcare industry.  Although it was unpaid, it provided the hands-on learning I thrived on.

Very few industries I know are so generous and willing to help students succeed as healthcare administration.  Through the internship, I was given valuable time with CEOs and executives of different hospitals, direct access to other influential leaders, and guidance in creating a solid foundation in healthcare through graduate school programs.  Through the work we did, the impact we were having by implementing evidence-based tactics and the positively coinciding hospital scores was obvious.

All of this was done independently of the business school.  Additional support to send us to a national healthcare conference came from outside the business school.  If anything, I felt a sense of disapproval stemming from the finance program from not going through a Fortune 500 company and for participating in an unpaid internship.

Nevertheless, I ended up having a great internship that fit my interests and skillsets over the summer.  Contrast this with some other individuals I had gone through the finance program with.  They were in the same boat in that they also lacked that competitive edge offered through a resume.  No offers came their way.  They ended up becoming insurance agents for the summer.  There’s nothing wrong with insurance agents, everyone needs insurance.  But if you are going to school for a specialized degree, what good does it do you to get a job that doesn’t require a degree? Especially if you don’t plan on sticking with it.  To my knowledge, they have acquired more relevant jobs now, but at the time, it was stressful to have everyone securing internships except for you.

Where I’m at now

I am applying for Masters programs in Healthcare Administration and have been accepted to some of the best programs in the nation.  As usual, my GPA and GRE scores were average, but I attribute the healthcare experience I have accumulated over the past three years outside of the classroom to my being a competitive candidate.  These programs only consider GPA and testing scores as a small part of the application, placing more emphasis on experience and potential.  Each program is known for placing nearly 100% of their students in jobs and internships across the nation.

Had I not decided to go a different route, I’m sure things would have worked out somehow.  But the process of never being considered for dozens of applied for positions because I couldn’t match the GPA of other candidates became wearing.  I felt like my program had shot me in the foot by accepting me but not being able to secure an internship due to the high reliance on GPA.  To get to where I am hasn’t been easy.  I have done an immense amount of personal networking and put in hundreds of hours into my internships at no pay.  But I realized the experience was invaluable in preparing for the future.

I am grateful for the education I received.  But remember those students who may not seem as smart on paper are willing to work just as hard as anyone else.  If I ever have excess money to give away and BYU comes asking for more money, I’ll give a bit to my program, but will be more likely to give to the departments and faculty who provided more opportunities to succeed.

Realistic New Year’s Resolutions

It’s that time of year when we make the same resolutions as last year and ultimately set ourselves up to fail once more!  You’ve had 11 months to think about where you went wrong last year and how to become the new, best self you’ve never been.

Start with the excuses you made last year:

  • “I wanted to go to the gym, but didn’t have any cute outfits to wear.”
  • “Eating healthy was a top priority for me, but kale is disgusting and I don’t know how to pronounce quinoa.”
  • “I wanted to be in a serious relationship, but a great personality only gets me so far.”
  • “This year, I planned on using my time effectively, but Netflix.”
  • “I almost began a juice cleanse, but then I came to my senses.”
  • “I was going to travel the world, but then I saw my computer’s screensavers and was content.”

These are all valid excuses.  It’s important to take them into account before making the same resolutions again and how to remedy the problem.  Maybe you need your friend to change their Netflix password so you can’t access it anymore. Throwing your computer out the window would solve your traveling problem (and create others, but that’s not important).  It’s pronounced “keen-wah,” as in “I’m not keen of that food.  As for your great personality, I can’t help you with that.

Everyone has always heard of the SMART method of making goals.  They should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.  Obviously no one applies this while making resolutions since they ultimately fail.  I would like to focus on making realistic and achievable goals.  If you want to meet your goals, then simply lower your expectations!  Here are a few suggestions:

Binge watch an entire new series

I’m not talking about rewatching The Office or How I Met Your Mother.  New Year, New You right?  Get hooked on a new show you can put off more important things for and can talk to your friends about.  If you really want to push yourself this year, Law and Order: SVU has 17 seasons to lose yourself in.  For more ambitious people, Sesame Street has 46 seasons and 4,378 episodes!  With its move from public televison to HBO, there may be a grittier feel to it.  Educational!

Be fat and lazy

Traditionally, this is the culmination of most New Year’s resolution.  If most resolutions are broke, then why not give this a try?

Stop hanging out with people who ask about your New Year’s resolutions.

Isn’t that why you make them in the first place?

Look for loopholes

Taking a note from Ron Swanson: “Never half-ass two things, whole-ass one thing.”  If you already know you won’t set realistic expectations for yourself, try justifying your actions.  For example, there are now more overweight people in America than average-weight people.  So overweight people are now average.  Which means you’ve met your New Year’s resolution.  Congratulations.

I would say happy New Year, but it’s not happy; it’s exactly the same as last year except colder.  The best resolution you can make is to stop lying to yourself every year about making lifestyle changes.