If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

Purpose and change coach: Navigating career change

Alex Durand, a first-generation immigrant, navigates the U.S. college system and enters the world of finance with dreams of wealth. However, the financial crisis changes his path to accounting. Eventually, he discovers his passion for coaching, showing the importance of personal fulfillment over financial gain.

Want to join the conversation?

Video transcript

So, my family moved to the United States when I was 14. I'd grown up attending English-speaking schools but at 14 it was really our first long-term experience here in the US. And so, as a first generation immigrant, my parents who had studied college in Mexico we all had to learn to navigate the college world of applications and of just institutions on our own. I was the first in my family to attend college state side and I think for me at the beginning of college or going into university, there was something about honoring the sacrifices that my parents had made to make sure that I was taking the strategic steps to end up, to take that next generational leap and for me at that time it just meant making more money. So, I really just went into freshman year of college with the ambition of being very rich one day. Pretty unoriginal. But that's what I wanted, I wanted to do that. I had ambitions of taking care of family and also just the selfish kind of competitive side of finance. So, I started my freshman year of college at GWUNDC, August 2008 and I went there because our business school had strong ties to Wall Street at the time and about a month later the financial crisis hit. And the Lehman Brothers Career Center which is was one of the big selling points of the Career Center at the time obviously got changed to whoever the highest donor at that time was and so, banks stopped recruiting by and large at our school. You were hearing horror stories of graduates who couldn't find jobs, that it was tough out there and being a few years from graduation, I took a look at what professions are still getting hired and across the board accountants were still getting jobs. Every firm still needed accountants but I knew that I didn't want to be tax and I didn't want to be in audit and I thought at the time that I wanted to travel. Being trilingual and having grown up moving internationally every three years, I said if I can find some kind of accounting consulting that does all those things, I'll be set. And at the time I was still a green card holder, I wasn't a US citizen yet and most of the jobs in consulting at my school were for US citizens only because we were in D.C. and the federal government it was a large, the primary employer there. Deloitte and PWC offered me an interview. At the end of each interview I said you know what? I gotta confess, I'm not a citizen. One said all right, well, we can't do anything with you and the other I really hit it off with the interviewer and he said well, I can't consider you for this but let me talk to somebody and two weeks later I got a call saying you're interviewing for the forensics internship and I hung up and I googled forensics 'cause I had no idea what I was interviewing for and essentially forensics is white collar crimes investigation, financial fraud investigations and there were a group of consultants who were tasked with investigating financial fraud and who traveled the world doing so, so I go the internship, I went into, started senior year with an offer from them, accepted the offer and I thought that was it, I thought I had found my dream job. Other than being an actuary, I couldn't have made any more money with an accounting degree and it was with a company that had prestige in the field and I thought that it was, I thought that was the American dream. I said, mom and dad, you guys did it and I'm here to honor that legacy and I started on a Wednesday and on a Sunday I was flying to Argentina. I spent 80% of that first year traveling abroad and pretty quickly it lost its appeal. It was pretty sexy the first few times to tell people I'm going here, I'm going there but I was traveling alone often and for anybody that's a road warrior, consultant road warriors as they call them, it's a lot of time between hotels and the office and I just wasn't cut out for that. And I worked with people who genuinely loved what they did and they were great at it 'cause they got excited about the travel and the work and one day I just realized that the amount of energy that it took me to perform consistently at a high level was unsustainable. I was never gonna be as good as them. I was one day gonna crash and burn. And so, riding up an elevator during I think it was a Tuesday, I had this like vision of my riding that same elevator for the next 30 years there and it gave me anxiety. My heart started beating fast, it happened to me again when I was on a trip in Geneva and that was my first real bout of anxiety in my life. And I just knew I had to change, so I had been depressed for a while, I dealt with that, I went to therapy. As the depression lifted, I had kind of more mental energy to figure out what I wanted to do next. I started working with a coach and that's where I found the right challenge for me to take on which was not only embrace being a coach but starting a business and designing my life in a way that helped me self-actualize and that would enable me to help others do so as well.