I quit my job today. Do I have another job lined up that I’m going to be starting soon? No. Am I worried? No. Would that be the case if I told myself a few years ago I would be in this situation? Probably not, I bet I would be panicking. But at this moment, I’m not worried because I feel like I have an opportunity at a new beginning.
Many years ago (almost 8 to be exact), I began my time at the University of Illinois. I was in the College of Business, but had not completely ruled out becoming a doctor (I was 98% sure I didn’t want to, but hadn’t reached 100% yet). One chemistry class later, that field was out. What was next? Accounting and Finance. Why accounting and finance? When I was in high school I was interested in “business” and the “business world” so I ultimately wanted a job in that arena. Having both degrees would be beneficial for my job prospects and majoring in both was fairly common among business students. I focused more on accounting since Illinois was a top ranked accounting school and many renowned companies were looking to hire accounting grads. Many accounting students at Illinois seek public accounting positions at one of the “Big 4” accounting firms and I was no different. During my junior year, I was fortunate enough to land an internship with Deloitte & Touche, one of the Big 4, for the upcoming winter. At the time, I was pumped. I thought my career arc was set and I wouldn’t have job worries ever again!
I was going to be in Deloitte’s audit practice. I knew that meant I would be auditing financial statements of various companies, but I had no idea what that really entailed (FYI for the 90% of my friends who think that means doing tax returns all day…..No. SMH). The team I worked with during my internship was awesome, but I was indifferent about the work I was doing. When presented with a full-time offer, I quickly accepted. I thought as a full-time employee I would grow to love the actual work. When I started working full-time, my feelings towards the work really didn’t change. Sometimes I liked it, but more often than not I wasn’t the biggest fan. The hours were long and the environment wasn’t great, but I kept doing it.
I told myself that the parts I liked made up for the rest. I did enjoy onboarding new staff members and teaching them about what they were working on and how to complete it. I also felt pride and had a sense of accomplishment at the end of each audit because I had played a part in its successful completion. However, that didn’t come close to outweighing the negatives. One reason I didn’t leave this job immediately was the fact that most people end up leaving public accounting within a few years. They leave for positions with better salary and better work life balance, but are able to obtain those positions because of their time spent in public accounting. I envisioned a similar scenario for myself. I still believed that my background in accounting and current profession had set my career path for life.
After leaving Deloitte, I joined CNA, a collection of various insurance companies. I worked on preparing financial statements and other regulatory filings. Was I happier in my new role? For a little bit of time I was, but I soon began to feel like I wasn’t getting what I wanted out of my career. The work often didn’t interest me and the material was not what I wanted to develop a deep understanding of. I looked into other accounting and finance positions at CNA that I could transition into down the line, but nothing really appealed to me. I eventually found myself spending a good amount of time each day thinking about how much I didn’t want to be there. The last couple months when the clock hit 3:20 I knew there was about 100 minutes left until I would leave for the day and I would start counting down. That’s no way to live life, but what choice did I have? I had only been at CNA a few months. I had left Deloitte for another accounting position that was supposed to bring me long-term happiness. I was an accounting and finance major. I had been working in accounting. Why wouldn’t I be happy in an accounting or finance job? I was doing what I thought I was supposed to be doing.
It takes a long time for some to accept the fact that they don’t have to continue on their current path. It can be tough to acknowledge that what you’ve spent years of schooling and working on is not what is best for you. Luckily, I’ve reached that point and have accepted it. Again, I quit my job today. The timing of my departure is definitely not ideal for my current team, but I have to do what’s best for me. So what is next for me if it’s not another job in my current field?
I’m going to MakerSquare. I’m going to become a developer. Why do I want to learn to code? I want to be able to build things. The thought of coming up with an idea and having the skills to develop it into a real web application is really exciting. As an example, the last two years I’ve run an NFL picks league with my friends. It’s pretty simple: each week I would send out 5 matchups and spreads from that week’s slate of games and everyone would make their picks for who they thought would come out on top. Not only did I enjoy the competition aspect of it, but I really liked running the league. Every week I would record the picks in Excel, and then send out an Excel spreadsheet with the results. It’s a fairly basic setup currently, but what if I had the ability to code and build a website that would send the games to everyone, log their picks, and display updated standings in real time? Just thinking about that makes me very excited to learn to code and I would love to spend my free time building that. And what if this feeling wasn’t just for my own time? What if I land a job where I’m working on building a website or application through code and I’m just as excited? What if I come up with a business idea of my own that I can build through code? What if I develop something that makes a meaningful difference in the lives of others? What if I’m just as happy at work as I am outside of it? The thought of each of those brings a smile to my face that’s tough to remove. In addition, I can’t wait to spend time learning new things again. And after MakerSquare, I don’t think the learning will ever stop. With new technologies, new languages, and never-ending level of knowledge in each language, the world is my oyster. I can’t wait to start the journey.