The future is a daunting prospect, and for most accountants fresh out of college, this is reality.
The question is always, “How do I find my breakthrough?”
For years you have been slaving over the student lifestyle. You’re ready to break out of the ramen diet, but what will all this studying prepare you for?
Studying you figure will only show you so much. You could be reeling for not having any work experience when most positions require 1-2 years of field experience, or perhaps the opposite is the case. Maybe that internship has taken up so much of your time that you let Beta Alpha Si, or worse, your grades go to the wayside.
Whatever your doubts are, we here at Taxes Tampa are here to help. We reached out to several local firms to get some answers, and here are some key things to consider when you embark on the application process:
Not every firm is looking for the same thing
You may be shocked, but consider that behind every firm is a person, and people don’t always want the same things. The fact of that matter is, if you can prove you work hard and demonstrate that with enough passion, there will be a CPA who values your work.
When asked whether fraternity involvement trumps work experience, Ed Stevens from Thacher, PA remarked that,
“Work experience is more important, but leadership activities indicate initiative and promise.”
Consider that the way you demonstrate your initiative through leadership will be noted as a strength in your screening. Your involvement in bringing a team together to collectively work on a project is highly valued in the workplace, and even without the proper experience, you can shine.
This also goes for GPA. The discipline in getting through school shows that you have the initiative necessary for working.
According to Frank Artz from Frank Artz Tax and Accounting, LLC,
“GPA tends to take care of itself. If they are driven enough to pursue their goals, candidates will work diligently toward their GPA.”
If you are checking your list here, then you are a pretty well rounded candidate. But what if you pigeon holed yourself to only working through school to achieve that GPA and never took on any other experience?
Bear in mind, being a blank slate is an asset.
You are moldable. You can learn protocol and work exactly how your CPA wants you to. Frank Artz asserted this best, stating
“Zero experience and I prefer them to arrive in that fashion. I do not want [applicants] bringing other habits into the office. [College students] are blank canvasses, and receive instruction well. As their skills develop, their fresh minds lead to suggestions for change and innovation.”
Firms want to see you grow from whatever stage you are in your career, and trust that like any investment, you will be able to flourish if given the chance.
But consider one lasting note before you head out there. That is, be professional.
You want to be able to conduct yourself at the best of your capacity while representing your firm. David Cole from David Cole CPA shared this sentiment best when regarding what he believes is lacking in the skills of new hires, insisting they need:
“To be on time. To do more work than you are asked. To make the CPA / Partner the top priority. I’ve seen new accountants come in from college and think more of their pay, their hours themselves. What partners/owners want is for the employee to come in early – sit at their desk – and work hard. Not complicated. And if you’re social and good with people that is a plus.”
In essence, embody what you want to see in the work environment and be a productive member on your team. It takes initiative to set aside distractions to focus on the work in front of you. Having that balance is essential with being professional, so in this vein, you can exceed in not only your career, but life outside of it by having the initiative to do so. You create the environment you wish to work in, and no matter what happens, there will be a firm that matches you.
Your friends at Taxes Tampa