Workplace skills every accounting student should learn in college

Blogger: V. Aishwarya Singh

Time Management and Organization

College provides an abundance of resources. Choosing the appropriate resources and utilizing these when opportunities arrive requires efficient time management and organizational skills. An average college student may be part of academic societies, major-related organizations, cultural and volunteering clubs, sports club…the list goes on. And as the student progresses in the degree track, the rigor of academics become more concentrated towards the major, requiring more time to focus and add internships over that! These skills help an accountant in times working with different financial statements, gathering information, and changing different departments.

By the proper application of time management skills, students should maintain a calendar with all the important dates like the due dates for assignments, fees, events, etc. They can further highlight the schedule using color codes: Pink for immediate, yellow for near future, and green for eventual tasks. This information can be arranged in the form of a table online, or in a separate diary of daily schedules. Noting down important dates really helps because it avoids the confusion when students sign up for two different things at the same time, unaware of their previous commitments.

Organizational skills come into play once everything is managed according to the respective timings, and now the student has to focus on being prepared for each task separately. The student can have different folders for different days of classes, organize what homework to work on and when according to the time-table, dedicate separate space for college work and job work on the single study desk, and make time to spend with friends and family.

Interpersonal Soft Skills

Employers today are looking for soft skills in students. Teamwork, networking, communication, people-understanding, and ethical conduct are just a few.

Teamwork teaches you how to deal with people of different characteristics and resolve conflicts. It is an underlying truth that most students end up in jobs through networking, rather than a formal application procedure. Maintaining communication at the beginning and end of an important discussion will leave time for productive work at the center. People-understanding helps expand the capabilities of the mind to think through different perspectives. It is not as important to agree with someone with a different perspective, as it is to accept his/her point of view as an opinion.

Learning these skills helps students develop their thought processes, expanding their opportunities. For accountants, these skills help when communicating with the boss or yours co-workers, and also to build rapport with the customers.

Hard & Technical Skills: The Wealth of Knowledge

Coming to the other side of the argument, strong hard and technical skills are equally as important as soft skills. Soft skills enhance hard skills, but hard skills decide how useful the person is to the given task.

In this high-tech era, with a plethora of information easily accessible online, employers expect their future employees to know much more than the future generations did. Specializations and experience in a particular field shows the employer that the student is accomplished with skills that the job requires. To be equipped with hard skills, the student must keep an eye open for any opportunity that provides experience within the major. This can be preparing taxes for an accounting student or researching an accounting topic.

Knowledge differentiates a student from the rest of the crowd by creating an image of dependability, responsibility and trust that the student knows what he/she is doing. Technical skills can be gained by gaining proficiency in Excel: the right hand of an accountant, and the software for tax preparation. Hard skills are what accountants are hired for: specific and professional financial information that adds credibility to the field and creates a need that anyone else cannot be trusted with.

Motivation, Responsibility and Leadership

With new opportunities and various life events, a student’s journey is very unpredictable. As the new term begins, a student’s motivation towards performing well may experience variations. It is therefore important for a student to maintain the same level or more of excitement and focus he/she had when he/she started the first semester of college to maintain consistency. Motivation shows how interested and committed the student is towards the work and sets the student apart. Consistency is important for an accountant because it makes the accountant dependable and focused while working for the client.

For most first-time students, college experience means living on your own for the first time. A student needs take care of his/her expenses, manage time without anyone commanding him/her what to do, maintain a good GPA, balance the social culture, and so on. But during this process, the student assumes responsibility. He/she learns to speak for himself/herself and think about the consequences before speaking. Responsibility is important because it forms the basis of professionalism. A responsible person can take care of his/her tasks on time and put in his/her full effort. It is important because accountants must assume the responsibility while preparing the financial statements or preparing taxes for clients.

Leadership demonstrates the assertiveness, proactiveness, and the risk-taking aspects of the student. It shows how career driven the student is, and how the student can perform in practical situations and still inspire others. For this, the student must set goals and work towards it with full determination. It is the willingness of the students to come out of their shells and contribute meaningfully to the goal or the task at hand. Some accountants assume leadership next to the CEO because they control the financial information!

Character Development

College not only provides academic knowledge, but also the mingling with people of different backgrounds which is a replica of the wider world consisting of different cultures. Social and interpersonal skills developed in college form the basis of a student’s perspective about humanity.

The experiences one goes through shape the nature of the student. College should be taken as a responsibility to develop the student’s good character because these characters further form the society that we call our community. Despite being a controlled environment, college is a miniature model of the world ahead. Accountants take character development seriously because an ethical accountant keeps all frauds away!

About txcpa2b

The Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants (TSCPA) is a nonprofit, voluntary, professional organization representing Texas CPAs. TSCPA has 20 local chapters statewide and has 27,000 members. The Society is committed to serving the public interest with programs that advance the highest standards of ethics and practice within the CPA profession. TXCPA2B is a blog written by Texas students in pursuit of the CPA certificate. The views expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily held by TSCPA or our members.
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