One of Jamal Threlkeld’s last classes in high school was about economics. When the teacher explained how it was possible to earn money through investing, Jamal was fascinated. This revelation led Jamal to study finance in college and then pursue Northwestern Mutual’s college internship program. Motivated by the desires to both support his family and be a resource for his African-American colleagues, Jamal has found that working as a financial advisor has allowed him to get back what he puts into his career and advance quickly.
In His Own Words
Making a Difference
I have always wanted to be a resource—and a source of inspiration for others as well. When I first started working as a financial advisor, I didn’t have another African-American representative in my office to look up to. I was able to find African-American representatives in other offices to learn from and work with, and now I want to be that person for other new representatives.
When others are looking up to you, you need to turn around and see what they are learning from you. It’s exciting to watch others develop, learn and start asking deeper questions. That lets me know that their knowledge is increasing and they are moving forward. I like seeing people growing and helping them.
I was in the internship program for 10 months before I took a leap of faith and became a financial representative full time. I just jumped in the pool. I wasn’t hesitant. I had many different mentors at Northwestern Mutual who took me under their wings and helped me learn and stay motivated. I’m a very driven person, and I knew that as long as I put in the work that I needed to, I would not fail. With this career, you get out of it what you put into it. I really appreciate that aspect of it.
Being a family man, this career has been huge for me. My wife and my daughter are my greatest sources of motivation, along with the rest of my family, like my nieces and nephews. I come from a very supportive family, and I want to make sure I am able to be supportive in return, as I truly want the best for my family.
Be coachable. Everyone in leadership has some type of value to add; you just have to listen and hear exactly what they are saying. They do one or multiple things well; you have to listen for those nuggets you can take away from them. When I first started as an intern, my managing partner was always receptive to my questions, and my first college unit director taught me a lot of things that I find myself still using today.
Also, be persistent. This is a tough career, and you have to always be looking for ways to improve yourself. You will have bad days, but remember that no day is the same. Today is a new day, and the future is bright.