“Stay humble, stay hungry, and stay open to the possibilities – because you never know what form opportunity will take.”
– Miranda B., Specialist in Trader Services
By: Joe S., Sr Specialist & Content Writer
Changing your career can be a big decision, which is why it helps to bring your skills to a company that focuses on your professional development and success. At Schwab, we embrace the opportunity to welcome people with diverse work experience, as they often bring fresh perspective to our ever-evolving firm. One career changer, Miranda, did just that - using her background in academia and research, she's been able to translate her skills into an impactful career in finance. I sat down with her to learn why she chose to work at Schwab, hear about her career transition, and explore future career growth possibilities in her role.
Getting her start in academia
Miranda B., a Specialist in Trader Services, has always been analytical. As an ambitious self-starter with a degree in Machine Learning & Neural Computation from the University of California, San Diego, she had no shortage of professional paths to choose from upon graduating. But, as someone who has always been intrigued by science, she decided to forgo a career in software development or engineering and instead pursue medical research. Luckily, Miranda didn’t have to look far to find a role that matched her ambitions – her alma mater (UCSD) was so impressed with her undergrad efforts that they hired her on as a Sponsored Researcher in Cognitive Neuroscience. It was there that she gained her footing in academia, getting published in scientific journals for her contributions of data analysis to studies in behavioral neuroscience – no small feat.
A new challenge – discovering her interest in finance
During her first career roles, Miranda self-managed her retirement accounts through Schwab. With her curiosity about investing piqued, Miranda steadily performed independent research and grew her financial literacy. She found that the more she learned, the more interested she became, until one fateful day: “I called, was connected with a service rep, and remember thinking how friendly and helpful she was. She was so generous with her time and patient with my questions. Towards the end of our conversation, the service rep said, ‘Wow – you seem like you have an intense interest in this. You should come work for us!’” Miranda initially laughed, then paused for a moment, and finally said: “actually – that’s a great idea.”
The perfect match – when opportunity knocks
Some things in life seem random, but it takes a careful eye to recognize when opportunity is knocking at your door. Miranda saw how she could continue to apply her strong analytical skills to an intriguing new career path in finance.
“Many of my experiences up to this point were highly relevant to this field – understanding psychology and cognition provides massive insight into financial markets. Also, the technical aspects – trading, statistics, and analysis – aligned well with my background in machine learning and Python programming. It was an uncanny kind of fit. So, I took a chance, applied, and the rest is history.”
Miranda began as a Core Client Service & Support (CS&S) representative, acquired seven licenses in a two-year span, and ultimately grew into her role as a broker with Trader Service. She has also worked in a supervisory role with more than ten cross-site CS&S teams and the Schwab Service Academy. She enjoys cultivating relationships with clients and mentoring, coaching, and developing new professionals. When asked to comment on commonalities between prior roles and her career at Schwab, she stated, “problem-solving and critical decision making are consistent themes – especially in Trader, where technical skills and human behavior come together to dictate market dynamics. Each of my roles has involved helping people – and now, I can do so more directly, and in a broader manner of ways.”
The transition – contributing factors to success
When asking Miranda what helped contribute to her successful career transition, she stated it was a mixture of factors. Her persistence and ambition were key. She was provided paid time to study for the FINRA Securities Industry Essentials (SIE), Series 7, and Series 63 exams, then also pursued elective licenses (Series 9, 10, 3, and 34) on her own time. It was sheer determination she credits – the same resolve that helped her complete her undergrad – that drove her success.
“I'll be honest: passing the Series 10 on my first attempt, on my own time outside of work, was one of the toughest things I’ve achieved so far. At that time, my schedule was 4x10. I worked four ten-hour shifts per week, then spent at least two eight-hour days studying. It may sound crazy, but I wanted it that badly.”
When asked about the support she received, she stated, “I owe it to my mentors and role models. Several managers and directors really took me under their wing. I took the initiative and was persistent in my communications with them; I considered carefully which questions I should ask. All advice, as valuable as it was, was secondary to the relationships I was fortunate enough to build.”
From student to teacher
In addition to serving Schwab clients, Miranda has supported newly hired Schwabbies (Financial Service Representatives) in various ways: first as a Trading & Investing Essentials coach, then as a Nesting Manager for the Schwab Service Academy (SSA), a 23-week-long training program where new representatives become licensed brokers. She thrives helping others that share her zest for finance. “I love to get hands-on with trading topics and other training material. If a professional has questions, I’m always the first to say, ‘Hey: let's jump into a call and discuss.’”
The path ahead
Now that Miranda has embraced a career in finance, she’s setting her sights on what lies ahead. She commented, “my greatest aspiration is synergizing the three elements that have characterized my career – leadership, data science, and trading. With an interdisciplinary approach, the possibilities are endless.”
Whatever Miranda’s future holds, one thing is for certain: there is no limit to what you can achieve when you’re highly motivated and working at a company that encourages your professional success.