I’ll never forget my first day of college. It was the first point in my life where I felt in complete control. I was no longer living at home. I was free to set my own schedule, choose my own education, and ultimately do whatever I wanted. The only problem, I had no idea what I wanted. I had a general idea. I wanted a college degree, but in what, no idea. Since I was in summer school I only had a few classes. Earlier in the summer I had signed up for the classes I wanted to get out of the way early and never think about again. I chose two English courses- writing and short stories.
My writing class turned out to be a great class and I looked forward to it after day 1, but short stories was a disaster. I still remember the feeling of sitting there for the two hours and knowing I didn’t belong. I was in a class full of senior college students who spoke and thought on a completely different level than me. I needed something different. Right after class I raced to the registration office and found the schedule of available classes. My options were racquetball or career explorations. I really wanted racquetball but I knew my life needed direction. I chose career explorations.
Prior to taking career explorations the careers that interested me were sports related. I wanted to work with professional athletes as a coach or a sports agent. I thought those careers would fulfill my passion for competition and adventure. Throughout the course I learned about a lot of different careers and learned what important factors I needed to consider when choosing a career. But by the end of the semester I was still in the same position as when I started, undecided on a major. Except my time in that class allowed me to reflect on what I wanted out of life, what mattered to me, and as I think back on my college career, it is one of the few courses that I can actually vividly remember the assignments I was given. It opened my eyes and helped me learn who I am. I knew I wanted a life of happiness and success. Those days sitting in career explorations I defined what happiness was to me- “Happiness comes when I can be myself and I am doing what I am supposed to be doing” and “success is fulfilling goals”.
Impact of 1 class
Now here I am today, more than a decade later and I feel happy and successful with the direction of my life. I was thinking about what choices I made in my college career that led me to where I am. I don’t remember a lot of the details, but I remember thinking about a lot of different careers during my first 3 years of school. As I took all types of different general ed. classes I came across a lot of careers that I thought were meant for me. I thought I was meant to be a teacher, a coach, a pilot, a therapist, a statistician, a banker, a salesman, a stock broker, and my last career choice I made, when I declared my major in accounting, a CPA (5 years after taking career explorations).
Now here’s the interesting part. Today I looked back at my career explorations notebook and peeled the papers from the binders ( I guess that’s what happens after not touching it for 11 years) and found a personality assessment I took during the course. This assessment was designed to identify potential careers that would be a good fit with my personality. Of all the potential careers that this test identified for me as good fits, the career that was the best fit, was of course…a Certified Public Accountant. I had forgotten all about that assessment. I remembered so much from the course, but failed to recall the career that I was best matched with all those years earlier.
Years ago I sat in a professional seminar and heard for the first time the word- serendipity and I fell in love with its meaning the moment it was explained to me- “A state of mind whereby a person is sensitive and aware enough to find something good while seeking something else”. That’s how I feel I became a CPA. During my college career I always looked for classes and jobs that would challenge me and make me excited for each day; and somehow as I sought these things, I became a CPA. Now that I have been working as a CPA for 3 years I see the value in doing what I love. My entire life feels connected. When I have worked in other careers I have often felt like I was just putting in the hours. Now I truly enjoy what I do and love who I am becoming because of my job. I feel that my job makes me a better husband, a better friend, and ultimately a better person. After typing that last sentence I feel like I need to clarify something (in the event that my wife reads this), working non-stop for the majority of the year and avoiding all conflicts with my spouse is not what I meant by being better husband;-). My job has taught me more about the value of team work, constant improvement, understanding others, and yes- doing what I love. The question I ask myself now is, did I really choose to become a CPA or did becoming a CPA find me?
Which is I guess the reason I am writing here, I like writing my thoughts… and hearing what other people think, so I ask, how have you come to know what was the “right” career for you or did it find you?