Those who work in public accounting are all too familiar with the burnout that comes during the months of busy season. If career advancement is a goal, it can require 50-hour workweeks as standard, and nearly double that during tax time.

For five years in public accounting, Alana essentially disappeared from social and family obligations for four months annually, working more than 80 hours a week. Vacations during this time were impossible. Her laptop was always present on nights and weekends.

Getting promoted to a manager role and getting engaged were prompts in 2018 that had Alana looking ahead to what her life would look like in the coming years. She knew she wanted something different.

Alana’s mom, Diane, was working as a Salo consultant (check out her story here) and suggested Alana consider a similar path. The decision to leave public accounting wasn’t an easy one. However, when Alana met with Salo she learned about Compass, a two-year program created specifically for professionals transitioning from public accounting.

In the Compass program, Alana works with coaches that challenge her assumptions about the roles she wants. Is working as an accounting manager at a middle-market software company—more of what she was doing previously—the right route? Alana has been encouraged to explore different types of accounting roles, various industries, and companies of different sizes.

As a result, Alana has learned more about what she’s good at and what she actually enjoys. “I worry that if I had just gone into a permanent role, I’d say, ‘what if,’ especially if I got there and it wasn’t everything I had hoped for.”

In addition to finding work that brings her joy, she now works around 40 hours a week, allowing her to spend more time with friends and family. When she got married last summer and took two weeks off her project, she initially gravitated toward her old habit of always being available and offered to take her computer home and be online the week of her wedding. But her project supervisors insisted that she leave her computer in the office and truly enjoy her time off.

This winter she’s vacationing with family for a week—something she never could have done in public accounting during the busy season.

Now, weekends are work-free. She’s able to have weekly date nights with her husband. “I feel more present, because I don’t bring my computer home. In public accounting, you bring it home, you check it every night. So, it’s not only more actual free time, but it’s more free space in

my mind.”

The Compass program is helping Alana gain experience in the private sector and giving her more clarity on the type of full-time accounting role she wants next.

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