How I Left A Harvard Education & A Big Money Career To Become A TikTok Influencer

Julian Sarafian has over 300k followers on TikTok, and his content has been viewed more than 1.3 billion times. But how and why did he go from Harvard law graduate to content creator? He explained all in a recent interview with The Industry Leaders.

“I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all.”

That’s the response Julian Sarafian gave to The Industry Leaders when he was asked about the paradox of social media during a recent interview. The paradox being that while social media is a tool for humans to share stories and experiences, it often has a negative effect on its users’ mental health.

Julian is an accidental social media sensation. After working hard to get into and then graduate from Harvard Law School, he quickly found himself climbing the corporate ladder in his ‘dream job’. But, after just two years, he was miserable and questioning whether he had made the right choices in life.

“The most shocking thing for me was how I thought I had it all figured out, and I had a picture-perfect resume to back that up. I’ve been on this conveyor belt for so long: since I was 17 years old, I thought that I would go to law school and then get a job, earn money, etc. And now that I’ve finally reached it all, I have no idea what I want to do. But I do know that I’m miserable.”

Sarafian began talking about his struggles on TikTok, and his videos quickly became popular with people interested in dealing with mental health issues. However, his journey from unknown to TikTok influencer was rapid, and when asked what it was that sparked hockey-stick growth, his answer was typically modest.

“I wish I could tell you! I spend more hours than I would like to admit trying to understand these algorithms, and I still have no idea how they work.

My first initial boost of engagement came from my own story on TikTok. It was a video of me just talking to the camera for three minutes about my story. It wasn’t me dancing around or talking about Harvard Law School. Posts like those do fine, but what got me my following was me talking about my story — this really reflects how many people are out there currently suffering.”

Since then, he’s built a huge community of followers on YouTube and Instagram and has also built his own law firm, focused on content creators and social media and advocating for mental health and progressive change.

There’s even talk of running for political office.

But Julian is keen that his content stays firmly focused on the topic of mental health issues like burnout – something that most entrepreneurs need to combat at some point while building their business.

Sarafian is keen to highlight that life isn’t easy and that change doesn’t happen overnight. When asked what his most challenging situation was to date, his answer centered on the time and self-judgment it took to eventually leave a career that made him unhappy.

“There was a lot of self-judging. I’m grateful for my fiancé as she was the one who primarily supported me through all of it and told me to quit everything two years before I actually did. It took me seven to nine months of thinking about quitting to actually accept the decision to leave everything and live with that decision.”

His advice to anyone thinking about leaving a well-paid career to improve their mental health?

“I’d say there’s nothing wrong with going down the expected path. I say this about law all the time. I’m often asked whether I regret going to law school, and the response I have is that it’s a great launching pad and a great safety net. I can go back into law whenever I want, and I have potential opportunities ahead of me in any industry because I have a powerful degree. Accounting, consulting, and banking are similar in that regard. 

So I would say that it’s okay to chase those high standards as long as you don’t lose sight of the bigger picture: your interests and wants, the things you naturally gravitate towards. Pay attention to those wants throughout your journey.”

Read or watch the full interview between The Industry Leaders and Julian Sarafian, here.