3 Things You Should Know Before Starting in Public Accounting

1. This is Not a Job, It is a Career

Typically on a job you report in for a set amount of time each week, do only the work you are assigned, then likely think nothing of the place after you clock out. A career, particularly in accounting, is quite the opposite. When you experience your first “busy season” you will quickly realize that you no longer have a job and have crossed over into a career. You are now in the driver’s seat and expected to own your career. This means that you are responsible not only for the work you do for the client, but also for guiding your career. You should be monitoring your own utilization, making sure you have sufficient CPE credits, and balancing between billable and non-billable work.  Independent of the occasional check in session, you will not have anyone tapping you on the shoulder to make sure you have enough work to keep busy. This could take some adjusting, but you will catch on sooner than you think.

2. The Work You do is Actually Valued

You know that one student who randomly got assigned to your group project in college? The student who never responded to the group chat, didn’t come to the presentation run-through and wore sweats to the actual presentation. Please do not be this student. In the professional world this could not only lead to a bad evaluation but a loss of the client (not just a letter grade on a transcript). Every individual on the team will contribute to projects in a meaningful way. Try not to hide behind the work of others and have the “well if it is wrong they will fix it during the review” attitude. I understand how tempting this can be when you get so defeated with a project that you just turn in anything. Believe me, this attitude will only yield unnecessary review notes and make you look lazy.

3. An Accounting Degree Only Prepares you to Learn the Job

There is a reason why I named this blog “The Accounting Struggle” and it isn’t because the work is such a breeze. While this career field is incredibly rewarding, the learning process can be strenuous and stress inducing. Regardless of where you obtained your accounting degree, you most likely will face some struggles early in your career. The good news is that having earned your degree in accounting, you should have just enough knowledge to start learning how to do the work. Try not to let your inexperience cause feelings of inadequacy as this hinders the learning process. One of my biggest struggles when I first started was doing adjusting journal entries. I would almost always post them backwards and could not wrap my head around the concept. Sitting down with one of my seniors and explaining where I was challenged was critical in determining a new strategy for overcoming that obstacle. When you find yourself struggling with a particular concept, consider your resources. Just as you might schedule an appointment to meet a professor during office hours, sit down with your seniors and let them help you through some of your struggles.

Motivational Quote

“The Push Process Gives Birth to Endless Possibilities” -Cheryl Armistead (My mommy)

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