Anyone who decided to change careers or fields?

I am actually at a cross roads. I had completed my Bachelors and then later did my MBA from the top most business school in Pakistan specializing in Finance. I then proceeded to work in a bank for almost 2 years before my immigration to Canada came through in 2012. While i was a student in Pakistan, i also had the opportunity to internships at a Foreign Pharmaceutical MNC, the Finance department of the major hospital in Karachi and an internship in the top Asset Management company in Pakistan which totalled one year.

I had done a lot of homework prior to coming to Canada and was very well aware that my Pakistani qualifications and work experiences would have no real standing and that i had to acquire a local qualification and a strong, powerful one. At the time because i had already done an MBA before, i was personally less inclined to do another MBA. I was also well aware that Canada’s job market for most professions and fields is badly over saturated and that plenty of fresh graduates have difficulty finding jobs in Canada.

I after speaking to a few family members and close friends, thought about pursuing the CPA designation in Canada. I then got in touch with the Institute and was very impressed with their presentations, discussions where they provided all sorts of facts and figures that as an articling student you will earn this much, with 3 years of experience and a designation you will earn this much and with 5 years of experience with the designation you will break into six figures. At the time my thought process was, instead of trying to do another MBA why not just diversify and do accounting.

So that is what i decided to do, i enrolled myself at a University in Toronto, took all the CPA prerequisite courses while i did odd jobs on the side to support myself and also worked as a volunteer in a book keeping firm to add some relevant experience to my CV. Everything in University sounded extremely rosy where all the Accounting professors would talk about the subjects, the profession from the big 4 perspective, what life was like in the Big 4 firms or major mid sized firms. I did decently in the CPA courses that i took and thought i was in the right direction.

However upon graduating, it was indeed very hard to get that first opportunity but after a few months of struggle i finally got into an accounting firm. But i have now worked for approximately 3 small accounting firms now in 2 years and slowly and gradually my passion, intensity for this field has declined in a massive way, i am just basically going to the motions.

The pay scale in small firms is terrible and even with experience in this province, you will at best be paid close to minimum wage which is $15/hr now. Just because you were being paid $18/hr at your previous firm is no guarantee of that is what you are going to be offered and of-course there is absolutely no job security in these small firms either. The other frustrating bit in these small firms for me is that i have been forced to work over time without any over time pay, without any appreciation and have been forced to work on some statutory holidays and on some weekends which i did without any complaints but with very little appreciation. My health has gone for a complete toss where i have just not been able to focus on my eating habits, exercising, gymming, swimming and other elements of my personal life.

I have tried very hard in the last 2 months to study for the accounting exams but somewhere along the line i eventually could not motivate myself to do it anymore and i started to ask myself

“Do i seriously want to keep doing this for the rest of my life?”

“Do i really like this field, does it excite me?”

“Am i not better off doing something else i.e. using my energies wisely?”

“Am i really happy with the quality of life i am living?”

So in the last few days, i have now more or less decided that i no longer want to pursue accounting or the CPA designation anymore. The designation is not all what it is portrayed to be, it is not necessarily the high paying field that the Institute and Accounting Professors in University like to sell it to be, i have seen the lifestyle and the amount of money that partners in small firms make and the amount of stress they have to deal with and trust me, the risk to reward ratio is not always appealing.

Plus i also have to now come to terms with my own aptitude and limitations, i don’t really want to live a life for the next 3-4 years where i am working late hours, coming home late and then having to worry about studying for exams and not doing things i enjoy like exercising, gymming, swimming or spending quality time with family, friends e.t.c.

So all these factors combined have now more or less led me to acknowledge that i made an error in deciding to opt for the accounting field as far as i am concerned and i am no longer going to be held hostage to the sunk cost problem where i am like “I have devoted so much time and effort to this field, designation, how can i give up now?”, if i am not enjoying the field, if i don’t like my lifestyle then i need to make a decision now and move on.

I became a Citizen of Canada last year so i am not bound to Canada as such anymore. I am now keeping all my options open but am more keenly looking at options outside Canada. But based on discussions with a few friends and other people i know i have the following options

  1. To see if you can get any job in the US based on your Pakistani MBA and use the TN Visa to your advantage

  2. To look into the possibility of doing an MBA from a decent ranked school in the US if you really want to improve your career prospects and earning potential in the US

  3. To look into the Middle East where you can either utilize your Pakistani MBA or if you decide to pursue a US MBA, then utilize that and see if your Canadian Passport can help you as well

  4. I cleared my CFA Level 1 exam a few years ago, i can look into getting back to studying for this designation as it only deals with 1 exam a year which should be easier to manage with a job

I am going to be meeting a few highly recognized Career Counselling Services where they do many in-depth tests, personality and temperament tests, interviews and then they discuss potential fields, career choices better suited to your personality.

Anyways, the purpose of this thread was to reach out with people and see if anyone has ever decided to change careers or get out of a field that they discovered that they weren’t really enjoying? It will be great to hear from you guys and get some feedback.