Career Series: What's it like to be a ___?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

What’s it like to be an…Accountant?

My job title is: Senior Tax Analyst

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed?

It’s hard to describe a normal day because every day is different. I rarely have consecutive days where I’m working on the same thing. There are constant interruptions, new projects, research items, etc. that arise on a daily basis. My general responsibilities include reviewing complex and specialized federal and state tax returns, researching various tax issues, preparing technical memorandums, identifying tax planning opportunities, and staying current on new corporate tax law and regulations. Because my company is publicly traded, we are required to issue quarterly financial statements which involve quarterly computations of our effective rate and deferred tax assets and liabilities.  My company also owns over 80 domestic and international subsidiaries that are part of our consolidated financials so I work closely with the controllers regarding tax compliance and proper reporting of tax related items on their financial statements. Virtually every transaction results in a tax impact so there is never a shortage of work or opportunities to learn. . 

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 10/07 at 09:41 AM
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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What’s it like to be a….Retail Manager?

My job title is: In Store Lingo—-Executive Team Lead/Guest Experience
In English: Assistant Store Manager in charge of guest experience

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed?

My job does not have a “normal” day. My peers and I rotate on what we call an LOD or Leader on Duty shift. This means I am in charge of the entire store and what takes place that day. I am in charge of how it looks, responding to guest complaints and compliments, driving sales and credit conversion, as well as making sure my team shows up to work and is having a fun yet productive day.

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 09/30 at 02:40 PM
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Monday, September 22, 2008

What’s it like to be a…Horticulture Therapy Program Manager?

My actual position is: Horticultural Therapist – I DO it, not just manage it. I also manage – motivate and encourage – volunteers.

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed? 
There is no normal day.  Every day is full of surprises because the 24 female alcohol and drug rehab clients have multiple diagnoses, including mental health issues.  They are young in terms of development, angry, ashamed, and reactive.  HT is activity driven – the activities will vary by week and season.  In the setting with veterans, each day is different because the clients are different day to day in terms of pain, fears, medical concerns, and the “mood” of the facility which varies day to day. 

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 09/22 at 03:55 PM
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Monday, September 08, 2008

What’s it like to be a…Personal Trainer?

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed?
The life of a personal trainer changes from day to day depending on the time of the year, the day of the week, and also the responsibilities you have for the day.  Summers for personal trainers can often be slow due to the nice weather and summer vacations.  During the fall the gym picks up and people are more into being fit for the next few months to come (which makes no sense to me when you’re all covered up in the fall and winter).
On a normal day I will arrive at the gym 15 minutes before my first client.  When I arrive, I normally check the client’s file to go over what we did during the last session and plan for the next one.  For the most part, you know what you’re going to do with the client but you need to get it down on paper so the workout has a flow to it.  The times when your clients schedule their training sessions will determine if you have breaks in your day or if you’re seeing people back to back.
During down time you can workout, run errands, or just prep for the next client. 

On some days the trainers are required to work on the floor at the gym, doing a variety of tasks.  Things like cleaning the gym and equipment, assisting others, and just hanging out in the gym for help if needed.

Now when I first started out at the gym, my biggest thing was trying to meet new people and introduce myself so that people could get to know me.  This was a time for me to show them what I could offer them as a personal trainer.  Once I started working with clients, the people that I trained started to refer clients to me and that is how I get most of my business now.  As times goes on, you no longer work on the floor as often due the fact that most of your time spend at the gym is with clients. 

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 09/08 at 01:56 PM
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What’s it like to be a…Human Relations/Labor Relations Manager?

My actual position is: HR/Labor Relations Manager and I am also responsible for Safety and Hourly Employment activities.

What does a normal day look like?
Up at 4:30 a.m., drive to work at 5:30 a.m., thank the Good Lord for all of His blessings and another wonderful day. To work by 6:00 a.m., get coffee and fire up laptop, check Lotus Notes, voice mail and then start my day. No two days are the same, what happens from 6:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. just depends… When you are in the “People Business” you have to just roll with it. Being in HR/LR, your customer is anyone who walks through the door with an issue or problem. It is important to welcome them and focus all of your attention on them and their issues. You must make them feel they are the most important person at that moment. Be positive, calm and polite. The phone, the computer and others at the door can all wait. Always remember to try and walk in the other person’s shoes to try and understand their issues or perspectives.

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 09/08 at 01:39 PM
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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

What’s it like to be a….School Social Worker?

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed?
A normal day for me consists of seeing kids in the school setting who need counseling services for social and emotional concerns or behavioral problems. I also meet with teachers on a regular basis to talk about concerns they have regarding students.  I then can offer suggestions and a variety of accommodations and modifications that the teacher can make in their classroom to help that student be more successful. I also spend a large amount of time attending IEP meetings for students who require special education services.

School social work has changed over the years in the sense that school social workers are not pulling kids out on a regular basis from class for counseling sessions. We are now looking to work collaboratively with teachers in the classroom setting to help their students be successful within their learning environment without having to be removed from class for long periods of time.

School social workers also need to be extremely proficient and up to date with the latest special education initiatives and laws as a large part of your role is leading and facilitating IEP meetings for special education students. At these meetings, you help the special education team decide which services are most appropriate for the student in the school setting to best help them be academically and socially successful. 

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 09/02 at 10:49 AM
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What’s it like to be a ...Water Treatment Engineer?

My job title is:
Leadership Program Associate

My actual position is:
Manager Trainee, Water Treatment Engineer. I also occasionally help with sales of specialty water treatment chemicals and capital (water treatment) equipment.

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed?

Writing reports, running tests on water, meeting with customers.  It’s pretty consistent throughout the year.  I’ve had this position for almost 21 months and continue to pick up more and more responsibility in dealing with customers.

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 09/02 at 10:25 AM
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Monday, August 18, 2008

What’s it like to be an ....Independent Consultant?

My job title is:  President/Owner
My actual position is (if this differs from job title): Independent Consultant at present time. 
What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed?
A normal day starts out with reviewing results of marketing programs from prior day/week. Review information reports from research or database analysis.  Review program results summaries from completed database marketing programs.  Review (and approve) pro forma ROI plans for upcoming direct marketing activities, including discussion of test plans and test investment.  Many days include meetings with product development (for research), line management (customer satisfaction measures), IT (for projects/problems being addressed) and direct marketing teams in Marketing.  Most weeks there is a meeting/update for senior managers.  Special projects require meetings with various members of senior and mid level managers.

Often I met with outside vendors to learn about new information available for the customer database, or new statistical techniques that can help group customers for improved marketing performance.

 

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 08/18 at 01:23 PM
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What’s it like to be a ....Director of Curriculum and Instruction?

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed? 
Everyday is different. I might be doing “administrivia”(creating budgets, investigating textbooks for purchase, keeping up with current state GLCEs or HSCEs, acting as the district contact for MEAP and MME), training teachers, modeling lessons in classrooms, planning with school improvement teams, working with building principals, etc.  Over the last few years, we have become much more focused on data; using the data from certain tests to help us to make good instructional decisions.  A great deal of my job has become gathering and interpreting data for principals and school improvement teams. The use of technology has exploded and trying to keep teachers up to date with shrinking funds has been a challenge.

What other, if any, positions have you held prior to your current job? How did you get to where you are now? 
I was at preschool teacher and director for 15 years, then I taught Kindergarten and 1st grade for another 14 years.  At the end of my career, I was an elementary principal (K-4) and finally, the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for a 3500-student district. (All except the preschool part of my career has been in the same district.)

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 08/18 at 01:03 PM
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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What’s it like to be a….Tax Preparer?

My job title is:
Enrolled Agent-Enrolled to practice before the IRS. The IRS gives two days of exams to certify a tax preparer knows the tax laws well enough to appear for clients before the Internal Revenue Service on the same basis as Attorneys.  I also have a Masters in Tax from Golden Gate University, a business school in San Francisco.

My actual position is:
Tax Consultant, Tax Preparer

What does a normal day look like?
I meet with clients who want tax returns prepared and consult with clients who have tax issues.  I organize the tax information that clients bring me according to tax accounting rules, prepare tax returns, give tax advice and contact the state and federal taxing authorities on my client’s behalf.

 

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 08/12 at 02:53 PM
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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What’s it like to be an….Interior Design Assistant?

My job title is: Interior Design Assistant at a small but expanding design agency


What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed?
A Normal Day:  I never know what to expect on a daily basis. I work mostly with designers who need my assistance for a number of reasons.  Some of the assistance I provide includes: searching for a fabric, piece of furniture, accessory, light fixture, tile, etc… that fits into a given design; making deliveries to or picking up items from clients’ homes, vendors or retail stores like Pottery Barn.  Attending every rep meeting with sales representatives from many vendors. For example, each fabric line we carry has a rep and they usually come in a few times a year to update our library and introduce us to new products. (Sometimes they even take us out to dinner!) I also take care of our company’s huge library of design materials- each item has a specific home in our library, so I make sure things are where they belong.

My job is fairly consistent throughout the year.  It does get busier during the holidays when we are shopping for client gifts, wrapping and decorating.  I have been at my job for more than a year. It keeps getting busier and I have much more responsibility now. 

 

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 07/23 at 09:05 AM
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Monday, July 07, 2008

What’s it like to be a .....Curator of Archives?

Check out the following for a glimpse into a curator’s world, where multi-tasking and creative thinking are essential survival tools:

Q. What does your typical day look like?
A.Typically I spend the first hour of the day answering email, which comes from around the world; usually inquiring about resources available in our collections. 
○ Then I move on to specific projects underway, which can range from reviewing finding aids for processed collections, to producing reports (including statistical summaries) of date we collect   for the college, the seminary, or the denomination (we serve as the archives for all three). 
○Probably ten percent of my time every week is spent in some sort of committee related function. 
○ Throughout the day I am on-call for researchers who come in and have questions about the collections – from genealogists to post-doctoral scholars.
○ I determine which collections to acquire and then spend time working on acquiring those collections. This requires a sense of what data is or may become of interest to the wide range of   researchers that will visit our collection.
○ I work on the various administrative functions (budget, personnel, etc.) necessary to run the department.
○I spend time researching and doing some writing on the history of the three member institutions (denomination, college, seminary), some of this writing is intended for publication.

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 07/07 at 11:09 AM
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Friday, July 04, 2008

What’s it like to be a…Marketing Specialist?

Marketing Specialist at a multi-national footwear company:

A typical day for me starts with checking my email.  Usually there are orders to be filled for the sales people out on the road or questions from the creative department on the projects that we are working on.  Throughout the day I do the majority of my work on the computer.  I use Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Publisher to work on catalogs and buyers guides, filling orders, coming up with and proofing ads, etc. 

This is usually pretty consistent throughout the year.  My focus changes a little bit depending on if we are working on a new line of shoes or not.  A new line of shoes means a new catalog and that makes things a little busier.  Also, after a new line comes out the sales people are making more visits to accounts so usually requests for orders are more frequent. 

I started my career path working in shoe sales, but I also interned on Capitol Hill, worked as an administrative assistant, and managed a retail clothing boutique. 
I came to the company where I am at now because a friend of mine worked here.  I was looking for a new job and she told me that I could forward my resume to her boss.  I came in to meet with him for an informational meeting.  When a position opened up, they thought of me for the job and, after interviewing, I was offered my position.

In terms of educational background, I received a BA in business and political science from Calvin.  I feel that my education, combined with my work experience is very beneficial in my position.  I gained confidence in my writing and presentation skills while an intern.  I learned leadership and problem solving while working in retail and I learned multitasking and office skills while working as an administrative assistant.  I feel that all of those skills make someone in my position successful.

One of the greatest rewards of this position is being able to see a finished product after hard work.  Completing catalogs or seeing the final version of an ad is exciting.  A good day is one that is busy with all different kinds of work.

The biggest trend/change I see in the future is the shift towards technology.  In the next 5-10 years it will be essential for people to have a good understanding of computers and technology because that is where we are headed.

For further information on marketing careers, check out American Marketing Association‘s Career Management/Ask the Expert link.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 07/04 at 09:47 AM
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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

What’s it like to be a ____? (series intro)

Freshmen ask. Seniors ask. Even grads arrive in my office with variations on the same question. Sometimes even wistfully, they ask something to this effect, “I’d like to know where to go with my major/gifts/talents, but how do I find out what’s out there?”

Good question. How do you know where to head if you don’t know what the destination will look like? What’s it like to be a doctor, lawyer, or social worker? Or going beyond the obvious, what’s it like to be a child life specialist, a credit analyst, an archivist? A marketing specialist or actuary? What do these people do every day and how do you know if it will a good fit for you in particular? 

Of course, there’s always the web. One can start researching careers at sites like Career Browser or the gold standard of them all, O*Net. Great sites. Helpful information but, at best, still generic. Not personalized. Not necessarily what you have been gifted to do.

What I typically suggest is that people follow up with their own informational interviews, i.e. that they spend time with a professional who can pass along rubber-meets-the-road type of advice. Stuff you can’t get from books.

So to help students in that fact finding endeavor, I have decided to put on my own research cap and run a series of blog entries straight from the mouths of professionals in the field. It’s all up and coming under the title of “What’s it like to be a ______?” So check out the forthcoming stories or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you’re interested in letting students know what you do every day.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 07/01 at 02:26 PM
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