22. What is/was your college major and how/when did you decide it was right for you?
Short answer: It was business/accounting, I didn’t specifically choose it, and I’m still not sure it was right for me.
Novel-length answer: In high school, I contemplated attending a theatre conservatory for stage lighting. In Chicago. Then, I realized that I would graduate from college knowing everything there was to know about stage lights and nothing else. /end dream.
Then, I found a liberal arts school with a great theatre program in Tennessee. I researched it and fell in love with their theatre facilities. But then I chickened out. Or lost site of that dream. Or decided I didn’t like Tennessee. Or something, I honestly can’t remember. /end dream.
I turned my sites to a state school not too far away. I visited their theatre program and hated it. I decided I would go there and just not do theatre. Besides, if I studied theatre and stage lighting I would end up with a job like a friend of mine had, and then I would work a ridiculous schedule and never see my family and not be able to be a stay at home mom like I wanted to be one day. So, I gave up theatre. /end dream.
When I finally got to college, I thought I would give their theatre program a second chance. My parents thought I should balance out a theatre major with a more practical minor, like accounting. I had always been good at math and never minded it much, so I complied. (Excluding geometry which is an abomination of all things good!) I tried to be involved in the theatre department and the productions in addition to attending my technical theatre class, but it never really caught on. So, the next semester I didn’t take any theatre and instead took my first accounting class.
It was SO easy. You make a little “t” on your paper and you put the debits on one side and the credits on the other. Everything had it’s own little place and it was organized and simple and looked like the perfect thing to study.
Enter my brother-in-law. (Now B-I-L, then, former-youth-pastor/mentor/friend.)
When I told him that I had been thinking of transferring to another school (the reasoning behind which is a whole ‘nother post altogether, probably one I will never write), he told me I should come to a small private school in my home town so I could date his brother. Other pluses were the fact that, since the school’s program required a double major, I could study accounting and mass communication. Not the same as theatre, but I had already given that up, and this program did include photography and television production, two things I also really enjoyed.
Later that year, I started my second year of college at the new school, dating my now husband.
After jumping through a lot of hoops (and a terrible, terrible professor/student issue in a required news-writing class), I decided that it was just too much trouble to major in mass communications as well as business/accounting, so I gave up mass com. /end dream.
At that point, I hadn’t actually taken any accounting classes at the new school. The only thing I had to go on was my first “Intro to Accounting” class at my old school. So, I took my second ever accounting class.
It was nothing at all like the first one. AT. ALL. And then I took more accounting classes. Each one more and more different than that original class. I wasn’t completely sold on the subject, but I liked my classmates and my professors, and they all loved accounting, so I stuck with it.
Then, I was informed that the “normal” job post-graduation was public accounting. I was also informed that in order to pursue that, I would need to sit for the CPA exam (this part I was already planning to do). But THEN I was informed that in order to sit for the CPA exam, I needed to take extra classes and that the best way to do this was to get my Master’s in accounting. So…that’s what I did. A degree in accounting wasn’t worth much without a CPA certification, and I couldn’t get that without the extra classes, so I got my Master’s.
About a year before I graduated, I had some pretty solid second thoughts. I don’t really ENJOY accounting like everyone else seems to. Maybe I should be pursuing something else? But I had worked so hard and was so close to finishing, AND had a “great” job lined up post-graduation, so I stuck with it.
I graduated in December 2009 and started my big, fancy public accounting job in January. (And, you know, got married in between. NBD or anything.)
During my job training, I had more second thoughts. I hated the training. Instead of any real instruction, they sort of just threw things at you and expected you to know how to do them. Even when you asked questions, you weren’t given any actual information to point you in the right direction. Little did I know how much of a resemblance that bared to the actual job I would be doing.
In the middle of the second week of training, my roommate and I visited the hotel bar for some Jack and coke after a terrible, grueling day of training. I remember thinking to myself, “If the TRAINING for this job is making me want to drink, what will the actual job be like? Maybe I should just go home and quit this job?”
But I stuck with it. Because I’m really not a quitter.
To summarize the rest of the story, the job was horrible. It took over my life. During the first five months of my marriage I wondered if I was actually married at all since I never saw my husband. (Maybe I had made a mistake, maybe it was my job that had been at the altar that day instead of Chris.)
After taking a month-long leave of absence from work (to study for the CPA exam and look for another job), I returned to work only to remember why I had been looking for alternate employment in the first place. I lasted two weeks back at my job before I turned in my resignation. My last day of “the job from Hell” was August 27. (So glorious.)
I am still in the process of taking all of the parts of my CPA exam and am hating every second of it.
So, why am I telling you all of this? Because it’s the end result of me not ever really choosing my major. I sort of just did what everyone told me I should do. I’m not mad at anyone and I have no one to blame but myself.
The most ironic part about this whole issue, though, is this: If I had followed any of my first dreams about theatre, I would have had an equally busy schedule but I would have actually enjoyed what I was doing. And I could have quit when the time came to start a family, just like I plan to do with my job in accounting (or whatever I end up doing with my pre-child life.) /sigh
So what now?
I have no idea.
Part of the reason I just went along with accounting was because, other than my early inclinations towards theatre, there weren’t any other careers that really called out to me. I didn’t feel like I was giving up anything to major in accounting.
I am still currently trying to finish the CPA exam before we move overseas. I’ve gone through enough studying-hell to get where I am with it now that I need to make that work worth it. (But it’s getting harder every day.)
But after my exam? God only knows. (But hopefully nothing remotely related to accounting.)