CBS News’ Jill Schlesinger on “Life After High School”

As a Business Analyst for CBS News, Jill Schlesinger has made her career around untangling the complexities of the financial market for mass media and guiding people through their personal financial decisions.

However, her first interaction with risk wasn’t with the stock markets but when she let go of what she thought “Life After High School” should look like and went outside of her comfort zone. Read her story below:

This is part of our “Life After High School” campaign in collaboration with the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs. We asked high school students and graduates about the expectations and realities they had about “Life After High School.”

Whatever you think “Life After High School” will be like, here’s something to know: it will be far different than you imagine.

When I graduated from high school, I took it for granted that I would be headed to college—and that it would be paid for by my family, a fact that I now acknowledge was a HUGE head start for me.

I also expected that I would repeat my success as a soccer player and that sports would be the center of my collegiate world. I quickly discovered that there were far better players on the team and so I had to adapt to a different, smaller role and style of play that was hard for me to accept.

But that disappointment led me to think beyond the soccer field and to pursue an internship with a local television station, which exposed me to the news business. In addition to my class work, my four years of interning allowed me to understand a new and different industry. The “glamorous” news broadcast that I had seen as a viewer was filled with detail-oriented and hard working professionals, both in front of and behind the camera.

During the summers, I worked on the floor of the New York and American Stock Exchanges as a clerk. While my father worked on an exchange, I never could have imagined the day-to-day reality of working in this sliver of the financial world. Talk about an eye-opener! The trading floor was a fast paced, male-dominated environment, which seemed closer to a sporting event than a business. I soon learned the ins and outs of how trading worked and when I graduated from college, I headed to the Commodities Exchange in New York to trade gold, silver, and copper options.

I remained in finance for more than twenty years – and nobody could be more surprised than I was when I then found myself back in journalism working at CBS News as an on-air analyst on television, radio, and online covering business, finance and the economy. My career took many zigs and zags, and I have landed in a role than I did not even know existed when I was back in high school. That said, key lessons I learned along the way include being adaptable, and also being open to and saying yes to “stretch” opportunities, even when they were outside my comfort zone.

Written by Jill Schlesinger, CBS News Business Analyst

Jill Schlesinger, CFP®, is the Emmy-nominated and Gracie Award Winning Business Analyst for CBS News. Jill appears on CBS radio and television stations nationwide covering the economy, markets, investing and anything else with a dollar sign. She translates complicated business and economic news into understandable, relatable topics for everyday viewers and listeners.

Want to hear another perspective on “Life After High School?” Read rising college senior Enoch Jemmott’s thoughts here.