I have often heard that you have to be marketable when you are looking for jobs, or, in other words, sell yourself. But what exactly is making yourself marketable, especially in accounting? If you are one of those people, like me, who actually love accounting, then you must be aware of the various career paths that we can choose from, and to land a job that you love is a boon. But doing all the right things is what will get you and me there.
Get a degree
You are already on the right track if you are going to college to get a degree, whether it is a bachelors or masters. Getting a degree has numerous benefits. I was professionally developed, meaning, I learned not just about the academics, but also about how the industry works. More often than not, grad schools will have events where you can meet professionals from different fields of accounting. There are programs like VITA where you can get hands-on experience with taxation. There are projects where you have to perform work for actual companies. You learn how to operate in the business world even before you actually start working. Getting an accounting degree made me eligible for different certifications like CPA and CIA that will add value to my degree. That brings me to the next thing that we, as students, need in order to sell ourselves to the prospective employers.
If you have set your eye on a particular career path, then adding a certificate that closely relates to that path will be a definite plus. When I talk to different accounting professionals, I always ask them about which certificate to go for, because let’s face it, there are a lot; and when is a good time to get it. The common answer throughout professionals from different paths is to get a CPA because it gives you an overall balance across different areas of accounting. About when to get it, there are mixed reviews. Some say get it while you are in college because it is easier to get it done when you are still in “study mode,” and that also gives you an edge over those who don’t have a certificate on their resume. Also, you tend to get busier when you start working full-time. The reasons for doing it after college were that it isn’t a requirement to get a job and that your employer might pay for it. But, if you really want to get a head start, I say go get that exam out of your way.
Get an internship
If you ever wonder why an entry level position asks for work experience, or how are you supposed to have experience when you are just out of college, then an internship is the answer. Not everyone is working full-time in the profession of their choice while they are still in school. And not everyone is aware of what career path they want to walk in for at least the next decade or two. An internship is the best way to try out the path you are interested in but are not sure if you can stick to it for years to come. It also sets a foundation for when you are ready for the real world experience after graduation. An internship will catch your future employer’s eye showing them that you have a serious interest in that job. I got two internships, one in internal audit and one in tax, again a benefit of being in college, and that has made me aware of what I will be looking for in my job after graduation.
Get involved in a student organization/student chapter
Not only does this show that you are socially active, but this is also a good platform to show leadership. Being the Research and Development Chair in the organization has helped me build my own team, learn management in my own small space, and take responsibility. These are some traits I could never have learned just by going to classes. Plus, you can have some stories built when you are a part of an organization, which can be good conversation starters.
We hear everyone saying how important networking is in today’s world. But networking will not come to our benefit if the package we are offering is not what the employers are looking for. Networking will work the best when tied with the qualities that are required in the professional world. So, let us go get groomed and get that professional life we desire.