Wednesday, 10 April 2019


Landing your first job after college can be daunting, regardless of the industry you’ve chosen to make a living in.  If you’re planning to start and grow your career within the accounting sector, you may be having trouble thinking of ways to ensure you can stand out amongst a sea of well-qualified professionals and snag a job. Obtaining the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation can set you apart.


To become a CPA, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree as well as additional coursework and experience to be able to sit for the certification exams and ultimately obtain the CPA license. The benefits to working as a CPA in the public accounting sector are numerous:  expanded job opportunities, higher demand from employers, job security, and high potential earnings.


Luckily, there are a few steps you can take during school and at the beginning of your career to boost your chances of success. If you’re willing to put in work early on, consider the public accounting sector, and dedicate yourself in your interviews, you may be surprised by what you can accomplish.



Three Tips to Help You Work Your Way to a CPA License

Get Experience Early

In many cases, getting a head start on some accounting experience while you’re still in school can go a long way in helping you land your first position out of college. Be on the lookout for internships, externships, and coops during your years at school.


If and when you do manage to snag a position while in college, take it seriously. You may need to improve your time management skills or miss out on a trip with friends here and there once your responsibilities increase, but this is critical when you add a job into the mix and you want to ensure you put your best foot forward.  A lot of public accounting firms tend to hire their more successful interns, so showing up and producing a good work product is paramount.


Consider Going Public

If you’re lucky enough to snag a permanent position following an internship with a public accounting firm, you’ll already be in a prime position, and if not, you may want to take a look at public firms anyway.


Beginning your career in public accounting provides excellent long-term growth within the industry.  If you have a background in public accounting, your opportunities for employment will blossom immediately and you’ll have the freedom to take your career in countless directions. Whether you want to climb the public accounting ladder, make the switch to corporate work, or begin your own business outside of the field, public accounting will offer you a solid foundation to build a career on.


Nail Your Interviews

Interviewing is critical to landing just about any job, and accounting is no exception.  Standing out from your competition during your interview for an accounting position may be more important than it is in other fields. With so much of your work being based in automation and technical tasks, you’ll need to bring some intangible benefits to the table over other candidates.


When you begin to plan for an accounting interview, think of ways to show that you are:

  • Detail-oriented
  • This can be shown through your research findings (mentioned below)
  • Bring up ways in which this has benefited you in past employment scenarios and in your schooling
  • Capable of understanding niche financial and business concepts
  • Be an active participant in your interview – mention these subjects before your interview when possible
  • Ask your interviewer meaningful questions that involve these topics
  • Interest in the company
  • Perform detailed research on the company you’re interviewing with beforehand
  • Understand their business, their best practices, and their mission statement
  • Review financial statements and read about any applicable current events involving the business


As with any interview, you should go into that room with the feeling that it’s your choice, not the company’s. You should feel empowered by the fact that you’re going after a job you know you’re the best fit for. You can show the interviewer that you’re confident in what you bring to the table in a few easy steps:

  • Stay focused during the interview
  • This shows that not only do you want to be there, but that you see value in the interview and opportunity
  • Sell yourself
  • An interview is no time to be shy!  It’s your time to shine – don’t be afraid to speak about your accomplishments
  • Highlight your positive traits and be open about the work you put into improving the not-so-great ones
  • Show passion and excitement for the opportunity
  • Companies are on the hunt for employees they think will be dedicated to them for the long-haul and become future leaders
  • Make it clear that you’ll work hard and contribute to the team
  • If you’re interested in growing within the organization, mention it!


Final Thoughts

The accounting industry offers a wide variety of options for those just entering the field. Becoming a CPA in the public accounting sector can open many doors for young accountants as they begin their careers.  Students and young professionals should work to get experience early while they consider or study for their CPA and use interviews to focus their search as they begin their careers.


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