10 Tips to Successfully Leap from Student to Accounting Professional

by Eduardo Alay, Wiss & Company, LLP | October 8, 2021

As a college student, there is often confusion on what working in the “real world” is like. Let me be the first to tell you that working in accounting is nothing like taking accounting classes in college. The biggest hurdle in transitioning from college student to an accountant is understanding that, at first, you will have absolutely no idea what you’re doing, yet understanding that is totally okay! As an entry-level staffer, it is not expected that you come into the real world with the entire Internal Revenue Code memorized.

So, how can you help make a successful leap from student to accounting professional? Here are 10 tips to do just that.

  1. Remember that practice makes perfect. Not understanding what you are doing may be frustrating and discouraging at times but keep trying.
  2. Know that patience is key. This doesn’t come overnight, nothing ever does.
  3. Ask a million questions. There is no such thing as a stupid question, because you want to make sure everything is accurate as can be. Don’t just complete a task and submit it; ask questions to make sure you are understanding the purpose behind what you’re doing (we like to call this “the why”).
  4. Don’t be afraid to mess up. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Use your mistakes as learning opportunities to help ensure that you do it right the next time.
  5. Create a schedule. Creating a list/schedule of your assignments will not only help you to prioritize tasks, but it will also increase your awareness of the value of time management, organization and your ability to keep on track to accomplish your tasks.
  6. Record virtual meetings. Don’t focus on writing everything down. Instead, ask to record a meeting so that you can go back and process what was discussed afterwards.
  7. Get the CPA Exam out of the way ASAP. Working fulltime and studying for the CPA Exam is, by far, one of the hardest things to juggle: but it’s not impossible! As you grow and excel within your career, you gain more responsibility, making it more difficult to find time to study. So even though tackling the CPA Exam right away might seem daunting, there will likely never be an easier time for you to do it.
  8. Take mini breaks. There is something to be said for people with sedentary jobs and multiple computer screens; the struggle is real. Make an effort to take breaks to re-charge — get up, take a walk and grab a cup of joe while you’re at it.
  9. Reward yourself. Working long hours can be dreadful at times, so having something to look forward to after work will help keep the motivation present. Something as simple as treating yourself to a pepperoni pizza and watching a movie on a Friday night can go a long way. Trust me.
  10. Realize there is no one-size-fits-all approach.Ultimately everyone has a different story when starting their career in accounting.

At the end of the day, remember that it is a marathon, not a sprint, so make sure you stop and smell the roses along the way and enjoy every bit of your transition into the real world.

Eduardo  Alay

Eduardo Alay

Eduardo Alay is a tax associate at Wiss & Company, LLP. He is a CPA Candidate member of the NJCPA and serves on the Student Programs & Scholarship Committee. He can be reached at ealay@wiss.com.

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