What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

In his book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Haruki Murakami (an excellent author – seek out his novels) identifies the exact time when he realized he wanted to be a novelist. 

“I can pinpoint the exact moment when I first thought I could write a novel.   It was around one thirty in the afternoon of April 1, 1978. I was at Jingu Stadium that day, alone in the outfield drinking beer and watching the game. Jingu Stadium was within walking distance of my apartment at the time, and I was a fairly big Yakult Swallows fan. It was a perfectly beautiful spring day, not a cloud in the sky, with a warm breeze blowing. There weren’t any benches in the outfield seating back then, just a grassy slope. I was lying on the grass, sipping cold beer, gazing up occasionally at the sky, and leisurely enjoying the game. As usual for the Swallows, the stadium wasn’t very crowded. It was the season opener, and they were taking on the Hiroshima Carp at home. I remember that Yasuda was pitching for the Swallows. He was a short, stocky sort of pitcher with a wicked curve. He easily retired the side in the top of the first inning, and in the bottom of the inning the leadoff batter for the Swallows was Dave Hilton, a young American player new to the team. Hilton got a hit down the left field line. The crack of bat meeting ball right on the sweet spot echoed through the stadium. Hilton easily rounded first and pulled up to second. And it was at that exact moment that a thought struck me: You know what? I could try writing a novel. I still can remember the wide open sky, the feel of the new grass, the satisfying crack of the bat. Something flew down from the sky at that instant, and whatever it was, I accepted it.”
I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m willing to bet there’s not a one of us out here that has a similarly riveting story around our decision to be an internal auditor.   It is not the kind of job for which people feel “a calling”. People are called to be authors and painters and musicians. People may study to be auditors (I have one friend who actually went to college to become an internal auditor), they may practice to be businessmen, they may accept jobs as clerks, they may follow their father into the plumbing business, but for none of these professions does one usually “feel a calling”. Don’t get me wrong; I am not denigrating these professions. (As Harlan Ellison has said [I paraphrase] plumbers are much more important than authors – if your toilet is backed up, you don’t want Dostoevsky fixing your pipes.) But most jobs and professions are the type that people “fall into”. Accordingly, there are few compelling stories of “how I became an internal auditor”.
Here is my less than compelling story.
After high school, I knew I should go to college. So I did. I went straight to community college with no idea what I wanted to do (other than avoid attending classes as much as possible), and wound up with an AA in Undeclared. (Okay, it was really general studies, but it meant the same thing.) I then went on to Arizona State University and, because I had no better idea what to do and because my dad was an amateur archaeologist and because I kind of liked it, I got my BA degree in Anthropology.
Fast forward about two years past a musical career and a marriage to the wrong woman.   Before my separation from “the wrong woman”, my ex-father-in-law advised me the way to get rich was to become an accountant. (He was wrong.) And so, with his voice resonating in my head (sounding much like the word “Plastics” when it was muttered to Dustin Hoffman),I proceeded to get my BS in Accounting. 
With a new wife on hand (the right one this time) and the freshly minted degree in the other, I proceeded to get a job as an Accountant at Farmers Insurance. For six months I did the same thing six times in a row. I was going bugfritz. And, behind me was the audit department having way too much fun. A job opened up, I applied (which meant that the Accounting Supervisor I worked for lost the bet of a six-pack of beer to the Auditing Supervisor), was hired, and I have never looked back.
I did not choose internal auditing; internal auditing chose me. And thus ends the less than compelling story.
But (as I’ve already indicated), I’m willing to bet there are very few of you that can look back and say “that is when I wanted to become an internal auditor as my profession.” Yes, we can say when we became one, we might even be able to point out when we knew we would stick with the profession, but not when we were “called” to become one.
So, what is your story? What was it that brought you to this profession? Is there anyone who had a Road to Damascus experience like Murakami? Or is yours as pedestrian as mine? Please share.
(And, apropos of nothing, here is another great quote from Murakami’s book that has absolutely nothing to do with the prior discussion [hence the phrase “apropos of nothing”], but I absolutely love.    “…one of the privileges given those who’ve avoided dying young is the blessed right to grow old.” Consider this lagniappe.)

Posted on May 20, 2011 by Mike Jacka

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  1. I was called to auditing when I realized I disliked working for a living.
  1. While I fell into Auditing in a very, very similar way, I had actually decided a few years earlier that I was interested in internal auditing. 

    During my freshman year of college, we had to take an introduction to Accounting course (as a part of that BS in Accountancy degree).  The course was offered at different times during the week, and each one was taught by a different Accounting professor.  Mine was Dave Sinason, the Internal Audit professor, and he just made Internal Audit sound so interesting and maybe even fun.  And he made tax sound incredibly boring.  Plus I did an internship in external audit and got tired of working in closets and basements.

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