Thursday, September 28, 2017

A Beginners Guide to Success: Steps to Take to Land your Dream Job as a CPA

By Keely Apple, 2017-18 TSCPA Student Ambassador for Upper Cumberland Chapter

Every Accounting student dreams of success. As students, we all have a similar idea of what success looks like for a CPA. Picture this: you are sitting in an office with wall to wall windows overlooking a picturesque city landscape. Sounds familiar, right? At this point, I bet you are wondering, “How do I become that successful?” Achieving success can sometimes seem difficult or overwhelming. How exactly does one achieve success? The process begins with good grades, obtaining an internship and then accepting one of many job offers. It is as easy as that - or is it? I would like to share some tips I have learned throughout my college career to maximize your chances of landing your dream job that will set you apart from the crowd.
One of our main concerns as students is a lack of relevant work experience. In order to overcome this obstacle, getting involved may be the solution. Getting involved on campus shows employers that you are not only good at working with others, but it can also aid in behavioral interview questions. Have you ever been in an interview and the interviewer asks, “Name a time when you…?" I think we all have and without relevant work experience or experience working with others, it is a pretty hard question to answer. Getting involved and working with an organization or club can help you with those questions you aren’t sure how to answer. Give an example. Getting involved is my first recommendation to set yourself up for success.
                Second, build a rapport with your professors. This is super important. Not only are they more understanding when you have to miss class for a job fair or interview, but they can also assist you in your job search or make recommendations for you when you are confused. Often times, Accounting majors are confused on whether they should be in tax or audit, industry or public accounting. Your professors have been there, and they have also seen many students walk the same path you have. Utilize this resource. I promise you will not regret it.
                Third, have a positive attitude. Conveying positivity and confidence is a trait that will serve you throughout college, during interviews and throughout your career as a CPA. A positive attitude is infectious. When you portray confidence and happiness, it is as if everyone else cannot help but to do the same. Professors notice students that have a good attitude, and employers want to see what you will be like around people you have just met. An interview is about more than just how you answer the questions, it is about how you present yourself and exude confidence. One thing to remember about confidence is to not confuse confidence with arrogance. While there is a fine line between the two, most people know when they have gone too far. If you are concerned that you may be coming off as arrogant, have someone give you a mock interview, and let you know what they think (make sure this person is someone who is going to be honest; the only way to improve is to receive constructive criticism).
                Above, I have briefly mentioned interviews. Let’s dive deeper into what is expected at an interview. Of course, dress appropriately and have good hygiene, but besides the basics, let’s talk about what is going to set you apart from you peers. Every interviewer is going to ask if you have any questions about the company or position. Performing research prior to the interview with the companies or firms you are most interested in is imperative to have relevant questions.  No one wants the question, “What does your firm do?” Please do not be the person to ask this question. If it is a question that can be answered by their website, chances are they will know you are not prepared. Questions tailored specifically to the position are always appreciated and indicate your true interest in the company. Something you may want to ask yourself is, “If I were conducting the interview, how would someone portray genuine interest in the company?”

                You cannot build a skyscraper without a plan and a solid foundation. Build a solid foundation by presenting yourself adequately on paper, in person and online. Make sure you are up to par in these areas. Go to a resume workshop and have someone review it. Clean up your social media. Consider a professional networking website such as LinkedIn. These are all examples of ways to brand yourself. So, do it. Shoot for the Stars. Be a Success. Land your dream job as a CPA!

Photo Cred: Freimuth, Ian. “Office With a View.” Flickr, Yahoo!, Chicago, 15 Oct. 2012,