My Story: Making a Career Change at Age 29

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I have an undergraduate and master’s degree in accounting and worked as a tax accountant for six years.  Now, I am a graduate assistant at UConn’s Center for Career Development and am working toward another master’s degree, but in Higher Education and Student Affairs.  I am here to tell you: it is perfectly normal to make a change.  Not everyone stays in the same career forever.

I worked in public accounting in Boston for two years, but it was not for me.  I realized that I liked being an accountant, but there were certain aspects of public accounting that did not fit my personality.  I then moved to a large corporation in Framingham, Massachusetts and enjoyed the environment, but something very important was missing for me.  I did not feel fulfilled as a person.  The question was: what job would fulfill me?

While in college, I was extremely involved in many activities, but focused on mentoring and leading other students.  If you get right to the point, I really enjoy being with and working with other people.  I feel good about helping others and being a part of something exciting.  I looked at and applied to many types of jobs in the business world including recruiting, corporate training, and other human resource jobs.  Nothing worked out and I felt defeated, but I still wasn’t happy.

My now husband took me on a walk one day and challenged me.  He asked, “What is your goal in life?  What do you really want to do?”  Finally, I exclaimed that I wanted to go back to school for higher education and work at a university helping students along their college journey.  Most people were not surprised by this news which I thought was interesting.

The process of deciding what I actually wanted to do took me about 2-3 years to complete.  The process of applying to, getting into, and beginning graduate school took me almost a year to complete.  However, I am here to tell you that it was all worth it.  Everything I have done in my life has been worth it and has been a step I needed to take in order to get to where I am today: happy.  My experiences building a successful career and engaging in the public accounting recruiting process have helped me to speak from experience and provide UConn students with helpful advice.  I am also able to provide a different perspective to my classmates who have all come from different backgrounds.

I think it is important for college students to know that what you choose to do now, or once you graduate, is not the “be all, end all” if you do not want it to be.  Follow your heart and do what makes you happy.  You can utilize skills in a new career that you learned while doing another job.  Everything you learn is important, just try to stay positive and keep an open mind about all your experiences.

By Christina Harney
Christina Harney Graduate Assistant Christina Harney