October 2013 CPA Board Exam has again concluded. Congratulations to the passers and welcome to the profession! (Even though the results will be publish only on October 21, 2013)
Passing the CPA Board Examination alone is already an edge over other candidates in an accounting job. However, if a candidate does not have a previous work experience (often called fresh graduate), even a CPA board passer cannot be expected to have a high position or high salary. You need an experience for you to make a “demand”. Probably, even before you graduated, you already have an idea on what job to land after passing the board exam. To help you decide we’ll give you a discussion that may be helpful to you.
What Do You Want to Be?
Ask yourself, “What is my interest”? Start making the decision by setting your goal. How do you see yourself 5 or 10 years from now? What do you really want in the long run?
Remember when you are a child? Other keeps on asking you “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. Now that you already grown old, I’ll ask you again, “What do you want to be when you grow older?”. You may want to be:
- An accounting teacher in your own alma mater
- A controller in a private company
- An auditor in a private company or a government unit
- A partner in an accounting/audit firm
- An accounting/audit/tax individual practitioner
- or… A combination of those mentioned above
It’s your choice! All you have to do is set your goal and plan it well.
If your passion is teaching, you may choice to be a professor teaching accounting and related subjects. That may work fine but my idea is, it would be better if you have the right experiences that will support the theories. You can’t just say give a practical, real life example without experiencing it. And how if someone in class appeared to be extra curious and asked something that can’t be answered using theories? Aside from that, you should always need to keep yourself updated with the changes in standards. Other schools require their teachers to obtain masteral degree before they can teach. Others are less strict.
If you want to have a good corporate experience, then why not pursue for a corporate position that will eventually make you a controller. If you don’t see your self as a controller, maybe a finance manager, accounting manager or audit manager works well for you.
Working with the government as an accountant of government owned and controlled corporations or as state auditor may also work for you if you want a career in the government other that being a public servant.
If your passion is handling clients, maybe working as a partner or a sole practitioner that practices accounting and audit is the most appropriate for you. This works when you have a good network and a good clientele.You can also run your own business process outsourcing company that caters accounting process needs of local and foreign companies. Why not? This is a booming industry in the Philippines and the demand is really high.
But before you can do any of these, you need a good start. But where exactly can you start?
Where Should You Start?
As earlier said, even if you passed the CPA board examination, that doesn’t give you enough license for you to “demand” any position you like. You can’t just also practice as the Accountancy Act requires three meaningful years of experience before an accreditation can be given. And take note, that is three meaningful years, not just three years of experience.
You need to have a good start, gain the knowledge and experience you need and be prepared for you to move on to the next level. Among your options are:
- Working in an audit firm as an audit associate/staff. Today, this is one of the careers a new passer can have which may advance his/her career faster. This job can’t give you an actual feel of how are the accounting and business processes are working but it will give you sufficient understanding of these processes including the systems used for these processes to work. You cannot just do the audit without understanding the business, its systems, its processes and transactions. That understanding gives you enough knowledge and experience to pursue other careers in the corporate world. Based on experience, career advancement is also faster in this career than working with private companies. If eventually you decided to take this path, I suggest you to join the Big 4!
- Working as an accounting staff in a private or public companies. This is one of the most popular destination of new CPA board passers. Competition in these positions are tight especially that even non-CPAs are buying for these positions. Being a CPA is your advantage, but remember that the criteria is not only about your certifications. Companies are looking for something more than the CPA title. You need to prove that you know the job and you can do the job. As mentioned also, career advancement may not be so fast here. All you need to do is prove yourself and maybe that will give the management the sign that you are ready for the next level.
- Working as a college instructor. Teaching is the noblest profession. If you have passion for teaching, you may work as an instructor and show others that they can learn from you. Some colleges and universities are strict on the qualifications of their professors and instructors so you may need to obtain post-graduate certifications and other requirement first.
- Working as a government accountant or auditor. Working in the government is also one of the major destinations of accounting graduates. For you to work in government, you may need to pass the civil service examination. I think there are other ways to obtain this certification without taking an exam, like when you graduated with latin honor.
I say that these are your options, but not your only option. There are a lot of careers you can begin with, but these are the most common destinations. It’s up for you to choose where exactly you want to start but ensure that it is where you want and it can lead you exactly to where you want to be. Otherwise, you maybe are wasting your precious time.
How Can You Get There?
Again you need a good start. Once you are there, all you need to do is do your best, and reach your goal. You shouldn’t be stagnant. Work for your dreams. Some says “Don’t work hard, work smart.”. It is true. Use your brain cells so you can do things more effectively and efficiently rather that using your muscles. Promotions is driven by performance. If promotion is your way to achieve the ultimate position that you desire, you need to work for it. Rise above the ordinary and average.
If you are working because you want to learn so that you can work things out on your own someday, keep in mind the thing you want to know and little by little, learn these things out.
Once again, everything start with setting your goal and and sticking to it until achieved. You goals need to be SMART, by which I mean:
Specific: Goals should be simplistically written and clearly define what you are going to do.
Measurable: Goals should be measurable so that you have tangible evidence that you have accomplished the goal.
Achievable: Goals should be achievable; they should stretch you slightly so you feel challenged, but defined well enough so that you can achieve them. You must possess the appropriate knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to achieve the goal.
Results-focused: Goals should measure outcomes, not activities.
Time-bound: Goals should be linked to a time frame that creates a practical sense of urgency, or results in tension between the current reality and the vision of the goal. Without such tension, the goal is unlikely to produce a relevant outcome.
Again, these decisions are yours to make. But always bear in mind that if you don’t know what you want, just think of one thing that can make you cry when you were not able to do it (in a professional context) or when you stop doing it, and that thing, most probably is the one that makes you happy.
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