My Career has Been a Process of Trial & Error – Part 2

Click here to read part one of “My Career has Been a Process of Trail and Error”

I chose my major through a process of elimination — I knew I didn’t have the science chops to be a doctor. I was interested in psychology, but when I learned there was a required lab that was out of the question. My father complained about aspects of the legal profession, including the hourly billing model. I’ve always preferred subjects that are clearly applicable to the real world, so I naturally gravitated towards business.

I was fortunate to have a several internships in college, the last of which, at Arthur Andersen, landed me a full-time offer in business consulting. My first day of work was September 10, 2001. After 9/11, the economy took a major hit, and the end of that year brought accounting scandals of epic proportions. Arthur Andersen found itself at the center of the imbroglio, and after 89 years in business, the entire company imploded under the weight of a criminal indictment by the Department of Justice (of which it was later exonerated). KPMG acquired the practice I was part of so my coworkers and I were spared layoffs, but that experience taught me to see risk differently. I learned first hand that the idea that bigger companies are less risky is pure fallacy. While working at those firms, I also realized I didn’t want to be on a 20 year pre-determined path, and found all of the layers of bureaucracy to be uninspiring, to say the least. I realized that ending up in a career I wasn’t inspired by was a different type of risk, to my personal happiness.

I was interested in entrepreneurship, but didn’t have any ideas I deemed worthy of pursuing. I looked into different obvious possibilities, like becoming a franchisee, and other less obvious ones that came about, like importing marble from India. I ended up accepting an offer to work at a smaller consulting firm specializing in market analysis for real estate development projects. I was drawn to real estate because it is a highly fragmented industry, which to me meant opportunities for entrepreneurs. It is also tangible, something I desperately wanted after my immersion in forensic healthcare reimbursement audits. The fact that I could actually help create something that people would use was extremely appealing. I also saw it as a good opportunity to experience working at a smaller firm. Maybe consulting wasn’t the problem, maybe firm size was the variable I needed to test.