Being an accountant has a bad reputation. You are usually viewed as a Bob Cratchit sitting in front of an oversized ledger book wearing a visor, cranking out numbers until the wee hours of the night. The aha moment comes when when you realize that being an accountant most likely means you will always have a job and the job can be fulfilling.
There is something rewarding working with numbers. It is an exact science without being subjectiveness. 2×2 always equals 4 and unless you do something terribly wrong on purpose, the numbers don’t lie. I didn’t start out being a numbers person yet it is what I evolved into and grew to love.
I’m not sure now what my original ambition was but I do remember I didn’t reach for anything too glamorous. I wanted to work at a company whose product I understood (i.e. clothes, magazines, cars) with simple expectations – I wanted to make money. My first job was as a receptionist in New York’s garment center in a bathing suit company’s showroom. I typed, made appointments and tried to look pretty although being surrounded by swimsuit models, it was smarter to bury my head in work and call the sales people to greet their visitors. It was fun but fun jobs usually don’t pay well as this didn’t. Sometimes you got perks. For instance, if you were a sample size you would get clothes cheap. Back then, the sample size was 8 but rumor has it the new 8 is zero – really?!
As I progressed onward towards secretarial work in the production department of a magazine, I found I wasn’t bad at numbers when my boss asked me to estimate jobs. Escalating to a position in purchasing and facilities, I started to work on budgets. Now it was getting interesting. I should have started college then to become a true accountant, but I didn’t. But, that was a time when the degree wasn’t as important to have as it is now. Working up the ladder was a path paved with experience and common sense. It is too bad that things aren’t that way anymore.
My last job before retirement was as the accountant for a marketing department of a car company. It was the job I liked the most but only spent two years in before the company moved. Like Bob Cratchit, I worked late nights, pouring over the ledger in my computer, cranking out the numbers. No visor, please. I loved it and have to admit, my supervisors and managers thought I was the smartest person in the room. I wasn’t but they thought so and that is all that matters. I miss those days and the time I spent on the excel programs I have no reason to use anymore. My older son is an accountant and with the degree. At times, I talk to him about his work and live vicariously through him. I hope it doesn’t take him a lifetime to like what he does.