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Accounting Degree

Discussion in 'Education and Careers' started by Razare, Jan 21, 2011.

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  1. Razare

    Razare Community Member

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    I'm finishing the last class for my Bachelor's in Accounting. This would be great if I could find an entry-level accounting job. In the wanted ads there aren't any. There are accounting jobs in there every week, but they all require multiple years of experience on top of the standard degree. The job descriptions are almost always not a job I am capable of doing.



    I was interested in accounting when I was taking the accounting-related classes, but those are over for me. I would like a job in it... just that I don't know how to do the job. The classes just discussed tons of theory, but it never walked me through a standard work day as an accountant. Spending a month on specific examples and then moving on to other specific examples is not a great way of learning for me... I grasped the concepts immediately and then quickly forgot the information because I don't use it.

    I'm highly intelligent, so I doubt I would have a problem picking up on my job as I go so long as it was an entry level position. Just yeah... the one I've seen was a part-time position that was a bookkeeper/secretary position that paid $9 per hour... I already make that as a gas station clerk, plus I get benefits and it's not part time.

    Should I just scatter my resume to the four corners of the Earth or what?

    I don't want to apply for jobs I have zero qualifications for when they specifically ask for multiple years of experience. Even if I got hired by some miracle, I'd get fired the first week when they realized I couldn't do it.

    And don't bother commenting "Eww accounting, why did you pick that?" Would you prefer I had been a preacher? Seriously... it's a degree that's in a field which has jobs that pay and it's ten thousand times better than a business degree which are absolutely worthless.

    I run a small computer repair business out of my home and I do good with that with what little business I have. God helps me out with that too, which really makes me wonder if that's what he wants me to do or if he's just giving me spare cash to make it through the month.

    I've done calculations with my computer business, though, and it's not pretty. Since my rates are so cheap, I'd need about 8 calls a week just to make 20k a year. I'm in a poor rural area so raising my rates wouldn't work. If I tried doing the computer business seriously, I just know it would take years and years to just make a poor living. Meanwhile I'd have to continue working at this gas station job which I utterly despise. I've been there too long and want to move on but can't afford a cut in pay.

    I just feel so stuck and have 11k in debt from my degree, which may turn out to be a worthless piece of paper.

    Edit: Anyway, ideas for finding a job... or maybe actually making something out of my computer business? I'm really at a loss where to go.
     
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    #1 Razare, Jan 21, 2011
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  2. Faye

    Faye ^_^
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    I hate to say this, but it is likely true and you've probably realized it. It is very difficult to get a job in accounting these days without either experience or a master's degree. It used to be you could get a bachelors and then get a job in a firm, but with the economy the way it is plus the way they have upped qualifications across the board, that doesn't work anymore. At least, it doesn't work where I live.

    I don't know what to tell you for the computer repair business. Have you tried advertising more to get more business? Or does any further advertising cost more money than you're willing to spend? Is it possible to advertise online somehow?

    I don't think your degree is worthless, but I do think the economy is shit. Don't panic about the debt; 11k in debt is relatively good compared to the holes that a lot of people have dug themselves into with their degrees. Okay, that isn't so comforting.
     
  3. OP
    Razare

    Razare Community Member

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    I advertise using free methods so far, business cards, fliers, and google map. My business line lists my phone number in the local phone book. There is only one competitor in there. Next year, I could purchase an ad in there if I wanted; it wouldn't cost that much for just the small local phone book. It wouldn't give me much business either.

    When I started it, I went door to door passing out cards even. That generated one client and while that made it worth it, I don't have the stamina for that.

    If I really put exceptional effort and money into advertising, I believe I could generate two calls a week at best for this year. It's very odd... like some weeks I'll get 3 calls and then for the next month, nothing. A huge issue is that my prices are too low. I charge about half what other people charge. If I charge anymore, customers complain and they don't call me for a return visit... or they'll ask for a quote up front and if it's too high, they just wont have their computer repaired.

    A normal call is like this... I go to a customer's house and spend 2 hours setting up their new computer... configuring their dial-up connection, moving pictures, setting up their email. I charged $45. I think that's fair and so did they. If I had 8 of those a week, that'd only be 20k a year before expenses. =\

    Maybe I'll apply at the computer repair shops in the city?
     
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  4. OP
    Razare

    Razare Community Member

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    Or maybe I should start charging hourly? Hmm... I currently charge by the tasks I perform because I don't like to be hurried, yet I've noticed problems with that way of doing it.
     
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  5. 88chaz88

    88chaz88 Back for a limited time only
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    Well done!

    I'm in accounting myself and still working on a course on it.
     
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  6. OP
    Razare

    Razare Community Member

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    Thanks! And good luck. I think the economy is turning around but it'll be a year or more before the jobs are really available.
     
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  7. magister343

    magister343 Permanent Fixture

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    My father is a CPA who (with one partner) owns a small accounting firm. I suppose I could see if he has an opening, although I doubt you'd want to move to Atlanta for that.


    I just graduated with a Civil Engineering Bachelor's Degree, in an economic period and region where there is even less demand for that. If he does have an opening this tax season I might want to try to fill it myself if I can't find something for which I'm better suited by then.
     
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  8. OP
    Razare

    Razare Community Member

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    ;( No, I wouldn't want to move to Atlanta. Thanks, though, I really mean it. I considered it seriously. I checked Georgia's CPA requirements and it also requires the 150 credit hours just like Michigan. I'm six credits short of that, so apprenticing at a CPA firm without taking the remaining six is kinda silly. They generally want you to already have the 150 credits and be focusing on the exam.

    I'm also stuck in this current class until May, anyway.
     
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  9. ZJ95

    ZJ95 Newbie

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    I've got a Master's in accounting and am halfway through the CPA exams. I've had two accounting jobs so far, the first I got through a mutual friend (only worked there a few months), and the second I got through my school's internship program. Another resource that may help you is joining your state's CPA society as a student member (if they have that option), sometimes there are networking opportunities there that can help you get your foot in the door somewhere. There's also randomly walking into accounting offices with your resumes but that would not be my first choice.

    I would not worry about only knowing accounting theory (ie stuff from school) when getting into the job place. Everybody (me included) starts off as crappy accountants, the firm you work at will understand that. Many firms also have their own way of doing things and they will have to teach you that anyways.

    And now some random thoughts on INFJ's as accountants:

    It can become a little frustrating because most accountants are STJ's and some people can be insufferable to deal with, especially for N types. They do not understand using Ni so you really have to provide concrete details to prove your point. Also doing nothing but clerical work (ie bookkeeping, payrolls, etc) is horrible for me because I can't use Ni there. ST types are much better at doing that sort of work. My Ni really pays off when I can look at data aggregated at a high level (ie a whole years worth of stuff rather than just one month, etc) and just analyze and process everything kind of like an INTJ would. I am the only N at my firm and everybody else is kind of confused how I can do complex tax returns but struggle with the more task-based things.

    If you have any other questions feel free to ask me.
     
  10. grace

    grace Newbie

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    Hi Razare. I am a former accountant (yes, it's possible to escape!) so perhaps I can give you some comfort.
    I have found that starting my career in accounting gave me an insight to the way that businesses operate and that has been invaluable. Chances are that a first job is going to be a bit routine, reconciling accounts, posting repetitive entries, etc. BUT a lot of learning comes from performing those tasks. Investigating reconciling items gives you a chance to interact with the operational people - trying to understand what they have done and what they were trying to accomplish and then defining a process that will get them there without hosing the financials. Eventually, as you gain more insights into the operations functions and gain their trust and respect, they will come to you to build solutions to their problems before they have done something independently that blows up. It is this element of accounting that I used to enjoy and that gave my INFJ a pleasant outlet.
    I would also add that I thought as you do with every new accounting job I took on. I would read the descriptions and think "Oh Geez, I could never do that" but you will surprise yourself. Bear in mind that you are not joining a firm where no processes exist today. When you join, you will be trained on the various existing tools, reports etc that are used today. You will be surprised to see how your theoretical training will click when you see some of these devices. And as you dive into the task, you will find ways to improve the existing tools/reports/processes to better suit your analytical style. Personally, I was always a big fan of automation so any chance I could find to use the company's system or an extract to Excel to identify issues for me was always a welcome undertaking.
    So this is going a bit long, but I am trying to say relax and be confident. The theoretical and the practical will come together with a lot less effort than you might think.
    Good luck! :clap2:
     
  11. middle1

    middle1 Hellur

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    I'm not an accountant but my job requires me to look at hundreds of of income statements and asset listings each year for tax purposes. I talk to several firms as well and it seems each has their own way of reporting and doing things and their own systems. So I would assume you would have to be trained at each firm regardless. You will adapt quickly, I'm sure, good luck!
     
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  12. OP
    Razare

    Razare Community Member

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    Thanks for the replies, I've read through them all. It's good advice and reassures me that at least if I can get hired somewhere, I should do alright.

    The fact that those sorts of things are your weakness in the job makes me feel a bit better. I do a bunch of clerical work at my job right now. I tend to botch things up when I slip into thinking while I am totaling up numbers, since it's mindless work, my mind will wander. I've learned to pull myself back and focus on the current task, though.

    In the past, I've managed to solve things that have stumped other employees. Stuff with excel usually. I'm really good with that, I can even do macros. So yeah, I think I could make a good one if trained.

    And I relate with the being able to do complicated things well but simple things poorly... I've been like that since I was a child.
     
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  13. Mogura

    Mogura Community Member

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    INFJs in accounting? Who'd a thunk?
    I looked into accounting as a career option several years ago. I wanted a career (not a job), and I wanted a career that would allow me to work anywhere with reasonably decent pay. Most importantly, I wanted one where the knowledge and skills gained in the profession builds on itself (think of a pyramid). I hated IT for the reason that as soon as I get my base knowledged and skills established, I have to completely replace (relearn) it due to the fact that IT changes so rapidly. Also, I wasn't too impressed with the INFJ suggested career options. Anyway, I thought accounting would have provided a good, stable career for me. However, the career counselor I had been seeing strongly advised against it. "It's too 'S'" was his reasoning. Lol. Yeah, I can see that.

    So, how do you INFJs find accounting? Is it really "too 'S'" as my career counselor had indicated?
     
    #13 Mogura, Jan 24, 2011
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  14. ZJ95

    ZJ95 Newbie

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    I talked about it a little in my previous post, but as far as 'stereotypical accounting' like task-based or clerical work I think it is too S. I think INFJ's really have to find their niche in accounting, I think the higher up on the totem pole the better. I've always read that INFJ's are more strategical than tactical, and I find that to be true with myself. Like I said in my previous post, I am excellent at working with large amounts of data at the same time, and not so much with routine task work.
     
  15. Mogura

    Mogura Community Member

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    Yeah, but the rub is that you have to go through the grunt work before you can advance on to "the more interesting stuff". No one's going to hire an accountant straight out of college and directly place him/her in a strategic or managerial role. Not only that, your STJ counterparts doing the same grunt work are going to shine like stars because that's what they're wired for (and get all of the promotions, etc.). I mean, if you can find your niche in accounting and be happy there, more power to you. But it's gotta take some extraordinary willpower to get through it all I think.

    Ha ha! I know what you mean. I can solve some pretty complicated technical problems in IT and come off looking like a genius, but when it comes to the task-based stuff I fail miserably...
     
  16. 88chaz88

    88chaz88 Back for a limited time only
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    MBTI should not be used as a career test.
     
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  17. kita

    kita <font color=#990066>Regular Poster</font>

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    Indeed.com searches other job listing sites like monster and career builder.

    Good luck :smile:
     
  18. OP
    Razare

    Razare Community Member

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    I agree. No INFJ career would suit me.

    I'm only INFJ-ish once I get thrown into a close-relationship. Professionally, I'm some hodgepodge between INTP and INTJ; except that I understand other's feelings really well and can usually deal with that aspect of them on a professional level.

    My ultra-supportive / nice side only comes out for people who really need it, like kids.
     
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  19. jn56uytrx

    jn56uytrx Well-known member

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    I'm currently working as an accountant. I graduated back in '92 with my bachelors in accounting and back then there was strong recruiting right out of college. I was offered a job with a Big 6 (at that time) accounting firm even before graduation. I worked with them for a year and was working toward getting my CPA before I became pregnant and decided that in the end public accounting was not the direction I wanted to go. I worked at a variety of jobs that utilized my accounting skills to a lesser degree for the remainder of the decade, but then took about 10 years off to be a mom. Life forced me back into full-time work three years ago, just before the economy tanked. Because of my lapse in practice, I purposely applied for an accounting assistant position. I had to take an accounting test in order to demonstrate the needed skills and I really had a hard time remembering even the most basic accounting principles, but I passed the test and was offered the job. After a year there I was promoted to accountant. It's a strange position to be in because I feel acutely aware of my weak accounting knowledge, but I continually get positive reviews. I'm just always insecure that I don't know what I really should to be doing my job. Because of my lack of knowledge or perhaps my insecurity, I feel limited in being able to offer bigger picture directional leadership to my department, but I'm being told that is where they want me to go. I'm just not sure how.

    I have looked at the ads from time to time for other accounting jobs and have seen the same trend you've noted. There is nothing entry level. My own office has had a lot of turn over shortly before I started and since I've been there. I've seen a few hirings and the sort of thought that has gone into the process. The truth is we really do need really skilled staff in our office. We need people who can bring a strong skill set and leadership to the department. Everyone is so swamped that there would be no one who could give the time to training and it would barely keep the ship afloat to have someone come on board who just follows the script and gets the job done. My bosses tend to be looking to hire someone who adds skills and vocational gifts to the department which are not currently part of the mix. That means strong experience. I keep hearing them say that they're getting resumes but they are weak compared to what they need. I saw a billboard for a local college recently that said there's not a shortage of jobs--there's a shortage of good candidates. I think that's the reality. What sucks is that this reality makes it hard for anyone without the experience already to get the experience they need to be marketable. No one has the resources any more to train people into being what they need. They need what they need and they want someone who can come in and run from word go.

    So, where does that leave you? The last 4 hirings in our office were done after ad placement response was weak and finally a recruiter was turned to. Have you pursued anything like that? (I'm not sure if you can seek a recruiter out or if you have to wait to be sought?) Another option is temporary or consulting work. My place of work has also made use of these options. If you can get placed for work through a temporary agency then you can build your experience. They might also be able to help you groom your presentation so that it sounds like what people need...and also builds your confidence that you actually do have what people need. I think that's a big part of things. I think a lot of people (you and I both included) probably have a lot of skills that would be valued if we only knew how to present them so their value was more clear.

    As for infj's and accounting, I can only speak to my own experience. There are elements that I very much like about accounting. I like reconciling. I like digging into the financial details of a mess and piece by piece untangling it to sections that can be quantified and resolved. I have a strength in tendency to understand the theoretical underpinnings of accounting principles. I have some degree of facility with decision-making because I understand the flow of information through the systems (technological and interpersonal) and am assertive about taking action or presenting proposed action that I believe will be effective given this understanding. I actually find some of the routine tasks in accounting pleasant. I know if I do steps 1,2,3 that I will get result x and that is a comforting knowledge to me. The simple routine of actually doing steps 1,2,3 is also often comforting. It is mindless activity that I can occupy myself with while it allows my brain time to rest. What I am less skilled at is creative financial decisions. I am definitely more of an accountant than a finance person. When the numbers move away from things that can be quantified in a structured and predictable way, I get uncomfortable. When people start playing with numbers in a way that I don't understand or no longer feel I can trace back to the source, I begin to feel uncomfortable. Part of me begins to feel things are going Enron-ish, but part of me thinks its all fine and that I'm just not skilled enough to think numerically in that loose, creative sort of way. Financial creativity is not my strong suit, but investigative understanding of the flow of information through financial systems is.

    I don't know about MBTI type. If I had to guess, I'd say I've had an ESFJ, ESFP, ENTP, ESTP, ISTJ, I/ENTJ, INTP, INFJ, and ESTJ counted among the staff in my area. As I considered it, I think my current controller might be INFJ and a previous CFO might have been INFJ. My previous finance manager was likely an INTP. I think there might be something to the "N" and even the "F" rising to higher positions where organizational and interpersonal skills come into greater play. I think there's a fairly broad range of types that I work with and they all bring different styles and strengths.

    I am hoping to leave the field. In part it is because I feel so insecure about my skill level after my long absence from the field and I'm constantly worried that I don't have valuable enough skills to offer my employer. I think in order to remain in the field I would have to get advanced training. In consideration of the fact that advanced training was probably in my working future no matter what, I decided to pursue training for a career change that will ideally bring me closer to direct service of people in need, but that will still take advantage (hopefully) of my skill in taking apart a problem and breaking it down into sections that can be worked on toward resolution--only with people instead of numbers. I'm hoping to become a social worker.

    Anyway, I wish you the best. I haven't been in the job-hunting world since the economy tanked, but I think your best bet is to try to get some experience through non-standard job placement like temporary work. That will make you a more valuable potential addition to an accounting department down the road.
     
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    #19 jn56uytrx, Jan 29, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2011
  20. OP
    Razare

    Razare Community Member

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    Good post tovlo.

    I'm giving up on accounting. I'm just going to fix computers and look for a job that pays somewhere. I can't wait the rest of my life for an entry position to open in my area. Honestly, I'm not in any way qualified for an accounting job. The bachelors degree is an introduction to accounting, at best.

    This problem exists because businesses have no incentive to train new staff. If they do bother to train someone, that person will leave for better pay elsewhere. It's obvious why there's a shortage of good candidates, they're the baby-boomers retiring. They can't replace a work-force of seasoned employees overnight, by putting an ad or two out there when it's a systematic problem.
     
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