There are two things I really want to hit home with this post. One, the work you do in school is not the work you’ll do at your job. Here is what I did today.
1 – This is the work
9:00 – 10:00
My partner reviewed one of my files over the weekend and handed it back to me with a laundry list of review notes (things that I needed to change). These changes needed to be done asap, since we had a meeting with the CEO and CFO at noon, to finalize the company’s financial statements. Making the revisions, getting them right and doing them by noon is “work”.
10:30 – 11:30
My partner realizes that since the debenture on the balance sheet is convertible into shares, it will have an equity portion. This threw me into a frenzy as I tried to remember the present value formulas and how to perform the “risidual method” when valuing the equity portion of a convertible debenture. Trying to stay calm while realizing that I have no idea what I’m doing and only an hour to figure it out/do it, is “work”.
11:45 – 2
Meet with the CEO and CFO. When I go with my partners to meetings like this, my role is to shut up and listen or provide information when someone needs it. What was the value of marketable securities last year? $51,000. Why is consulting down this year? Oh, because so-and-so’s consulting contract wasn’t renewed. Being able to know all the details of a file and recall them whenever my partners need them is “work”.
2:30 – 4:00
I made all of the changes on a draft financial statement and emailed them to the client. Getting back to the client in a timely and professional manner is “work”.
I think you get the point. And don’t get me wrong. I’m no all-star accountant; I make mistakes all the time (evidenced by the amount of review notes I received this morning). I also forgot to check a set of financial statement my office manager put on my desk this morning, as I was focused on finishing the financial statement changes from my earlier meeting. I should’ve told her that I was too busy to do them much earlier in the day. But I left them until 4, which screwed up her schedule. Definitely, should have said something sooner.
2 – You don’t know what you’re talking about – Being good at anything is hard – Suck it up
I’m sorry if this comes across as blunt or harsh. But it seems like you don’t know what you’re talking about. I could be wrong here, because I’ve only read your two comments and a few posts on your blog. And I’m not just saying this to you, I’m saying this to all the people who have made similar comments. I’m not trying to pick on you; you seem like a really nice guy and your website has lots of great content. It’s just that I get a lot of questions/comments like this.
“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.”
That’s like saying you want to loose weight without going to the gym. It doesn’t happen. If you want to do consulting and help others and their businesses then the CA designation is a great starting point. Is it going to suck, getting all the experience necessary to attain the knowledge that will allow you to consult businesses? It’s highly likely. But you should look forward to that. Since it’s hard, not many people will do it and that will make you more valuable in the future.
“My gut is telling me that I’d be more interested/passionate about marketing/advertising/entrepreneurship,”
And why do you think you’d “be more interested/passionate about marketing/advertising/entrepreneurship?” Do you have experience with any of this already? If you do, then that’s awesome. The great thing about today’s economy is that you don’t need anyone’s permission to pursue your goals. If you don’t have any experience doing these things, the things that you yourself think you’d be more interested in, then what are you waiting for? Start doing them.
“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.”
Suck it up. Honestly. Life is hard and no one owes you anything. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get a job with a big 4 firm. There are plenty of medium and small size firms that can and will provide you with amazing work experiences. If you want it bad enough you’ll figure out a way to get it. For instance, it sucked getting fired 2 weeks before the CKE from my first professional job. But I battled through it, passed my exam and found a new job that I’m very happy with.
Here’s another good example. During my UFE studying I was training for this race. With sciatica. That sucked, but I set a goal and I was hell bent on achieving it. And it’s important to know that I’m not the exception. Not even close. Most people I know work crazy-hard. For instance, a close friend of mine was planning a wedding as he was studying for the UFE. I can’t even imagine what that must have felt like.
Look, what you’re asking are very legit questions and I felt the same way about 2 years ago. Just know that all you have to do is push harder or last a bit longer than most people and you’ll be successful. It’ll come down to plain hard work. And know that if you want to do something, the only thing standing in your way are things like this, “I was predominantly worried about what the day-to-day work entailed” or “Another reason I’m hesistant…” These are self-made obstacles. If you’re worried about what the day-to-day stuff is like then go volunteer at an accounting firm. If you’re hesitant and don’t think accounting is for you, then go do something else.
Whatever you decide to do, just go hard.