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Accounting Student - Struggling to find my place in the industry

By Michael D. Purrazzella, CPA posted 02-15-2017 10:23 AM

Hello and welcome!

This is a general blog to talk about my problems breaking into the industry of Accounting.

So let me start at the beginning of my college career.

I started my college career in Computer Programming (C++) and did alright in it. While I enjoyed it has a hobby I didn't see it as a career path for me. Eventually the death of my mother gave me grief time to revaluate my life. A professor at my community college, an auditor by trade, talked with me after class some nights. I understood debts and credits easier then most others and liked the idea of Accounting and he told me I was one of the few he could see becoming an Accountant.. This then became my major. I went on to get my Bachelor's and now I have almost completed my Master's degree. I have taken two sections of the CPA exam, and while I did not pass, I was also self studying with no CPA review course, I am not deterred from getting my CPA. In fact, I'm more determined then ever to get it. I also want to take the CFE test as well.

My job search started over two years ago when I first went to the NJCPA career night in September of 2015, as a Junior in college. at the behest of my professor. I wanted to try and make sure I had a job right out of college.  Now all I have on my resume are a few part time and internships in accounting that I have been fortunate to get. I have tried to research tirelessly companies and new accounting trends that are coming this and next year to stay on top of my education. However this leads to me today.

I stand ready to graduate in May with my Master's degree in Business Administration and a full time tax season temporary position that I'm worried will not lead me to a permanent full time position. I now have to face the reality that I can now be, possibly, unemployed after tax season with little way to continue my passion in the accounting field unless I pursue another Master's degree in either tax and/or audit. I am reluctant to do this because I don't want to add to my student debt and still be unemployed. While this would forbade my student loan payments, I feel as thought the CPA exam should be my priority. However the CPA exam costs money which I don't have.

I am sometimes asked about my preference, tax or audit? While tax can be fun (to me at least) and interesting in its own way, I am interested in auditing because there is a lot I can learn from prospecting through different companies and regulations. I am always trying to learn and grow as both an accountant and a person. Its why I have trouble understanding why it’s so hard for me to find a job, no matter how many I apply to.

I’ve traveled to Connecticut for job interviews and I’m not afraid of relocating.

Thus I have become interesting in writing this because perhaps I can find advice or others who are experiencing these same problems. I have left the comment field open for anyone who wants to add anything to this.




10-04-2017 04:04 PM

​I find that a full time tax position seems to be the best avenue to get your foot in a door and a way to prove yourself. If the firm you're joining doesn't offer post season staff evaluations, then by all means request one for your personal feedback. Don't look at the position as temporary since many tax season positions lead to full time employment. If I could provide you any short term advice it would be to subscribe to RIA's Checkpoint's desk guides for individual income tax, partnership tax and s-corp and C-corp taxation. I know there is a cost to the subscription (annually $319, all inclusive), but walking into a tax season with the knowledge that those guides offer is invaluable and would put you ahead of most newer employees within that firm. I've always recommended this same path to all new staff members that have joined our firm(s) and it was the manner in which I sharpened my personal knowledge. Good luck and stay positive, since that is the one personality trait that shines through during an interview and one that will get you hired when the time is right.

05-04-2017 02:47 PM

Don't be afraid to switch from one firm to another. Every firm has its own culture, which may not be to your temperament. It's a great profession, have fun!