By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager
Young professionals must decide for themselves what success looks like and not be swayed by the expectations of others.
“At the beginning of my career a lot of my professional drive, my goals, my aspirations, were based on my perception of what I thought other people define success as,” said Lindsay Stevenson, CPA, on the State of Business podcast. “And I thought I needed to get there in that same defined way.”
After talking with a coach, Stevenson realized she was limiting herself and that there were other goals she wanted to achieve. She is now vice president of finance at 1st Financial Bank USA, a graduate of the AICPA Leadership Academy and owner of Origin Evolution, a management consultant company. She was also recognized as part of the 2019 most powerful women in accounting by the ACIPA and CPA Practice Advisor.
While young professionals are learning how to juggle many responsibilities, volunteering is a valuable way for them to expand their career horizons, Stevenson said.
“It's hard to scrape out time to do anything more,” Stevenson said. “But if you can find a way to volunteer your time inside your profession, whether it's with a national organization or a local one, any way that you can give your time to the betterment of the profession you work within is great.”
Volunteering means being exposed to different individuals with various experiences and skillsets, she said; those connections could prove beneficial years later. Volunteering also usually means learning something new and could potentially reveal a passion or skillset you want to pursue.
Stevenson suggested finding allies and those higher up in the organization who can speak to your accomplishments and strengths. So, when opportunities arise, that person can volunteer your name for consideration.
Patience is a virtue in relationship building, Stevenson said, and it’s best to focus on those that feel genuine and meaningful rather than a large number of shallow connections.
“Those relationships are easy to nurture it because you feel good when you're connected to that person,” she said. “Continue to reach out to them and that process can be more organic than sometimes we think.”
Learning new things or venturing into new territory – whether it be a new relationship or new project – can be uncomfortable, and Stevenson said it’s common for a fear of failure to creep in.
“We don't talk about enough that the failures are actually what made us,” she said. “I can look back and look at my poor decisions, or when I just made a mistake and the way I dealt with that was actually what propelled me forward.”