Based on my observations, I would imagine most people’s careers are not linear. In fact, you will experience many ups and downs, twists and turns and times when you seriously question if you are on the right career path. Many of us have childhood friends who knew exactly what they wanted to do at an early age. Sometimes you decide to follow in your mom or dad’s footsteps, particularly if they are happy with their occupation and they make a comfortable living.
I believe this is the exception rather than the rule.
As I look back on my days at Drexel University, I was really quite clueless about my future career path. I majored in accounting because I had always been a good math student. Unbeknownst to me, financial accounting does not require significant math skills. At one point during my pre-junior year, I lost interest in accounting and nearly changed my major to psychology. The work assigned to me during my co-ops did not excite me, but I stuck with it and graduated with an accounting degree and a full-time position with my last co-op employer, a regional public accounting firm. As an associate, I enjoyed the camaraderie of public accounting and had an opportunity to experience many different areas of accounting, including tax return preparation.
I became interested in state and local tax during my second job with a privately owned business, where I was responsible for preparing and filing the company’s sales and use tax returns, in addition to various general accounting duties. This was something I had no prior experience with, but more or less learned on the job. I started preparing the monthly tax returns by using the “SALY” method (Same as Last Year) and eventually learned how to analyze and research hundreds of transactions to determine their taxability. After this new and challenging experience, I was ready to find a role where I could be fully dedicated to state and local tax and grow my career. The rest is history.
When I graduated from Drexel, I had little knowledge of state and local taxes, let alone the great variety of career opportunities available to me. Fast forward, I have happily spent my entire career in the challenging field of state and local taxation. My professional experience has included many years with a global chemical producer, several large public accounting firms, and most recently, municipal government.
My first experience with teaching began when I volunteered to participate in LeBow’s UNIV 101 capstone course. At the time, students were required to give a 10-minute “personal pitch” presentation to the class on their career plans and goals. Instructors would invite several industry professionals (mostly Drexel alums) to join their classes and provide feedback on the students’ presentations. I thoroughly enjoyed being back at my alma mater and the opportunity to interact with students in the classroom. It was a random cup of coffee with Professor Dana D’Angelo that completely opened my eyes to what would become my true passion — teaching. During our coffee chat, Professor D’Angelo saw how excited I was about my UNIV 101 experiences. She suggested I become an adjunct instructor of UNIV 101. The idea of teaching had never crossed my mind until that moment, but I was definitely intrigued by the suggestion.
I’m forever grateful for Professor D’Angelo and that informal coffee chat that led me to my true passion. I began by teaching UNIV 101 and later on created a basic state and local tax course (TAX 360) which I have been thrilled to teach to undergraduate LeBow students for several years. In fact, some of my former students have joined the state and local tax profession!
I feel very fortunate to have fallen into two careers that I find infinitely enjoyable and rewarding.
So you see, sometimes it takes a few twists and turns before you end up on the right path.
Always accept an invitation for a cup of coffee — you may be pleasantly surprised!