Posted by: LYF | February 28, 2009

Q&A – “i’m worried that it might not be the right thing for me…”

“[n]” posted a great question yesterday, you can read the entire comment here (5th comment down).  I’m going to break it up into manageable chunks and reorganize it a bit just to give it some flow.

Why Accounting?

“what makes you “aspire” to be a CA? is it the good job prospects and the salary?”

First let me say that I didn’t always want to become an accountant.  Coming out of highschool, I knew I liked economics and business so I applied to most business programs across Southwestern Ontario.  I ended up choosing the accounting stream because my parents/grandparents thought it would “open up doors” for me.  If I had more balls I would’ve majored in economics, got a minor in classical studies and became a cross Indiana Jones/Milton Friedman.

Deep down, I wanted to know if I could do it. It was a personal thing. Everyone told me the CA process was hard and I wanted to know how hard. Now I know – it’s really fucking hard.

Am I satisfied?

“do you genuinely like accounting/audit and find it interesting/fulfilling?”

I hated it at first.  I genuinely didn’t like it. But that’s just how it goes.  I know it’s cliché, but you have to crawl before you can walk.

But now I like it, and that’s a combination of a two things.  First, my partners let me be me.  This is a huge deal as I’m not a “stereorypical accountant.”  For instance, I spent $40 on candy for the office on Thursday, I routinely high-five one of my partners, I made the majority of my co-workers watch this video so they’d understand why I kept saying “you’re a winner” and I was in Vegas two weekends ago where I spent $800 at clubs and shot an Uzi (highly recommended).  I’m so lucky to work with people who are extremely supportive and put up with my shtick.

The other half is the work itself.  I’m doing cool shit now.  Or at least I think it’s cool.  Last week I was speaking with a CFO who’s starting a new online marketing campaign.  Online marketing – blogs, twitter, web2.0 etc. – is something I find interesting and I’ve read a few books on the subject (Wikinomics, The Starfish and the Spider, The Pirate’s Dilemma, The Long Tail).  So I was able to have a really good conversation with the CFO and offer some insights that she found valuable.  Things like that are really fulfilling because they make you feel useful as a person.

Identity Crisis – “is accounting right for me?”

“unfortunately, i’m having a bit of an identity crisis for the past few months about what field i want to go into. i’m still in the accounting stream, but i hate it…as much as i like the supposedly great job security, “open opportunities” and the handsome salary that comes later (not to mention how my parents want it too), i’m worried that it might not be the right thing for me. did you ever feel that way about accounting? i just had my auditing midterm today, and although it’s always good to know the processes and whatnot, i just can’t seem to picture myself as an auditor.”

I want to be very clear on this, I may go on a tangent, but I’ll come back to what you’re asking.  You don’t have to suck as a person to be an accountant.  Accountants carry a very strong stereotype.  And there’s a valid reason for that – a lot of accountants are quiet, introverted, lame, weird etc.  That doesn’t mean you have to conform and be like them. When you say you can’t picture yourself as an auditor I hope you’re referring to the work and not the image.

The “work” you’re doing now is not “the work” you’ll be doing at an accounting firm.  There’s a huge difference.  What you’re doing now – i.e. your audit midterm – will become the foundation for the real work you’ll be doing throughout your career.  The stuff you learn in school you’ll need to just know, without thinking.  That way, you’ll be able to focus on your real work – i.e. managing client relationships, delegating work, running your own business etc.

As for hating it, I hear you.  But you need to know the stuff you’re learning now.  Suicides suck, but if you play basketball your coach will make you run them.  I want to get really strong, so that means doing 300 pound rack pulls (that girl could kick my ass no doubt) on 5 hours sleep after pulling a 12 hour shift at the office.  You just gotta do it.

I know exactly how you feel and I think you should stick it out. But I’m biased because I’ve already passed my exams and I like my job. To be sure, you might want to call up some accountants with more experience than me. You’d probably be able to benefit from their point of view.

Anyway, I hope what I said helped, at least a little bit. Good luck with everything!

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Responses

  1. Hey LYF,

    First of all, thanks a lot for taking out the time to write such a detailed response, I really appreciate it. Being an Internet enthusiast myself, i found the CFO part pretty interesting. About the “can’t see myself”, I was referring to the work lol. Since I’m in the accounting stream too, i’ve met quite a few reps from the Big4, and most of them seem pretty cool and definitely don’t fit the stereotype.

    I was predominantly worried about what the day-to-day work entailed, as I definitely wouldn’t want to be doing taxes or really math-intense work for most of the time (i guess i’m more qualitative than quantitative, def. not the finance type). Tax drives me nuts, and I’m more interested in consulting and helping others/businesses. I agree that usually you have to deal with the bad in order to get to the good, but for me, i don’t even know if i want the “good” part. Being a CA most likely does open a lot of opportunities, but aren’t they still financial/managerial roles – just more senior?

    My gut is telling me that I’d be more interested/passionate about marketing/advertising/entrepreneurship, but parents and my devil’s advocate always remind me about being “competitive” (aka. having a professional designation in this case lol). The other side of me says agrees with the phrase “you be good at what you’re passionate about, and if you’re good at it, then you can make a decent living from it.”

    Another reason I’m hesistant is that my CA average sucks (aka. below 70) and i’m already in the second half of my third year. This means that i’ve missed the train to get a Big4 internship, and i’m not confident at all about them hiring me for full-time next year. Despite my shitty marks, I feel like I don’t have the motivation to do well in CA courses, after hearing some pretty bad stories about working in the Big4 online and from people i know.

    Sorry about writing such a big rant. You’re probably wondering “how do i respond to something like this?” lol. I’ll definitely look through your posts to find some day-to-day things you do at your job, to get a better idea, without having you to write it all over again.

    PS. love the hilarious links.

  2. Just passing by.Btw, you website have great content!

  3. You definitely want to pull your marks into the CA-program range if you have any interest in this field, otherwise your options are do something else or re-take the courses where you bombed.

    If you’re not too far off, though, it shouldn’t be too hard to pull your marks higher though.


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