Have you ever felt stuck in a dead-end job, frustrated because you didn’t think you had the ability to change career paths? If so, you’ll know that it’s difficult in spite of feeling more than capable. Today’s job market, especially in the wake of COVID-19, desires candidates with college degrees in addition to specific experience and qualifications. So what do you do?
Prior to my internship at Kreischer Miller, I had worked a few different jobs. When I was a landscaper, I was cleaning out flower beds one day and remember thinking to myself that I needed to advance my career. When I was a manager at Lowe’s, I had a reoccurring thought one night. I locked up the building around 11:30pm knowing that I’d be the first one back the next morning to open the store at 5am. It struck me again while I was sitting at my job as an estimator, looking through a set of blueprints. While I loved all of my previous jobs, I felt like the opportunity for growth was hamstrung from lack of education and experience.
The first thing I tackled when I decided to pursue a career in accounting was going back to college. I had been to a few colleges but always diverted back to working instead of completing my degree. This time felt different. I was passionate and committed. I was doing this for myself, not because someone else wanted me to. After finishing college, I decided to tack on more qualifications. I sat for the CPA exam and made sure I could check as many education requirement boxes as possible.
Experience is by far the toughest requirement to gain. The hiring system is a catch twenty-two in regard to education and experience. Companies want candidates with both, and it’s difficult to get one without the other. I was fortunate to come across an internship opportunity at Kreischer Miller, which has a culture unlike any place I had ever worked. My internship has been awesome, to say the least. With remote work and virtual meetings, I expected that connecting with others would be a challenge, but that is not the case. In addition to those I worked with directly, I was assigned a buddy, an experienced staff member who has gone above and beyond to make sure if I have a question, it gets answered, or if I am struggling with a task, I can get help. I don’t hesitate to reach out to others even if it’s just to catch up since we don’t currently have the opportunity to interact in an office setting. During the first few weeks, I thought everyone was just being nice to the interns, and that over time the pressure of busy season would rob me of the joy and excitement of KM’s culture. To be honest, busy season is intense! But the people, from all levels of seniority, have been pleasant and helpful. The onboarding experience at KM isn’t an isolated event. It’s the beginning of my career development, and everyone has my best intentions at heart. Each week of the internship is another layer of experience which is crucial to the success of my career.
I once read, “Good is the enemy of Great.” This saying has stuck with me. Some may think that kind of mindset could make someone a perfectionist or that it’s futile and unachievable. To me, though, it’s about having joy in the journey and continually improving. I had been looking at my career as a start and finish line wanting to get through it as quickly as possible. Then I realized I needed to make my goals smaller and enjoy the journey instead. I broke down my big dream into small achievable ones.
Now, I’m only part of the way there, but I’ve been able to celebrate a ton of small accomplishments along the way, truly enjoying the journey. For anyone facing the same challenge, start by breaking up your big dream into smaller goals; stop focusing on the end result, and start enjoying the journey. Keep an eye out for places like Kreischer Miller that give you the opportunity and resources to learn and gain experience so you can succeed in your new career.
Since writing this post, Corey has accepted Kreischer Miller’s offer to start as a full time Staff Accountant on the Audit & Accounting Team immediately upon the completion of his internship. Congratulations and welcome to the team, Corey!
Corey Malham is an intern in Kreischer Miller’s Audit & Accounting group. He graduated from Western Governors University in March 2020 and successfully passed the CPA exam in January 2021. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family, especially his wife and two sons.
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