When Jateria Pittman took her first trip abroad to study abroad seven years ago, she was en route to a corporate career in the mortgage industry.
Ms. Pittman, who majored in Marketing her senior year at Appalachian State University, became the first person in her family to graduate to college to qualify for a six-month study abroad program in Johannesburg.
At first she wasn’t sure if she should go and told herself to just sit down and be grateful that she made it to college. But ultimately, Ms. Pittman decided to go to Johannesburg because she argued that it would be an important part of her college education. The experience was life changing.
Ms. Pittman, who was in Dubai in 2018, expects her business to grow as travel resumes after the Covid lockdowns.
After graduating in 2015, Ms. Pittman quickly found a position as a mortgage handler with a Charlotte, NC company. But she quit after a year as she found the job disappointing after her transformative time in South Africa.
“The trip really opened my eyes to a different quality of life,” said 28-year-old Ms. Pittman, who lives in Atlanta and is the first in her family to have a passport. After the freedom to travel, the narrowness of her first desk job made her her career choice. “That’s why I’ve worked so hard for so long, sitting here in an office and having to ask, can I take time out to see a doctor?” She says. “This is not the dream I wanted to live.”
About six months after her job, Ms. Pittman began making plans to move to South Africa. She took a second job as a country club hostess and drove for Uber over the weekend to earn enough to pay off her debts, including $ 13,000 in student loans and credit card and car loan balances.
“I saved all of my mortgage bonuses, all of my country club checks and Uber money, and clothing resale income to save for my move,” Ms. Pittman said.
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The hustle and bustle of raising enough money for her trip gave her an insight into how to make traveling a sustainable lifestyle. “I really need to pay my debt, not just cut my expenses,” said Ms. Pittman. She concluded that she probably wasn’t the only young woman trying to balance her personal finances with her wanderlust. In 2016, Ms. Pittman started a blog discussing money-saving tips and travel advice, and quit her job in mortgage processing.
She took a year off work in 2017 to “live like a global citizen,” she said. Living on her savings, Ms. Pittman moved to South Africa and toured southern Africa and Europe. “I didn’t go there for a job, I didn’t go there to look for a job, I went there to go to school or start school, I literally went just to live,” she said.
Ms. Pittman moved back to the United States later in 2017, settled in Atlanta, and was unsure of her next career change. She thought of studying law, but her wanderlust nagged her. The bills and expenses to be able to afford travel also gnawed.
Ms. Pittman in Rome in 2017, a year she traveled extensively and lived “like a citizen of the world”.
Ms. Pittman devised a plan to reward herself with a trip every time she settled a debt. Then came the idea of converting her blog into a company that offers young people like her financial coaching to help them afford travel. Ms. Pittman began coaching clients in the Atlanta area and then expanded her reach through virtual coaching.
Knowing that it would take her company some time to fully support her, Ms. Pittman accepted a position as a personal loan specialist with a debt consolidation company. Then she returned to the mortgage industry, taking positions that built her income and developed her financial education skills, such as preparing people for the home.
When Covid hit, Ms. Pittman decided to prioritize her business. She hired a business coach, took an online course to improve her virtual coaching skills, and registered her company as an LLC. It is aimed at young women of color who are “first generation wealth builders,” she says. Ms. Pittman still has a remote mortgage processing job but ultimately wants her own company to fully support her.
Ms. Pittman said it made sense to start her business during the Covid lockdown. Customers are ready to work with her to prepare their finances when they can finally book trips again, she said. Now that travel resumes, Ms. Pittman expects business to pick up.
The career journey
Surname: Jateria Pittman
Education: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Marketing, Appalachian State University
Former job: Mortgage Processor
New job: Financial educator
Aha moment: Taking on part-time jobs and selling old clothes to afford travel inspired her to start her business.
Most important advice for changing jobs: You can take your own life experiences and interests with you and live a life that inspires you to jump out of bed every day.
Write to Ray A. Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org