When I decided that I wanted to get my CPA, I was excited. I finally had a response to that question that every college student cringes at: “So what are you going to do with your life when you get out of school?” What I wasn’t anticipating was the overwhelming reaction by those people who asked me that question. When I unveiled my plan to become a CPA, it was as if I suddenly became so uninteresting that we couldn’t even continue our conversation. You could literally see the white mask of boredom wash over their faces. Sometimes I wanted to address the elephant in the room and say, “No I don’t wear glasses or have a pocket protector or have a pet name for my calculator.” (I would keep the fact that I absolutely love the abilities of Excel to myself.) But nevertheless, my mouth would stay shut. And most times they would end the topic with, “Ahhhh, I should get you to do my taxes,” (which is another post altogether).
The first few times this conversation happened, I wrote it off to coincidence. By the 15th time, I was getting slightly depressed. Sure, a person’s profession does speak volumes about personality—I would even agree that most CPAs are “type A” and are usually comfortable with numbers—but, and this is a big “but” here, not all CPAs are boring. I would claim that the percentage of CPAs that fall into the “boring” category, assuming one can clearly define this, would not exceed the population mean of all people.
Take the CPAs-to-be that I know. Some of have been skydiving and/or bungee jumping. Some of us love to ride rollercoasters. The Titan and Mr. Freeze are my personal favorite. My entire Professional Program of Public Accounting program is extremely competitive. A few of us have done study abroad trips in places like New Zealand and Costa Rica. And unlike the quiet, soft-spoken accountant stereotype, I am quite loud and talkative. I’m not claiming that my group of CPAs-to-be is more exciting than your group of friends, but I know that the stereotypical accountant would not partake in any of these activities.
As a CPA, you can become an FBI Secret Agent or forensic accountant. How about auditing? I knew someone (with a CPA) that had the opportunity to count the NFL’s Hall of Fame votes because of his job as an auditor. Sports teams need auditors too. You can also go abroad with your work. In public accounting, there are opportunities to work in places like India, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Caribbean and more.
CPAs, especially in public accounting, do not spend their days sitting in a corner with their beloved abacus. They spend their time dissecting and understanding some of the country’s and world’s most powerful companies, like ExxonMobil, Wal-Mart, Apple and the list goes on and on. I am not trying to convince you that Jonathan Goldsmith, The Most Interesting Man in the World, has his CPA, but that he probably wouldn’t mind sharing a cold drink with someone who does.