Long before she became a favorite member of the Today show family, NBC News’ Natalie Morales worked in... banking.
“Chemical Bank came to my college at Rutgers, recruited me because I speak Spanish, Portuguese, and was a journalism major and writer,” she told Yahoo Finance’s “ My Three Cents with Jen Rogers .”
“So I kind of went into the job thinking, ‘If this gives me greater appreciation and understanding of finance, then I'm getting sort of a paid-for MBA out of this,’ which is what it ended up being,” she said.
Morales joined the management training program at the famed Chemical Bank not long before it merged with Chase Manhattan Bank, now JP Morgan Chase ( JPM ).
“It was a fantastic job,” she recalls. “I got to spend two years learning all about the banking industry. It was an incredible eye-opening education in money.”
Morales rotated through departments including securities lending and the 401k program. Like most recent college graduates, she knew little about the importance of saving for retirement or how 401k’s work. But she was a quick study and soon was out teaching people — in Spanish and Portuguese — about Chemical Bank’s 401k plan.
“At that point, I felt like I really understood why it was so important to know about money and know about investing in the marketplace because I think that's truly the only way to see your money grow is to invest it,” she said.
Today, in between raising her two sons and traveling the world covering stories for NBC News, Morales keeps a close eye on the market and invests when she sees a good opportunity, trusting her gut to make a good stock pick. And she is still dutifully contributing to her 401k.
In fact, when asked for her best advice for anyone landing their first jobs, she offers this: “Invest in your 401k right away and if you have school debt, pay back your school debt. And don't buy as many lattes.”
Jen is an anchor for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @JenSaidIt .