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  1. #1
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    Accounting Kid Advice

    Background: Working at a high end hotel in a western ski town. Graduated a few months ago with a double major in accounting and finance. Working in the finance department as an AR clerk.

    Problem: I really don't like what I'm doing. I'm really good at what I do, but it's really boring. I help the rest of the team out where I can. But I feel like it's mostly just data entry, not much thought goes into it...

    Told the boss that I wanted to take an extended ski trip overseas, which they granted. If they hadn't I would've put in my notice and then headed out anyways. So that's awesome but I feel like I'm not learning any marketable skills to keep progressing my career.

    Any accounting or finance folks out there who know what I'm talking about? I guess I'm just looking for some advice on what I should do and some work life balance tips.

  2. #2
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    AR often is just data entry work, but you've got to get experience somehow. Boring as it is, it should open doors for higher up more technical positions.

    In most places in the accounting world (assume the US is the same) an accounting degree is useless unless you have CPA or CA designation. Plan on getting that as soon as you can, if you plan to keep working in accounting.

    Accounting is cyclical in nature though, so it can seem repetitive & boring at times. Sitting inside in front of the computer gets old sometimes. But I live in a small mountain town, biking & flying & long evenings make summer awesome, & skiing everyday in winter makes winter awesome. I could earn 3 times as much working in the city, but then I wouldn't have skiing / biking / flying sites 5mins from my door.

  3. #3
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    X2 on what the above guy says. Maybe your employer will pay for you to get the additional credits you need or pay your fees to sit for the CPA exam, and you're getting some relevant experience for your resume, so that's a plus.

    If I had close to the required number of credits in accounting, that would be my early-in-my-career goal.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesp View Post
    Accounting is cyclical in nature though, so it can seem repetitive & boring at times.
    I do finance/accounting stuff and this is true, I also don't have a CPA or any other certs. I'm not doing AR but it still can be very repetitive in that I have tasks that need to be done every day, week, month, quarter, and year. I think it's just the nature of the biz. Some of it is very interesting, some is very repetitive busy work in excel.

    As far as work-life balance, I live in a ski town so lunch laps really help break up the monotony. I'm definitely planning on either getting my CPA or maybe switching up the career a bit. It'd be cool if a CPA could chime in here, and talk about the doors that open and the type of work you'd be doing with a CPA as opposed to just a regular finance/accounting degree.

  5. #5
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    I just think there is a ceiling of sorts (whether justified or not), that is hard to get above if you don't have a designation, ie I've never met a controller or CFO who doesn't have a designation.

    Working in smaller companies negates this to an extent, but then you are limited to 1-3 person offices & likely have to work the same place for years waiting for an internal promotion.

    I've worked in high-transaction volume businesses for a while now. I still do some regular journal entry type stuff (not much though). The change/variety for me comes in POS & system maintenance, new products, how they flow through different POS systems. It needs a little more problem solving, every new thing the marketing genius' come up with is different & can be challenging to make "work" in our systems.

    Working in commerce (ie company accountant) is possibly more repetitive, but I really didn't like working for accounting firms. The need to have a certain amount of chargeable hours means you work way too much in reality... time sheets suck donkey balls.

  6. #6
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  7. #7
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    Looks like you need 150 credit hours for the CPA in most states, which will likely involve a MBA in accounting since 120 is standard for a 4yr university... lots of coin to drop if you aren't 100% sure. Which I'm not, really.

  8. #8
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    Are you more interested in Accounting or Finance? I'm doing more and more finance work every year and find it fascinating and endless. Seems like you should select your path before worrying about what's next. Finance and work/life balance can go together but it's not an easy or obvious path.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by JaytaeMoney View Post
    Looks like you need 150 credit hours for the CPA in most states, which will likely involve a MBA in accounting since 120 is standard for a 4yr university... lots of coin to drop if you aren't 100% sure. Which I'm not, really.
    With the increase in credit hours necessary for the CPA, there are a lot of places offering a 1-year M.Acc. degree that specifically preps you for the exam and can be done at night. If OP is still located on the Wasatch front, UofU offers a program like that.

    Most MBA programs that I'm aware of don't even get you enough exposure to accounting for it to make a difference if you're 30 credit-hours short.

  10. #10
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    Agree with this...
    Most MBA programs that I'm aware of don't even get you enough exposure to accounting for it to make a difference if you're 30 credit-hours short.

  11. #11
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    I started in AP after quitting my service job on NYE. Figured accounting was easy. That was in a ski town. 20 years later I'm still in a ski town.

    I've been the CFO and Controller many times over. Ive been a hospital cost accountant. I've worked for ski resorts, breweries, hotels, and Internet start ups. I like to blend acctg, finance, & ops the most these days.

    It is boring at times, other times the stress is a rush. But most of all accounting is a trade.

    Every industry has one and it is more recession proof that alot of careers. Avoid being a tax accountant, who wants to work hardest from jan to April.

  12. #12
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    As someone a couple years out of school, the biggest thing is to find someplace you like working. Ive been at a couple ski resorts now. Working at the base makes getting out and skiing easy but some places want more regular office hours which can limit your ski time. Right now I can get out for 3 or 4 hours a day and no one will really notice I'm gone. I did AR for a while and it can be boring and the work load can vary alot depending on how busy the company is but for me it was a way to get a foot in the door.
    Id agree with jamesp that at some point there is a ceiling you will hit where the CPA will become pretty much necessary to have but right out of school its not really needed. To me the expense of paying for the exam, dues and continuing education isn't worth it if you don't really need it for a while. Im planning on sitting for the CPA this summer but people have started asking about plans to take the CPA in some interviews Ive had.
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  13. #13
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    I paid my dues with a forensic firm and now I can work from home. Make a good deal of money, make my own schedule, and get work the is interesting on the macro scale. The micro scale is not so fun.

    Get your CPA and a few years experience and you can setup your own shop. Work from home, make good money, and be your own boss. You have to be driven for it to work though.

  14. #14
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    For a guy who works on the private side there's no way a CPA will pay off for him, notably if he stays in hotel accounting.

    That being said, fuck an overpriced MBA program, get the credits you need through UCLA's extension accounting and finance program. 500 bucks a class online.

    Accounting is about the only field where I think online programs are comparable to what you would get in a class. Save the cash and go that route.

    I still think the best route would be to get an E.A. cert for tax things, then just do bookkeeping in a ski town for all the local businesses. Keeps you in ski country, consistent workload (opposed to the January to April hell), and you're your own boss. Thats easy money.
    Last edited by AdironRider; 11-13-2013 at 06:34 PM.
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  15. #15
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    Agreed. A colleague of mine just semi-retired to an EA/Tax practice - and time for his plane.

  16. #16
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    CPA credential, aside from passing the test, requires 2 years of auditing in the u.s., or an equivalent time from the private side, 4-6 audit cycles atleast. It is worth getting. Be advised, working in a/p, a/r or other accounting functions will generally not help you reach CPA requirements for atleast 10+ years, you need to be involved with in the audit to obtain a cpa, even if your direction is tax related. If you are able to work for a cpa firm, and deal with auditing accounts, you will learn alot about the given industry you are auditing. If you are able to see multiple industries, all the better. The CPA approach through auditing is one of the best entrees into a given industry, in many cases better than starting to work in accounting in that industry. So if you want to be in hotel management, try to hook into a firm with hotel clients, if you want to be in ski resort management, etc...

    good luck, you can gain tons of experience through auditing. If your bent is more tax related, that can work as well, but you do not gain the level of insight to the overall operations, so you need to be more intuitive in presenting your self.

  17. #17
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    Regardless of what you do don't let people convince you that advancement ceilings are set by advanced degrees or certifications. Ceilings, especially in ski towns where employee pools are small, are largely defined by talent and work ethic.

  18. #18
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    Ceilings in ski towns, in my experience, are usually real low, set by the lack of opportunities and the over-supply of hungry, educated talent.

  19. #19
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    Hi,

    I have a BA with an accounting concentration and ended up in IT. There are a lot of ex accountants.

    I was lucky to get hired at a mid size company that had just gone public after graduating. I missed the stock options, but the company grew while I was there. Accounting was a major function in the organization. The company processed money and used an instance of the accounting system to manage it's payments to partners. My function was to reconcile cash deposits to the actual cash transaction by writing Access reports.

    I found I really liked the report writing and that I knew how the company tracked cash I moved to IT as a sys admin for the accounting system and started to learn to code.

    Big picture, find a company you like and get a job, once in, see what you like and move to that team. An accounting degree will be a plus for any position you apply for once you have experience in that business.

    Good luck, starting/low end accounting positions can be awful but you have the basics to have a rewarding career if you are smart and know what you want.

  20. #20
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    OP, not surprised that you don't like receivables processing. Same Old Shit, Different Day and you don't need an accounting degree to perform the work well.

    Try to score a gig as a general accountant or cost accountant as the next step. You get a lot more exposure to how the business runs and how various transactions work their way thru the financial statements, affect loan covenants, etc.

    The other way you might leverage your current gig is to get into cash management and treasury functions.

    You don't need to be a CPA or CA to be a CFO or corporate controller. I've been VP-Finance, Principal Accounting Officer and CFO for 30 years of my career and didn't go the Big5 Indentured Servitude route. CEOs and Boards want their finance leaders to understand the business fundamentals and create systems to make fast, smart decisions, not worry about all the nuances of the latest ASR.

    Good luck
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  21. #21
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    Thanks for all the replys, I like coming back to this thread and rereading everyones advice.

    I got back from Japanuary a few weeks ago and have been progressively getting more and more frustrated. It might be that I'm right at the base of the resort, see it everyday but can only ski on weekend. My boss seems to be getting more and more strict with the whole 9-5 which is eating away at me...

    Just saw a night audit position open in Jackson. 7 days on - 7 days off that really sparked some interest. Does anyone have any advice in stepping backwards in a career. It doesn't sounds like the most intelligent step to take.

    My goals seem to be make a respectable living while being able to ski - fish when I please or everyday. I'm not sure if this is realistic working for someone else.

  22. #22
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    could be seen as a sideways step, not necessarily backwards. Night audit whilst a bit different, is repetitive just like AR & you don't need to be qualified. You'll still be in a hotel so the opportunity to move to a 'proper' accounting position should be available in time.

    Sounds like your current boss/gig is inflexible so maybe the move is a good idea. I've quit jobs for similar reasons in the past (couldn't get time off, too much working over time etc) & it hasn't affected anything really.

    The benefit to working for someone else is you have 1 boss, work for yourself & its like every customer is your boss, you are bending over backwards to please them. Always chasing new clients, schmoozing etc. I like that (for me), work stays in the office. You just need to find the right job with the right balance, its gets easier once you have a few years decent experience.

  23. #23
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    bump for considering the CPA route....
    I'm 35, been running a family farm for the past decade, and realize that now is the time to get my economic shit together. I have three kids to support, and need to have a work skill that will give me the flexibility and income needed for living a good life.

    Accounting seems likely boring, but potentially interesting if I can move more in the direction of business consulting. I get it that there is a tradeoff in all fields of work. It seems like the positives to CPA work are good pay, steady demand, mobility, and potentially flexible schedule. These are key benefits for me.

    I am looking at an online program through Colorado State University that would prepare me to sit the CPA exam in two to three years. I already have a BA degree so those units help a lot. All in all, I think the CPA route via online classes seems like a good path to follow. Anybody been there and have advice from the far side?

  24. #24
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    Accounting Kid Advice

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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by ate'em View Post
    bump for considering the CPA route....
    I'm 35, been running a family farm for the past decade, and realize that now is the time to get my economic shit together. I have three kids to support, and need to have a work skill that will give me the flexibility and income needed for living a good life.

    Accounting seems likely boring, but potentially interesting if I can move more in the direction of business consulting. I get it that there is a tradeoff in all fields of work. It seems like the positives to CPA work are good pay, steady demand, mobility, and potentially flexible schedule. These are key benefits for me.

    I am looking at an online program through Colorado State University that would prepare me to sit the CPA exam in two to three years. I already have a BA degree so those units help a lot. All in all, I think the CPA route via online classes seems like a good path to follow. Anybody been there and have advice from the far side?
    strange bump but i’d be interested to know if ate’em got off the farm.
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