Wise Advice from the New Kid
What’s the best advice to give virtually anyone starting a new job? Corey Cines, blogger with the AICPA’s This Way to CPA website, wrote “From Backpack to Briefcase: How I handled the jump into Public Accounting,” to offer his tips for starting life as a firm newbie. It’s excellent advice for any young CPA looking to build a foundation in accounting. Not only that, Corey’s great advice also applies to anyone transitioning into a new role or a new organization.
Asking “dumb” questions, staying positive and practicing stress relief: these are just some of Corey’s gems for getting the lay of the land.
We asked several AICPA CPAs on staff what advice they wish they had gotten when they first entered the accounting workforce. Here are some tidbits:
Natasha Schamberger, CPA, Senior Technical Manager – PCPS/Firm Services provided this tip: “Be proactive. When there are open items, questions or missing information needed to complete an audit or tax return, don’t be intimidated by asking firm partners, your manager—or whomever you need to ask―to help you get the job done. It is more efficient and effective to attempt to get all open items addressed before submitting for review. Gather your thoughts in advance, however. Make sure you understand what you need and why. Also, do some preliminary research before asking questions and have an idea of what you think the answer may be. Your seniors will especially appreciate that you’re making the effort to determine the solution before approaching them for guidance.”
“Keep your eyes peeled for the right mentor,” said Tim LaSpaluto, CPA, CGMA, CITP, AICPA Controller. “Don’t wait on assessing who can provide you with the right career and professional/technical guidance. Find a mentor who does what you hope to do and ask how he/she navigated into the role. Once you ask this person to be your mentor, be proactive and ensure you meet regularly. It’s your responsibility to make certain you’re properly mentored, so if you aren’t getting what you want from the relationship, find a new mentor who can give you the developmental guidance you need.”
Recalling her busy schedule when she worked in public accounting, Lindsey Ferguson, CPA Project Manager – PCPS/ Firm Services added: “Build relationships with your coworkers. You’ll spend a lot of time with your team at the office and in virtual settings. You’ll enjoy your work that much more and look forward to your time there, if you make an effort to know your colleagues more fully. In order to meet and get to know people better, take lunch breaks with coworkers or start a corporate running team and plan to complete a 5K race together. Have fun and the work will be fun too.”
“Turn your networking radar on,” said Scott Spiegel, CPA, CGMA, CITP, AICPA CFO. “Introduce yourself around the office to managers and partners to make yourself known. At community events, anyone is a potential client or has a connection to a client prospect, so be sure to be friendly, ask people about their businesses and what keeps them up at night. These relationships may take years to cultivate, but they can pay off in the future and bolster your career.”
Consider this: what’s the advice you wish you’d received when you were first starting out in the profession?
Heather O’Connor, Senior Communications Manager - Firm Strategy and Portfolio Management, American Institute of CPAs. Heather develops, manages and supports the communications strategy of the AICPA’s various firm relationship programs, and the Academic and Career Awareness and Peer Review teams. She also sets and manages strategic communications for accounting and auditing-related topics.