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Not Your Traditional Intern

Dan Roalson Athene

September 19, 2023

Athene USA is proud to offer a comprehensive, fast-paced intern program for the next generation of talent in the financial services industry – all right here in Des Moines. Members of the 2023 Athene internship class were asked to share their experience and why a Des Moines-based company was the place they chose to spend their summer.

There are countless ways to gain experience in a new field after you have already been in the professional world. Third-year Drake law student Dan Roalson, talks about his experience going back to school and having an internship as a 31-year-old.

When I was 28, the thought of completely changing my career terrified me. Over the last nine years, I worked in the financial industry, and in 2020, I decided to go to law school. I had thought about going to law school before, but it wasn't the right time.

During this life-altering period, I learned a lot about what grounded me. My eyes opened to the importance of a balanced life and how crucial it was for me to align my interests, personal life and career. Through all the lessons, I found myself continually reminded to embrace change and get out of my comfort zone.

Balancing Life

Transitioning from more traditional working hours to being in school was weird for me. I had to learn how to prioritize my time more efficiently to get the most out of each day. While having a lifestyle where I must balance my family and schoolwork can be difficult, I am grateful it has been as good of a transition as it has been. My team at Athene has made the work-life balance seamless and flexible as I transition into school and part-time work.

I hate using the word ‘efficient’ when I talk about my family, but we have to make the most of the time we get to spend together. When we have family time, we make sure it is high quality — we aren’t on our phones, and we don’t watch much TV. I want to make sure I am experiencing life with my family, so this is important to me.

The same idea goes for studying and my schoolwork. I optimize my time to make sure I get everything completed. This has resulted in me becoming a morning person, which wasn’t the case before. It’s one of the changes I’ve gotten used to, and frankly, that’s probably for the better.

Aligning Priorities

Prior to going back to school, I was working with attorneys on financial reporting. Through those connections, I became interested in the corporate law side of the financial industry.

When I was completing my undergraduate degree, I had an internship in criminal law, and I took the LSAT right out of college. At the time, I wasn't in the right headspace to prioritize preparing for the exam. Now I can see this was a blessing in disguise. I was burnt out from obtaining three undergraduate degrees. There were still many things I needed to understand — like what I wanted to do within the profession and the dedication it takes to prep for school and feel confident in the classroom. At that time, I was focused on other things in my personal life like getting married, and that is perfectly okay.

My interest in law never diminished. When I had the experience of working with corporate attorneys in the financial industry, it finally clicked that I could fuse those two worlds together. I always had the dream of going to law school, but I wasn’t sure if it was just that — a dream that I would never actually pursue. During COVID, I was spending a lot of time in my basement, and I realized that I could use this time to study for the LSAT. My wife and I spent time discussing how we could adapt our worlds so I could better pursue the career I knew I always wanted.

Dan Roalson

Being Uncomfortable

Starting over again was humbling, and I mean that in a good way. It is important to never be too comfortable with where you are because that is when you stop looking for ways to grow and be imaginative.

This whole experience has been uncomfortable, and it was hard to come back and be an intern again after having seven years of professional experience.

Some key takeaways I have uncovered include not growing too frustrated and not feeling like something is beneath me. Instead, using those experiences and being open to them is what is necessary for me to grow. This has been a good thing for me, both professionally and personally.

Advice for Changing Your Career

Carefully consider all your options, as well as the pros and cons of those options. For me, I came from an economics background and a big factor I looked at was opportunity cost. The opportunity cost of going back to school when you are older is much higher than when you are younger, which is why it is less traditional. I had to carefully look at the salary I would be losing, as well as the financials of going to law school. I worked hard to prep, received a good LSAT score and was provided with a great scholarship from Drake University. That is one of the things that made the decision click on the financial side.

It was about making the right decision at the right time. Your career will change and have unexpected twists and turns, but being able to create balance, align your priorities and embrace the uncomfortableness will ensure success — no matter what that may look like for you.

If you’re interested in an internship with Athene during summer 2024, learn more at athene.com/internships. You can also read about the experiences of other Athene interns, including Jordan Anderson and Lily Badofsky, as well as how staying involved in intern events via the DSM Intern Connection kept Athene interns engaged in their experiences.

Job opportunities and career resources are abundant in Greater Des Moines (DSM). Whether you're looking to find an internship, a job, develop professionally or grow as a student, we have the resources to help you thrive. 

Dan Roalson

Dan Roalson is a Legal & Compliance Intern with Athene USA. He is in his third year at Drake University Law School.