Roger CPA Review is proud to introduce our new guest blogger, Carrie Lynn Cross! Carrie is excited to share her CPA Exam journey with our CPA Exam community and has just started studying for her first section. Read on to learn more about Carrie's educational and professional background as well as why she thinks obtaining her CPA license is the best thing she can do for herself and her career.
My name is Carrie and I’m originally from North Carolina.
I have been living in Tampa, Florida since 2001. I love school, art, science, sports, philosophy and pretty much everything. I just want to love the life I have and make the world a better place. I love reading about the latest time-savers, life hacks and inventions.
When I graduated high school, I wanted to go to college somewhere local.
University of South Florida (USF) has campuses in almost every corner of the Tampa Bay area. I was originally an undecided major, but I knew that eventually I had to choose. At first, I chose pre-med because I’m the “helper” personality type. There is no greater demand for help than the medical kind. It seemed like the best choice, but chemistry was tough for me. Calculus 2 was tougher. Math was never hard for me until I took that course. I felt overwhelmed by the difficulty of classes and the years it would take to get through medical school, so I decided to pick an “easier” major. I really wanted to graduate college, get a job and make my parents proud.
While thinking about which major to switch to, I thought about what I’d love doing for a living.
At that time, I loved listening to the radio and thinking about the choice of words the speakers need to fit into their limited airplay. I did well on most of my writing assignments and I wrote in diaries while growing up. Writing just came to me naturally. I declared mass communications as my major and completed the coursework as fast as I could. But there’s a problem with being hasty. I didn’t realize I wasn’t listening closely during freshman orientation when the speakers said to “make the most” out of college. I thought knocking out the coursework would be enough.
I got a new academic advisor when I was two semesters from graduating.
During our meeting she looked at my resume and told me I was setting myself up for failure and that I should wait until the fall to graduate and use that time do an internship. All I wanted was my degree and I was so close. I ignored what I didn’t want to hear, and before I knew it I was a girl with just a bachelor’s degree, at least from an HR standpoint. I didn’t have much evidence of grit nor the experience needed to compete with other applicants. I quickly realized it was near impossible to start my career the way I thought I would – with a salaried job waiting for me once I got out of school.
All I could think about was how to get my education to pay off.
I decided to try a more “useful” major. After talking with a friend who is an academic advisor, she suggested I try accounting. She told me that if I’m good at math, I should make money with it. I felt that it was a practical decision for my long-term career to pursue the accounting degree and CPA license. The coursework didn’t seem to be harder than the sciences, but it allowed me to become a helper in a different way. CPAs, in a way, are money doctors. CPAs offer “financial services” plus all kinds of other services that businesses need to legally do business. It sounded like a great skill to have, and I really wanted to become an expert in a field that could add more value to society.
I applied to go back to USF.
I plowed through the coursework almost as fast as I did for my journalism degree, except I joined as many accounting-related student organizations I could make time for, and did a few leadership roles in each. I made sure to work an internship. I graduated last December, and now I have a salaried accounting job. I’ve met a few short-term goals in the last few years. It took some hard work. But for the CPA license, it doesn’t stop there.
As of now, I’m eligible to sit for the CPA exam.
I only need a few more 5th year courses to meet Florida’s education requirement for licensure. For those who are as far as me in their CPA candidacy, a little advice: DON’T STOP. If you’re this close, it does no good to put it off. It’s important to not lose motivation. I started working full-time as a staff accountant because I wanted to get paid a decent salary instead of sacrificing more time to go to school full-time and take the CPA exam. But after a few months, I realized that I could be making so much more money and hundreds of great-paying employers would want to hire me if I had my CPA license. This credential carries the most weight in the accounting profession.
Every CPA I’ve met through networking events has told me that an accounting degree is pretty much useless without a CPA.
They also said they wouldn’t have waited so long to get their CPA. If you’re able to achieve the 3 E’s (education, exam, experience), then go for it. Don’t let “life” stop you. Most CPA firms encourage and often support their interns and full-time non-CPAs to take time off to study for the CPA exam and finish their masters or 5th year. Take your career seriously, and you will go far. I really want to go far, too. I am confident that I will learn a lot over these next few months studying for the Regulation part of the exam. I’m about to sign up for a date in August, and I can’t wait to share my journey with you.
--Carrie Lynn Cross, Guest Blogger for Roger CPA Review