When you are a graduate of one of the most prestigious courses in Diliman and was able to pass the CPA boards, people think that you have it all figured out. They think that a bright future is just right at your finger tips. All of them see you as someone sought after by various companies and head hunters ready to offer the heftiest sums of salary and benefits before your feet.
I used to think so too when I was still an undergrad of the BS BAA program. This is why no matter how ridiculously hard it was for me to win those precious three letters after my name, I fought for it like a brave warrior with high hopes for victory. My vision back then stretched only up to the release of the board exam results. I thought life would be easier once I get through all of these. But I was wrong.
After passing the boards, I opted to join SGV & Co. like the majority of my batch mates. That time, getting into an audit firm appears to be the easiest, most practical, and most logical choice. By the time we earn our title as CPAs, all the audit firms vie for recruitment of the best and the brightest. For most of us who would like to get the training and get rid of the hassle of really applying for a job, it was the most convenient option especially in a non-hiring season of the year for most companies.
Despite my parents’ plea to find other opportunities beyond SGV, I managed to stay with the firm for one year. I was in the Transaction Advisory Services Group which handled mergers and acquisitions. I worked for 5 projects spanning different industries. The nature of the job was mostly research and report-writing. It was fun and interesting though the work schedules can be quite erratic and inflexible. As someone who experienced it first hand, I can confirm that as associates, we were overworked and underpaid. However, I would still say that SGV & Co. is indeed a good training ground for CPAs. Most of us who have been there describe it as a comfort zone since the environment was very much like an extension of college. It was a good transition point though since you still get to keep in touch with most of your friends, and you still get updated with the knowledge and training specifically fit for CPAs in such practice. However, by and by, I realized that I was not getting the true picture of a real corporate world. I can’t envision myself staying with firm up to partnership level, so after giving it a try for a year, I went to find another opportunity.
That’s when I went to work for Coca-Cola FEMSA Philippines. Honestly, I had no expectations whatsoever when I joined Coke as a Financial Analysis Specialist of its key accounts. I think that worked for me. Starting with Coke last December, I was immediately immersed in the year end closing activities. That’s when I’ve been most thankful about my SGV experience since it has prepped me for the worst kinds of overtime I might go through afterwards. I nearly regretted my choice to move out of SGV during that time but I kept the faith that things will soon get better. True enough, since Coke is in a very crucial stage of restructuring, it is like a newly overhauled company in constant movement and change. This kind of culture has been very beneficial for young recruits like me who are rookies in the company. This is one of the things I like best about Coke. It is open to insights and contributions someone as inexperienced as I am can put in. So far since last December, our team was able to align and polish most of the processes that’s why we don’t get to work overtime a lot especially since halfway through this year. This allowed us all to have better work-life balance – something I’ve been craving for since college.
After almost two years of working, I can say that so far things are working well. I might not be the highest earning person from our batch, nor am I someone who could brag about accomplishing a great deal of things already at such a young age, but I am contented.
Perhaps, the best piece of advice I can tell to young undergrads is to manage your expectations after graduation and just savour every bit of your own life.
Accept that your career is a marathon and each of you is running in your own respective tracks and there’s no point in comparing sideways. If you take this perspective, you’ll be more amazed at how life surprises you with the simplest of things.
In your future career, remember to keep the zeal and put your 100% in everything you do even when you don’t feel like it or worse, even when it feels futile. This trait is already expected to have been honed in you as a student. Don’t lose that. As UP grads, we have this disease of entitlement – thinking that once we ace the boards, the world will bow down to our feet. No sir, that wouldn’t happen. Once you step out in the world you’ll realize that you are just like everyone else trying to figure your way into becoming a useful member of the society somehow. Yes that’s something we owe to the rest of this world, not the other way around.
The good news and the bad news is, once you get out there, you start with a clean slate. Not much people will really bother to peek into your academic successes from foregone years. That can either be exciting or disappointing for you. Nevertheless, just keep your feet humbly on the ground and enjoy the ride.
*This article was submitted to Guilder Institute’s (Official Publication of UP VSB) apprentice diaries section for the month of November.*