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Auditor Made Nauseous By Computer Screens Needs Some Options

Welcome to the Trump-backlash-has-begun edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a young associate has been humming a long except is have a strange physical reaction to staring at a computer screen (no, seriously) and needs some options. Luckily I can stare at a MacBook screen for about as long as I can gaze at pictures of Minka Kelly. Along with your help, I’m sure we’ll come up with something.

Annoyed with a know-it-all in your office? Looking to step up your competitive poaching? Concerned about disappearing act going on all around you? Email us at [email protected] and we’ll explain how this thing called “life as accountant” works.

Back to our patient:

Hi Caleb,

I’ve been lurking on Going Concern for almost a year now. I must say thanks for keeping me entertained during stretches of unassigned time.

About me: I’m a first year auditor at a quickly growing mid-size firm. I’ve passed two parts of the exam, and life would be great if it weren’t for one thing – I’ve become unable to work in front of a computer monitor for long stretches of time. For the past 5 months or so I’ve dealt with daily nausea, dizziness, sweatiness, etc. in front of the screen. It typically begins around lunch time. In the past I’ve had no trouble with long days in front of a monitor, but now even scrolling through a PDF or toggling between excel sheets is too much.

I’ve tried everything I can think of to solve this problem and my doctor is stumped as well. I exercise, eat right (no, really), and have seen two optometrists who both came to the same conclusion – “your eyes are fine, take more breaks.” I don’t believe it’s stress induced, as I get the same effect browsing at home for fun. A weekend away from screens doesn’t help a bit. An MRI of the head/neck turned up nothing.

But I’m not here for medical advice (unless other heavy computer users have experienced this). My question is what the hell to do with my life. Dealing with this daily isn’t possible much longer, and it pretty much guarantees I won’t make it as a senior anyway.

I see lots of career advice on this site, but it’s always people looking for similar work. Do I have any hope of finding a new situation that won’t put me in the poor house? Has anyone made a drastic jump from accounting and landed on their feet?

I know it’s strange to ask about non-accounting careers, but perhaps people with accounting-type personalities have found other niches.

-Nauseous Staff

Dear Nauseous Staff,

This has to be the strangest reaction caused by a spreadsheet allergy that I’ve ever heard. I understand that you’e got a bit of problem though, however, so I’ll cease with the jokes (but no promises).

You say you don’t want to end up in the “poor house” and you’re certainly not doomed but this may take some creative thinking. The first possibility that came to mind is to get a job on your firm’s recruiting team or a professional recruiting job. You know the accounting business, the people and what it takes to be in it, so why not apply that knowledge to those trying to get into or change gears within it? You’d get a lot of human interaction (in person and on the phone) rather than staring at Excel all day and you’d spend a little more time on your feet (especially if you’re in campus recruiting). Obviously as a professional recruiter you’d earn much, if not all, of your comp based on commissions so you have to be cognizant of that change but you already know tons of accountants and so why not use your network to your advantage? You know they’re going to leave public accounting eventually.

The other possibility that came to mind is that of a sales job with a software company that offers accounting/auditing/tax/etc. software. This could range from the enterprise stuff (e.g. Oracle) to the basic (e.g. Intuit). You’ve probably had exposure to a few different applications and again, what you want out of software is probably similar to what other accountants want. Plus you speak their language so there would be very little disconnect when you’re discussing specific needs. Accountants hate amateurs. Because of your work experience, you’re anything but.

Obviously the problem is that these jobs will involve some time in front of a computer but it should significantly reduce the number of staring contests with your computer. If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, just go back to school and get liberal arts degree. You’ll meet cooler people and getting high will pretty much be mandatory. You’ll have to get over the money thing but you may end up happy just the same (no, it’s not impossible).

Anyone got experience with a similar malady? How did you deal with it? Are you now a street performance artist or do you simply take 30 minute breaks every 30 minutes which results in 16 hour days? Help this kid out.