About a month ago, I quit my job at a Big 4 accounting firm. Considering my penchant for details and numbers, a career in audit was the seemingly quintessential prospect for me.
Since middle school, I grew up being encouraged and coaxed to pursue employment within accounting. I was told that it would provide a great foundation. I was advised that I would receive unsurpassed training. My wide-eyed ambition desired nothing less of a streamlined career; “this” internship would logically lead to “that” job and then, the obligatory pension. Accordingly, all of my academic prospects revolved around my pursuit for an accounting career.
Then, just a year out of college, like a dream, I received an offer from a partner within a Big 4 accounting firm. Barely after starting the job, dreams of a comfortable retirement were already in reach. My daily tasks, which entailed far-fetched levels of responsibility, discipline, and patience proved that this experience would indeed orchestrate a successful career for me. It was apparent that the company wanted to create a pool of successful business leaders. I had already been scheduled to work on a diverse portfolio of audit clients and my fervent initiative hadn’t even been utilized. Training courses and meal expenses were readily provided. Regrettably, I didn’t expect to lose my desire for a surefire comfortable lifestyle and instead grow an insatiable longing for a public service career.
My resignation didn’t immediately precede another awaiting job opportunity, which is why I believe in reckless naïveté. Without it, I would have known the extent to which I would endure trying circumstances and cope with frustrating consequences. I would have surely chosen to stay in public accounting and avoid both the criticism of quitting and disregard of my noble pursuits.
As I continue to pursue a public service career, I know that I will face frustrations with formalities and government bureaucracy. I’m aware that my pursuit of working for a noble cause will be in the context of a thankless job. Despite the risk of quitting my secure job with award-winning career prospects, I will never be satisfied unless I attempt to live a life bigger than myself. I no longer value societal markers of success or worldly pursuits of wealth. I now understand that I have a responsibility as an American to use my freedom and understanding of democracy to contribute to the welfare of the world. Deep down, I know that my decision to quit public accounting and pursue public service instead is decent and just.
I don’t know what I’m getting into as I pursue this line of work. Am I asking for disillusionment? Headed for disappointment? Prepared to become jaded? Maybe. I don’t know. I choose naïveté over security because I believe in its possibilities and uncharted rewards.
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