Almost 17 years ago, I accepted a two week temporary assignment at Texaco. It was a decent paying job in downtown Houston, and I welcomed the opportunity to learn something new. Although I had worked in the petrochemical industry at a couple of points in my career, up until that point, I had sort of drifted from industry to industry, trying my hand in the medical, legal, and miscellaneous categories of administrative support. Two weeks turned into six months, and by the end of that year, I was a full time Texaco employee. I will never forget one question that the hiring manager asked me – “You’ve changed jobs every year or two; how will I know you’ll still be around in a couple of years?”
It was a fair question, and obviously one that’s stuck with me all this time. In an ironic twist, two years later I found myself moving to a different group and new job in the newly merged ChevronTexaco, while that particular hiring manager found himself looking for a new job elsewhere. I ended up spending 11 years with Texaco, then ChevronTexaco, and finally, Chevron, before finding myself looking for something new in the Spring of 2010. I really enjoyed most of my time there, and I learned a lot. When I left Chevron, however, I thought it might be a good time to find a job in another industry. God had a different plan for me, and I found myself once again employed in the oil & gas industry.
I was given official notice in December, right before Christmas, that my job was being eliminated, and that my employment would end in mid-February. To be honest, I thought I would find another job within the company, and to date, I have applied for no less than 13 positions, most of which I thought I was qualified to fill. Hiring managers, however, seem to disagree, and almost six years after first coming to this company, I again find myself in need of a new job. Up until a couple of weeks ago, I just did not believe that I would find myself back on the unemployment line. Ha. Ha. Ha. Joke’s on me, I guess. There is still a very small chance that something could pop up and I could get a last-minute reprieve, but with a little more than two weeks left, I don’t think it’s going to happen.
So, I started looking for a job “on the outside.” But let me tell you, job hunting has been a harsh lesson in “Things I should have done before now.” Every single rejection I have received has told me that while my skills, accomplishments, achievements and background are “impressive,” there are better qualified candidates that applied for the job. I know there will always be someone who’s “better qualified” but the common theme in all of these jobs is that they want an accounting or finance degree, and a CPA would be preferred. So, facing at least another 15 (maybe 20) years in the job force, I have decided it’s time to get serious.
I am not totally happy about this, but it has to be done. I’m going back to school. Not to get an MBA or an advanced degree of any type, but to take the classes I would need to get my CPA. I started to do this a few years ago but I found I really didn’t have the drive or desire to make it happen, but something I learned a few years ago is that once you have a bachelor’s degree, regardless of field, there is no college in Texas that will allow you to earn an accounting degree. You can take the advanced accounting classes that would have earned you the degree, but instead of an actual degree, you get a certificate that can be used as proof of education to take the CPA. I am not a fan of long, boring certification tests (I took one many years ago to get my Certified Professional Secretary designation, and another a few years later to get my Certified Administrative Professional rating) but I think that in this case, it’s an absolute necessity, because I don’t think most employers are going to understand that I took all the classes even though I don’t have the degree to back it up. I think the CPA would be the definitive proof needed to show that yes, I can do an accounting job. Clearly, ten years of experience isn’t enough; I need some paper to back it up (isn’t that always the way?).
As you can probably predict, I missed the cut-off to enroll in Spring classes by HOURS. It’s ok, though … I will get enrolled for the summer session, so I have some time to get ready. Although I haven’t even started the classes yet, I’m thinking about purchasing a study guide for one of the modules. I think it might be helpful to know what kind of questions are on the test, and to start thinking proactively about my next steps. Maybe it won’t make a difference, but really, can it hurt? I think it might be a good idea to know what to expect on the test, so that when I cover that material in classes, I can ask for clarification on things I don’t understand, or when the information the instructor gives is vastly different from what the study materials include. I don’t know; I’ll have to think about it, but I don’t see how it could hurt to start thinking about and prepping for the test now.
Either way, I think that pursuing my CPA is the right thing to do. And who knows, once I have it, maybe I’ll decide to strike out on my own and leave Corporate America behind. Who wouldn’t love that?!?