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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Setting the Foundation for a Sturdy Career

We’re thrilled to introduce our readers to Kevin Turco from Armanino McKenna, the largest California-based CPA firm. As the firm's Campus Recruiter, Kevin plays a fundamental role in sourcing, onboarding and retaining top entry-level talent within the Public Accounting and Consulting industry. Tune in below and learn how you can build a lucrative and lasting career!

For many accounting students, the months of October through January mark the starting time for their new jobs in the CPA and consulting world.  That first job out of college is one of many major milestones, which marks the completion of one big step but starts the beginning of yet another. 

As I enter my fifth year of recruiting, I have the unique view of seeing my own path and the paths of each class of new hires who followed me.  In that time, there are three insights that I, along with those who I have recruited, have noted as we’ve started our professional careers: 

1) Even after 16+ years of schooling and a prestigious degree, I still have A LOT to learn.
2) Patience is paramount.
3) The only place you truly have control is in the present.

Just as we had to do in high school and again in college, we must start our careers from the bottom and work our way up. Once we understand those three insights, our new journey becomes far less daunting and, in fact, a pretty darn good place to be.

The question is your friend.  Ask any seasoned professional and they will say; what is learned in school, while it may build a good foundation, does not directly translate into day-to-day job duties. Which means the learning curve you’re about to face is a steep one. One thing we tell all of our new hires is that it’s okay to not know. In fact, we don’t expect them to know everything.  We trust that, with their good academic background, a strong desire to learn and our support, they will get it…eventually.  In the meantime, become comfortable living in the unknown. I always advise students to find a firm where they feel they can easily go to their colleagues and say, “I don’t understand this.”  When I talk with our partners, they will tell me they don’t expect a new staff to fully “get it” until six to nine months into the job.  Knowing that, strive to find a balance between taking the initiative to figure something out on your own and asking for help. In an industry where time really is money, be conscious of that fine line between teaching yourself and staying on budget.

Be patient. The ambitious new professional coupled with the excitement of limitless opportunity can be a dangerous combination.  While you may have all the desire and willingness in the world to climb that ladder and reach new milestones, a successful and meaningful career, like all great things, takes time to develop. It is great to be eager, but if you push too hard and too fast to get to the top, you may burn out, not gain all the necessary knowledge to even reach your destination or blow right by an even better opportunity because you were too focused on what lies ahead.  Like any well-built structure, it starts with a solid foundation. Try to build a house while the foundation below is still wet and risk the whole thing crumbling right back down. Don’t get me wrong, know what you want and take the steps to get there, but it’s not worth it to kill yourself trying to go from staff to manager in two years.

Focus on what you can control. In focusing on what’s been done or will be done, often, what is being done now is forgotten.  While history is a great tool to learn from what happened in the past, it is not something that can be changed.  And while it is important to plan for the future, it’s impossible to predict exactly what tomorrow will bring. However, there is the ability to choose what is done today. From the moment the sun rises, we have the choice to determine our mood. Many circumstances will present themselves throughout the day, such as handling the variety of situations that manifest or choosing whether or not to be in a position to capitalize on opportunities.  And it can be a futile and tiresome effort focusing on what cannot be controlled. You're far more likely to find success spending time and energy on the things that can be changed.

This is an exciting time in your career. As with every new beginning, approach it with eager optimism.  Remember to leverage the knowledge of others, maintain reasonable expectations of yourself and place a priority on what you can control. As you do, you will find yourself building a strong foundation for a lasting and meaningful career.

1 comment:

NC said...

Thank you so much for the wonderful message Roger. I started my career in public accounting this week, with my favorite accounting firm and your advise was the missing piece of my puzzle to start off on a great note with the right perspective.