As You Prepare To Graduate...
by Karen B. McCarron, PhD
The big day is almost here. You are about to graduate with
your accounting degree. What are you going to do now? Hopefully, you interviewed
and you have a job. If not, getting one is your first priority! However,
just think about all the free time that you will have now that you are
not going to be studying 22 hours a day (okay, it feels like 22 hours;
it is really just 14). The reality is that you will always have to study
in order to be a good accountant. It is a life-long consequence of your
chosen profession. Everything in accounting---from statements issued by
the Financial Accounting Standards Board to the income tax law---changes
in a nanosecond. Most of you will be preparing for some type of certification
exam, such as the CPA, CMA, or CIA exam. Then, there is that fifth year
of education that you need---not to mention that you will be expected
to work harder than ever at your new job. If you want to remain an accountant
and not "burn out" before your career is well lit, you will need to find
time for some activities that you can enjoy.
This may be the first time that you have been on your own...really
on your own. Location has probably influenced your job choice, and it
is likely that you know something about your new hometown (either through
first-hand experience or pre-interview research). However, you will have
to do some more research in order to discover everything that your new
home offers. Once you know what activities are available to you, you can
decide which ones are appropriate in benefiting both your career and your
personal life. A new accountant usually has to build a system to include
more than professional responsibilities. While the process is not easy
for anyone moving to a new city and a new job, it is an extremely daunting
task for even the most enthusiastic fledgling.
Former classmates, friends, and relatives who live in your
new home can provide valuable information about the expected amenities.
If you don't know anyone in your chosen city (and it happens), remember
that your alma mater can provide you with all the help you need in making
new friends. Every college or university has an alumni/ae association;
you may be surprised to find a nearby chapter. Call the alumni society
in order to obtain contact names in your area. You will, of course, have
something very important in common with the people you meet there. If
you have a religious affiliation, attending the church or synagogue of
your choice can offer that same kind of bond. As with any other career,
the ability to interact socially on a regular basis is especially critical
to fostering both personal and business relationships.
To learn more details about your town and its activities,
try searching the worldwide web. Nearly every city has a website. Even
in this computer age, the telephone book and local library remain important
sources of information as well. You can gather listings and maybe even
catch up on the reading you put off while in school balancing numbers.
You might even obtain important phone numbers and listings through your
local bank, your landlord, or even your new colleagues.
Now that you have an idea of how to learn about your new
home, consider what interests you. Whether you are inclined towards art
and culture, sports organizations, community service activities, particular
hobbies, or even caring for a pet, there are a variety of outlets to fulfill
your interests, and the information is at the tips of your fingers.
You are always in luck when you live in a city with a college.
Almost everyone offers some type of continuing education program where
people go to learn new things just for fun without the pressure of being
graded. If you are not in a college town, many public school boards offer
similar programs. Again, check the Internet or the phone book to see if
these institutions have a continuing education office. Staying mentally
and physically fit complement each other in the long run.
Whatever activity you choose, the rewards are immeasurable.
Community involvement in any form is a necessary and expected part of
a successful accounting career. The relationships that you forge can assist
you professionally and maybe even become a lasting part of your personal
life. The degree of involvement is your decision. Obviously, your first
priority is to your professional responsibility, but you worked hard to
get to this point in your life; you deserve a little fun.
Karen B. McCarron is an assistant professor of accounting
in the J. Whitney Bunting School of Business at Georgia College &
State University, Milledgeville, Georgia.