Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I want to work with you, not for you.

The past few years have thrown my professional career more twists and turns than I seriously ever could have predicted as a doe-eyed college graduate five years ago. (I can't believe it's only been five years...)

In my quest to discover truly what it is that I want to do when I grow up, I've been doing lots of soul searching. I've also been looking for inspiration through reading various books on related topics and listening to my peers in my profession. Only recently has my search crossed over into Pod Casts. (through the app Pocket Casts on Android).

I have a serious love affair with Pod Casts. It's talk radio on demand on topics I want to listen to! Why did it take me so long to finally take a look at these?!

One of the many I've discovered is the Careers Out There pod cast where each episode a professional in a different occupation is interviewed by Marc Luber, an attorney recruiter who realized that though he was placing college grads into jobs making over $200,000 a year, these individuals were miserable! The top reason they were miserable: they felt stuck in something that wasn’t the right fit for them. It has since been Marc's mission to make sure that, you the listener, don't make the same mistake.

Why am I interested in a pod cast about changing careers after having spent all that money on a fancy degree in Accounting? 1) I think it's interesting to hear what professional cello players and animators (etc.) do and how they do it, and 2) they have some great episodes about general professional things like building your network, interviewing tips, and working with different generations.

Also, a big (HUGE!) part of me feels as though I want to start my own business some day, but I'm not sure what business that will be or what industry it will be in. I started listening to this Pod Cast to see if a profession or business I hadn't thought of would stand out or stick with me and inspire me to do something great.

Much of this comes down to my deep down desire to make a difference. I don't want to be a 'corporate drone'. I want to be someone who makes a difference in someones life. I want to make the world, or at least someones world, a better place because of something I created or contributed to, and I don't feel like I'm really doing any of that where I currently am. Granted, I've been at my new position less than three months so I have to give myself some slack, but on the other hand, I've been there for almost three months. Time to start making it better than it already is!

As Ghandi said, “you must be the change you want to see in the world”, and I'm trying to figure out what must change in me, and what 'tools' I will need to get or create to become that change.

Ok, back to the Pod Casts: It is from the episode "Generation Y: What Motivates Gen Y In the Workplace" that interviewee Sharalyn Hartwell, a Generation Y Examiner (See! Doesn't that sound like a much cooler job than Sr. Accountant?!), mentions a buzz term that is being heard not just among Millenninals, but also Baby Boomers (Millennials are apparently just louder about it), "they want to work with you – not for you."

This phrase stuck a chord with me.

Those nine little words illustrate perfectly much of my (and my colleagues) frustration in the Accounting profession. It is understood that in accounting, and many professions, that you must work hard, and pay your dues early in your career to grow into the positions that will be your career later in life. The sad part of that is, I think many of us in accounting have a tough time getting past the paying your dues part.

Large firms where there are distinct levels of advancement complete with career paths and mentors, this does not pertain to you.

I'm talking about the many of us who work at small to mid-sized firms or companies where ultimately your career advancement is based more on someone retiring, leaving, or getting fired before a position will open up for you for advancement.

I'm thinking of jobs where you are given additional duties and responsibilities, but often never the title, recognition, (or pay) that should go along with it.

And mind you, this post is not just about the pay.

It has been said my many experts much more versed in the topic than I that recognition of a job well done can often times go further than a pay increase or title change. If you recognize someone who has sacrificed time away from their home and family to stay late at work and meet a deadline, that is the first step in making them feel like a person instead of a cog in the machine. Recognition like this will give you a much happier, harder working employee than say an extravagant holiday party or cake and ice cream will do.

"I want to work with you, not for you" is exactly the type of work environment I want to work in and one that I want to work towards creating with those I work with in my current position.

I have no idea how I'm going to do that, but with a recently announced change in the structure and function of our department, my 90 day review coming up, and these words echoing in my head, I hope to discover just how do do this.

In my spare time, I'm still going to try and figure out other ways to change the world.