My Story: The Winding Path that Led to the CPA Exam

20 Nov 2012


Jen is a NINJA CPA Blogger.

Since I don’t have much of an update on my exam prep (ten days to go til I take BEC, after yet another reschedule, eek!), I thought I’d tell you a little about my path to becoming an accountant.

It’s a winding path, but I’ve always thought of myself as a good example of how you don’t have to know exactly what you want to be when you’re right out of college at the tender age of 22. Or maybe I’m a cautionary tale, heh heh.

I was a chemistry major as an undergraduate. After graduating, I worked for several years working as a medicinal chemist in a pharmaceutical company. I was pretty dissatisfied and decided to go back to graduate school.

For round one, I got a masters in social work. I was never a clinical social worker or therapist, instead focusing on community organizing, program management, and nonprofit management.

After a few years of getting to know the nonprofit sector in Boston, I finally landed what I thought was my dream job in the public affairs department at an advocacy organization. But my perspective shifted when I had my kids, and I changed jobs again, looking for something with more consistent hours that was better suited to my new role in life.

Then one day, when my son was about two and a half and my daughter was three months old, I was doing our taxes. I’ve always enjoyed that particular task—it’s so concrete; at least, it is in my small, uncomplicated financial life! And I started thinking that maybe it was time for a change.

I’d been in the social work field for nearly ten years, but I felt really stuck. And I wasn’t enjoying the work I was doing. So I started to look into accounting masters programs.

If I thought people looked at me funny when I told them I was leaving chemistry to go into social work, that was nothing compared to the looks I got when I announced I was going into accounting!

But here I am, three years later, with 2.5 classes left in my degree, 25% of the way to obtaining my CPA, and working as an accountant—at the same nonprofit I joined after my children were born.

Sometimes I feel like I couldn’t possibly be The Accountant, especially when my boss asks *me* to tell her the GAAP way to handle a certain situation or transaction. Wait, I’m supposed to know these answers?

But then there are the days when we get a new piece of office equipment, and I get excited about capitalizing and depreciating it, and I know that this time, I’ve truly found my calling.

Best wishes to all of you as you continue along this crazy journey to the CPA!