woman-standing-in-fieldWhen I look into the future, it’s so bright it burns my eyes. -Oprah Winfrey

That quote exemplifies my exact sentiment in the last two years of high school. I was abuzz with the anticipation of graduation, college, and starting my adult life. It was a time to be introspective and select a college major. Although I enjoyed studying literature, English grammar, and foreign language, I knew I didn’t want to major in those areas, because based on my research, the job market favored business majors.

Within the business area, accounting seemed to be the only major that appeared interesting and held the highest earning potential. My main priority was to find a career that would support my lifestyle which I hoped would include travel and a family of my own. I had no idea choosing this major would not only support that lifestyle, but also develop into a career that I would actually enjoy!

During my senior year of high school, I took an accounting class and loved it.

It was an easy “A”, and I thought it was an encouraging glimpse into my college experience. To my dismay, I saw after only three classes into my Intro to Accounting 101 class how wrong I was! The college class covered in only three classes what was covered in my entire high school accounting course. I was shocked at the pace. Apparently, other students were too, because a once full classroom of approximately 50 students dwindled to 30 by the end of the semester. I was so accustomed to grasping information easily that the college experience quickly became overwhelming. In addition to taking 18 hours each semester (not including classes I took in the summer), I also worked part-time and volunteered approximately 50 hours a month at my church. In short, I had to make a change, and fast, if I wanted that lifestyle I hoped for after college.

Since I knew neither failing out of college nor changing my major were options, I decided to engross myself in the world of accounting.

I discovered that there was an accounting lab with free tutors on campus. I spent my time between classes in that lab. I read my accounting books cover to cover and made sure to complete all of my assignments whether they were graded or not. I surrounded myself with accounting students who performed better than me in class so that I could learn from them. One of my proudest moments was walking across that graduation stage, because I knew I had worked very hard to earn that accounting degree in only three years! Three months later, I added another proud moment to my life by walking down the aisle at my wedding.

Starting my new life as a married, young professional presented an entire new set of challenges.

Sitting at a desk 40+ hours a week, sitting in traffic for three hours daily during my commute, and spending time cooking, cleaning, and adapting to “the married life” was exhausting. Even though I graduated college with 150 hours, I could not even fathom getting my CPA at this stage of my life. However, as the years passed, I realized the only way I would advance my career was by getting that license. In 2011, five years after graduation, I finally decided to take on the challenge. In my next post, I’ll share with you how I balance “the married life”, an exciting career, and my CPA journey.

CPA Journey of the Week Series

James Nguyen - Part 1 Part 2