Teacher transitions from the classroom to a major accounting firm — and reminds others 'you haven't just taught'


Michael Sanders, a second-year high school US history teacher, was passionate about his job and subject matter. However, he realized that over two-thirds of his take-home pay went towards rent, leading him to question his financial future. Sanders viewed teaching as an opportunity to support himself while staying involved in his favorite subject, but the financial strain pushed him to find other options. Sanders, who is now a CEO Action for Racial Equity Fellow at PricewaterhouseCoopers, a Big Four accounting firm, discussed his teaching experience and current role transition. During his teaching years, Sanders felt that the amount of work he put in did not match his compensation. Although he enjoyed teaching, the pandemic magnified the challenges teachers faced, leading to increased pressure to also act as advisors and guidance counselors. Sanders believes that the hours teachers put in compared to their compensation wasn't sustainable, leading him to explore other career options. Overall, Sanders did not burn out or sour on the act of teaching but found it challenging, especially during COVID.

Sanders didn't just rely on teaching when he decided to transition into the corporate world. He reached out to friends and acquaintances from college and grad school who had jobs that offered a good balance between work and personal life. He also used LinkedIn to connect with people from companies that interested him, and when he made it to the interview stage, he connected with current employees to get referrals. After finishing the school year in Austin, he joined PwC as an experienced associate in June 2021, and within a year he was promoted to senior associate. He is currently in a fellowship that works on closing the digital divide and addressing disparities affecting Black Americans. Sanders believes that teachers who want to move into the corporate world should present their teaching skills in a way that is appealing to recruiters and should network as much as possible. He urged teachers to break the mindset that they have "only taught" and emphasized that teachers have acquired valuable skills such as managing relationships with students, tracking deliveries, charting progress, and identifying areas for improvement. Despite leaving teaching for the corporate world, Sanders still has a deep love for education and volunteers at a nonprofit, teaching English to non-native speakers for five to ten hours a week. He stays in touch with former students and colleagues and described his transition as both happy and sad, due to leaving his students.

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