You Want to Work in Accounting or Finance. Great. Now What?
I remember the last time I attended a job fair at my college. I forced myself into a pair of heels, printed out an optimistically large stack of resumes to hand out, and biked over to the sweaty smelling athletic building armed with my best smile–and only the vaguest of ideas what I would want my future career to look like. You see, I was an English major–good at writing, reading critically, and communicating, and I wanted a job that allowed me to do that.
You know… somehow. Don’t ask me why I went to a job fair without a particular job title in mind. Nevertheless, it seemed like at every single booth, I heard more or less the same thing. “We’re really looking to fill positions in Accounting… But I’ll hold on to that resume for you, my coffee was starting to leave a ring on the table.”
Work In Accounting?
I questioned (not for the first or last time) why I had chosen a field that was so open-ended, so poorly defined, as opposed to a field of study that pointed itself nicely into a specific career, like Finance. Imagine my surprise, then, when a conversation with my housemate over coffee revealed that she didn’t know what to do with her impending Accounting degree, either. Sorry, did I hear that correctly? I must not have heard you over the wailing of my internal litany of self pity and doubt. How could you not know what you want to do if you’re lucky enough to be good with numbers? The possibilities are endless!
Turns out, that’s exactly the problem. If you don’t actually know what you want to do for a living, then you aren’t going to have any easier time job hunting, no matter what your field is. If you’re looking for the latest opportunities in Finance, then a good place to start is to define what that actually means. Do you want to work as an accountant, payroll specialist, medical billing specialist, financial planner, insurance saleswoman, or investment banker? They all fall under that category. Just the same way that a blogger’s job does not even closely resemble that of a technical writer or a journalist, it turns out that “I want to work in writing somehow” wasn’t a good career plan for me, and it probably hasn’t been working out for you either.
On the other side of that coin, (Preferably not the “Job Hunting Sucks I’m Just Gonna Flip a Coin” coin,) maybe you’re hitting a rut in your job hunt because your search is too narrowly defined. For example, you want to be an Accountant. Why? Because you see yourself balancing books at an important firm, in a smart suit jacket, pencil balanced delicately behind one ear? Or because you know where you want to live, how much you’ll need to make to afford to live there, what you’re qualified for, and which of your skills are most marketable and in demand in that area? (Oops.. you have done that research, right? )
The point is, don’t be like me. Don’t make your job hunting decisions based on an idea of what you think your future job is going to look like, what you want your lifestyle to be, and the narrow roles and titles that you’ve decided fit that image. Do. Your. Research. Start here.
Finance jobs are out there, and it’s not a bad industry to hang your hat on. As long as businesses continue to operate for the purpose of making money, it’s a safe bet that they are going to need people to balance, save, invest, manage, and direct that money. Define your goal, and go get it.