Ashley is a new NINJA CPA Blogger.
If you haven’t decided if you want to get your CPA license, then hopefully this blog will help you. I was in the same place so I feel your stress and indecision.
The summer between my undergraduate graduation and the start of my Masters in Accounting program, I made my decision to study for the CPA exams. It has not been an easy journey but it has already been worth it.
I had worked as an intern in private accounting for the past two summers and I figured that a Masters in Accountancy would put me ahead of the competition. It was a hefty up-front cost for tuition, but I did some cost analysis and figured that it would pay for itself, either through better job opportunities, faster advancement, higher qualification, etc.
As I thought about life after graduation, did I really want to jump back into private or did I want to take advantage of my youth and try something new?
I looked at the benefits of switching to public accounting. For the most part, the salary for public accounting is higher than private accounting. The CPA license is known and respected. If I decided that I didn’t like it, I could go back to private accounting with diversified experience and a respected designation.
If I wanted to take time off during the summer in order to spend time with future children, it would be more flexible than private accounting. I could also start my own practice if I wanted to.
Depending on the size of the firm, hours could be negotiated as well as advancement time. A smaller firm would allow a wide breadth of experiences and exposure. A larger firm would provide unlimited opportunities and experiences as well as great networking opportunities and the ability to become an expert in a specific industry.
I compared those benefits to my perceived negatives about the switch to public accounting. The long and stressful hours during tax season, continuing education, and subjecting yourself to litigation. Not to mention the sheer price of paying for review courses, supplemental materials, registering and paying to take the exams (and their retakes), membership fees, continuing education, etc.
Don’t forget the sheer amount of time required to study! It’s incredibly time consuming and I won’t lie; there are definitely sacrifices that need to be made some times. It really demands a significant degree of work ethic.
In the end, I decided that a busy season is better than a busy year and if I truly value a work-life balance, then I should at least try public accounting life. Though tax season would be horrible, the rest of the year is more manageable. I never wanted to wonder “what if…?”
I never wanted to question, “What if I love auditing and just don’t know it? What if I could have been a tax wizard? What if I enjoyed estate or business succession planning?” It was the ‘what-ifs’ that made the decision for me. I wanted to at least try, especially while I was young and energetic.
I wanted as many doors to be open as possible; I never wanted to be unemployable because I didn’t have a CPA license. I wanted to be employable to all. My saving thought was that if I didn’t like public accounting, I could always leave.
I, the girl who always eats the same thing for breakfast each day, the girl who has minor OCD, the girl who buys insurance for everything, took a chance. I bought a CPA review course and started studying!