Take Your Career Personally
by Shaune Scutellaro, CPA, CohnReznick LLP –
June 20, 2017
As most members of the accounting profession know all too well, advances in modern technology have done as much to connect us with family and friends as they have to tether us to client demands and late-night email responses. As your career progresses, the pressure of these demands only becomes stronger. So how can you take charge and ensure you have a rewarding and challenging career? Don’t let work affect your personal life; instead start taking your career personally! The traits that make you “you” outside of the office should be the foundation of your life inside the office as well.
It All Starts with the CPA License
Taking charge of your career starts with understanding who you are and who you want to be, and then determining the tactics that are going to get you from point A to point B. In addition to getting your first job, passing the CPA exam should be a top priority if you want to have endless opportunities in the accounting profession. You can find a public accounting firm that feels like the right fit, search for a position in a private company within an industry that excites you, or hang your own shingle and become a sole practitioner. If any of those options sound appealing but you do not yet have the license, then get those books out, start studying and schedule your exams! From there, the list of career paths available to you in the public accounting arena is wide ranging — from tax professional, to IT auditor, to forensic accountant — and can suit all types of lifestyles. If your personality is so bright it can’t be contained by a cubicle, perhaps the travel and client contact on audit jobs is a good fit. Or if you are motivated by new challenges on a yearly or even monthly basis, a role in an advisory practice could be a better fit for you.
If you have your CPA license and are currently working at a public accounting firm, differentiating yourself from your peers can be as easy as reflecting on your personal interests. There are limitless industries, niches and areas of focus that all have unique accounting challenges. Do you like to keep up with the latest tech trends? Think about getting involved in the start-up community. Do you enjoy learning about new cultures and working with people in different countries or languages? Consider becoming an expat expert. Infusing your personal life into your business pursuits will enable you to build the industry expertise that you’ll need to make your mark.
Build Your Network
If you are not the type of person that can work a cold room at in-person events, then find new ways to get your name out there. Perhaps you are a showman and feel comfortable speaking for trade associations or networking groups; or if you have a great social media presence you can leverage that to create more personal connections that drive business and help expand your network. There are times that we all need to get out of our comfort zone to meet new people, but once you find the method that works for you, sharpen those skills and get out there.
Find a Mentor
How do you bring everything together and advance up the career ladder to manager or partner? Identify a professional mentor. A mentor who provides open lines of communication and honest feedback can give you the confidence to make good decisions and help you identify areas for improvement. I have been lucky enough to have a mentor who has helped prepare me for what’s expected of me as a manager and what will hopefully be expected of me as a partner. Successful professionals are often looking to give back by connecting with the next generation of young leaders, so finding a willing mentor may be easier than you think.
Building a career often means the lines between your work and personal life will start to blur, but that can be a good thing. The more your career starts to reflect the traits that make you exceptional, the easier it will be to make an impact in your community and in your organization.
Shaune Scutellaro, CPA, is a senior manager with CohnReznick LLP. He is an NJCPA Trustee, the leader of the NJCPA Federal Taxation Interest Group and a member of the Content Advisory Board.
This article appeared in the May/June 2017 issue of New Jersey CPA magazine. Read the full issue.