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Independence, Skepticism and Accounting

June 6, 2009

What’s with this guy? Another accounting-related post? That’s not why I came to this blog.

Aww, don’t worry. I hope it’s not too bad.

Anyway, as I was thinking about everything that happened this semester, particularly with recruiting and networking to nab an internship (which now has been successfully nabbed), I realized that I have engaged in a kind of thoughtful deliberative process that, if I do say so myself, quite impresses me. I can see how some of my flaws were also exposed, but at this time, I am happy with my strengths and weaknesses.

What do I mean?

I operate better with more information. I operate better when I can be confident of the decisions I’m making. Unfortunately, with new and unseen experiences (like, say, a recruiting process), I often don’t have enough information. And as I wrote about in a previous article, the networking process focuses on and depends upon the gathering of information from both sides.

I want to be sure that I have enough information, because I want to be able to say I do not regret the decisions I am making. This doesn’t mean that I expect perfection and am unwilling to compromise…rather, I would like to know of weaknesses and side effects beforehand, so I can determine if I am ok with them. For example, when I go through a process of buying something…like, for example, a phone…or a set of headphones…I’m not necessarily demanding the absolute best, because 1) the best might be too far out of my range or 2) even the best may have a different direction that I’m going with. I am willing to buy products that may be seen as technically “worse” because they fit me better.

In the end, I think I am able to do this because I have a sense of independence. I don’t need the latest and greatest, because I realize the difference between needs and wants. I can make do with less, or do without, if need be. I think I get it from my father somehow.

Perhaps I’m not being clear enough. Regardless, I think this trait allows me to be a bit hands-off in my deliberations, and as a result, I think I make decent choices. Then again, I might just be suffering an extreme case of buyer’s remorse.

This came out in the recruiting process. Many of my friends were dead-set on Big 4 accounting firms. They were dead-set on name, prestige, the resume quality. And I mean, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not like the Big 4 firms are lepers. And when some of them were rejected by all, you could tell they were in trouble, because they were so invested in their desire.

But I didn’t need that. In fact, I was skeptical of what I thought was the “status quo” deference to Big 4. I wasn’t sold on it. So, when I talked with some representatives of the Middle Market firms…I was impressed. I hadn’t even realized that there was something other than Big 4. I mean, yes, I had heard about local firms, but I didn’t realize there was Middle Market as well.

Dealing with Middle Market firms inspired me. It inspired me to ask tough questions. It inspired me to do comparative research, and some things I found out didn’t please me. Other things did. Today, I had to make a final decision, since I had received two offers: one from a Middle Market firm, and one from a Big 4 firm.

And actually, I chose the Big 4 firm.

~~Oops, I hope that doesn’t sound too anticlimactic. Yet, I think I want this to be the point: even though I did not go to that Middle Market firm, the consideration and the deliberation inspired me not to go Big 4 just because it’s Big 4. It was a grueling process, and actually an uphill struggle for the Big 4 firm, because I had to feel safe that I wasn’t walking into a trap. In the end, I did feel safe. And I know that if things don’t work out, then my life isn’t over. I can be independent, so I choose a company because I want to.

And now, to tie this into what you probably really caring about…I think similarly of my relationship with the Mormon church. I know of many people who think they need the church, and perhaps because of one of many factors (family and friends still in), they may be somewhat dependent. I see this, and I lament. I lament that these people don’t find independence, and whether you are a believer or not, I think independence is critical. It fits the turf with Mormon ideas about free will.

I think the most freeing moment was realizing…I can be independent. I can do well on my own. And if I decide in the future to go back to the church or to go to a different church, then it’ll be on my terms. And if not, then not. This is what I have learned about independence and skepticism, most recently confirmed by my experiences in the unlikeliest of worlds: the accounting one.

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