Career Advice for Graduating Accounting Majors

Posted by Southwest Beverages on 12/13/2014

career advice for graduating accounting majorsKnowing that I have had a successful career in accounting and finance, I have often been asked to mentor children of employees, neighbors and friends who will be graduating within a year, or who have just recently graduated, with majors in accounting about career paths in the field of accounting.

I always preface my guidance with two pieces of advice. First, choose that career path that is right for you and second, delay marriage and starting a family until after you have finished your formal education and become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Accordingly, I encourage all accounting majors to take the CPA exam as soon after college graduation as possible.

To become a CPA has many advantages, which will be with you for your entire career. The license, in and of, itself is a well respected credential by society, in general, and the worldwide business community, in particular; it reflects that you are a well educated person and that you have diversified industry accounting experience. It will afford you the opportunity to earn, on average, about 15-20% more than non-CPA’s working in private, not-for profit or governmental accounting positions and it will identify you as having a skill set and experience that will always be in high demand.

Regardless of where you attended college I encourage all to take the CPA exam very seriously and preferably take a “live” CPA review course. Taking a CPA review course has many advantages three of which are:

1. It teaches you how to take the CPA exam. For example, if one of the questions asks you to discuss two of the ten basic features of accounting, your answer should begin by stating, “There are ten basic features of accounting. They are (list in bullet form). The two I will be discussing are, x and y."

2. It offers a four to five month comprehensive review of the test material.

3. The course shapes your overall preparation plan for the exam. It requires you to attend class on a consistent and regular basis.

After you pass the exam, and most likely have one to two years audit experience, you are ready to peruse that career path that is right for you. In considering whether a career in public, private, not-for-profit (NFP) or governmental accounting is right for you, you need to ask yourself a number of questions.

1.  Do I want to work in an environment that will give me the opportunity to gain experience and consistently meet new people in various industries (public accounting), or do I want to focus my career on a particular industry and work with a core group of professionals (private, NFP or governmental)?

2. Do I want to be exposed to a diversified portfolio of assignments and projects each month (public accounting) or am I more comfortable working in an environment that has basically a set “calendar of events” each month (private, NFP or governmental)?

3. Do I want to work long hours (public and private) or 9-5 with weekends off (NFP and governmental)?

4. Do I want to travel and spend less time with the family (public and private) or do I want to be home 95% of my time (NFP and governmental)?

5. What level of stress am I comfortable with (public and private-high, or NFP and governmental-low)?

6. Which career path will provide me with job security (governmental-high, NFP-moderate, private and public-low (perform and/or relocate or your out).

7.Does the field I select offer me the pace at which I want my career to advance? (Public and private-very rapid, NFP and governmental-slower pace).

8. What might I expect to earn? Public and private-Generally speaking a person with 0-3 years of experience will about 10-15 % more in base pay than their counterparts in NFP and governmental. However, overtime earnings are significantly greater in public and private accounting than NFP and governmental, which could boost the earning differential to 25 % or more for public and private vs. NFP and governmental.

I always conclude my advice with a deep embedded principle of life, which I have practiced to this day, “To thine own self be true.” Choose that career path that is independent of outside influential forces and pressure and one that will make you happy in life.

dry mix beveragesWritten by Bob Jenkins, Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Southwest Beverages®

Bob has had the privilege of working for some of America’s largest and well run public and private companies, including Philip Morris, Canada Dry, Dr Pepper, Cadbury Schweppes, Snapple Beverage Corporation, Tasker Capital Corp. and The Water Club and River Cafe – two of New York’s finest fine dining restaurants. He has worked in various capacities as Finance Manager, Controller, Director of Finance, Vice President Finance & Administration, Chief Financial Officer, Secretary, and Treasurer.

Bob holds a Masters of Business Administration degree in accounting from the University of Tennessee and a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from the University of Arizona.

Southwest Beverages® is a manufacturer and marketer of two brands of premium quality dry mix beverages: Sippity® hot cocoa mix and Kemosabe® gourmet flavored coffee. All Southwest Beverages® products are uniquely blended flavors that contain all the ingredients necessary for you to enjoy the ultimate hot beverage experience. Simply add water and stir-then sip, savor and enjoy.

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