Middle Class to Middle Income, $60,000 in 3 years

Colby Foster
11 min readApr 7, 2017

Darryl Bellamy is from a middle class family, took out loans to attend college and didn’t have a car until he was 21. Darryl chose to attend UNC Charlotte after high school where he majored in Business Management.

First Internship

Darryl got his first internship through a program called, “InRoads”. Inroads helps minority students get internships at big companies. Darryl used this program to intern at SunTrust Bank and AT&T.

It seems simple to us in the workforce but actually taking the time to apply for an internship is a big differentiator for college students. Many students can’t see beyond the next party and think that when they graduate, they will be handed a six-figure job by the company of their dreams. Darryl wasn’t this student. He knew that a some point he was going to have to hand his resume to someone and needed to have something to show other than a GPA.

During Darryl’s first internship at SunTrust bank he began to earn some serious cash at $14.50/hour. Saving that money over the summer allowed him to come back to school and buy things he could never afford like a new Macbook.

Day to Day at a Big Bank

What did Darryl learn from his time at SunTrust? From a professional standpoint, he learned the ends and out of being a retail banker. He learned the process around opening accounts, managing compliance requirements and dealing with real customers. A key thing I took away was a story he told me about the last week of his internship.

How to Impress C-Level Executives

Towards the end of the internship Darryl was task with presenting a project in front of senior executives. Not only did this experience plant a seed in Darryl for presenting, but it also taught me a valuable lesson in business.

That lesson: Everyone has value to offer! If you can walk into a room full of executives and deliver real value, you are doing something right. What did Darryl say? He told them that he banks with Wells Fargo simply because they had an ATM on the UNC Charlotte college campus. He told them how active he on the WF mobile app and in online banking. He talk to them about his habits and let senior executes inside the mind of a college kid. His words were pure gold!

This story is a great lesson for any college kid or young person who is trying to move up in world. Everyone has value to offer. Don’t look at what you can’t do, look at what you can do. Be yourself and deliver something only you can deliver. Every individual is unique and the universe is constantly revolving around you to bring out your very best self!

It’s easy to say that Darryl walked out of that board meeting with a handful of business cards hearing the words, “If you ever need a reference, call us!”

Recap from SunTrust: Learned banking. Found out he didn’t want work in corporate America. Loved presenting.

Internship Numero Dos

Darryl’s second internship also came from Inroads. He worked at AT&T in Charlotte for the summer of 2011. At AT&T Darryl was task with yet another project that brought out the presenter inside of him. He was in charge of an internal program thats goal was to get current employees to refer their friends and family to AT&T and earn prizes. I loved Darryl’s quote in this part of the interview where he said:

“You can present anything if you have the right attitude. If you have good energy, people are willing to listen to you no matter what you have to say.”

Getting Fired from AT&T

A big moment came in minute 25 when Darryl actually gets fired from AT&T for choosing the fraternity event over his internship. The story goes like this: the contract for his internship only allowed for 2 days off. He need 3 to make the event. So Darryl had a decision to make: Attend the 100th year anniversary of his fraternity’s founding… or work and make a few extra bucks. The decision was easy. The trip wasn’t until August which was towards the end of the summer and if Darryl got fired he would only be missing a few weeks of work.

Darryl got his cake and got to eat it too. He was very upfront with communication to his boss and told him the dates he would be out. Because the company wouldn’t allow him the extra 1 day off, he returned to the office with a “box” waiting for him and he was kindly walked out.

“Some experiences only happen once. There will be many more jobs that come, but [frat event name] will never happen again…it was totally worth it!”

Recap from AT&T: Presenting became Darryl’s passion. Experiences are more valuable than cash.

“I never wanted anyone to tell me when I can take a day off” — Darryl Bellamy

Darryl Starts First Business

By Darryl’s senior year, he knew that college was ending and it was time to make some serious decisions.

Having no success finding a job, he decided to cut the process short. Darryl had a passion for helping freshman college students and knew from his two internships that he didn’t want to work in corporate America.

Full of optimize and Idealism, Darryl decided to pursue a business idea he had that had received attention from a local entrepreneur incubator. Darryl launched “College Concierge” in the beginning of 2013. It was a company designed around helping enhance the freshman experience.

Sleeping on a Couch

During Darryl’s journey in entrepreneurism, he lived on a friends couch and had all of his possessions packed inside his car. One of the perks of being young and free is that it allows you to take risk with little downside. You don’t have a high standard of living, you don’t have a family to support, and you are not tied down to anything. If you are going to start a company, do it in college or just after college. It’s the perfect time to go for it!

Business Failure

After months or hard work, Darryl is only able to sign up one customer. He got the check for $1,000 but said he never cashed it. The business fails and Darryl is forced to move on.

“Failure is okay, it’s all part of the story and one day you are going to be able to tell that story.”

Darryl’s positive attitude is fuel for him to move on. After the business fails, he starts going to recruiters to look for a job.

Landing the First Job after College

“Recruitment is like a dating service.” Darryl told me. He even recorded a job video to promote himself. Darryl was ahead of the curve amongst his peers because he had 2 internships with big companies. Those really set him apart. He could put numbers in his resume and could show real experience and real results. Working at SunTrust and AT&T made him different from the other candidates with whom he was competing.

After a short time, Darryl had 2 interviews; one was at Wells Fargo. The interview went well and Darryl started his first job after college as a loan processor. His salary was $33,000. He was finally able to move off his friends couch and afford rent at an apartment.

Cubicle Life

At $33,000 a year Darryl was not satisfied and knew he was made for more. Darryl taught me a valuable lesson at this point in the interview. While finally making a salary and earning decent money, he kept comparing himself to his successful peers. This is what I call positive peer pressure. Its a common trait amount successful people that they surround themselves with successful people. It’s important to have people around you that push you and who are doing more. When you look at your accomplishments, you are able to remain humble because your friends are always doing more.

Being hungry for success and knowing that being a loan processor wasn’t going to cut it Darryl told his cube-mate that he would be out of Wells Fargo before the year was up.

At this point in life Darryl was 22 years old. He had $30,000 in student debt, $5,000 in credit card debt and a $15,000 car that wasn’t paid off.

Time to get a Second Job

It was around this time, that Darryl started listening to Dave Ramsey. He took the advice and got a second job at Trader Joe’s working an additional 40 hours per week at WF. Darryl began to save at least $100 per month and started to chip away at his debt.

When Darryl told me he got a second job, this is when I knew I was talking to someone special. The humility and hustle that it takes to get a second job is a game changer! It’s this kind of drive and selflessness that makes a person great.

“I knew i had to do whatever it took to get that debt paid off.” Darryl told me. I also admired Darryl’s choice in second job. Trader Joe’s paid him $13/hour had great health benefits and gave him a discount on food.

The Grind

For the coming months, Darryl’s life was on autopilot. He would work 8:00am — 5:30pm at Wells Fargo, change clothes in his car and work 6pm-11pm at Trader Joe’s. On Saturday’s he would work a double shift at TJ’s and on Sunday’s after church, he would work until the store closed. This lasted for the next 6 months.

In January 2013 Darryl was able to leave Wells Fargo just 1 month shy of his goal. He joined TIAA and got a nice raise, but the story behind this move is where the real wisdom is found…

Knowing he wanted to leave Wells Fargo, Darryl started spending what little time he had applying for jobs online. When he saw a position he liked on TIAA’s website, he updated his resume, filled out the application and clicked “submit”. A short while later he received the standard rejection letter stating he didn’t get the job.

Darryl started to think…”who do I know at TIAA?” and a story from summer 2012 emerged in his memory bank.

The month was July and it was 90 degrees outside as Darryl waited in line for tickets to the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Charlotte, NC. Darryl had been in line for more than 4 hours and was slowly becoming friends with all the people around him. One of these people happened to be a woman who worked at TIAA and got her masters at UNC Charlotte. There was an instant connection with all the commonalities in place. The conversation ended some time later with Darryl pocketing her business card and hearing the line, “If you ever need anything, don’t hesitate to call.”

Fast forward 2 years later and Darryl is holding this card in his hand and ready to call in a favor. Opening us his email, Darryl types in the address on the card and the message is simple, “”Hey [name], this is Darryl…I just applied for position [job title] can you help me?” Darryl says he got a call within 3 hours after clicking the send button and the hiring manager at TIAA wanted him to come in for an interview.

Want to know how to send the perfect email to land your next job? Click here.

Getting Paid $3,000 / Hour

Many people could have chosen to stay home in the heat of summer in 2012 and not wait in line for tickets to the DNC. That 5 hours of time yielded Darryl a $12,000 raise and a new job with a great company. That’s an Return on Investment (ROI) of $3,000 per hour. Would you wait in line in 90 degree weather if someone paid you $3,000 an hour? of course you would! Get out there an meet people and find your next $12,000 relationship!

New Job at TIAA

Getting the job at TIAA allowed Darryl to scale down his hours at Trader Joe’s and get some of his time back. He used the extra time to stay longer at church on Sunday’s, study for exams he had to pass to keep his new job, and rest to make sure his mind was right to keep his performance high.


After 2 months, Darryl was able to quit his job at Trader Joe’s and focus solely on his career at TIAA. This is a big moment and very common in the 0–60 crowd. There comes a time where it makes more sense to get laser focused on your day job and stop look to earn extra money after work hours. Greg did this, and Darryl did as well. It pays off in a big way.

The above is a key factor that you see in successful people. It’s called “focus” and I wrote a deep blog post on it here.

Staying Hungry

Day to day like at TIAA was pretty sweet. They have a beautiful campus, great people, and the best benefits in the industry. Darryl was making a $45,000 per year salary and life was pretty sweet. While the idea of moving up in the company was intriguing, Darryl always had his eye on bigger things. His drive never calmed down. Now that he had his time back, a steady job, and a safety net of benefits, he started thinking about what was next. He was happy at TIAA, but not satisfied and hungry for success.

Darryl ended up staying at TIAA for a total of 11 months. He left there after we ran into each other on the TIAA campus one day and decided to grab lunch. After doing lunch with no agenda but to catch up on our friendship, I ask Darryl to send me his resume so I could pass onto HR at my consulting firm. The rest was history. Darryl ended up doing a phone interview with the most amazing recruiter in the world and who is still a tremendous friend of mine and he signed on with my firm a few weeks later.

Recap from TIAA: Do things right the first time (don’t fail exams the company makes you take). Work for a company that will give you industry credibility and skills (Darryl got his Series 6 and 63).

Turning Point

It was when Darryl entered the consulting world that he finally felt like he had arrived. The environment at Carlisle & Gallagher was an atmosphere of growth and skill. The people were smart, the office was nice, and the work was challenging. Joining C&G was a big moment for Darryl. It was a place where he finally felt like he belonged. These were real professionals doing serious work and making serious money. Darryl signed on at CG for a salary of $52,500.

Working for a Great Company

Darryl did great work for the firm in is opening year. He says he lucked out and got on a great project with great managers who gave him great work. I agree that this happened, but I also know Darryl and he is the kind of person who can take mundane things and make them fun and meaningful. Talking about C&G, Darryl really praises the leadership and his words are lessons for companies to learn: Hire motivated and smart people, invest in them, give them challenging work, and surround them with leadership that makes them into the best possible person. Everyone wins.

Relationships are Key

One of the keys to succeeding in consulting is building relationships. Relationships are huge business but are literally the lifeblood of consulting. This was a perfect match for Darryl. With all the traveling and team lunches Darryl made sure to make the most of these opportunities to build deep relationships with his teammates and client. This skill allowed Darryl to attract people to him and they wanted him around more and more.

“when you care about people, and people know you care about them….they want you around.”

Getting to $60k

Wanting Darryl around the table lead to his end of the year promotion! His title went from “Business Analysis” to “Consultant” but most importantly, his salary went from $52,500 up to $62,500 and that is where we end the first part of this amazing story. 0–60, or in Darryl’s case, $7 bucks an hour to $62,000 per year.



Colby Foster

I really admire people who can think through ideas. I hope you will join me to help me think through my own.