For students who are good with numbers or have a penchant for math, accounting is a wonderful career possibility.
However, being an accountant is more than just audits and taxes--it takes a great deal of people skills as well.
Network, Network, Network
According to the Harvard Business School, between 65 and 85 percent of jobs are found through networking; the same could be said to hold true about gaining clients. There may be no more important skill for advancing professionally than networking: everyone you meet is a potential client, as well as a gateway to other clients. Thus, never miss out on a chance to work on your networking skills. Keep a business card on you at all times and offer it to anyone looking for accounting help. Remember, often it's not what you know, but who you know that counts most.
Join a Club
Many colleges have clubs related to financial matters, such as an accounting club. If your school offers one, join it. This club will give you the chance to interact with professional accountants and your future colleagues, hone your accounting skills, and learn about the industry. It will also allow you to make contacts, which may come in handy down the line.
Meet and Greet
In addition to clubs, many colleges also offer days dedicated to bringing together students with industry professionals. These days may be called something like Meet the Firms or Meet the Professionals, but regardless of their titles, they are a wonderful way to set yourself up for possible future job offers or, at the very least, the right contacts.
Hone Your Resume Skills
The importance of a resume cannot be understated when looking for a job: a resume is often your only chance at making a first impression. Not only should resumes be polished, concise, and honest, but they should also be error-free and void of any extraneous information (such as hobbies enjoyed or awards won decades ago). In addition to a resume, a cover letter is also a nice touch. This helps the employer see that you have truly taken interest in their job, rather than simply sending out your resume to every employer in a fifty mile radius.
Find Your Specialty
Just as business and medicine often have a more specified focus, like communications or neurology, so too does accounting. There is public accounting, private accounting, and governmental accounting. While all areas will share some similarities, there are also important differences. Governmental accounting (such as working for the IRS) offers stability and benefits, but may not be best for those who are people pleasers and enjoy helping individuals.
Maintain a Good GPA
The grade point average (GPA) you earn in college isn't usually as important as the one that gets you into college (i.e., your high school GPA), but that doesn't mean it's irrelevant. Some industries care very much about the grades you've earned and will only solicit people with a GPA above a certain number. A solid GPA also offers you the chance to go to graduate school, if you so desire, or may land you on prospectors' lists.
Dress the Part
Accountants are professional and, as such must dress the part. This is particularly important when you are meeting people in the industry, visiting firms, and going in for an interview. While you don't need to dress as you would for a black tie gala, you should dress to impress. In other words, ditch the jeans, and bring out the ties or panty hose.
We like to help our readers with their important life decisions including finances, education, and careers. If you need our help then do not hesitate to contact us.