What Large Firms Expect From New Accounting Grads

Securing a job post-graduation won’t be an issue for most accounting students. But those looking to end up at the nation’s largest firms, where fast-paced environments can lead to lucrative career paths, will need more than good grades to get hired.

In this article from AICPA’s Extra Credit e-newsletter, recruiters from large firms (including the Big Four) weigh in on what they want to see from new hires. Check it out!

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10-Key vs. a Normal Calculator

Blogger: Malicka Modgil

Blogger: Malicka Modgil

A calculator is one of an accountant’s most useless or valuable tools. I say useless because Microsoft Excel can do all of the functions that the most high-tech calculators can do. However, we rarely take out our laptops and open Excel whenever we have to do quick calculations. It is easier to take out a handy calculator. For me, my 10-key is my lifeline.

During an audit internship, my firm issued all of us the standard work laptop, dual monitor, USB mouse, and a USB 10-key. I quickly learned that this 10-key would become my best friend. Data entry was a breeze, because I could efficiently enter numbers in half the time. On the other hand, the multiple wires were very irritating, so I went on Amazon and bought a wireless 10-key. I splurged and bought the 10-key that has a dual mode; it can connect to your computer as part of your keyboard, and can be a calculator on its own. Because I used this 10-key multiple times a day, I was able to memorize where the keys were and never needed to look at it.

This made everything so much easier! Data entry, homework, calculating a tip at a restaurant; all could be done in half the time. (Yes – I am an aspiring accountant who still uses a calculator to calculate tip.) It has come to the point that I prefer my 10-key over any other calculator. After finishing all my required calculus and finance classes, there really isn’t much use for all the functions on a scientific or financial calculator. With a normal calculator, you can’t effortlessly type the keys without looking.

It’s refreshing to realize how a small item, like a calculator, is such an important thing in your life. Since I’ve gotten so used to it and use it daily, I don’t know what I would do without my handy 10-key.

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Starting College Off Right


Blogger: Kenny Nguyen

The shift from high school to college can be a terrifying experience. You are granted with more independence than you can handle and have no idea what you’re doing. What should you do? The best advice I have for freshmen is to get out of your comfort zone and be open-minded. College is a time where you truly discover yourself and what you are passionate about. You are no longer confined to your parent’s way of thinking and can truly find who you are. Below are some of the tips I have for current and incoming freshmen who want to succeed in college.

Be Active and Get Involved

I can’t stress how important this is for freshmen. Joining organizations on campus not only shows potential employers that you are involved on campus, but it also provides an opportunity for you to develop valuable skills. You learn to work with a group of people who you may or may not always agree with. You learn how to manage your time through balancing school work and your organization. Most importantly though, you may develop a passion that you did not know you had.

You Will Fail

One of the most common fears among freshmen is failing. The best way to overcome this fear is to know that it will happen. Failing in college is inevitable, whether that is failing a quiz, test, getting denied for an internship, or getting rejected at a party. Failure in college will only help you in the long run, because it provides you an opportunity to learn from it. So, don’t fear failure – embrace it and use it to grow.

Network, Network, Network

Lastly, as a freshman, you have to start networking. You may not think it is necessary for you to talk to your professors and employers who visit early on, but developing relationships with people you meet is vital, because you never know who’s going to be able to help you in the long run. Don’t just talk to as many people as you can and create superficial relationships, but build individual relationships. It may take more work, but it will pay off in the long run.

Freshman Year in Review

Above all, remember that freshman year is going to be one of the most exciting times in your life. You’ll experience new things, make meaningful relationships, and continue to discover yourself. Though the above tips may not be everything you need to succeed in college, it is a great way to start. Good luck!

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Get Ahead in Your Career—Volunteer!

Volunteering might not be a top priority during your college career or as you prepare for the CPA exam, but there are numerous reasons to consider donating your time. First and foremost, it’s a great way to make a difference in your local community and give back to people and organizations in need. Volunteering also provides an opportunity to make new friends, expand your network, and increase your social and relationship skills.

But did you know that volunteers also have higher odds of finding employment in today’s job market? A report from the Corporation for National and Community Service found that volunteers have a 27 percent higher chance of finding a job than non-volunteers. Volunteering shows initiative, effective time management and demonstrates an excellent work ethic.

Looking to get involved? Check out this list of volunteer opportunities for accounting students, candidates and young professionals.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is an IRS program designed to help low- and moderate-income taxpayers complete their annual tax returns at no cost. Volunteers learn how to prepare individual tax returns and help taxpayers get the tax credits and deductions they are entitled to. The VITA program allows you to work on real tax returns and gain valuable experience that can help in your future career.

The first step to becoming a tax volunteer is to find a sponsoring organization that partners with the IRS. Submit your contact information using the VITA Volunteer Sign Up or talk to an accounting professor at your college to see if they already have a VITA partnership.

“VITA provides an opportunity for students to make a difference in the community, develop job skills, meet new people and enhance their education,” says Louis Tatum, CPA–Corpus Christi, TSCPA member, and VITA volunteer for the past seven years. “Volunteering provides great networking opportunities and can be a great asset to your resume. Many CPAs I’ve met in my career have indicated that real-world experience like VITA is a plus when hiring young employees.”

For more information, visit https://www.irs.gov/individuals/irs-tax-volunteers.

Volunteer Opportunities with the Texas Society of CPAs

Becoming a member of TSCPA opens the door to numerous volunteer opportunities. Each of our 20 chapters across Texas is committed to giving back to the local community through volunteer and service activities.

Now is the perfect time to get involved! During the month of November, TSCPA is hosting the statewide CPA Month of Service. This month-long service event represents the CPA profession’s ongoing commitment to serving the communities where its professionals live and work.

Volunteer anywhere you’re passionate about! Are you an animal lover? Why not volunteer at a local animal shelter or humane society. Love kids? Get involved with a local mentorship or tutoring program.  Are you interested in protecting the environment? Organize a local park or beach clean-up event. The possibilities are endless and choosing a cause you are passionate about will deliver the greatest reward.

You can register as an individual or volunteer with your local TSCPA chapter. Click here to see what TSCPA chapters have planned or contact your local chapter to find out how you can get involved.

Become a TSCPA Student Campus Representative

TSCPA is always looking for student representatives to serve as our connection to campuses throughout the state. Our goal is to strengthen TSCPA’s presence on college campuses, share information across the state and learn more about what we can do to support Texas students as they work towards becoming a CPA.

As a campus rep, you’ll distribute TSCPA membership applications and help spread the word about the organization and the benefits of becoming a student member. In return, you’ll receive a complimentary student membership ($35 value per year) and all the perks that come with that membership, including all TSCPA publications, unlimited access to exclusive members-only areas on our website and the benefits of listing TSCPA on your resume to show future employers your commitment to the CPA profession.

Email Catherine Raffetto for more information on becoming a student rep.

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Recommended Reading for Accounting Students, Candidates and Young CPAs

Are you continually searching for books to add to your Kindle wish list? Maybe you’re in need of a good summer read for your next vacation or pool day? We asked several TSCPA members which books they would recommend for students or young CPAs who are just beginning their accounting career journey.  Check out the reading material they recommend for inspiration and motivation in both your career and personal life:

Kathy Kapka, CPA, TSCPA Chairman and Senior Lecturer of Accounting at The University of Texas at Tyler

  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Kathy says: “I am currently reading [this book] for the second time, and am enjoying it all over again! This novel is fiction, but also very thought-provoking. The story line is about a man who finds himself lost in life without a rudder and the people he encounters who are not what they seem. It’s a satire about the human condition that is masterfully written. Anyone who is approaching change in their life, whether it’s starting college, a new job or moving to an unfamiliar place, will benefit from reading this novel!”

Kim Turner, CPA, Chief Audit Executive for the Texas Tech University System

  • Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Kim says: “Change is inevitable, but it can be scary to imagine and difficult to accomplish. The authors give us a new way to look at change through numerous real-life examples in which one small thing (the switch) has been the catalyst for huge changes. The book is a fast and engaging read about how one person – no matter their position in an organization – can spur audacious changes at work, at home and in their community.”

 Ryan Bartholomee, CPA, CFO at Shenandoah Petroleum Corporation

  • Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by David Ramsey

Ryan says: “I read this book early on in my career and it helped my wife and I get on the same page financially and to become goal-oriented in multiple areas of our lives. We were not intentional in our finances, even though I knew the right concepts from the finance courses that I took on the way to my accounting degree. Writing down goals and working hard to achieve them helped in my career. I’ve had doors open for me that I never would have dreamed would come this early on in my career. Stay humble.Work hard. Set goals and track your progress. Be consistent and always be improving your communication skills.”

Allyson Baumeister, CPA, Principal in Charge at CliftonLarsonAllen LLP and TSCPA Immediate Past Chairman

  • Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass

Allyson says: “Please don’t let the fact that this is a book for tweens stop you! Jeremy and his best friend Lizzy travel across Manhattan, from flea markets to fancy office buildings, searching for keys that will unlock an odd box left to Jeremy by his father. They find adventure and maturity along the way. One of my all-time favorites!”

  • Good to Great by Jim Collins

Allyson says: “One of the best business books ever written! Jim Collins and a team of researchers studied 6000 articles, generated more than 2,000 pages of interview transcripts and created 384 megabytes of computer data over a five-year period. Their goal was to determine why some companies achieve the level of great, while most only make it to good, or fail in the effort altogether. Their findings can be applied by anyone.”

Tim Pike, CPA, Partner at Howard LLP

  • The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield

Tim says: “This book discusses various psychological and spiritual ideas as the main character undertakes a journey to find and understand a series of nine ancient manuscripts in Peru. This book has several philosophical considerations that can be applied to life. When I first read this book, it opened my eyes to considering various points-of-view before forming conclusions.”

  • The One Minute Manager by Kenneth H. Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

Tim Says: “Ultimately, this book provides techniques to increase productivity, job satisfaction and personal prosperity. As the title suggests, it promotes the ‘less is more’ approach. I chose this book because, despite references in the title, there are several cross-lessons that are crucial to becoming an effective leader in an organization, whether you’re a seasoned professional or a student in an undergraduate program.”

What are you currently reading this summer? Share your book recommendations in the comments below!

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How to Get Real-World Business Knowledge Now

Blogger: Randy Moser

Blogger: Randy Moser

Speaking the language of business is critical for future accountants. Being able to hold a conversation about more than accounting figures may be even more important.

All of you come from different backgrounds and hold different points of reference about business. Some of you may have grown up in a small business and wish to follow in your family’s footsteps. Others may wish to be or help entrepreneurs. Whatever your reason, as a future accountant, you will develop skills and knowledge that people are willing to pay good money to employ.

The more you bridge the gap between accounting and business, the more doors will be opened for your career. A good way to start is by building your experience, knowledge, and vocabulary regarding the business world while in school. It will make an immense difference when networking with professionals and during interviews.

Building up your experience and knowledge of the business world could take many forms, from a passive approach to a very regimented and active approach. For example, a busy person may take the passive approach of listening to one of the several Bloomberg Business radio programs on Tunein.com or through XM radio while in the car. A more formal approach might be to subscribe to the Wall Street Journal and flip through it daily, subscribe to Barron’s and read it weekly, or lookup the regional business journal monthly in the school library. Regardless of how you get business news, the important part is to start!

Exposing yourself to real-world information and thinking about it on a regular basis will give you a better perspective. You will find this exposure will expand into other connected areas such as current business world events and the economic standing of various industries. Also, during this process you will find yourself merely glancing over some articles and focusing on others, which is a good way to discover what industries appeal to you.

After a relatively short-time, probably several weeks to a few months, you will become more comfortable with what is discussed and even start to see trends in the information. Being able to reference this information will give you a strong point of reference when talking about the business world. Ultimately, this type of perspective is key when working with business leaders who will expect you to have a measure of knowledge about them, your client.

After all, your employer is paying for what’s between your ears – make sure the right stuff is in there.

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State Requirements–How to Become a CPA in Texas

Wondering what it takes to get where your going? Don’t forget to bookmark this handy guide from AICPA to keep track of the requirements needed in Texas to obtain your CPA license. Click “Texas” on the list of states & territories for more details!

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