“What’s the best way to get ahead once I am working? Is there a way to ensure I can advance?”
Students majoring in accounting and hoping to pursue an accounting designation have a very clear program to follow, in terms of the post grad process. In addition, each accounting body sets clear guidelines for the type of work experience they require to successfully designate. Meeting the requirements and advancing in the workplace are pressures that can cause anxiety for many accounting students.
The first hurdle is getting a relevant job after graduating. Sometimes this is the largest hurdle. If possible, secure a finance or accounting summer position while enrolled in post secondary education. This could open up many doors after graduating. Choosing a co-op degree or an applied degree will also give valuable work experience on a resume. Anything that enhances your educational knowledge with practical application will assist in finding that first great job.
If you’re not going the public practice route, consider temporary engagements. While taking a full time position offers security, it may result in work experience that is somewhat junior for your knowledge and the designation requirements. Although obtaining a full-time, permanent position is gratifying, most grads don’t really want to be processing invoices for more than a few months. With that being said, temporary roles can give you that sought-after exposure to the transactional aspects of the accounting cycle within multiple industries. For example, if a grad chose to complete some temp work and took three placements in one year, at the end of that year, they would have exposure to three different companies, likely three different accounting software packages, and potentially three different positions within an accounting department. At the end of that year, that grad would be very prepared for a more senior position. The key is to be able to learn everything you can while on the assignment and having a great reference from each of the employers.
In the end, the best strategy for advancing is to take advantage of every learning opportunity presented to you. No matter how small the task—if you can learn from it, do it. The greatest take away from any employment is what can be documented on your resume, and ultimately, the knowledge that can be applied to future tasks, positions and organizations. Recognize learning opportunities and go for them!
Written by Erin Lamoureux