“There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.”
(Zora Neale Hurston)

Elated as I was, about internship offers from as far as London to KL during the mid term of my final year of undergrad studies in accounting, finance and law; career clarity eluded me at the start of my professional journey. I finally decided upon an internship with a global Big 4 accounting practice at its KL office as a consultant in taxation.

In retrospect, while the practice laid foundation for a solid advance towards ladder ownership later; it represented dark days to the soul. Sweatshop hours involved our being wilfully bent into the shape of a practice culture which prided itself in “working hard and playing hard”. Cast otherwise in sardonic humour by some as “work and play with your colleagues, and marry them too”.

I had returned from Melbourne where balanced living ruled the day. While many Asian students would spend time with fellow Asians; I had already soaked up the Australian culture of balanced living through 5 years of varsity and high school with locals. Australians whom I had grown affinity for.

Thus, I brought that cherished value of balanced living with me into office and left 6 p.m. daily for gym workouts after completing work, clueless to the innumerable frown lines I left behind on the faces of many colleagues and superiors. Face time was alien as a concept to me then.

I would naively air to colleagues during pantry discussions; that accounting and tax -while important- were post facto activities. Accounting was scorekeeping and taxation was a financial cousin of cosmetic surgery. I expressed perhaps all too openly, my desire to move closer to the hub of financial activity. Privately, while I respected the profession; I found accounting sapping to my creative personality, and did not fancy myself as a mere spoke in the economic wheel.

Those were productive, but Naive days spent in perpetual vagueness of a career fog. Questions asked, and without answers. I would find answers later through a series of many more future gigs. This 1st gig was about learning ins and outs of business, accounting, tax and (of which I had Nil,) people savvy. It had also, the core motive of acquiring pro credentials in accounting which the practice sponsored.

- A.Lo (live.freeInversionista)