The Fundamentals of Networking

Why is networking important?

No matter what your goals in life, chances are you will not accomplish them on your own. I’m sure you’ve been told that “Anything truly great will not be accomplished by you alone.” I think this is true because when I think back to anything important that I’ve done – none of it was without 

How to Ask Your Boss to Work from Home

More and more companies are adopting a flexible approach to how work in the organization gets done. Flex-time schedules and work from home arrangements are now common as online collaboration becomes more feasible for everyone. Many successful companies are cultivating employee-centered cultures that allow the employee to choose the best way he or she can contribute.

Accounting Fraud Infographic

Interesting statistics on financial frauds, money laundering and other financials crimes in an infographic format.

5 Tips for Passing the CPA Exam

There are a lot of resources out there with tips for passing the CPA Exam. Here are some tips I have learned based on my first-hand experience passing both CMA and CPA exams in the past couple years. If you’re reading this you are either going through the exam process right now (in which case I hope you can find some inspiration, good ideas, and motivation to stick with it and keep on going), or you are considering starting the

How to Set Up a CPA Exam Study Plan

For those of you in the midst of studying or starting to study for the CPA Exam (or any exam for that matter), you know that there are a number of challenges you must overcome. In passing both the CMA and CPA exams I have learned the hardest part about the process is not necessarily conquering the complexity of the content as much as it is absorbing the breadth of information one must memorize to pass. This

Why You Should Get an Accounting Degree

College is not just a fun time to party, hang out with friends, and meet that special guy or girl. It is a huge investment in your future. Ultimately you will graduate and look for a job. That is really why you go to college, to get the skills you need to build a career.

Some people will tell you to choose a major based on what classes you like. I disagree. This kind of 

Changing Your Perspective on Learning

In my last post I discussed reasons that it makes sense to get into the work force as soon as possible after you get your bachelor’s, even if it means taking much longer to complete your master’s degree. Beyond just the economic reasons, here are a couple of additional benefits.

I remember when I was getting my bachelor’s degree college for me as more about friends and having 

Things I Wish I Learned in College: Finding Passion, Adapting, and Defining You

It is ironic, our generation is driven by change, but so many of us are still afraid of it or just hate it. In life, in college and in career we, live in an area where we can change direction and try something new. My goal in college was to pursue a noble field that could find me a noble job making a noble living. I have all those things but guess what? I sometimes get bored, and guess who is changing course? It is never a step back, unless

Things I Wish I Learned in College: Building Effective Networks

College kids mostly believe that life will align and the job they want will come. Most times it does, but the main issue with this method is we become short-term thinkers. In business this is dangerous, multiple businesses continue to think short-term based on ridiculous incentive packages that unfortunately can sometimes reinforce this type of behavior. The first thing a college kid does when he steps on campus is satisfies the urge

Things I Wish I Learned in College: It’s More Than Books, Brains, and Diplomas

Transition is a time of struggle, challenge, and ultimately opportunity. What really separates the best is their ability to persevere regardless of the situation they are called to. What I hope to portray here are some of the things I have learned since graduating that I wish I would have known in college so you can get ahead and be ready for what is to come.

Throughout my days in a suburban juggernaut of a research institution, I learned a few 

Make a Business Card to Help Your Job Search

If your unemployed or still in school, you might think making your own business card is cheesy or unprofessional. Whenever I meet those looking for a job I tell them the exact opposite. Make a business card for your job search.

Believe it or not most jobs are still filled by word of mouth and real, live, personal connections. Part of my job search strategy is to utilize the power of networking. Meet as many people in the universe that 

10 Ways to Stay Relevant in Corporate Accounting

When thinking about the future of Corporate Accounting, one of the main questions on peoples’ minds is how do I stay relevant? What skills should I try and develop today to help ensure I stay competitive in the future? Change is a fact of business. Sometimes it is driven by technology and the general evolution of automation in tools we use. Sometimes changes in management drive change in organizations. Regardless of the reason, change is scary because change involves uncertainty. In these environments 

The Future of Your Corporate Accounting Job

When you think about the changes we’ve seen in Accounting and Finance departments in the last 15 years, it’s incredible. Recently I was asked by our CEO to compile my company’s historical performance over the last 15 years for some certain performance indicators. As I looked through our old financial reporting files I was reminded how far we’ve come. From Lotus 123, to Excel, to large multi-dimensional data cubes, tier one ERP systems, clearly we’ve made huge progress.

The 4 Main Areas of Accounting and Finance

The first step to a successful career is knowing where you want to go and what you want to do. So often traditional academia does not properly explain what the different areas of accounting and finance are like in the real world. Students find themselves questioning what they really want to do in their career. They might gravitate toward certain areas, based on a certain professor they favored; or gravitate towards a certain field, like public accounting, due to conventional wisdom. But many young professionals find themselves redirecting their path after learning about various areas of the field through the process of trial and error, we’ll call experience.

Decide which area of Accounting or Finance you want to focus on.

1. Public Accounting – Work for a CPA Firm charging clients for your services

  • Audit – Audit clients on a regular cycle, render advice on internal control and accounting practices and procedures
  • Tax – Prepare tax returns, render tax advice
  • Forensic – Investigate potential fraud and embezzlement, make recommendations for prevention
  • IT and Systems Audit – Evaluate controls and work-flows in systems

2. Corporate Accounting – Work for a company in their accounting department

  • Audit and Compliance – Internal audit, SOX, and other compliance roles
  • Financial Accounting – Month, Quarter, Year-end journal entries, reconciliations, sometimes financial statement preparation and analysis
  • Management Accounting – BI, Budgeting, forecasting, financial statement preparation and analysis

3. Corporate Finance – Work for a company in the accounting or finance department

  • Treasury – Manage banking relationships, debt compliance, bank transaction work-flows and cash positions
  • Management Accounting – Support business decision making with budgets, forecasts, cost analysis, performance reporting such as KPIs and Dashboards
  • FP&A – A blend of management accounting and more typical corporate finance such as project analysis, ROI, NPV, and IRR

4. Investment Banking – Work for an investment banking firm who charges for services

  • Manage money – Work for a money manager, hedge fund, or investment bank managing investments
  • Merger and acquisition (M&A), IPO – Help companies buy each other or go public
  • Private Equity – Find established companies to buy and own as investments
  • Venture Capital – Find start-up ventures to fund as investments

It’s important to note that the above list is generalized and that I grouped some things together that people will tell me should be kept separate. This is just a simple way of laying out the landscape of Accounting and Finance field. I will write more articles on each of the bullet points listed and describe how the work in each of these areas differs.

Figure out which area is most interesting to you. Which one involves work you think you would enjoy? What areas pay in line with your future needs and expectations? How do the cultures in these areas compare to your personal values and work style? What about the hours? If you haven’t already answered these questions for yourself and thought about what the ideal work, compensation, and culture is then figure that out now. It’s better to do a little research, ask yourself some important questions, and help focus your direction toward what you feel you really want. That goal is something you can always change in the future, but having set that goal you can focus on opportunities you know will get you there.

When to Follow Up After the Interview

A job interview includes more than just the time you meet with the potential employer. It includes how you conduct yourself throughout the entire interview process. The employer must learn about you and how you work through limited interactions during this process. As I discussed in my Interview Strategy posts, you can often impress during this time based on what questions you ask rather than how you answer. But often things such as arriving on time, being flexible about interview scheduling, or following

Interview Strategy: How to Make the Cut

Once you’ve aced the first interview, done your homework, and are asked to return, you can be assured you have sparked some interest. Depending on how many interviews there will be in the process and how many of those will be with the hiring manager compared to others in the company, the next interactions with your hiring manager are the most critical. During this time initial perceptions and judgements about you are solidified. Any concerns and questions will need to be resolved. It is at this

Interview Strategy: How to Ace the First Interview

How many candidates take the time to think about the strategy they employ when approaching the interview process? Do you know at what stages to ask the right questions? Do you know how to prepare for the first vs the third interview? Interviewing for job is kind of like dating. Each interaction is slightly deeper and more serious than the last and it is a process of learning and testing from both ends of the relationship. Things start out slowly, but gradually speed up. You don’t want to “get behind” where the 

Getting a Job as a New Graduate

With many professionals now starting to look for a job change after hiding out the last couple years through a nasty recession, today’s college graduates face a tough challenge finding good jobs. New grads compete against both those unemployed with experience and the pent up demand related to those who have been riding out the recession in unsatisfying jobs. This challenge has left a lot of grads questioning their post-college plans.

5 Ways to Make Your Resume More Effective

Resumes are the subject of many different opinions, yet I feel are relatively misunderstood. Here are the top 5 comments I have, as a hiring manager; some of which have also been relayed to me through books and mentorship in the past, which I hope can make your resume more effective.

Building Your Personal Brand

Whether people want to admit it or not, they project a certain image about themselves and their capabilities in life.  At work, where our understanding of our coworkers is influenced by only limited information, managing your brand can have a significant impact on how others perceive and interact with you, and ultimately how much success you experience in your career.  Do you have a personal brand?  You don’t have a choice as to whether or not you have a personal brand – you have one.   Your