I would like to hear how you ACCOUNTANTS out there actually working in
the field got the big break from college or got that first "real" job.
Reason being is that I will be shortly graduating from my college in
the spring of 2007.
Of course I am doing the interviews and etc through the career center.
However, I know there are other means of getting recruited with
"decently sized" accounting firms that have the ability to give you the
ability to work w/ big clients (or SEC registered clients).
Im just so tired of filling out applications and going through the
recruitment process only to be let down 4 mo into the song and dance.
It just seems so impersonal nowadays when I go to apply to firms. I
send my resume, transcript, and their application it seems into the
electronic abyss and after spending significant time on filling out
each companies "personalized" job profiles....
Yeah on campus we get interview if pre-selected... but what should I do
Ill keep checking in!
Talk to your professors and instructors about the local chapter of CPA's.
Join them (most have student discounts) and attend the local meetings as
often as you can. Most jobs are filled through personal contact, ie: "You
remember Jen, she comes to the meetings, graduating from the college
It might not be the "BIG" four firms though. Those are mostly attended by
the smaller local and mid-regional firms, but that's not a bad place to
Paul Thomas, CPA
Actually I am in Beta Alpha Psi (http://www.bap.org/ )
I am also the officer of the University's Accounting Society. So Im
involved... just its interesting to learn how other's made the
Paul Thomas, CPA wrote:
Being involved is good. My employer was impressed that, in the number
of students applying from my university, my name was the only one the
Basically, Jen, there are a number of professional organizations you
should become involved with. In addition to Paul's suggestion, you
may consider joining IMA (Institute of Management Accountants) and
ASWA (American Society of Women Accountants).
But in interviews, the bottom line is that you need to know how to
market yourself. I work for a small business and my ability to do
things in addition to accounting was a plus. I also manage the web
site, edit marketing materials for grammar, and read over legal
documents for errors or omissions. Ask yourself why YOU are a better
candidate than any other student with your education for this
particular position and let the employer know you have these skills.
As far as accounting, my first accounting job was a lead from one of the
professors. I worked for a developer who owned multiple properties (office
parks and retail shopping centers) in their accounting department during my
last year (or so) of school. From there, another professor gave me a lead
on an internal auditing position with a regional bank where I worked after
A lot of my advice below isn't directly related to _entering_ the
accounting world per se, but reading some of it might help with your
thinking in general about what it's like being new to the accounting
profession. So, read it if you like, but I just wanted to warn you.
The one thing I would suggest is don't get too hung up on trying to be
"perfect" or even close to it. This way, it's easier for you to have a
sense of confidence about yourself when you're not holding yourself to
such a high standard. You desperately need to have a sense of
confidence, or ease about you -- something I lacked, really. You will
lose that confidence very quickly if you walk in thinking you are a
star. Have confidence but realize you have a lot to learn because you
Also, have a healthy view towards the CPA exam. Your experience is
MUCH more important than that exam EVER could be. I've passed that
exam (had decent GMAT too) and I've also gotten fired from a public
accounting firm -- trust me, I'm not the only one that's happened to
(didn't like public accounting that much anyway).
Then again, my situation is a little different because I actually
didn't have very good grades, so I was forced to take a different path
from most of my peers, doing very small public accounting making below
$10.00/hr, then going to a slightly larger firm where I worked with
people with years of experience from PricewaterhouseCoopers and Cherry,
Bekaert, and Holland. You will likely have a more traditional path
since your grades are good and that's always good for a stable career
You also need to look at your situation from a business perspective in
that you have services to offer for compenstation or other benefits.
Of course, your first couple of years, the biggest benefit by far is
the experience you will get. You desperately need experience. But,
still, don't ever think the place you are working for is doing you a
favor by letting you get experience. Don't look at yourself as a
I once told one of my co-workers that I knew I had to pay my dues and
that I knew I was a grunt. He said I shouldn't look at it that way. I
understand what he meant now. Even though it's true I was a "grunt,"
nobody wants to be around someone who looks at himself as one.
At the same time, unless you are _extremely_ intelligent and
_extremely_ into accounting and information systems, you will likely
feel kind of stupid your first year or so if you're in public
accounting or in any decently-sized place in industry. Public
accounting work is NOT something you learn in a month or two and you
certainly will not learn your role in a large corporation in a couple
It takes at least a year to get somewhat efficient for most people.
The important part is realizing most people feel this way and, in fact,
most people do not make it or stay in public accounting. They either
leave for less-stressful industry or get let go, many after getting the
good learning experience that is public accounting. But, regardless of
whether you're doing public or industry, getting along with your
mentors, bosses, and co-workers is extremely important during your
first couple of years, as you will often need their help.
So, to reiterate, accounting work in the real world is much more
complex than anything you've ever done in school. Just because you get
good at doing your job at one place does not mean you will be a star
when you walk into another situation.
Take taxes for example. When you are doing taxes in a CPA firm your
first year, you have at least 4 complex systems/environments to learn.
1) The software -- knowing how inputs into certain areas of your
particular software package affect other outputs is something you learn
over a good bit of time, not over night. You do not walk into your job
being a star. You walk in basically having a LOT to learn.
2) The data presentation -- what does what I'm looking at mean and how
should it be entered into the system? you will use a whole hell of a
lot more "inductive" reasoning as you will see data presented to you in
ways that really could never be presented to you in school. You will
have to make general inferences from this data.
3) You will also have to remember the law you learned in school while
you're at and recognize situations in the real world data you see that
are affected by the law you know.
4) You will need to know/learn how the IRS expects things to be done,
the major part being learning how things should be entered on their
myriad of forms -- this way you can know that the output the system is
giving you is correct.
So, basically, when I look at school, I sort of view it as a bottleneck
compared to experience when one's goal is to become a good accountant.
I could have studied for hours and hours and hours every night for
years and it would not have given me NEAR edge that working that same
time in an actual accounting role could have.
I picked an industry I enjoyed and has a passion for...For me, it
was sailing and sailboat racing. I had spent 3 years on the college
sailing team and knew a bit about the business...I conducted some
informal information gathering interviews w/local business and ended
up landing a job b4 graduation.....All it takes is a plan, some
and "risk taking", I fig'ed...the worst that could occur, is folks
me to go away and quit bothering them...That never happined, what I
discovered is people love to talk about their jobs and how they got
(most folks, that is).. And, folks like polite, assertive recent
grads...every business needs accountants, you have a value to add to
each and every business out there.....good luck !!...and remember, each
no or negitive out come brings you a step closed to the next positive,
favoriable event.......basic statistics and chanse outcome
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