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McGladrey Has a Clear Message For Any Staff with Thoughts of Leaving the Firm

It is common knowledge that very few public accounting grunts go on to make partner. There are a multitude of reasons for that; some people just aren't that driven, most can't put up with the amount of crap required to get to that level in your career and a handful are smart enough to realize that there are far better opportunities out there than being someone's bitch up until becoming a bitchmaker after 12 – 15 years of selling your soul to the firm.

Presumably hoping to remind any current staff planning an escape, McGladrey recently published an "interview" with one former McGladrey associate who left only to come crawling back after it dawned on her that industry isn't much better. From McGladrey's Success Starts Here blog:

At McGladrey, we sometimes have employees leave for opportunities outside of public accounting only to return, because they didn’t realize what they’d be missing.  We hear the same story time and time again about what brought them back.  We sat down with Shelby Bloom, Senior Assurance Associate to talk about important things for public accounting professionals to consider before making a significant career change. 

Oh, dear. The "interview" questions McGladrey goes on to ask are even easier than the softballs Colin lobbed at BoMo at the now-infamous PwC Town Hall, but should we be all that surprised? McGladrey has a point to make here and it's that public accounting is like the Hotel California.

Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
"Relax, " said the night man,
"We are programmed to receive.
You can check out any time you like,
But you can never leave! "

Anyone else picture Shelby sitting in a filthy Law & Order interrogation room under a yellow fluorescent light while she's grilled by the interviewer?

Q.  Shelby, I understand that you left McGladrey for an industry accounting opportunity.  Can you tell us why you decided to accept a position outside of public accounting?
A. I primarily left public accounting because I thought that a job with a set schedule of 8 am to 5 pm would allow for more balance in my life. I don’t have any children yet, but based on my first three busy seasons in public accounting, I didn’t think that I would be able to get the work-life balance I needed and wanted.
Maybe Shelby should have considered suing her employer for making her work too hard?
Now, notice how Shelby makes it sound like having a predictable, normal schedule is quite possibly the worst thing in the world. Keep in mind she's the one who thought an 8 – 5 would beat an 8 – 8 with some weekends.
Q.  What made you decide to return to public accounting?
A. I decided to return to public accounting for multiple reasons. First, I realized having a “normal” schedule of 8 am to 5 pm wasn’t as convenient as I thought it would be. I started in public accounting right out of college, and I took the flexibility that public accounting offers for granted. By flexibility, I mean being able to choose the hours you work and where you work those hours. At my job in industry, I was expected to be at work for 8.5-9 hours each day at the same set time, and working remotely wasn’t really an option ever. At McGladrey, I am able to set my own work hours (within reason) as long as my assignments get completed by due dates. I can also work remotely, which I really appreciate.
Second, I realized that public accounting isn’t the only job that requires you to work some weekends or unusual hours. Within a couple of days of being at my job in industry, I was assigned multiple Saturdays that I would have to work.
Last, I was extremely bored. I realized that I would much rather be challenged and doing something I enjoy, than be bored at work.
DID YOU READ THAT, would-be public accounting refugees?! SHE HAD TO WORK SATURDAYS IN INDUSTRY, OH GOD.
The last suggestion is pretty awesome. If you're really considering breaking up with your public accounting handlers, the worst possible thing you could do is communicate your desire to leave to anyone at the firm, especially someone whose job it is to convince you to stay. Who else wants to bet Shelby will be itching to get out in another year once her coworkers start treating her like dirt for whining to get out of travel engagements while the rest of them are dutifully taking one for the team and doing all the work she complained didn't jibe with Shelby's elusive work-life balance?

Q.  What advice would you give to anyone considering a professional move out of public accounting? What should they think about before considering other jobs?

A.  If you enjoy auditing, I would recommend talking to a trusted career advisor and making sure that the reasons why you’re debating on leaving public accounting can’t be resolved. I wish I would have spoke with my career advisor before accepting an offer from industry. My career advisor and other partners brought up many things that I hadn’t given much consideration. However, at that point I felt that it was too late since I already accepted another job.
One example for me is the amount of travel that I had. I traveled a lot during my first three years, and that was one of the largest factors that made it difficult for me to accomplish the work-life balance I needed. When I returned to the firm, my schedule was adjusted and multiple travel engagements were removed from my schedule. McGladrey was able to work with me to get a schedule that met both my needs and the firm’s. 

Yeah, that's not going to get awkward around the office after this interview or anything. "Hey, did you guys hear how Shelby got off that engagement in Montana?" The funniest part is how she keeps talking about this work-life balance but never actually explains what it is she's trying to do with her spare time. I guess no one told her that being a grown up means working for a living and not being able to chase your dreams of drinking wine and pinning recipes on Pinterest all day.