My Story: From Borrower To Lender

So I did the application and the FAFSA. And the FAFSA is a headache to say the least. It takes forever to fill out and you have to go on multiple sites to do it. You’re never quite sure when you’re done or if you filled everything out correctly. It’s just very confusing and a pain in the neck. And if you wanted to pay anyone for help on it, it would cost you an arm and a leg.

So going with CommonBond, I ended up filling out the application online and it literally took five or ten minutes. I created a spreadsheet and looked at what I would pay with the federal government and with a private loan. CommonBond came out ahead and so it was an easy decision for me.

At that point, I made the decision strictly for financial reasons. CommonBond was significantly cheaper. About a month later, I got a package in the mail from CommonBond and I wondered why they were sending me something. I opened it up and it was a book on entrepreneurship and a t-shirt and a note. And the note said thanks for being a borrower, in the form you filled out it said you were interested in being an entrepreneur, here’s a book about the founder of Patagonia you might enjoy.

That personal touch and handwritten note with a gift on something I had totally forgotten I’d even mentioned to them really went a long way. So that was the start of—I wouldn’t say my infatuation with CommonBond—but really got a great experience out of the brand.

So I started my first year and CommonBond invited me to a few events and borrower dinners. There were free dinners and free drinks and other MBAs with a guest speaker and MBA grads. It was a great experience outside of my Stern bubble to network with people in the New York area.

And I would joke with my friends about how I’m not seeing this from my federal government loans from undergrad. I was really being taken care of by the company, which is something you don’t expect with a financial firm or standard bank.

I realized for the summer, I wanted to do an internship with a small tech company or a startup and saw CommonBond was interviewing. I jumped on board right away and realized that was the place I wanted to be. It was a role that interested me but it was also an area that was absolutely booming. Student loans, in particular are massive on the radar of pretty much any person getting an education. And tech in general was just a booming industry.

I met Phil, the head of marketing, at an event on campus and talked to him about it and then ended up interviewing with him about a week later. It was a warm process because everyone there pretty much already knew me because of my loan. It was like going home where everyone already knew me.

And so, I was looking at what they had available and I was really interested in business development. They usually don’t do a business development intern over the course of a 10-week internship because it’s not long enough. I told Phil I’m going to be here all next year, what if I worked part-time during fall semester as well. That way, I could be able to follow through on anything I started during the summer.

He thought about it and within a week, he gave me an offer, I accepted, and I was happy to get on board. I had a great summer internship. We had a class of four other summer interns and myself. Doing the work and hanging out with the team was a lot of fun. About halfway through it, in mid-July, Phil came to me and said, you’re doing a great job, we really need people in the business development area and we’d like you to come on full-time immediately.

I was kind of taken aback. It was a massive decision. I was flattered they thought of me, but then I had to think about it and see if this was something I was going to consider. And they gave me about a month to think about it, which was probably the nicest thing they could have done. I was able to talk to all of my friends and family about it and talk to each of the high-level executives at CommonBond, talk to my career advisor at Stern and talk to a couple of my professors and really got a good feel of what to think about and what to expect and what it’d look like to go part-time at Stern and full-time at CommonBond.

In the end, I took a step back and looked at what do I want to be doing a year from now when I graduate. And the answer was this exact role I’m doing. So, it was very simple in that regard. And I thought, why not do the role I want to do while I’m in school and make money doing it. And this was right before they closed a Series B and I knew CommonBond was on a massive upward trajectory. Over the course of the next year, we’d be growing massively. And that’s really why I wanted to join a startup—to ride that wave up and be a part of the company and make a difference.

I thought about everything I’d have to do over the next year and a half to graduate and I still couldn’t pass it up. The offer was a solid one and I negotiated to get what I really needed. It was an easy decision because it was exactly what I wanted to do and the exact type of company I wanted to work for. I am a customer of this company. I am an employee of this company. And I really enjoy being here.

The day after I made the decision, I remember sitting down and not having any regrets whatsoever. The best way of knowing you made the right decision is looking back and saying, how could I have not made that decision?

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