The Jobs I’ve Had, The Work I’ve Done: Part 4 – The “This Is Adult Life Now” Years
We’ve come to the last installment in the jobs I’ve had and the work I’ve done series! We covered my entire work history through my teens and early adult years, but now it’s time to look at the work that led up to my current position I have today.
Let’s take one more trip down memory lane to see just how everything played out.
The Jobs I’ve Had, The Work I’ve Done
The “This is Adult Life Now” Years (28+)
My First Accounting Job!
I actually ended up getting my first Accounting job when I was about two thirds of the way through my college degree. At this point, I had done enough Accounting coursework that employers felt ready to hire me for entry level Accounting roles. I accepted a position as an Accounting Clerk at a manufacturing company and starting building up some experience in the field.
This particular role was a lot of Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, and Data Entry. There were also some more advanced tasks like inventory, journal entries, audits and reconciliations, and helping the Accounting Manager with month end close. I don’t know if I loved the work, but boy did I love the job stability and regularity of everything. I can’t describe the peace I felt after the crazy ups and downs in the video game industry. It was boring, but boring was good at this point.
I worked in this position for about a year up until I graduated with my college degree. I ended up graduating with my B.S. Accounting degree in just two years and I was offered a position at a public accounting firm as soon as I graduated. Things were falling into place!
Beginning my Professional Career in Accounting and Finance
My degree was now in hand and I had a position with a small CPA Accounting firm. I was a little bit hesitant about working in public accounting initially! My preference was always to work in corporate accounting, but I was actually pleasantly surprised in this role. It was a lot more fun working with clients than my introverted mindset had led me to believe.
My job wasn’t working with personal tax returns, however. Instead, I worked in the company’s business accounting division which was responsible for bookkeeping, auditing, financial analysis, and business taxes and forms. It was a fun role with LOTS of variety and I learned a lot while there. The clients came from all walks of life and it was very cool to be an unofficial part of their businesses as they grew (or failed).
Being exposed to the inner workings of so many different businesses, professions, and industries was a treat! My clients often had some crazy stories of their own to share, too. Ok, scratch that, they had lots of craziness in their lives which served me a good chuckle from time to time.
Unfortunately, my boss was one of the worst I’ve ever had and he fostered a toxic work environment. I began looking for another position and it didn’t take too long to find something suitable. I accepted the new job offer and left for my next Accounting role.
Accounting for a Casino
My next Accounting job was pretty interesting. I got hired as a Staff Accountant for a big casino in my area. I had never been to a casino before in my life and wow, it was a lot different than I was expecting. The lights, the sounds, the people, something ALWAYS happening one way or another and entertainment and food options beyond belief.
Thankfully for my introverted personality, I got to work in the back offices away from all the action and that was how I liked it. But when I say the back offices, I really mean it. The Accounting office was nestled away in the basement of this very gigantic building. It was a very drab environment and usually freezing cold all year round (the HVAC system didn’t work properly), but it was nice to be out of the way of things.
The job itself was OK. My manager was great and work responsibilities were fine, but the senior leaders and Vice Presidents of the company were really awful. They focused almost exclusively on cost cutting anywhere and didn’t care if quality went down (and boy did it ever). It was nice being able to gain experience doing more complex work in the field of Accounting and getting paid better, too, but morale in the company was really low and you couldn’t help but feel it.
They Lost How Much?!
The biggest turnoff about the job for me was the whole business model of how casinos make money. Yes, it’s gambling… but over time I saw that the vast majority of our revenue was coming from the people who could least afford it. It’s a business model that preyed on people’s addiction to gambling. People’s primitive desire to “win big”. The company’s leadership and marketing teams didn’t even try to hide it either. I was disgusted by it.
Interestingly, the big players that came in every day and played hundreds of thousands of dollars each day were not an issue or profitable. They won back as much as they lost playing at that volume. Even if they did happen to lose, most of the folks playing at this high volume were VERY rich and wouldn’t bat an eye at losing $500k. I remember there was a younger kid in his twenties who just received a large inheritance from his deceased grandparents. He came into the casino and lost $350,000 in ONE NIGHT on blackjack. He didn’t seem to care in the slightest.
But then there were the people who didn’t have the money to gamble. The ones that worked low paying job and blew the last few hundred dollars of their paycheck in the hopes of hitting the big jackpot. They came in week after week and lost money without ever winning. It ruined their lives and their families. This is where the vast majority of the revenue came from and it really made me sad.
From Accounting to Finance
Despite the business model being against my personal values, a job was a job and this one was my best paying one yet. I knew it was not the right place for me, but I was hesitant to job hop too quickly because I was gaining good experience and it was important for me to make a living, too. I decided to keep working at the casino and I stayed in the Accounting role for about 1.5 years. It was after that period that I received a promotion to a Financial Planning and Analysis role.
This type of work was more exciting for me. I had always enjoyed working with the numbers and that’s what Finance was. Accounting is more about recording information and ensuring accuracy. Finance is where you get to see what the numbers mean.
Unfortunately, the promotion led to my work environment becoming much more awful.
I moved out of the Accounting offices and into upstairs offices alongside the executive team and marketing offices. Holy cow what a terrible environment. The executive team were very pompous, arrogant and had an “I’m better than you” attitude. The amount of paid time off they took was also astonishing (they were in the office about 2-3 days a week). The morale in the entire company was bad, but it was an especially negative environment in this section of the building. It wasn’t hard to see why…
The worst part was that I had to share an office with a co-worker. I could go on forever about this but I’ll just say it was the worst work environment I’ve ever worked in. I got severe depression and anxiety from the antics and toxicity of this co-worker. Every single day brought me a feeling of dread. This terrible new environment and awful co-worker were ultimately the factors that pushed me to look for new jobs again.
Trying to Open Up More Doors
During my few years at the casino, I had been planning ahead. I was somewhat secretly working on completing an MBA degree. Yes, I had returned to college once again and this time I decided to opt for the MBA because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to specialize heavily in Accounting. My Bachelor’s degree was already in Accounting and my goal was more so about gaining as many new options as possible. I guess I was still looking for that “right fit”.
I completed my MBA while in my Finance role at the casino and I randomly happened to come across an open position for an Academic Advisor with my alma mater at the same time. It just so happened that I met all the requirements perfectly. Considering I was quite frustrated with my current role, I decided to apply. What’s the harm?
Well, the interview went outstandingly well, and quickly, too! I was highly impressed by what was offered and the role itself. I would be supporting students for both their Academic and Career pursuits, helping them through their degree programs however possible. I was offered the job and decided to take it!
My Happy Work
I’ve now been in this position with the University since then and I love it! It’s such a joy working with college students to help them earn their degrees and help them pursue careers afterward as well. This is truly my happy work, but my, what a crazy road it was getting here.
The most interesting thing is that I never in a million years would have seen myself in this role. I wasn’t even sure if I would like this new job, but I ended up loving it! It was a great lesson in stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying new things. You never really know how you will like something or not until you try it!
Another interesting thing about this position was that it came out of nowhere. In the past, I was putting so much effort into job searching and looking for opportunities. It was like a second full-time job and most times I just got rejection after rejection. This one basically fell into my lap.
It served as a good reminder that sometimes good things just take time. No amount of proactive efforts or blood, sweat, and tears can beat just being patient sometimes. In fact, we’re probably often guilty of being too hard on ourselves when we don’t see ourselves where we want to be right away. Definitely try to take steps to put yourself on the right path, but keep your expectations realistic and be patient with the process. In hindsight, I could have saved myself a lot of worries had I practiced more patience instead of trying to force things to work!
What Does The Future Hold?
For the first time in a long time, I feel really happy with where I’m at professionally and personally. I have a job I love showing up to every day and I get to be a big part in helping others. I get to share my ideas, advice, and thoughts on this blog in hopes I can help others find happiness in work, too. I haven’t felt this at peace about things in a long time. I was always searching desperately to take the next step to a better place. Right now, I feel good right where I’m at.
Not to say I don’t have big plans. I’ve always been a very ambitious person and I’m excited to work on some big projects I’ve had on the backburner for years. Now that I have more stability, balance, and happiness in my life, I feel more capable than ever to pursue them.
I have big goals for this website as well, so keep checking in as I work to add new contents and resources as quickly as I can. I appreciate each and every one of you for being here and your support means the world to me. Thank you!
– Mr. Happy Work
Missed reading one of the parts in this Jobs I’ve Had series? Here are the others!