High school students are expected to select subjects that lead on to what they wish to do with their future. But who really knows what they want to do when they’re 15?
The subjects I picked were Chemistry, Drama, Travel and Tourism, and Computers and I had a genuine interest in all of them. Am I a Scientist, an actor, a travel agent or IT specialist?
No. I’m a Reception Manager and Marketing Co-Ordinator in a gym. I have a Bachelor of Business Studies with a Major in Management. A drastic change from the five years I spent working in Accounting. How do I choose those particular subjects in school, then spend six years studying Management and Accounting, to then end up working in the fitness industry?
Crazy about my boyfriend, I left school near the end of sixth form because he was no longer there, disappointing teachers and family members alike. I began the Business degree the following year, like most I’m sure, because I didn’t know what else to do. By the end of my first semester I had picked up a full-time position working for a small accounting firm. I had applied for every position I could find in the local newspaper at the time. I even had a job interview with a chimney sweep company to do their administration. Unfortunately they felt I was under-qualified for the position and rightly so, as I had no work experience. So to then be given an opportunity to work as a junior accountant was – well a surprise. When I started my degree I had no intentions of following a pathway in accounting. To be honest, I was 18, I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do. All I knew was my parents would kick my butt if I wasn’t doing “something”.
So I took on this job, and chose what seemed to be the obvious right choice at the time, to follow the pathway to being an accountant. After two and a half years, a friend arranged an interview for me with one of the Big Four Accounting Firms, something that doesn’t come lightly. I left the small firm and moved into a position in this prestigious accounting firm. Into the world of being accountable for every six-minute block on the timesheet.
Another two and a half years here, I realised what I really wanted to do was see the end of my studies. In final year papers, I struggled to manage the work load and a demanding full-time job. So I made the choice to leave my job and spend the next 12 months studying hard to finish my degree. What a scary moment this was. I had been in full-time employment for five years and was about to throw security and stability into the air to “hopefully” finish the degree that I was now nearing my sixth year of doing, having been a part-time student since I started working. Of course I had every intention of returning to a full-time accounting role at the end of this 12 months, with a shiny qualification finally at the end of my name.
Like everyone, I still needed money to pay the bills so I picked up a receptionist role in a gym. The perfect arrangement – enough money to keep food on the table, and a job I didn’t need to think about when I left for the day. It was just a job to make ends meet for 12 months.
12 months is a long time to have “just a job”, and perhaps I knew subconsciously that I didn’t want to return to accounting. Because when it came to the end of this 12 months, I realised that job had become something so much more. I was passionate about the organisation and its purpose, and I was desperate to find a reason to stay. I expressed my interest for a position in sales (the only full-time position I would have a chance of getting), on the off chance something becoming available, and just my luck it did.
“Don’t settle for a job that just pays the bills, find the job that you would give all your efforts regardless of the pay.”
I’ve now been with this organisation for over five years and have no intentions of moving anywhere else. I do spend some of my time working with budgets, but nothing compared with what I did for five years in accounting firms. I still get a little excited when the Government releases its annual budget, but I don’t keep up with tax law or the latest New Zealand Financial Accounting Standards.
I look back at the path that led me to where I am today and I’m thankful for the experiences I had along the way. Turns out those five years in accounting were “just jobs”, putting food on the table while I studied.
So when we ask our 15 year olds to pick their subjects at school, don’t expect them to really be mapping out their future right then. Perhaps even at 25 they’re no closer to making this decision. Some people have one pathway; others have a few forks in the road. Don’t settle for a job that just pays the bills, find the job that you would give all your efforts regardless of the pay. Work out what your passions are and follow them towards something that is more than just a job for you.
With love, Amy