The Secret To Become The #1 Employee At Your Accounting Firm

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When I first joined Beta Alpha Psi, the accounting honors society, I remembered something in my first few meetings that still sticks with me today. Representatives from firms would come to the meetings and almost every time they said the following:

[while speaking to a crowd of students]

“Oh, when someone comes to you saying they have an ‘opportunity’, be careful.”

I honestly didn’t fully understand what that meant at the time.

But I kept hearing it. Over and over again.

I even heard it once I started full time at PwC. Associated and Seniors would joke to one another in the hallways, “oh do I have an ‘opportunity’ for you!”

The trick I’m about to share with you is about mindset and attitude. It’s simple, yet it will set you apart from every other person in the firm.

I never joked about the possibility of an ‘opportunity’. Most of the people that work see ‘opportunities’ as a burden, more work they have to get done, traveling out of town, something stressful.

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That may very well be true. In fact, in all circumstances it does mean there will be work associated with it.

But I never said no.

After only two years of working at the firm, I had already participated in 2 clients proposals (as an associate). One was for a Fortune 1000 company. Most employees didn’t get this opportunity until they were a manager or senior manager! I got it in my second year. And I was put as the only senior on a Fortune 100 client.

It’s because people understood that I was trustworthy, dependable, hardworking. I didn’t look at ‘opportunities’ as the next burden to bitch about. I took them gratefully, as chances to show that I was worthy of even more trust, respect, and freedom in my job.

I didn’t complain publicly or even privately. If I had a problem with the assignment, I discussed it seriously behind closed doors with the right people (my coach, manager, or HR when applicable).

The secret to being the #1 employee is to:

Realize that when you start at the firm, they don’t owe you anything at all. Your degrees and license entitle you to nothing! Not trust, not respect, not a promotion, not money. Only once you work hard, rise to the challenge, and prove yourself do you earn those things. The more opportunities you take, the more people will respect you. They won’t give you shitty assignments because you’re too valuable now. It’s important to keep you happy, keep developing you with things that are worth your time. By taking these opportunities gratefully, you are rewarded. You don’t do it because you let people walk all over you, you do it to conquer the next challenge that’s placed in front of you!

So next time someone asks you if you’re ready for an opportunity at your accounting firm, just say, “Heck YES!”.