School's out! Well, it is for those of you who have decided not to take any summer classes. As you're sitting by the pool, soaking in the rays, and enjoying time off from your accounting classes, you're probably thinking life is great. But...we also know there's a little voice in the back of your head asking you about your lack of accounting experience, where you're going to work after school, and questioning when you should really be preparing for the CPA Exam.
Instead of pushing off these thoughts and scheduling another pool day, there are actionable items that you can take today to help kick start your accounting career.
1. Research Companies You Want To Work For
Do you know what you want to do after you graduate? Have you decided whether you want to go into public vs private accounting? Are you interested in tax, audit, consulting, governmental accounting, etc?
Now is the time to start answering these questions. Jump onto Google and start researching the type of companies and positions you want to work for. There is plenty advice on the internet that will help give you a better picture as to what you might be interested in. Just start searching.
When you have decided which company you want to work for, there are crucial steps to take to guarantee that they will extend you an offer.
2. Develop Your Excel Skills
One of the main software applications you will use in any accounting job is Excel. By having advanced skills in Excel, you will automatically become useful to your team and company. Most people have basic Excel knowledge, but as a future CPA, you're going to have to know more than just creating tables and graphs.
If you know how to do Vlookups, Macros, and Pivot Tables, your bosses will want you on their jobs and you'll have a larger advantage amongst your peers vying for the same position.
3. Pass The CPA Exam as Soon as Possible
If you are a college student looking to become a CPA, you might be eligible to start taking the CPA Exam. The sooner you take it and pass, the quicker you will be on your way to becoming a certified public accountant. Which means a bigger advantage when you begin applying for jobs and/or obtaining a bonus that many public accounting firms give.
Don’t get caught pushing off the exam until you start working full time. Chances are you will have a much harder time passing the exam while working than if you were relaxing by the pool, going over flashcards.
4. Update Your Resume
When was the last time you reviewed your resume? Is it up to date with all of the relevant work experience and accounting classes you have taken? Or worse, do you even have a resume to hand out?
This summer is the best time to go back over your resume and make sure it is flawless. No spelling errors, wrong dates, or inaccurate information (including updating your accounting courses and overall GPA). Also ensure that you're following best practices for accounting resumes in terms of content and format to make yourself stand out more effectively. See what our best resume tip is here.
5. Practice Your Interviewing Skills (and all around communication skills)
If you want to get hired, you will need to have strong communication skills. This means that when you walk into an interview, you're confident, articulate, and well rounded. There are two great ways to practice your interviewing skills:
Record Yourself: Have a list of typical accounting interview questions and answer the questions while being recorded. Then, when you are done, go back and watch yourself on camera. Were you happy with how you looked, sounded and presented yourself? If not, continue to practice until you get more and more comfortable with answering interview questions.
Set up a Mock Interview: You can do this with a friend, coworker, or even a random stranger. Just hand them a list of typical interview questions that you think you might be asked. Then host a mock interview and get feedback on how you did. Were you distracting? Were your answers clear and concise? How did you present yourself from your friend’s viewpoint?
Make sure your mock interviewer is honest with you about how you can improve. This will be the best way for you to learn how to communicate better.
Doing any one of these 5 things steps this summer will increase your chances of success in your current or future accounting career. Don’t let this summer go to waste. After all, it's never too early to start preparing for the rest of your life!
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