Nicholas A., 30, was born and raised to be an accountant. “My dad is a CPA. My uncle is a CPA. My sister is a CPA. The odds of being a CPA in this family are pretty high,” he says.
So it seemed only natural that after getting his master’s degree in accounting from Northern Illinois University, Nicholas landed a job at a top Fortune 500 accounting firm. “The days were long and the weeks were longer, but I was making a good living for myself at a young age,” he says.
A few years in, however, his career changed course. Despite multiple attempts, Nicholas was unable to pass the third and fourth parts of the CPA Exam. A short time later, he was let go after a 600-person project ended at his company. “I felt completely confused about my career,” he recalls.
Finding your true passion … where you least expect it
It was then Nicholas had a change of heart. “I had always just pursued accounting because of my family, so I started thinking about what my passion really was,” he explains. So he decided to take some time off to figure out what direction his career path should follow next. Luckily, years of saving 30 percent of each paycheck meant he had enough money saved up to live off while he figured this out.
“The idea behind sales always intrigued me: In a commission based job, the harder you work, the more money you make,” he says. “And I’m a people person, so I gave it a go.”
Nicholas landed a sales job at a staffing firm that specializes in recruiting accountants for their clients to hire. “I was killing two birds with one stone—working in sales with an accounting vertical was an easy transition,” he says. “But I was ultimately selling people, which I quickly realized was not my true passion … yet again.” He knew it was time for yet another shift.
“My grandfather worked in sales for over 40 years at the same bread company. He loved that job, and the people,” Nicholas says. So, he decided to follow a different family member’s path. Nick connected with that same bakery for a sales opportunity, and after only one interview he was hired on.
Now a district sales manager in Chicago, Nicholas is following in his grandfather’s footsteps. “Every day is something new and exciting. I don’t have an office. I work out of my car, and it always smells like fresh bread,” he laughs.
Nicholas loves his new job and the direction his career path has taken. Even though he is making more now, “at the end of the day, it wasn’t about the money,” he says. “It was about finding a career I genuinely enjoyed … one that I could be confident with and proud of. And I found that.”
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