Mickey and others here Congrats!
To be completely honest I am not the best negotiator either. I love the work, love to work and would rather be happy than make $$$$. I have had jobs in the past that paid more and I was miserable.
The good news is that your CPA gives you options. Never forget that point. And keep learning! And I don't mean just CPE.
For me I do mostly self study CPE. My current study is a Controllership Book from the CPE Store. The tests are not hard and I do read all the pages and I do it for me. I feel that I learn more than going to Seminars.
Learn advanced Excel by watching clips on You Tube. Learn VLOOKUPS and a Reverse VLOOKUP using INDEX and MATCH. Learn how to set up a cool database in ACCESS and again if you are not a book person watch YOU TUBE and do what they do.
I get so many special projects just because I learned these things and you will be valuable and the go to person for all departments.
Learn to build a RESUME. My jobs have been different so that no matter what the job or recruiters want I can say I did. Here are a few things....
I worked in Government Defense (Contractor) it was a full time position. I worked in a Public School, Board Meetings, Media, TV, Fund Accounting, Restricted, Non Restricted Funds. Power Company (Nuclear, Hydro, Coal).
Did fixed assets, foreign currency exchanges, computer conversions, SAP, PeopleSoft, etc. Public Companies, 10K, 10Q, etc.
All different positions. Senior Accountant, Assistant Controller, etc. I tried to avoid doing one thing like say just fixed assets.
I am no better than anyone. Learn to be a MENTOR. I love to teach new accountants, mentor, help, etc. I helped many avoid getting fired. That is my way of giving back, teach others.
When I took the exam it was paper. I had to take all four parts and pass two. I passed three and went back took Tax again and passed. Hated memorizing tax. I took Becker and I paid for it. But since then employers normally cover CPE expense and license fees.
But it is a trade off. If they do not, do they offer comp time? Do you like the work? Do they offer other great benefits? Ultimately you have to decide. Just remember money is not the be all end all.
I have worked many places where I was the only CPA. I have been fired and did nothing wrong or refused to do wrong in cooking the books. But because of the CPA I have always found work and usually with in a week! So much for time off.
Seems like a pretty good profession and just about any two of us can do completely different things, such variety. Enjoy the ride it never gets boring, actually better with technology these days.
Bill, CPA, CGMA