Hmmmm, Do You Find Yourself, Suddenly, With A Lot of Free Time?

Here’s a Saturday special edition of re: The Auditors.

I am procrastinating on finishing some paying work.  Now you know why I have a simple financial situation…

Lots of concerns voiced both in the comments and off-line to me about being suddenly out of a job. This concern is not limited to those auditors who are being or will be cut. It is, of course, felt throughout the economy, especially by those in the financial services sector.
So what to do?
Well, many will recommend the reasonable approach: Polish your resume, take advantage of any outplacement assistance offered, get out there and talk to/meet people, and get your next job before someone else does.
If you need to get a job soon because of financial and family responsibilities or you have visa issues, I can’t deny that the sooner you get going, the better off you’ll be. However, if you can take a breath and think a little, I might suggest some alternate paths.
Whether you have one year of experience or twenty, those of you who pursued accounting and financial careers are usually very Type-A, achievement oriented people. I saw interns at PwC a few years ago that were nice, earnest young people who had never had a chance to travel or read any books besides accounting texts in the last 4-5 years. I was interviewed recently at Jobs In The on this issue. Take a look at some of my previous posts on the “Accountant ” personality and how I got to where I am.
So here goes with a list of some other ways to use your new free time. Do some thinking and real reflecting on what, and who, you want to do things with next.
1) Get in the car and get on the road.  Visit a friend in another state.  Listen to music while driving to the other side of the country. Stay at cheap motels and read books at the bar of a neighborhood tavern at night.  I highly recommend the road trip to clear your head.  I’ve gone as far as Mexico. Next time I’m taking my Rottie.
2) Go back to school. You’d be surprised what you can accomplish in one year.  There are Executive MBA programs, Masters in Liberal Arts, (something I’m thinking about), Masters in Fine Arts, certification programs so you can take the CPA, and study groups so you can pass the CIA, CISA or CISSP. If you’re in Chicago, take a class at The Feltre School.
Do I guarantee you will get a bigger, better, higher paying job when you’re done?  No.  But if you apply yourself and don’t have the distraction of full time work, you can make yourself an intellectually richer person and, maybe, meet someone personally or professionally interesting along the way.
3) There’s one month left before the election in the US. Volunteer for the candidate of your choice. Go to Iowa and knock on doors. Go to your local city council member or alderman and volunteer to register voters or be an election judge.  This is the campaign of a lifetime with real issues and problems that citizens should be conscious of.  Be a part of the solution not one of the whiners.
4)Volunteer for a Habitat for Humanity project. I went to New Orleans on a drop-in basis and I heard that it’s the new hot stop on the backpacker circuit.  I’m sure Galveston also needs help.  Whether you are handy with tools or like to talk and write about the issues with like minded folks, you’ll find it all in places like the hostel that houses volunteers for practically no cost outside of New Orleans. Don’t go with an organized group or church, just drop in and hang, pick your crew, pick your project. Here’s another group in New Orleans you can check into.
5) Spend more time with your parents. Whatever your age or status. You don’t know how much longer they will be around.  Get to know them.  Take a video camera or a tape recorder and let them tell their stories.  Whether it’s for your own private benefit or it’s content for a novel or short movie, it’s never too late until it’s too late.
6) Read some books. Go to your local Borders or Barnes and Nobel and check out the speaker series and book clubs. Feed your brain. Talk to people about something other than work. Write poems and short stories. Try something creative. Again, the idea is meeting people in an alternative setting, not focused on finding a job but on connecting with like-minded folks. Take the opportunity to be around people who share your other interests.  Some of them may actually be business people.
7) Longer term options for a real break include joining the Peace Corps, becoming a substitute teacher in your public school system while writing your novel, and full time volunteering for six-months  to a year at a charity of your choice, maybe not in your hometown.
8) Get out and go to things, alone preferably. Not the career oriented events or ones all your “friends” are going to. I mean events that interest you, perhaps related to the political environment, global climate change, history, yoga, foreign affairs, social media, education, or whatever issues you feel strongly about. Those in bigger cities have more choices.  See #1.
6 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Great ideas…but you're right Francine, most folks in the Big 4 are results-oriented people…I've been in touch with various D&T colleagues who were laid off in late August and not surprisingly many of them have already landed something or are mulling over offers – it's a tough market out there, but there's something to be said about having Big 4 experience and a good network to help you out…For everyone else, hang in there, things will turn out for the better…

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Agree with Francine and @819…both great advice and information. Good on ya Francine for your advice points to people – younger folks who have been layed off – Francine’s advice is awesome and will only allow those who take that advice to grow – not to mention you’ll have a great time. But as she said – you got bills to pay – get a move on. Or just request a bailout from the gubiment and go travel and read anyway.

    Don’t forget though immediately after you pack up your cube and locker – have a shot and a beer and take a nap.

    – Red

  3. Adrienne
    Adrienne says:

    Great advice, Francine, I really hope some of your readers take this to heart.

    As you know, I’m in the business of CPA exam review – which means a large majority of our student base comes straight out of college…

    We actually started seeing an increase in students some time late last year who had originally started out their careers in the mortgage or finance industry (with very little advanced accounting coursework in college)who made the decision to transition back into accounting and pursue CPA licensure for no other reason than job security. Those people saw our current financial instability coming first because they seemed to be the first hit.

    We’re now beginning to see a trend of students completely outside of the accounting/finance industry embracing their certification as a viable source of job security. I’m referring to people in completely unrelated industries like auto, tech, etc.

    Additionally, forensic accounting is going to see a HUGE leap in the next few years. As giant corporations crumble and the general population (who normally turn a blind eye to the obscure world of accounting) begins to question who exactly is allowing this to happen… well… the $97.5 mil decision against PwC is a perfect example of this.

    The plot will thicken and I guarantee you we will continue to see growth in our industry.

    Suddenly, being an accountant is way cooler than it used to be, eh?

    Again, great post!

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  1. […] Candidates felt helpless since, like Ms. Gribben, once they had decided amongst all offers – many of the best students used to have a choice of all four of the largest firms and more – they were left with few choices if their selected firm reneged.  Not only had the other firms moved on and given their slot to someone else, but the taint of having their offer fall through intimidates many students. Complaining might end up on their “permanent record” and “blacklist” them for the rest of their career. Many were locked in a stasis that sometimes only corrected itself after a call or email to me. […]

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