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NextGen Magazine

 
 

Destination Planning

By:
N. SHEREE SAUNDERS
Published Date:
Jan 2, 2014

NAME: Brian Reese [NS1] 

JOB TITLE: Senior Accountant

CITY: Utica

How did you find your first job?

I researched CPA firms in the Utica area online and sent résumés to the ones I was interested in. I was a student at SUNY Brockport at the time, and they had a program to help accounting students land interviews and internships with CPA firms in the Rochester area. I took advantage of that too, since I wasn’t sure if I would go back home or relocate to Rochester, and received a few offers. 

Which resource was the most helpful in your job-hunting efforts?

The student accounting society at SUNY Brockport. It offered a class that showed you how to properly write a résumé, took students through mock interviews and organized tours of local CPA firms. It really helped to prepare me for the marketplace.  

Which resource turned out to be less helpful than you thought it would be?

For me, it was the big job sites like monster.com. These can definitely be helpful, but I prefer to network, network, network. You never know who you’ll meet and whether they have or know of an available job.

What are some dead-wrong assumptions people make about CPAs?

Whenever I tell people I’m a CPA, they usually think that all we do is taxes. If I had a nickel for every time someone said, “It must be really slow outside of tax season,” I’d be a rich man. I’ve also heard the stereotype that CPAs are boring and don’t know how to have fun. I have a great work/life balance; I’m a hockey die-hard, and I still play today. And in social settings, I definitely know how to loosen up and enjoy myself. 

What myths about CPAs are actually true?

I would have to say that most accountants are very structured. We all seem to like our to-do lists and are well organized. You couldn’t tell by the looks of my office, but trust me—I know what everything is and where it should go.  And it’s sad to admit, but my closet at home is color coordinated.

What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned from a mentor in the profession?

My very first supervisor, Elizabeth Park, who was a past president of the NYSSCPA’s Utica Chapter, had a passion for life and for being a CPA. Elizabeth has since passed, but I learned so much from her about how to interact with clients and how essential good verbal and written communication skills are to a successful career. You can be the smartest accountant in the room, but if you don’t know how to convey information properly to clients or other professionals, your application of the numbers could be meaningless. She also taught me that with hard work and a good head on your shoulders, the sky’s the limit in the accounting profession. And I’ve learned from others at my firm that I can be very active in helping our local community through volunteerism and sitting on the board of nonprofit organizations.


NAME:
Matt Taylor

JOB TITLE: Director

CITY: Rochester

How did you find your first job?

I was recruited out of school to join a public accounting firm.  With other job changes, I leveraged my professional network, recruiters, friends and family.

What’s been the most helpful resource to you in your job-hunting efforts?

My professional network, especially the alumni of a large company I used to work for. Thanks to them, I have connections at the new companies my former co-workers have moved on to.

What resource turned about to be less helpful than you thought?

Established networking groups that meet regularly. Oftentimes, these consist of the same people I am competing against. I’ve also found that many of the people who belong to these groups are unemployed.

Did you have any misconceptions about the profession before you chose it as a career path?

I didn’t understand that a CPA could become a mentor and adviser to a family or business. Lawyers, bankers and CPAs help make the business world go round and have a lot of influence. I thought it was all tax returns and auditing. I also learned that CPAs are in the relationship business—they’re salespeople, too. Treating people the way you want to be treated and striving to create longterm relationships are typically not part of the job description or explained in an interview, but they’re essential if you want to be successful.

What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned from a mentor in the profession?

My mentor taught me that if you help other people and put them before yourself, they will reciprocate and make you even more successful than you thought you could be. Giving without looking for anything in return will help you develop a great reputation.

What myths about CPAs are actually true?

I think being particular is a rather common trait; I can say that because I am. It stems from the rules of the profession— everything has a place, and fits. To be particular is to be organized, prepared and ready for opportunity. Because of the busy season and so much work being done in such a small window, it is a necessary trait to be successful in the profession.      I have been called a nontypical accountant because I’m easy to talk to and outgoing. I also have a nontypical job: After four years in public accounting and eight in industry, I became an executive recruiter.  I focus on finding positions for CPAs and MBAs in upstate New York. While I don’t prepare journal entries or tax returns, I leverage my education and experience to help get professionals in the next steps of their careers.  It’s very fulfilling.


NAME:
Juan Rondon

JOB TITLE: Manager

CITY: New York City

How did you find your first job? 

My company has been recruiting from my alma mater, SUNY Albany, for years. I applied for an interview with the firm while I was a student, and was subsequently hired. It took me about three months to land the interview, which was actually longer than I expected.

What was the most helpful resource to you in your job-hunting efforts?

My college’s Office of Career Development. Not only did it help with the job- hunting process, but it also helped me with my résumé and interview process.

What resource turned about to be less helpful than you thought?

For me, applying to companies directly turned out to be the most useless tactic. I rarely heard back from the companies—and when I did, they had a large amount of candidates competing for same position.

Did you yourself have misconceptions about the profession before you chose it as a career path?

I used to think CPAs just worked on individual tax returns. When I was in high school, I was interested in going to business school but wasn’t sure which career path to take. I decided to research the profession, and that’s when I realized there’s a lot more to it than tax. I understood the vital role a CPA plays in the growth and profitability of a businesses and individuals. I was intrigued by these findings and became very enthusiastic about joining the profession.


NAME:
Rebecca Iacobellis 

JOB TITLE: Owner of a small CPA practice

CITY: New York City and Red Bank, New Jersey

How did you find your first job? 

I found my first accounting job by being involved in an accounting society, Beta Alpha Psi, in college. All of the big firms relied on it while recruiting from my university, so I was able to line up interviews with each of the Big Four. I got a contract for a full-time position upon graduation in my junior year of college.

What are some dead-wrong assumptions people make about CPAs?

People are always shocked that I’m a CPA because I’m outgoing and enjoy speaking to different people. I do have my head in a book pretty frequently; I also enjoy adventure sports and traveling. People always assume CPAs are introverted. However, a good CPA has to be able to communicate and network. Public accounting is a client service business. 

Did you have any misconceptions about the profession before you chose it as a career path?

In college, I assumed the accounting profession was all about crunching numbers.  However, there are so many different areas of accounting. My focus is taxation, which does involve numbers, but also requires a lot of reading and interpreting tax law. 

What myths about CPAs are actually true?

CPAs are detail oriented, but we can focus on the big picture when necessary. CPAs are nerdy, but in a good way. I enjoy learning as much as I can.

What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned from a mentor in the profession?

I am blessed to have had two great mentors throughout my career. Both gave me the courage and strength to open my own practice. They taught me that nothing is unattainable.