Choosing a Career that Makes you Happy and Satisfied at the End of the Day

Contributor: Darlene Eldershaw, Accounting Technician with MRSB Chartered Accountants

Last year I celebrated 20 years as an Accounting Technician. I took some time to reflect on my chosen profession to see if I still felt that I'd made the right decision all those years ago.  After some thought I realized I was doing exactly what I always dreamed of doing. 

Even before my college graduation I was lucky to be offered a position with a Charlottetown Chartered Accounting firm who offered great continuing education opportunities. After two years honing my skills I had the opportunity to enter the CGA program, which I did eagerly. I love learning and thought, “What better way to further my career than going for a higher designation?” I was working full time at a career I loved, taking CGA correspondence courses and loving every minute of it!

Then I started to really look at things and realized that maybe moving to higher designation may not be what I really wanted.  I loved working on the files and dealing with the clients’ needs. I loved taking a financial mess and sorting it out. It appeared to me once the higher designation was achieved I would be more an overseer of the files and not so much hands on as I like. I decided to put my studies on hold for a few months to look into what I really wanted to achieve.

During this time I made a change in my career by accepting an accounting position with a large private company. It didn't take me long to realize private industry wasn't for me, neither was a career in which I wouldn't have everyday hands on doing the work that I loved so much. With this realization I moved back into the public accounting world and soon after joined the MRSB team. 

During my 14+ years with MRSB I've dealt with many clients and a varied range of industries. I've worked on everything from monthly bookkeeping files to year end corporate files. Over the course of my career I’ve done numerous personal tax returns, corporate tax returns and computerized accounting program setups & training for clients. Don't get me wrong, it's not all wonderful and rosy. There are trying times and heavy workloads that come with an accounting career but there's nothing better than a client telling you they don't know what they would do without you or recommending you to one of their friends or associates.

Each year during our annual reviews when asked what can be done to help me feel accomplished in my position, my response is usually the same. Other than a few minor things, I am doing the work I love and get a lot of satisfaction from it. It is easy to take for granted what we have and there are times I am guilty of doing that, but there are many more times when I think to myself, "Boy I can't believe I get paid to do this".

So I've learned it isn't always about the designation, higher pay or following the same path as everyone else. Sometimes it's about doing what makes you happy, and for me it was aborting the higher designation and doing what I love most.  I am a very proud Accounting Technician!

Video: How to succeed as a CPA student

Becoming a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) is no small feat. The CPA Professional Education Program takes dedication, long hours and a lot of hard work.

MRSB Group is lucky enough to have several CPA students and graduates in our office who have great advice to give those thinking about entering the program. Watch our video below on how to succeed in your path toward becoming a CPA.


Motivation & Work: How to make every day feel like new, even when your role is anything but

Karen Zakem, accounting manager with MRSB Chartered Accountants, has been with the company for 20 years and still enjoys (almost) every minute of it! In this week’s post she shares her secret to keeping things fresh and feel-good no matter how long you’ve been on the job.

It doesn’t take a psychology degree to notice that there are people who never seem satisfied in their role, no matter how novel or attractive it might be to others. On the flipside, have you ever noticed those people who carry themselves through the workday as if they were born to do what they do? Your neighborhood garbage collector who always has a smile and a joke; the real estate agent who seemed thrilled to sell you a two-bedroom bungalow even though it cost significantly less than the others she showed you. What is it that makes these people genuinely enjoy what they do? As someone who’s been working in the same office for 20 years I’m thankful that, when I ask myself whether I’m still happy in my role, the answer is a confident (if occasionally tired) ‘Yes’. This doesn’t make me an expert in career psychology, but I can at least share a few bits of wisdom I’ve personally gathered through the years. Here are three factors that, in my opinion, can make or break your on-the-job happiness:

Work friends, not foes

The people I work with each day are probably the most important factor in my overall job happiness. I genuinely like my colleagues and they know as much about me as some of my closest friends. When you spend 40+ hours a week doing what you do, having people around who can make you smile is really important. If the thought of leaving your current job makes you a little sad because you’d be leaving so many friends behind, you’re probably in the right place as far as work relationships go.

Our clients also make my role interesting on a daily basis. Each interaction is different and even the difficult ones pose new challenges and opportunities for getting better at what I do. In my opinion, dealing with the same, simple problems each day wouldn’t be a welcome break – it would be boring!

Development first, salary second

When I started at MRSB 20 years ago it was as an accounting technician on a four month term position. Since then my role has changed a number of times. I have done controllership work offsite for a few clients, I have managed our Bookkeeping & Reporting division and am now a manager in our Audit & Acounting division – all while pursuing a professional designation. In the midst of all these changes there were obviously also some changes in income. While what I made was important, it wasn’t as important as the career development itself and the ongoing support from the partners and staff along the way, which to me is priceless. 

Work-Life Balance

It’s a term that gets thrown around a lot, but it’s very true that without that parity between office and home life, there isn’t much joy to be taken from your professional ambitions. I have always felt encouraged to grow and learn as an accounting professional, but the road hasn’t been easy. With three kids, one of whom has autism, I had to wait until my family was grown enough so that I could fully pursue my education. Now that I’ve finally accomplished my goal, I fully realize how having support both at home and in the office were critical to my success. 

When I talk to my kids about finding a job or career they love, I use a simple analogy: if you have to drag your butt out of bed every morning, you’re probably not parking it in the seat you were meant to fill. Of course there will always be bad days and challenging people, but if you’re doing something you enjoy, these issues won’t matter as much, and can even be the fuel that keeps you moving forward. Honestly, I feel like I could spend 20 more years doing what I do, and still find positive challenges to keep me motivated.

What do you think is needed to stay happy at work? Share your comments below.