Why We Do This: the CPA Exam Journey

Sometimes I need to ask myself what the purpose of this marathon is.  I need to motivate myself to push through the long hours of studying and keep myself grounded on the reality of what is to come.  We all have our stories, and we all have battle scars.  We come from different pasts and experiences, but the CPA exam is something we all share together.  What follows is my short story.

I graduated from college in 2001 with a degree in Finance.  I grew up in Montana and I didn’t own a ranch or a farm, so I moved to a city that didn’t entirely scare me, yet had opportunities for a young graduate.  I landed in banking.  After four years of working in various finance and technology roles, I felt something was missing and that I didn’t have a clear direction for my career.  Certainly there is nothing wrong with working in banking, but it just wasn’t for me.  I was jealous of my friends and peers who had found their niche, their calling.

Opportunity struck a few years later when I had an opportunity to work for a start-up company.  My job was to work on financing the business expansion and becoming a controller for the business segment.  Wow, I had no experience with this, but after working with a local CPA firm, I quickly realized that I wanted to be on their side of the desk during meetings.  I met with one of the partners to discuss their career as a CPA and I walked away motivated to take the necessary steps to become a CPA.  I quickly realized that my finance degree lacked the course work and cumulative credits to sit for the CPA exam.  I had to go back to school.

Just weeks after I applied to a local university, the start-up company downsized, and my world began to spin.  Fortunately, I found a job working as a consultant for a Fortune 500 company within a few weeks.  The job was temporary, but a job is a job during a recession, and I was grateful.  I enrolled in accounting courses that fall and completed the requirements within 18 months.

Along the way I noticed something.  Nearly every controller and finance director had worked in public accounting and had a CPA certificate.  Interesting?  CPAs don’t just work in public accounting; they are highly demanded in the private sector as well!  Good thing I’m going for this.

In my ten years of work experience, I’ve noticed a trend in employment for finance and accounting people.  It is quite simple.  The CPA certificate puts you at the top of the mix.  I’m in public accounting now and have worked on audits, valuations, forensic investigations, technology engagement, and more.  When I think of quitting this process, I step back and realize the opportunities I’ve already been given, and I haven’t even finished my CPA exams yet.  Keep pushing, keep working, and opportunities will abound.

If you find yourself wanting to quit or thinking you don’t have what it takes, then remember one thing.  CPAs don’t give up, and you have what it takes to join that high-class of professionals.  The learning never stops, but the exams do, and the experience will be with you for a lifetime.  Roger CPA prepares you well, and with enthusiasm to boot. Keep at it!

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