Introducing Nicole Rivers! Nicole is a licensed mortgage banker at Jersey Mortgage company. She started out with a career in fashion and while it was never planned she has now found herself passionately pursuing a career in real estate. She is heavily invested in her clients and puts them first. She also attributes mentorship as one of the reasons why she has been successful in her career so far. In this interview, Nicole shares how she's maneuvered working in a male-dominated industry, what she loves about her career choice and a lot of great advice for you Clever Girls who would like to pursue careers in the world of real estate. Enjoy!
"I always want my money to work for me and not the other way around."
Please introduce yourself and tell us about your current job function and industry - What do you do for a living?
Hello! My name is Nicole Rivers and I’m a licensed mortgage banker with Jersey Mortgage Company. Many of my friends and clients call me Nik. For a living, I present clients with financial solutions that connect them to their dreams and goals.
How did you begin on this career path?
That’s a weird story. I landed in this career by accident, or maybe it was divine intervention – I’m still seeking wisdom on that. I was laid off from my former career in fashion. I was burned out and was looking for a new experience. I wasn’t exactly sure of what I was seeking, but I knew that going back to what I knew was not going to provide me with anything different. While I was laid off I tried a few different things and did a lot of self – development.
I figured out that the traditional “9 to 5” or “8 to late” cubicle life was not going to work for me going forward. I was presented with an opportunity to get my mortgage license and a friend of mine, at the time, thought I had the personality, drive and sales experience to be successful. I was already obsessed with real estate, and interior design with goals of one day becoming an investor and owning an interior design firm, so this sounded like a career that would put me in the mix of some of the things I enjoyed.
Is your line of work related to what you studied in college? Do you have any advanced degrees?
Well, sort of. I think it depends on how you look at it. I went to FIT to study fashion, and I got a degree in Fashion Merchandising and a Bachelor’s in Advertising and Communications. I also studied Interior Architecture for my Master’s (I’ve not had time to complete that, yet). So, I think my undergrad degrees relate to what I do now because selling, no matter what the product or the audience, is about building relationships and the basics I learned about branding and advertising has served as a great foundation to what I’ve since discovered about marketing in the social media age.
As a woman, what is one of the biggest lessons you've learned working for and growing in a company?
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that mentors can make a huge difference in terms of success. I’ve been fortunate to have a few great mentors since transitioning into this business. People who have taken the time to pour into me their knowledge and experience.
I think that had I not connected with mentors throughout my career the path to success in a new career would have been far more treacherous. I’ve seen some people who came into the industry with me with similar stories of transition, leave within a year because they were not bold enough to ask for help or humble enough to listen to advise. Mentorship is a game changer for sure.
Can you tell us about one of your biggest career successes?
I don’t think that I’ve experienced my biggest career success yet. I’ve only been working in this field for 3 years. I’m still learning and the industry is so regulated, often times as soon as I learn something the rules change. One of the things I’m most proud of is the following I’ve built via social media and in real life.
As “Nik the Banker”, I’ve had people email me or tell me how much they appreciate the information I provide. They feel empowered by the knowledge because, unfortunately, not everyone who does what I do is invested in making sure clients understand what is going on in the process of buying a home.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
My favorite thing about my career is time freedom. While I work for a company, I pretty much run my business like an entrepreneur. I have to create a business and business relationships. I get paid on commission, which means I don’t make money until my buyers are happily closing on a loan. I enjoy making my own hours and being able to work from virtually anywhere.
Do you have any advice you can share with women reading this who would like to pursue a career in your industry?
That’s a great question. The mortgage industry is dominated by men. There’s no getting around that. Someone, a male loan officer, once told me to turn my would be “weaknesses” into assets in this industry. I’m a woman of color working in an industry dominated by white men.
I am not sure that has always been an asset in every exchange, but I embrace who I am and I’ve learned to lean on my strengths. There are a lot of people out there who are tired of business as usual and if you can bring something different to the table as far as, how you run my business, you and your clients will win.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
My goal is to get into real estate investing and building my own business that will include financial education as well. I really like working with people; coaching and developing people who want to reach goals but lack confidence or information to reach them.
What is your money mantra?
I always want my money to work for me and not the other way around.
Please share a fun fact about yourself
I am obsessed with Golden Girls. I rarely watch tv, but when I do I enjoy watching Blanche, Sofia, Rose, and Dorothy!
Thank you so much for your time today, Nicole! You can learn more about Nicole's company, Jersey Mortgage Company on their website.