Akansha Jain, 38, worked as an Chartered Accountant for 10 years before quitting to pursue soft skills.

Akansha Jain spent 6 years studying to be a Chartered Accountant for six years.Jain worked as an accountant for 10 years before quitting to pursue a passion.She now freelances as a soft skills trainer.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Akansha Jain, a 38-year-old Chartered Accountant turned soft-skills training freelancer based in the National Capital Region, India. This essay has been edited for length and clarity.

Studying to become a chartered accountant was one of the hardest things I have done.

The journey began after high school and lasted six years. I worked hard throughout the process, studying eight to nine hours every day. The course required intelligence and a lot of persistence.

I finally became a chartered accountant in 2009. I spent the next 10 years working in the internal audit departments of real estate companies and auditing firms.

I worked in Delhi, and had 9-to-5 jobs. But my commute, which took between 90 minutes and two hours, made working hours feel a lot longer. I left home at 8 a.m. and usually only got back by 7 p.m. Coming home and taking care of my daughter meant I had no time at all for myself.

The whole time I was doing these jobs, there was something missing from my life.

Recognizing a passion

Over time, I realized I had a passion for public speaking and connecting with people. Even before I quit my job, friends would come up to me and share their problems with me, and I felt like I could really help them.

In 2018, while I was still working as an accountant, I heard about a soft-skills course from a cousin who was doing the program. I gathered up all my courage and decided to pursue it.

It took me a year to complete the program because I was juggling it with a full-time job and a young family. I would attend in-person classes two times a week after work.

I had my second daughter in 2020, and knew maintaining a work-life balance would be even harder with two kids. I decided to quit my job that year and start pursuing a career in soft skills, with the hopes of starting my own venture. Being my own boss and having the flexibility to manage my children became a priority.

A completely different career track

I first worked under a senior soft-skills trainer to learn about the field.

It was a tough ride. There is no connection between being an accountant and a soft-skills trainer. One was all about numbers and auditing. The other focuses on public speaking, communication skills, and body language.

After some time working with a senior soft-skills trainer, I launched my own business called Inner Spark in 2023. I specialize in behavioral training and work with corporations to design and lead seminars on leadership, interpersonal skills, and communication. One of my favorite topics is emotional intelligence, which I think is the most essential element required nowadays, and which many corporations today still lack.

There are still long days but I love the flexibility

Starting my own business came with a lot of challenges. Going from a stable monthly salary to not knowing when a new client will come by, and whether I will earn anything this month, was also tough.

Despite the drawbacks, my work-life balance improved a lot — I don’t have to go into an office every day, and I’m able to give my kids more time. Work on some days is just self-studying for three to four hours a day to update myself about the industry. There are still some long days when I have to meet a client at their workplace, but that’s down to one or two days a week now.

I am currently the sole employee of the company, but I hope to hire more trainers as business grows.

Looking back at my own career transition, when it comes to hard skills versus soft skills, I don’t think one is more important than the other. Hard skills are essential to get into an industry, but for continued success and satisfaction, you need soft skills and the ability to understand your own and others’ emotions.

Read the original article on Business Insider


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