You ‘Swiped Right’ on Accounting. Now what?
There’s no ghosting when it comes to your career. So, go straight to the heart of it to find out what brings passion into your work.
“I am passionate
about my work.”
Yeah, right. How many times have you heard this and reacted with
rolled-eye skepticism? I once had a potential intern tell me during
an on-campus interview that they were passionate about my field
of work and two questions later they acknowledged they had no
real idea what it was that I do!
I am here to tell you that I truly do love what I do—now. I didn’t
love work when I first started my career. I had many moments that
I was not sure I was on the right course. By pure serendipity, I
encountered people along the way who found meaning in their
work and appreciated what they did. I grew to appreciate my work
more each day simply by surrounding myself with these folks. Then,
by layering in time—I am talking years, not days—that appreciation
grew, and I suddenly realized that I loved my career. This was no
small feat; I had many years of unhappiness at work. But today I am
confident that sharing some of my experiences can help you
shortcut your path to fulfillment at work and have a healthy
relationship with your career.
The first thing you have to do is plant yourself in the right
environment. A business culture that fosters growth, is positive, and
supports your individual goals creates fertile soil. But even in such
a great setting, you may not find value in your work. I encourage
you, whether you’re an accounting student or a managing partner,
to examine your situation and ask, “Do I appreciate what I do?” The
term appreciation comes with an explicit acknowledgement not
only of the value of the work but the true impact of the work. If a
job applicant at your organization directly posed this question to
you today, how would you answer? Try asking a trusted peer or
colleague. It takes courage at any point in your career to ask this
question. But ponder this: Why wait? Everyone deserves to feel a
sense of fulfillment and dignity in their work.
Now, have you ever really tried to find the value in what you do?
One of the things I love most about the accounting profession is
that there’s truly something for everyone. I believe that we
accounting professionals crave accuracy, clarity, and consistency,
and every task in accounting revolves around one, if not all, of
these principles. But so many career paths in accounting involve
experiential learning, which can translate into working on less
challenging but critical-to-master tasks during the first few years of
During the first few years of my career, I
grew frustrated and bored at times. When
well-intentioned colleagues told me to
hang in there and that I was just paying my
dues, it only made things worse. In my
resentment, I allowed myself to stop doing
my best. I proceeded to create work that
one day put my partner—who I liked,
admired, and respected—in a very bad
light. Being the leader he was, he covered
for me and only spoke to me about my
errors in private afterward. That very day, I
realized that this grunt work mattered
and that my partner relied on me to do my
best. I started to see the value in what
I was doing. I began working harder,
faster, and more accurately. I realized that
my relationships with colleagues were
becoming better because I was helping
them and their work. When I saw the value
in what I had considered mind-numbing
data entry, everything changed.
A fertile environment for growth is great,
but also accept that no workplace is full
of 100 percent happy and fulfilled people.
The people around you will span the
spectrum. I saw people on a daily basis
who seemed just miserable with their jobs.
They came to work every day with the
“punch clock” mindset and counted the
hours until it was time to head home. The
truth be told, I was in danger of following
this path. I was often that person as well
and a negative influence on others. I had
the perspective that others were to be
credited for my happiness and blamed for
my unhappiness. I was truly afraid of the
dark place I saw this leading toward.
Only now, years later, am I realizing that
I have no control over others and what
happens externally. Looking back, I can now
thank the negative, unhappy coworkers I
encountered over the years; they were
great examples of who I did not want to be.
It takes personal and professional maturity
to accept that we are all responsible for our
own happiness and fulfillment and that any
job offers dignity and worth. A determined
commitment to finding the value in what
you do as often as you can and just being
open to seeing the impact of your work can
lead to lasting contentment, appreciation
and, dare I say it, passion.
Many, many years ago, I made the decision
to “swipe right” on accounting as a career
and, like any relationship, we’ve had our
ups and downs and it requires a lot of work.
But we are happily married and truly in
love. You swiped right on accounting for a
reason. Now it’s time for you to make it a