You did it! You passed the CPA, you’ve gotten all your needed accountant certifications, and you just got your first job at a firm as an accountant.
You’re happy to be done with the all-night studying sessions and test anxiety, but sometimes it feels like you’ve just traded that stress for the daily grind. Trust us: it isn’t as bad as you think! Take a deep breath, get another cup of coffee, and settle in for our five survival tips for your first accounting job:
Work on your “soft skills”: At school you probably focused strictly on the academic stuff: regulatory laws, proper accounting and reporting…you know, the stuff you got into accounting to do. But a lot of the things you’re going to have to do at work are the ‘soft’ skills, the stuff you only learn from experience and time. Things like proper client interaction, holding professional conversations, and even something as simple as making eye contact can make a huge difference in impressing your boss and establishing you as someone to be relied on. It’s not just enough to have a 4.0 anymore – you have to learn to talk to people.
Good attendance: It sounds so obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people start to slack off on things like attendance and tardiness during their first real job. Whatever it is the boss has you doing (and if you’re a new hire, it probably won’t be anything too glamorous or exciting) remember to show up on time, consistently, ready to go.
Get ready for the first busy season: Whenever you start at a new firm, you know you’ve got one thing to focus on: the next year’s tax season. Get yourself ready for all that entails, including working weekends, late nights, and the like. See if your firm offers any perks for the busy season like catered lunches or working from home, and get yourself prepared to handle the onslaught. (And after it’s over? Maybe schedule yourself a vacation.)
Always pay attention to detail: This counts for both client work and for talking to your teammates. Take careful notes, never be afraid to ask questions, and really try to immerse yourself in whatever you’re working on, even if it’s the less-interesting first-year tasks. Your trainers will appreciate how thorough you’re being, your bosses will be happy to see you not asking the same question fifty times, and it’ll make the first few weeks of training much easier on everyone involved.
Remember to take care of yourself: Of course, with all the stress and excitement of your first accounting job, there’s a lot of things that could fall by the wayside. Remember to try to get some sleep, eat a little better by bringing lunch from home, try to exercise (or at least stretch your legs) when you can, and take some time to relax and read a darn book or something. You’ll be glad you did once your first few weeks are over with.