For Kelly McNerney, ordering priorities in a busy schedule is a challenge

The rigors of working full-time surprised the youn adviser, who moved to Virginia from New Jersey last May to become an associate financial planner at FJY Financial

Mar 29, 2015 @ 12:01 am

By Liz Skinner

The rigors of working full-time surprised Kelly McNerney, who moved to Virginia from New Jersey last May to become an associate financial planner at FJY Financial.

Ms. McNerney, 22, always took a full course load at William Patterson University in Wayne, N.J., and had several part-time internships at the same time. She expected to have more time on her hands “in the real world.”

“I guess time management is something that you always have to work on,” she said. “I'm learning what is important and what can be pushed off.”

Much of what she's experiencing is the push and pull of conflicting priorities.

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“I'm getting used to a never-ending to-do list,” she said.

Ms. McNerney had studied for many months for the certified financial planner exam, which she took last week. It was a struggle for her to carve time out of her week for studying.

She and a co-worker, who also took the test, had been studying together early before work and late after the work day. Then they spent most of the weekend working on practice exams and quizzing each other.

Her other FJY co-workers have been a great help in keeping her from becoming too overwhelmed, she said.

The firm, based in Reston, Va., a suburb of Washington, has a designated career path that Ms. McNerney said she found inspiring over this first year.

“Seeing someone who started in my position and how they moved up the career path is great,” Ms. McNerney said. “Knowing that lead advisers above me were in my shoes just a few years ago is encouraging.”

For those who follow her, Ms. McNerney recommends interviewing with as many firms as possible and researching the advisers to understand the culture and what it might be like to work at each firm.

She believes it's also helpful for young professionals to keep in touch with those from their business or financial planning programs.

“You never know down the road who can help you,” she said. “A lot of people know each other in this small industry.”

The move to Virginia was the part of Ms. McNerney's journey that she feared the most of all the changes in her life over the past year.

But she's thrilled with her decision and how it's gone.

“Moving away was really good for me and for me being able to focus on a new job,” she said. “I learned a lot about myself as a person, it was definitely worth it.”

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