Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Career Change: It is hard

Another post, that, for one reason or another, I stored away as a draft.

About six years ago, I graduated from a private university with an MBA in Finance. That I have not used. You see, prior to that I had been an accountant. Being an accountant is very boring, but I liked working with numbers, so I thought finance was a natural transition.

As it turns out, it is much, much harder to move from the world of accounting to the world of finance than really makes any sense at all.

So, I started reaching out to people in finance at my company. They offered the normal suggestions--networking, informational interviews, and taking on project work to gain experience. I've done all of those things. Okay, technically, I have not taken on project work--I've offered my time to a variety of groups, but no one has accepted.

I joined the women's network at my company, the Lean In-style circles offered by my company, and I've participated in a mentor program, all to try to gain exposure to different people, different career options, different options for how I should proceed.

Then, I reached out to someone at my company who has successfully made the transition from accounting to finance. And he had the same advice--namely, informational interviews, project work, and the like. All of the same stuff that hasn't been working for me. He did, however, have some ideas as to what "additional experience" I would need, as well as some of the non-technical barriers to entry. It was actually the most useful conversation I've had on the topic.

While I would like to stay at the company where I'm currently working, I've realized that staying might not take my career in the direction I want to go. I've set up a meeting with a recruiter to see what sort of outside next steps I can take, or what other career options there are for me.

A few weeks ago, I googled how to leave a career in accounting, but most of the advise was directed at people who wanted to leave public accounting--and nearly all of it focused on getting a job in the private sector.

In a conversation with a self-employed friend, she pointed out that women are more likely to say things like "I was very lucky..." and men are more likely to say "I did this..." when talking about how they shaped their career. My company really pushes employees to "own their careers" but it's a little bit of a trap. I've discovered that what they really mean, but don't say, is that they want employees to own their careers within the parameters management prefers.

Unfortunately, I think luck plays a very big part in successful career change. A lot of it seems to be being in the right place at the right time with the right people. I'm still trying to figure out how to make my own luck, but I've stopped working so hard at doing all of the things I'm "supposed" to do--it was too much effort with little payback.

I do have some feelers out there for different prospects, and I've been thinking way more outside the box about what I want to do. I'm trying to make some big changes in my life, which is a little scary, but I also know that I'm more scared of staying put.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The worst Lent EVER

I found the below post in my "draft" file. I'm not sure where I was going with it at the time, but one of the things I'm working on in my Transform campaign is to figure out a food lifestyle that makes me happy, keeps me satiated, and is healthy. It's a lot of work to eat well, because it involves a lot of planning, and I don't particularly like to cook. But I also know that I feel better when I eat well. As Gretchen Rubin, over at The Happiness Project proclaims, one of her personal commandments is to "be Gretchen." Basically, this means that she needs to do what is right for her, not what she "thinks" she should be doing, and not what is right for other people. 

Okay, so here is the actual post:

My CrossFit gym (I REFUSE to call it a "box") is doing what my friend accurately described as The. Worst. Lent. EVER. It's basically this thing where, for 30 days, you can't eat anything fun whatsoever. I'm sure that if I managed to keep my shit together and not stab anyone ("
stabby" is a real emotion if you're from New essentially means angry, but has the colorful implication that someone might end up in a garbage can. Because that's how we roll), I'd actually lose a ton of weight. But I'd be the bitchiest version of myself, and the reality is that I'd probably gain it all back as soon as I stopped.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Energy Drain

At least once a week, you'll see an article on Facebook about getting rid of "toxic friends." But I have sort of the opposite of a toxic friend.

I had a friend who was nice, and sweet, and generous, and always up for anything. When she asked "how are you?" she actually wanted to listen to an answer, instead of just exchanging a brief greeting.

And somehow, I found her exhausting. I would spend a day with her, and I would come home completely depleted, despite the fact that everything that had happened had been fun and pleasant and nice and enjoyable.

For a while, I felt guilty about avoiding this friend. I couldn't pinpoint what the problem was, and I felt bad about not wanting to spend time with someone who was so nice.

In the end, I decided it mattered less WHY this particular relationship was exhausting, and more that it simply was. I would never suggest to someone else that they should spend time with someone they found exhausting, even if that person was nice, so why should I?

I haven't seen this person in over a year, and sometimes I still feel like I should tell her why I "broke up" with her, although to be fair, she hasn't contacted me, either, so maybe the feeling was mutual. In the end, the conclusion I came to, was it was exhausting for me to be around her because I always felt like I needed to be patient, and sweet, and nice, and basically not me. Pretending is exhausting.

Thursday, May 14, 2015


A while ago, probably around December or January, back when everyone was thinking about New Year's resolutions, I read something that resonated with me: a suggestion to pick a one-word theme for the year. Rather than a list of things to do (or not do), pick a theme you wanted to permeate your year. For reasons I still can't articulate, I LOVED this idea, but I couldn't think up a word at the time.

No big deal, I figured. I don't really buy into the idea that you can only make changes to your life at the beginning of the year, and I knew from experience that keeping resolutions is really, really hard. Then, over Mother's Day weekend it hit me: Transform. That was the theme I wanted for my year. So what if my year now ran from Mother's Day to Mother's Day in stead of New Year's Day to December 31? I realized that all of the changes I wanted to make had to do with transforming my life. And the word, transform, sounds so positive, so rejuvenating.

I started my transformation in the most obvious place: sleeping on my husband's side of the bed.

Captain America said, "What are you doing?"
"Transforming my life," I replied.
"Why are you doing it on my side of the bed?" he asked.
"If you recall, this side of the bed USED to be my side" I told him.
"If I recall," he retorted, "you're annoying."

A few weeks ago, I read an article on Facebook (that arena for all things important and cat-video related) about a capsule wardrobe. This was back before I came up with my Word of the Year, but still the idea resonated with me as something I wanted. The idea is that if you put together a wardrobe of your favorite pieces, that all mix-and-match, you'll have a nearly infinite number of outfit combinations without shopping or having an over-packed closet. (Okay, okay, I know, a mathematically finite number, but NOT THE POINT!)

I HATE shopping, and dressing like a grown-up is not my forte, despite my completely Corporate America job as an accountant at a software company. But, I figured, if I don't have to think about what I'm going to wear, getting dressed will be so much easier! Captain America was concerned I'd get tired of wearing the same things over and over (despite the fact that I'm perfectly content to wear my Harry Potter pajamas every day of the week). (I have matching pants. And I bought them at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter when Captain America took me as an anniversary present. He really does love me!)

Captain America was also concerned about what we'd do with all of my other clothes, but I pointed out to him what the blog pointed out to me: most women own a ton of stuff that doesn't quite fit properly, and therefore they rarely or never wear it. I could just get rid of all of this stuff. The rest I put in those giant vacuum bags and stored under my bed. Because in a few months, I'll probably want to update my capsule wardrobe for fall.

I also realized that while I thought I didn't like wearing dresses or skirts, what I didn't like was shaving my legs. I already knew that I didn't like shaving my legs, but I didn't associate it with my perceived dislike of dresses until on a whim in Target I bought a pair of tights. As a kid, I LOVED tights. As it turns out, I still love tights.

So here I am in one of my capsule closet outfits. I didn't take this picture until the end of the day because I thought it was a little monochromatic, but I received so many compliments at work. One woman even told me I looked like a model! (To be fair, taking selfies is not my forte, either, and so you can't tell, but I'm wearing 4-inch heels. I'm pretty sure that this is what inspired the "model" comment.)