I'm a student in my fourth year of university and I secured an internship at an accounting firm as a junior accountant. I soon realized that not many people like working at the firm. Everyone works toward their CA/CPA [chartered accountant/chartered professional accountant] designation and then they leave immediately after. Although my co-workers are amazing, all three of the seniors that I've worked with during my internship have told me to change my career track quickly while I'm still in school.
Because it's only been four months, I'm not certain if I dislike the accounting work, but I do know that I dislike the long hours. A lot of people at the firm have told me that after obtaining my CPA, the jobs would be better (for example, the salary is better and the hours will be better). I've done some research and understand that most CPAs work in an accounting department at a corporation or they choose to become a senior financial analyst. These jobs are well paid but I'm not sure whether I will enjoy doing it.
Because of my statistics major, some of my friends have told me to try out a career in risk management. Although I enjoy statistics, I've only had one friend who works in risk (she really loves it) and this friend's job requires some coding, which I'm not sure whether I will like.
Because I only have one more co-op term left, I was wondering whether I should accept the return offer from my current accounting firm or try a completely new firm in accounting or try a co-op term in risk? The difficulty is that I lack any experience in risk jobs. All my experiences were tailored toward accounting.
What do you want? It seems to me that you have spent a great deal of time asking others what you should do. And when we do this, they tell us what they would do, which usually offers very little help.
Putting everyone's opinions aside, ask yourself what is important to you at this stage of your career. From what you said, you are finishing up school and have been offered an opportunity to gain some experience. It may be in a company that has a high turnover rate. You can also get your CPA there, if you want it.
You also may want to explore risk, again to gain some experience and knowledge in an area you may not be as familiar with.
Given these two scenarios, and the choices you have, it is important to remember one thing: Nothing is forever. Co-op terms or internships are in place for a number of reasons. One is to gain valuable direct job experience and contacts so you can become more employable when the time comes.
The other reason, and perhaps one of the most important, is to be exposed to different areas of your field, try them out and see whether you like them. Many times we go into programs believing we know what we want, but after experiencing other areas (usually ones we thought we would not like), it helps change the earlier career plan.
You are under no obligation to stay anywhere once you have finished your program. Exposure to different work places and areas of your field are only going to help you make decisions for your future, not hinder them.
Do what you want to do, and rely less on what others think you should do. It is very hard to make concrete mistakes in careers. You can always change your mind. Any time.
Eileen Dooley is a certified coach and lead consultant for McRae Inc.
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