Getting fired is awful. It’s an experience that I will not go through again – once was enough. Fortunately, it happened early in my career and highlighted certain behaviours that if left unchecked would have caused me far greater problems in the future. Here is what I learned from that experience.
Disclaimer: I do not have a lot of work experience and I am not a CA yet. However, I know what it feels like to be “terminated” and I spoke to a lot of people about my behaviour after I was let go. These points that follow are the culmination of all the advice I was given. This is definitely not an exhaustive list and if anyone has any other pieces of advice feel free to pass them along.
1) Humility is more valuable than hubris
So you think you’re the smartest person in school? It doesn’t really matter in the real world. And your attitude is going to piss off a lot of people. If you don’t agree with your company’s policies that’s ok. You don’t have to agree with all of them. And as a new hire, it isn’t your place to start questioning how an entire company – that actually survived without your input for the past X years – manages itself. You may think you know everything, and you may think your ideas are better. But pushing your opinions on others will make you look like a punk and make your coworkers feel uncomfortable.
2) Being right isn’t as important as understanding what you’re doing
It’s easy to get a tax calculation right when you’re using software. It’s a lot harder to explain those tax calculations to a client. When you start out, you will make a lot of mistakes. You can’t get around this. Straight out of university, you won’t have the knowledge or experience to completely know what you’re doing. This is ok. What’s important is understanding why you did, what you did. Everytime you hand something in it will likely be checked by someone else. These people will not know what you were thinking when you were doing your work. So when they check it, you better be able to explain what you were doing so you can defend your work. Shrugging your shoulders and saying “I dunno” or telling your manager “don’t worry, it’s right” will not suffice.
3) An office is a non-confrontational atmosphere/ dealing with passive aggressiveness
I’ve had many different jobs before I started working at an accounting firm; i.e. shipper/receiver, camp counsellor and even Blockbuster employee. Office jobs – and some people may disagree with me here – are a little strange because the atmosphere is very calm an non-confrontational. It was something I wasn’t used to. If there’s friction between you and a coworker, it may never get openly resolved. Your coworker may take it up with an H/R manager without telling you about it. They might even make your job more difficult by assigning you more work, or give you deadlines you can’t meet. The best and easiest way to avoid situations like this is to be a good employee. I call it showing up. Get to work on time, finish your work before its due, act courteously etc.
4) Most problems you’re going through in the first few months are normal. There are books/articles available that can help you deal with these problems in addition to talking with peers, friends and family members.