The first job you NEED to have before starting an accounting career

mcy dees

Today we go to The Bean Counter’s mailbag to discuss what is the first accounting job you need to have before you start your accounting career.

“What beginning jobs help you toward your career in Accounting?” I am a senior accounting major and sad to said I have no work experience and have been trying for years to get at least an office job to get me started. However, some of my friends are suggesting that if I can’t get a basic office job then any job will be good (even working at Burger King flipping burgers). My only concern with that is the fact I know recruiters normally want to know how your job will help or relate to a career with their firm. Honestly, I can’t see how the food industry will help me in the long run (unless I work in an office on files).

The short answer: any job. It was unfortunate that I didn’t have the opportunity to work at all in high school, I actually spent most of my high school experience in a boarding school in a foreign country. But when I got to college, I worked. A lot. Here are a few of the jobs I worked during my four years in college:

  1. Retail sales associate
  2. Painter
  3. Front desk assistant
  4. Filing professional
  5. Resident assistant in the dorms
  6. Head Resident (supervisor of resident assistants)
  7. Technology Assistant (helping people with computers)
  8. VITA (volunteer)
  9. Financial Analyst (full-time in grad school)
  10. Summer Intern (start-up in Singapore)
  11. PwC Summer Intern

So about 11 jobs in four years and that just what I remember! How did I get those jobs? I was scrappy. I applied for everything and I didn’t just submit my resume, I got involved. To answer you question, it depends. If you want to work for a large public accounting firm, the best thing to do is find a low-level accounting position with a private company. How do you do that? Here are the first steps:

  1. Create a resume & cover letter
  2. Ask everyone you know: mom, dad, siblings, grandma, grandmas neighbors cousin’s brother, everyone! Let them know you want an accounting job or internship.
  3. Apply for all positions on Craiglist (even if it appears you’re not qualified)
    1. Make sure you apply every day when the ad comes out
  4. Apply for positions on monster, careerbuilder, etc.
  5. Apply for positions at your university career center

If you have the contact information for the hiring contact, call them 1-2 days after you submit your application. This will make a huge difference as nobody does it. You’ll instantly stand out against the other applicants. However, if you want to do something even better than get a job, start your own accounting firm. Last week I met with Amy Vetter from Xero who walked us through all the opportunities available for young CPA’s (in particular college students) and how you literally can start your own accounting firm. With the technology that exists now, that would be my first recommendation. Start your own bookkeeping practice. You don’t need someone permission to be hired, all you have to do is find your first client, and build from there! But in short, just get out there and start working! Even if you are flipping burgers, that looks better on your resume than sitting on your rear-end all day. As you can see from all the jobs I took, I didn’t discriminate, I just wanted something! If you want help building your resume, you need to start with my resume tips eBook and consider working with me directly on your resume. I can set you up for your first job and help you build a strategy to find the entry level job that will help you launch your career! If you’ve got a question, send it on over to The Bean Counter Mailbag!