As accounting students focused on getting our CPA license, we are expected to meet many standards. We must obtain our bachelor’s degree in accounting. Obtain an internship or enough work experience to satisfy the accounting experience hurdle to sit for the CPA Exam. Take graduate classes to satisfy the hour requirement to sit for the CPA Exam or obtain a master’s in accounting (which tends to be more common). Finally, we must study and sit for the CPA Exam. In this time, we are also trying to maintain friendships and family life. So, I can see where and why some students say that’s enough. Most of us aren’t interested in taking on other extracurricular activities or hobbies. I would say, that is a mistake.
First of all, for those of us who chose accounting as a fall back for another career such as law, we need more than just studying accounting. I have taken up learning Arabic for example. These outside activities can keep us sane and give us something to look forward to. That is why I bring up CPE. CPE stands for continuing professional education. It is a requirement to maintain your CPA license, but you are not required to take CPE before. With that said, in my opinion it is a huge asset to understand how to access CPE courses and fit them into your busy schedule before you are a CPA, that way when you get your license, you are well prepared to factor in those trainings/classes into your even busier schedule!
I found out this valuable idea when I was working for a small accounting firm. My boss required that all employees, even the receptionist, take part in at least 20 hours of CPE annually so that we’re all exposed to accounting information. He let us choose which courses we wanted to take and paid for them. It was a win-win!
My experience with CPE
One day, I was scrolling through CPE options unenthusiastically on the AICPA website. I was thinking, “Okay, pick one and get it over with.” That’s when I discovered a cybersecurity course which offered 16 hours of credit in none other than… NEW YORK CITY! The best part was that I had already planned a vacation to Manhattan for the day after the CPE was going to be taught, so it was serendipitous that I stumbled upon the opportunity two weeks before I was set to go! I quickly researched how much it would cost to change my flight, additional nights at a hotel, and the cost of the course. I sent an email to my boss thinking it was a long shot, but it couldn’t hurt to ask with all the information I had. When he arrived at the office, he called me in his office and approved my trip! I was taking my first CPE course in Manhattan!
It was truly an amazing experience. I learned so much and enjoyed every second of that day. More importantly, I was able to network with the other people taking the course which included a number of CFOs and high-level executives in the tristate area. They all had so many questions what a college student from Dallas, Texas was doing taking a CPE course in New York City. Believe me – I was beyond thrilled to tell them every detail.
I say all this to encourage you to put yourself in a position to take a CPE course or two. Not only will you be able to find something that is actually interesting to you, but you could meet people who you wouldn’t be able to network with otherwise. It is worth your time!