By Kelly Kullman

As a non-traditional student, navigating my personal finances is a different experience for me than many of my peers. I am 27, so I have been working and supporting myself for a few years while I took time away from college to find my direction.

In my younger years, I made the financial mistakes of not saving enough or making unnecessary purchases. I learned many budgeting lessons from hard personal experiences, but they are lessons I will never forget.

I am forever grateful to my parents for the help I received in times like those when I was still finding my way. Apart from the help they gave, my parents also instilled in me a strong work ethic and the desire to do work of which I was proud. They showed me the satisfaction in working for and earning what I received. It is this attitude that has led me to be successful now at this point in my life.

When I transferred to Mizzou last fall, I was a both a full-time student and employee. I studied to be a business journalist by day and made sandwiches by night, sometimes working until 3 in the morning. I earned both a 4.0 and the money to pay my bills.

I disciplined myself to always pay bills on the day I was paid before spending anything else. This is the best advice I can give anyone. When the university closed due to the pandemic, I feared the same fate for my job. I said yes to every opportunity to work in order to save up money for the day the restaurant closed their doors.

That day never came. Soon I was the only employee left and working more hours than ever. Still not knowing what the future held, I continued to save all that was not allotted for bills.

The semester drew to a close and I felt thankful to have another year to study at Mizzou before I graduated. I watched those around me graduate into a recession with a rapidly shrinking job market. I heard of many having their summer internships canceled.

I felt like one of the lucky few to have come out of the pandemic relatively unscathed.

Something has persistently stood out in my mind that the Bloomberg News representative said when he visited campus last fall. He told us that business journalists will always have a job. This thought has been echoed by the many of the professors I have learned from, both at Mizzou and abroad.

I have now seen this reflected in my own experiences. This summer, I left my previous job for a position as a reporter with Missouri Business Alert, a campus website.  As soon as I began, I knew I had found my niche.

Although the future may be unsure, I do not fear the job market when I graduate. I trust in the experience and education I have received, the personal finance skills I have learned and my drive and determination to succeed.

Kelly Kullman is a junior at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.