Career Change. Need advice

LuellaLuella Registered User regular
edited October 2017 in Help / Advice Forum
Okay. I need help. I have a Bachelors in Accounting. I knew when I was studying the field I hated it. However, I thought once I got started in my career, I would learn more, adapt and it wouldn't be so bad. Turns out, it's bad. So I got my degree in 2012. I worked at a temp agency for six months then landed a job at a large utility company. I hated it. Not only did I hate it, I'm bad at it. I am an analyst and I can't analyze anything. Every day I am just overwhelmed because I fear people are going to figure out I know nothing about accounting and I've tried. I have no motivation to learn accounting at all. I have to google if revenues are credits or debits every day almost. So I spent about two years at this utility company and then moved into auditing. Realized I hated that more than what I was doing at the utility company (SEC financial statements) and went back to that big utility company. About three years later, again I was ready to drive my car into a median on the highway. I have severe depression and anxiety and I know this affects me a ton. However, I took a 6 week FMLA and all my depression and anxiety went away. No cocktail of medicines has ever been able to do that. I think I need to get out of accounting permanently. I even left that utility company for the second time and landed a supposedly less stressful job at a smaller company about two months ago. None of it is less stressful. The guy who got me here, the controller, said he was going to train me and help me along. Well, instead of doing that he quit on my second week. Now I'm trying to maintain reports of his I have no idea what they mean and I can see the end is coming. Basically, I feel incompetent. I cry at work nearly every day. I hate waking up because I don't want to be here. The problem is I make decent money, 63K. I can afford to live off less but I'm not sure how much less. I want to say 45K would be my minimum but all I have is a degree in a field that makes me miserable. I've thought about going back to school but what for? I am thinking about maybe going for an associates degree in physical therapy assistant but where I am this degree has a two year wait list before you ever start the program. Once you start, you cannot work full time. But I feel like no matter what I try or do, I fail. I'm not good enough to survive on my own. I actually find myself wishing anyone would just marry me so I don't have to take care of myself. I have really no interests and I never have. In my spare time I binge watch tv and try not to think about how whatever I do I'm making more mistakes that I can't dig myself out of. Basically, I'm stuck, confused and scared. So very very scared of messing up my future, my ability to retire, and keeping on this path of miserableness. I'm 28 and I wish I knew I was going to die in a few years so I could just say screw it, withdraw all my savings and live life like I want for three years without working. The silly thing is, I don't think I'd be happy doing that either. I have seen psychologist and psychiatrists for the majority of my life. None of it has helped. I'm lost. Help.


Update: I do see a therapist regularly. However, the amount of help he provides is minimal. I am scared that leaving accounting is a mistake as I make money but I hate my life here. The other issue is I have no idea what interests me. I have volunteered. I am taking a class this fall. I ask people what they do and how they figured out that's what they wanted. I just have no idea what I like and I never have. How do you figure out your interests? It's like I've been on an autopilot life just going wherever made sense at the time and I'm left wishing I could start over but no idea what I'd start over with.

Update: I don't want to do accounting anymore. I have a plan to go back to school to pursue an associates degree in Physical Therapist Assistant. However, in order to get through school I need a part time job. I have had little to no success finding that job. I think it is because I am paid way more than any of the jobs I'm applying to pay. I don't know how to get around this short of knowing someone (which I don't) to get a foot in the door. Any one have any ideas on how to find a low paying job when you make way too much money to be considered?

Luella on

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  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    A few things strike me here:
    • 63k, at least in my state, is endgame pay, while 45k is middle-career (unless you are in a highly specialized field). Average national pay with an associates is about 32k, and that's inflated due to some places like NY or DC where pay is so much higher due to cost of living. In my state, for example, median associates-only pay in nurse settings are about 28k for most entry level positions with not much room for growth.
    • Your depression with your position is something you should reach out with your therapist for, online strangers aren't going to be able to solve problems that licensed professionals familiar with your situation could not.
    • As far as looking at new career fields, there is another similarly titled thread active in this forum right now with several long articles of recommendations for searching out new career fields that might be useful.

  • LuellaLuella Registered User regular
    In my field, 63K is no where near end game pay. End game here is over 100K and I have no desire to move up. I try to tell everyone this but no one listens. Physical therapy assistant make around 50K where I am so it wouldn't be out of the question. I just think I am the problem. My brain is the problem. Therapists couldn't fix it. I've been on every medication that has existed for this including off brand usage (for example, sleeping pills, MAOIs, heavy usage of klonopin, buspar or xanax and of course all the anti-depressants that exist). Another issue is of all this money I've made, I haven't saved much due to multiple surgeries which prevent me from being on anti-depressants anymore. I have bone loss and SSRIs contribute to that. Nothing helps. My therapist agrees I need to get out of accounting. The question I'm stuck with is and do what? I was smart enough to pass college but I don't think I'm smart enough to stay in this field. People who succeed at accounting/analysts are smart and career driven. I just want to be happy.

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    edited July 2017
    PT Assistants median at ~50k, and that's somewhat inflated: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/31-2021.00
    Keep in mind that the 50k rate is mid-career assuming you stay at the same hospital. Most make ~32k (national average) entry level with average growth about $500 a year without additional credentialing. So it is something to consider if the money is a big concern.

    How/if you change your career is up to you, but if you are shopping for that path the link in my previous post goes to what my suggestions would be for feeling out what career field might be a good fit.

    Re: the rest. Internet strangers cannot help you with the other problems.

    Enc on
  • GnizmoGnizmo Registered User regular
    Luella wrote: »
    In my field, 63K is no where near end game pay. End game here is over 100K and I have no desire to move up. I try to tell everyone this but no one listens. Physical therapy assistant make around 50K where I am so it wouldn't be out of the question. I just think I am the problem. My brain is the problem. Therapists couldn't fix it. I've been on every medication that has existed for this including off brand usage (for example, sleeping pills, MAOIs, heavy usage of klonopin, buspar or xanax and of course all the anti-depressants that exist). Another issue is of all this money I've made, I haven't saved much due to multiple surgeries which prevent me from being on anti-depressants anymore. I have bone loss and SSRIs contribute to that. Nothing helps. My therapist agrees I need to get out of accounting. The question I'm stuck with is and do what? I was smart enough to pass college but I don't think I'm smart enough to stay in this field. People who succeed at accounting/analysts are smart and career driven. I just want to be happy.

    Therapists help tremendously with brain issues. You can say it's their specialty. Meds are only so effective, and less effective than therapy. Best to combine both as needed, but if you only get one therapy is the best to get.

    EncbowenCambiata
  • NewblarNewblar Registered User regular
    edited July 2017
    I'm an accountant and like you I have challenges with anxiety. In my experience it appears to be somewhat common in accounting due to the level of responsibility given to even junior members, the level of competence expected, very lacklustre training, crushing schedules and often severe overtime (usually not compensated). I know few people that enjoy being accountants but I know many that get a sense of pride and accomplishment out of it. It generally pays well (but below the level or responsibility), is quite stable and it can be quite difficult to change careers.

    I'm a top expert in my sub speciality and I feel utterly incompetent. The secret I've learnt is that most accountants are mediocre, the only difference between me and them is I recognize it so I try harder to improve myself and have a plan. You're not likely to get found out as some imposter because most people skill wise are likely the same as you or worse. You wouldn't have gotten hired back at the utility if you were bad.

    While accounting can be quite stressful, you need to recognize that most jobs have stress so switching careers may help but it's unlikely to make anxiety if this level disappear. Therapy is very useful and if you are physically able you should be doing some sort of exercise as it's often helpful with lowering stress.

    I know you've tried some other places for accounting in an attempt to find a less stressful environment but there are still others you can try without the expense of going back to school. If you have a designation the accounting body hires accountants for community management or marketing and schools often hire accounts with designations as instructors without requiring a masters or phd. If you don't have a designation, many large organizations hire accountants to write financial policies and design internal controls. These are often lower stress than jobs that require you to deal with reports and financials. You could also look into managerial accounting instead of financial accounting as most of your jobs seem related to financial accounting. Basically accounting is a very broad field and you can find jobs that require you to know less rules which seems to be part of what is stressing you out about it.

    If you have a dream job then ignore all that, life is short.

    Newblar on
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  • ArtereisArtereis Registered User regular
    edited July 2017
    You can do stuff with accounting that isn't being an accountant. There's lots of software to help people in your career path and knowing the job can either help you sell it or help you be a solutions architect or implementation consultant.

    Artereis on
  • GorkGork Registered User regular
    edited July 2017
    Have you thought about government work in a regulatory agency? I happen to work for the agency the regulates electric utilities and we have a ton of accountants. The stress levels are not high and they seem well trained and supported. Having a utility background would give you a great advantage.

    Even if you want to switch to a different industry, most government agencies have a high need for accountants. Check out Usajobs.gov.

    Gork on
  • LuellaLuella Registered User regular
    Newblar wrote: »
    I'm an accountant and like you I have challenges with anxiety. In my experience it appears to be somewhat common in accounting due to the level of responsibility given to even junior members, the level of competence expected, very lacklustre training, crushing schedules and often severe overtime (usually not compensated). I know few people that enjoy being accountants but I know many that get a sense of pride and accomplishment out of it. It generally pays well (but below the level or responsibility), is quite stable and it can be quite difficult to change careers.

    I'm a top expert in my sub speciality and I feel utterly incompetent. The secret I've learnt is that most accountants are mediocre, the only difference between me and them is I recognize it so I try harder to improve myself and have a plan. You're not likely to get found out as some imposter because most people skill wise are likely the same as you or worse. You wouldn't have gotten hired back at the utility if you were bad.

    While accounting can be quite stressful, you need to recognize that most jobs have stress so switching careers may help but it's unlikely to make anxiety if this level disappear. Therapy is very useful and if you are physically able you should be doing some sort of exercise as it's often helpful with lowering stress.

    I know you've tried some other places for accounting in an attempt to find a less stressful environment but there are still others you can try without the expense of going back to school. If you have a designation the accounting body hires accountants for community management or marketing and schools often hire accounts with designations as instructors without requiring a masters or phd. If you don't have a designation, many large organizations hire accountants to write financial policies and design internal controls. These are often lower stress than jobs that require you to deal with reports and financials. You could also look into managerial accounting instead of financial accounting as most of your jobs seem related to financial accounting. Basically accounting is a very broad field and you can find jobs that require you to know less rules which seems to be part of what is stressing you out about it.

    If you have a dream job then ignore all that, life is short.

    The reason I got hired back at the utility company was because I basically begged. The only reason it worked there was because they knew I was incompetent and accepted it. I regret leaving, even though I was staring down a barrel of a gun there so to speak. But I agree, the training is horrible and without training I'm useless. I've worked in auditing (with controls and was no good at it - I feel like you have to love accounting to care about internal controls), financial reporting and general accounting. I hated them all. Felt incompetent at them all. Is there an accounting place where I will be trained and someone reviews my work? That's where I need to be if it exists. I also need a place that isn't trying to project me to the top of the food chain. I don't now or ever want to be a controller. I don't even ever want to be a Senior which is my title right now and I wish it wasn't. I am okay with a pay cut. I'll take any pay cut to not feel like this. I cry every day. It's just too much.

  • CauldCauld Registered User regular
    edited July 2017
    Sounds like you need to find another company to work at. Accounting can definitely be high stress and fast paced. Especially public accounting. But, companies vary a lot in how stressful/busy they are.

    I know a number of people in accounting and related fields (AP, Payroll, etc.) who are borderline incompetent. These are nice people though, so they're not at constant risk of losing their jobs. Even some middle management people aren't incredibly competent, though they do often work hard.

    Good companies set their employees up to be successful. When changes happen, like a new process of some sort there is plenty of help and training to make sure everyone is comfortable and on board. It just sounds to me like you need to find a different job, even if its still within accounting. Maybe something in AP would be both less demanding and pay less than your current job if that's what you want.

    Cauld on
  • GizzyGizzy i am a cat PhoenixRegistered User regular
    My degree is accounting but I've ended up on financial analyst roles. I agree with try to find a different company. The smaller the company the more responsibilities will get thrown at you, the larger the company the more "I'm just a cog in the wheel" and likely to have peers that can help train you.

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  • GizzyGizzy i am a cat PhoenixRegistered User regular
    Enc wrote: »
    A few things strike me here:
    • 63k, at least in my state, is endgame pay, while 45k is middle-career (unless you are in a highly specialized field).

    With a degree in accounting fresh out of college with no experience starting pay is $45k in rural Mississippi and $50-$55k in major cities in the southeast.

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  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    That is the national average for all jobs. He is looking to leave accounting for [any other job] or [PT assistant].

  • NewblarNewblar Registered User regular
    edited July 2017
    Sorry I can't recommend an accounting industry with good training. Based on my experience and that of friends there's a lot of trial by fire everywhere. I've actually sat on the other side of the table in interviews and had to lower training expectations diplomatically after hearing coworkers or bosses spout off bullshit about how great our training program is (it was usually garbage).

    Ive worked with a lot of non-accountants and seen their work and my conclusion is that this isn't specifically an accounting problem.

    Unfortunately good reviewing, coaching and training is done by a minority of supervisors and managers. Its very team specific and you can be on a horrible team while your coworker beside you is on an amazing one. If you really want that, you're going to have to base it on the individuals instead of the organization or the industry. You need to hit up your own network to try to find out what individuals you should try to go work for. The risk though as you've seen is you can go to work for someone that isn't there long.

    Getting pushed to the top will happen if you show competence. You can derail that a little without sucking by making it clear that you aren't looking to take on greater levels of responsibility for x years. I would say x years instead of never, it tends to go over better and can make you seem quite responsible.

    Newblar on
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  • LuellaLuella Registered User regular
    Okay, so I have some new information. I applied to be a barista but I was sorta wondering anyone else's opinion on that. I did work as a cashier/supervisor at a grocery store when I was in college and high school for seven years. My thought process was, if I start at the bottom, barista-life, and work my way up, I'll know what I'm doing and that will keep me from feeling lost and incompetent which is a huge issue for me. When I don't know how to do something, I feel lost and overwhelmed quickly.

    Accounting life is so high stress with analytical thinking (not a strong suit for me) that I don't know how to deal with the day to day. For clarity this barista position is not at a starbucks. It's a locally owned company in my home town and isn't super busy like more popular coffee chains. I just want someone's opinion. I can't trust my own.

  • GizzyGizzy i am a cat PhoenixRegistered User regular
    As long as you can afford to live with the steep decrease in pay I don't think anyone is going to try to steer you away from doing what is best for your health.

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  • LuellaLuella Registered User regular
    Does anyone know how you figure out what you are good at? I cry everyday at my accounting job because I'm bad at it. I don't want to feel like this forever.

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    Luella wrote: »
    Does anyone know how you figure out what you are good at? I cry everyday at my accounting job because I'm bad at it. I don't want to feel like this forever.

    Generally nobody is naturally good at something, they either like doing that something enough that they train or practice until they get good or they give up and find the thing too hard and uninteresting to invest the time in. Usually what we see as natural affinities towards certain tasks (like math or writing or art) are just long-term interest in development through k-12 education outpacing the standard competency through personal development and interest. In a lot of ways, figuring out these questions are why colleges require the general education program basic courses across disciplines in your first and second years, to give you a taste of a wide range of skills and fields so you can consider which ones you find interesting enough to focus on.

    Beyond that, probably the only answer is going to be legwork and a lot of it on your side of things. Take MOOC (massive online open courses) programming through various major universities in fields that you think might be interesting, study up on your own in various fields. Make your hobby trying out other things.

    On a personal note, I was always interested in art and wasn't at all good. Back in about 2006 I started doodling in sketchbooks here and there and was absolutely terrible. Over time, though, I got a bit better. I'm still crap compared to the great pro talents, but compared to 10 years ago I'm making professional grade stuff and have had people complain to me that "well it's easy for you to say just to go work at it, you're naturally good at this stuff!" Which infuriates me, because I've spent thousands upon thousands of hours a year working at it just to make it this far.

    The same is true with your work. You likely have developed above average skill in mathematics and analytics assessment for your accounting job, mostly through hard work and time. What else would you find interesting enough to spend an equal amount of time doing (and to an extent you don't mind not getting paid at all, or remotely as well as you make now, for the next 5-10 years of development)? Only you can answer that.

    NSDFRand
  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    Being bad at stuff is the start of being good at it. Do you enjoy learning it is the question. I just switched positions about 3 months ago into a completely different world skillset wise. I have only a small clue what I'm doing (13 years into a career) and I think it's great, as learning keeps you sharp. If you hate accounting (and you have plenty of company in that) - look into business analysis jobs as they'll be more varied while still pulling on your existing skills.
    If it makes you feel any better, in my previous positions I only felt I knew what I was doing 3-5 years in, and even then would find new things I didn't know every week.

    Pacificstar
  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    I've found that trying to be great or the best at my job was a losing proposition because there was always someone more organized with more connections somewhere, so I changed the bounds of being good at my job to being better than most of my peers. It really makes thing simple when as opposed the existential dread of being "good" I have the more easy to obtain target of being better than Suzy, James and Ted. If I am not better than them, what are they doing that I'm not, and what should they be doing. It really simplifies the skill sets and habits you need.

    schussCambiata
  • LuellaLuella Registered User regular
    so I have decided I want to go back to school for PTA (physical therapist assistant) and the dilemma I'm having is finding a part time or full time job that is significantly less money. I've applied to panera, speedway, etc. No one will hire me. I think it's because my current salary is so high. Does anyone know how to get around having such a high salary that part time work automatically weeds you out of their selection without a second thought?

  • NSDFRandNSDFRand FloridaRegistered User regular
    Luella wrote: »
    so I have decided I want to go back to school for PTA (physical therapist assistant) and the dilemma I'm having is finding a part time or full time job that is significantly less money. I've applied to panera, speedway, etc. No one will hire me. I think it's because my current salary is so high. Does anyone know how to get around having such a high salary that part time work automatically weeds you out of their selection without a second thought?

    Don't put the previous job on the resume you give them. You don't have to put your entire work history on your resume or make a general resume, tailor it to the position. If you think they aren't hiring you because of previous pay you can just tell them you were in school.

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  • SwashbucklerXXSwashbucklerXX Swashbucklin' Canuck Registered User regular
    Also, check with the schools you're applying to. Some will have student jobs available.

    Want to find me on a gaming service? I'm SwashbucklerXX everywhere.
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  • LuellaLuella Registered User regular
    The issues is all my previous jobs range from 45K-63K, all of which are too much for those trying to find easy jobs. i need an easy job guys. Is it okay to lie about how much money I make by reducing it significantly?

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    If you did organized enough volunteering, you can put that down as experience without it over-selling your resume.

    Food service is great for turning off your brain, but there is nothing more grueling than dealing with customer facing retail/food positions, so if you are looking for less stress, or dont like talking to people, I dont recommend it. I was good at being in service, but it took a considerable amount of steeling myself against my anxiety.

    I suggest trying to find something local and co-op oriented if your area has those sorts of things. If you can find a business that's small, needs people who can wear a few hats, and might better understand why someone would want to make a quality of life choice for a career change, that might be a good option. Its also the season of holiday work, so stocking jobs might pop up in your area, which maybe worth looking into.

    Also, if your therapist is not helping you work through your existential crisis, I think it's worthwhile to investigate finding a new one.

  • LuellaLuella Registered User regular
    I don't think it's my therapist. It's me. I'm also apparently in an abusive relationship I refuse to leave so that isn't helping. I am literally losing my mind all day and I don't know how to make it stop.

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