In public accounting, you either choose or are allocated a mentor to help you along in your career development. I’ve been so successful the past few years at fostering coaching relationships that I am currently on coach #4. (That’s not good, most people only have one.) The first coach left to go work in industry, the second left for another public accounting firm, and then I dropped the third which brings me up to current mentor number four. All I need is one more and I can do a kick-ass parody of Mambo Number Five. Something tells me it won’t be long.
With lotsa coaches comes lotsa advice. Generally it all conflicts with each other, proving no one has any clue what the hell is going on.
Specialize early on in your career.
Don’t specialize! Why limit your potential?
International experience helps propel you forward in today’s business world.
If you go abroad you will definitely lose out on developing technical skills, and it may take you an additional year to get promoted.
And on and on, you get the idea. It doesn’t bother me much because I usually just ignore them and do what I was going to do anyway. But today’s focus, the Best Worst advice, was coach #3 telling me to maximize my time at the firm. Sounds like a standard, cookie-cutter response, right?
Wrong. It started that way, with him telling me to learn everything that I could while here. Then it rapidly digressed into a take-em-for-all-they’re-worth rant. And I love me a good rant. He told me to go to as many free dinners, lunches, Blackhawks games, and conferences as you get invited to. Max out the open bars at happy hour. Have them pay for your membership to a professional organization you’d normally never even consider. Take the firm-paid entrance to a silent auction fundraiser and then don’t bid on any of the items. Hell snag anything free, someone somewhere wants it. Oh, and don’t feel guilty about it.
What my coach understood was that the firm was going to squeeze as much out of me as possible. They were going to get as much productivity out of me as they could, while paying me as little as they could. He figured we might as well return the favor. So I embraced his philosophy, with great success.
- I took the international assignment
- I’ve collected so many branded t-shirts I practically have a pajama uniform (old holey underwear + firm tee)
- I went to a PAWS event and didn’t buy shit (Animals are great but I retain my pathetic charity budget for human causes. Sorry I’m not sorry.)
- I entered a competition where I totally had an unfair advantage, won, and scored a free iPod Nano
- I eat free food whether I want it or not
- I go to conferences I don’t even care about
- BASICALLY, I became a real Yes Man. If it’s out there and work’s paying for it, I’ll take it.
Initially his rant surprised me, but I get it now, I really do. Please note that my appreciation for this piece of advice didn’t stop me from firing him as a coach. I mean, three weeks after I had moved overseas he emailed asking when I was moving. Seriously bro? I digress. Not only do I get taking all you can get, I think it’s fair and completely fine to do so. The no guilt thing is a very important aspect of this operation. So long as you’re not altogether unethical and operate in a semi-gray-area, you’re golden. See, I didn’t steal an iPod Nano, I won it playing by the rules that were stacked in my favor. It’s not like I’m taking food out of the mouths of the homeless, I’m just elbowing fellow fat asses out of the way while I reach for a free Sierra Turkey sandwich.
I guess the moral of the story is, get out there and sorta steal some shit you’re not even sure you really want! While you’re doing that, I’ll be gearing up to max out the next happy hour and blast my jam, Mentor Number Five.
One, two, three four five
all my coaches hate their jobs so come on let’s drive
To the Big 4 store around the corner
Coach says work-life balance is “important” and I
Really don’t wanna
Explain to her that’s just a stupid dream
With charge hours like I had last week
I must stay deep cause talk is cheap
For coaches ‘ve got Kristin, Amanda, John and Floyd
And as I continue, you know they’re gettin more annoyed
So what can I do? I really beg you my lord
To me dropping coaches is just like a sport
Anything fly it’s all good let me dump it
Please set in the trumpet.