• Career Center

    I’m Calling BS on Your Cliched Career Aspirations

    By | April 18, 2017

    This sunset is less everyday than your career goals.

    Happy Tax Day everyone! Today is the day for alcohol, sleep, and breathing a big sigh of relief. Another busy season complete! Today is also the day to start career brainstorming for potential post-busy season job hopping, ladder climbing, and startup launching.

    So it’s also the perfect opportunity for me to call bullshit. Yeah, you heard me. I’m calling bullshit. Why do you ask? For every person (myself included) who answered the questions, “What is your career goal? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” with the following response: “Oh, I want to be a partner.” or “CFO.” That canned response means you:

    A) Still have no idea what you want to be when you grow up,

    B) Are so burned out that you are actually asleep right now, or

    C) Secretly know that you definitely do not want to be a partner or CFO but say it anyway because it is the socially acceptable response to the question.

    I am guilty of all three.

    I remember a little over a year ago driving home from work, listening to Scott Dinsmore’s TED talk “How to Find Work you Love.” At first, I scoffed at the idea of being able to do work that I loved that also fit with what I was good at. Then, I started to do research and met other CPAs who were fired up about their work. Then, I realized I could do something with all of my ideas and it wasn’t so crazy after all.

    It can be overwhelming to think about other options, next steps, and putting together a plan. It can be scary to do work that you really want to do. Especially if you are struggling with burnout and have no idea where to start.

    So I’m challenging you right now. Ask yourself the following questions to start the brainstorming process and write down your answers:

    • What do you really want in your career?
    • Why are you doing the work that you’re doing?
    • What’s working for you right now and what’s not?
    • What do you want to see changed at your company?
    • What ideas do you have on how you would do things differently?

    The accounting industry is changing and honestly, we will be the ones that continue to change it. By 2020, millennials will form 50% of the global workforce. Yup, that means you and me, everyone! Imagine the impact we will have if we can escape the burnout and become more innovative. It’s our ideas that will continue to move this industry forward.

    That’s why today, on April 18th, 2017, I’m calling for a Millennial Accountant revolution! No more canned career aspirations, no more burnout, and no more status quo!

    Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic…but seriously, are you going to live a life of quiet career desperation with your cliche career responses? Or are you going to take the time to think about the career that you really want?

    Back to your regularly scheduled happy hour programming.

    • Non_chargeable

      You bring up a great point…. I think I’m going to forgo my salary and enroll in massage therapy classes at my local community college. I’ve always wanted to be a masseuse (for the wrong reasons).

      • sludgemonkey

        My goals are even less, I want to be under a masseuse from 9-5.

        • Non_chargeable

          It won’t be totally different from accounting. I’ll still be able to use my hands to serve clients. My client base might change from old rich people to younger looking women.

    • IndenturedServant

      I don’t know anybody who wants to be partner. Even current partners like to say they went into accounting expecting to last 3-5 years before exiting to an industry position.

      I think most people aspire to an easy 9-5 where they can make somewhere in the low 6 figures. CFOs and Partners definitely don’t work those hours.

      • iamthelolrus

        I’ve seen the common “dream” consulting exit to be a 40 hour/week 200k/year job.

      • McValue Meal Audit

        Cozy up to your clients and partners, a kush job will present itself eventually through your personal network, that’s what happened to me.

    • Big4Veteran

      I have conducted many, many interviews over the years. I can probably count on one hand the number of times someone said they wanted to be a “partner” or a “CFO”. Usually they come up with some lame middle management job, which immediately makes it obvious to me that they have never even contemplated this question.

      TRUTH: If people in accounting had any actual dreams or aspirations, they wouldn’t be doing fucking accounting for a living.

      • Leighzies

        Seriously. What is the “best” outcome of an accounting career? You become CFO, make millions, and yet still have no life? You die of a stress-induced heart attack at 55? Same with partner except less money? How about I just want to make enough money to live comfortably, not work crushing hours so I can have a family/social life, and am able to retire at 65?

        • Non_chargeable

          Another less explored option would be teaching accounting at a community college. The pay is not that great but it allows you to have a life

          • Missing Donut

            You’d be surprised at how much time it takes to prepare for one college class and handle all of the administrative tasks (grading, developing courses, etc). A “full time” teaching load is typically much more than a 40 hour workweek.

            • Non_chargeable

              I’m sure its a workload; however, I would much rather be grading papers and lecturing young and naive college girls than be slaving away in a small audit room for 16 hours a day, while the partners are getting money up the ass.

            • Missing Donut

              There is nothing more soul-sucking than grading papers. I speak from experience; I adjunct accounting class during fall semester.

            • Non_chargeable

              By the same token, there is nothing more soul-sucking than working 16 hour days during busy season.

            • Sixty109

              have you audited tax?

        • Big4Veteran

          “You become CFO, make millions, and yet still have no life?”

          Actually, most CFOs I’ve met seem to have a much better life than me. They may have had to busted their asses to get to that position, but once they arrived at their destination life seems pretty damn good.

          Money isn’t everything, but we shouldn’t underestimate the impact that “making millions” could have on one’s life.

      • N.E.R.D.

        “TRUTH: If people in accounting had any actual dreams or aspirations, they wouldn’t be doing fucking accounting for a living.”

        Extraordinarily narrow minded. LOL. Not everybody is a live-to-work type.

        • AnonyMouse858

          Wow. Ouch. I had dreams and aspirations, but they weren’t realistic. I went slumming with a bunch of start-ups that didn’t go anywhere. Now I dream about making a decent salary while sitting in a nicer-than-average cubicle and having a business card that I know I won’t have to replace in a year. So that’s what life has done to me.

      • “TRUTH: If people in accounting had any actual dreams or aspirations, they wouldn’t be doing fucking accounting for a living”.

        Too damn right!

    • Guest99

      This would mean something if it came from someone who actually had a current and successful career in accounting. The author clearly hates this industry. Instead of moving on, she leeches onto something she hates.

      • Adam Hill

        The next article is on coal consumption.

        • Guest99

          Good one. Scary thing is that’s probably not too far fetched.

    • Adam Hill

      Is there a professional engineering website similar to this?

      We are in the second oldest profession and nearly everyone is bitching about it not being fulfilling. What the hell got you into the major and the profession in the first place? What has changed from then to now?

      You could always grow a pair and try something new.

    • Mac

      I spent a year interning in a large, private clothing retailers tax department. The people that I worked with loved their jobs and everyone was genuinely friendly. People took ownership of their work and pride in the company. There are people there that have spent 30 years in customer service answering a phone all day.

      My point is: what you are doing matters less if you can answer why you are doing it. I would like to find a job where I can work with good people, flexibility, and a purpose. 40 to 50 hours per week so that I can pursue interests outside of accounting. The fact that I find accounting boring is a non-issue.

      However, if the person asking about my career aspirations is making small talk I would probably just say partner.