Tips to succeed as first-year accountant

By Jack Castonguay

In the transition from college degree to first job in accounting, the stakes are high – and the rewards are even higher. You’re launching a rewarding career offering good pay and a multitude of advancement opportunities.  

For first-year accountants, there will be long days during busy season, but this also is an incredible learning experience. Pay close attention to workplace norms and culture, and you’ll make your mark as a reliable, knowledgeable team member.  

Many industry veterans say this also is the time to earn your CPA credential. Nuts? Probably, but with the right study aids, you can do it. The CPA gives your plans a lift that make your first year in accounting the runway to your dream career.  

Tips to help first-year accountants make a smooth transition

Hopefully, you’ve had an internship to expose you to accounting workplaces, but this time, you’re not just earning credits. You’re earning a reputation for delivering hard work and fresh ideas. Follow these tips to ease the transition.  

Sharpen your soft skills

Remember the blissful days of college, when all you needed to know was the content of your next exam? It’s important to keep all that knowledge in your head, but now you need more. Employers watch for “soft skills,” which is another way of saying “knowing how to work with people.”  

This is the time to learn how to hold a professional conversation, deliver a firm handshake, make eye contact, and communicate with clarity and transparency. Be observant about how people interact. Learn how to listen, and model your behavior after the professional practices on display around you. 

Keep learning

Learning doesn’t stop after you graduate. The right Continuing Professional Education (CPE) does more than rack up credits. Through strategically chosen CPE courses, you keep up-to-date with changes and position yourself as the office go-to person in specialty areas. Surgent offers a robust slate of CPE courses for accountants, taught by experts and delivered via on-demand webinars that suit your schedule.  

Lifelong learning doesn’t have to be formalized, either. In that first year, soak in every bit of onboarding, training and mentoring you possibly can. Ask questions. Then ask more questions. Your colleagues will be flattered, and your employer will notice your diligence.  

Navigate busy season

You’ve heard about, and now it’s here – busy season. Know that you will work evenings and weekends, and you will be exhausted. Hopefully, your employer offers helpful perks, such as catered meals or work-from-home options, but in the end, survival depends on you.  

Take steps to manage stress and assure work-life balance. Discipline yourself to take full-hour lunch breaks, eat right, hydrate, walk away from the desk hourly and stick to your scheduled workouts. Don’t be tempted to chuck everything healthy, because you will perform at 100% when your mind is sharp and your body is properly fueled.  

Be sure to plan a vacation for post-busy season for a well-earned break and motivation to get through the long days and nights.  

Use your time wisely

Social media is a life essential, but as you transition into a professional setting, remember that technology is a tool. Don’t let it lure you away, physically or mentally, from the job. Put limits on social activity and social media time, especially during busy season and if your job involves hourly billing. Establish specific times during the workday for checking Instagram posts or texts from friends.  

While you’re at it, learn from colleagues how to leverage social media for networking and accessing industry news and updates. Your career will get a boost from the contacts and tips, and your networking acquaintances could turn into genuine friends.  

Study for the CPA Exam

Now comes the question: When should I go for my CPA? After all, the CPA is your ticket to career advancement and higher pay. Short-term sacrifices will deliver long-term benefits.  

Many young accountants earn the CPA credential early in their careers, even if it means doing the tightrope walk of studying for an intensive exam while getting used to a new job. The time is now because you’re still in a studying mindset, and employers want to see you striving.  

A study plan and rigid adherence to a calendar help you build your competence until the day you’re ready to take that first test. The top-rated Surgent CPA Review lightens the load, with help creating a studying plan and maximizing the knowledge you already have to lessen study time, assure that you pass the exam and maintain work-life balance. 

Save time and pass faster with Surgent

Surgent CPA Review adjusts your studies to your knowledge and learning style. It’s the fastest route to the CPA, propelling you into the next phase of your career.  

Adaptive learning

Surgent CPA Review harnesses the power of adaptive learning technology to customize studies to your learning needs. 

  • Surgent’s A.S.A.P. Technology® is always adapting, serving you content in your weak areas to prepare you faster to take the CPA Exam. 
  • You study the materials that will be on the actual CPA Exam. When you sit for the exam, you’re fully familiar with the formats of multiple-choice questions and simulations. 
  • Short video lectures, with helpful notes, are delivered by a team of expert instructors.  
  • MyMCQ™, Surgent’s latest, award-winning software enhancement, serves multiple-choice questions that are challenging enough to help you progress through studies as fast as possible. It’s a kind of wizardry that senses your current knowledge and prods you to master the next level.  
  • Surgent’s adaptive learning algorithm produces a study plan that’s customized to your needs through a personalized dashboard known as Your Daily Surge. You’re not reviewing stale material that you’ve already mastered but are tackling the topics you need to know. 

Expert instructors

Surgent CPA Review students don’t do this alone. Surgent provides unparalleled support and expert instructors, all delivered to accommodate your timeline and schedule.  

  • Expert instructors are engaging and skilled at teaching. Surgent instructors are not only leaders with extensive knowledge in their fields. They also are experienced educators who break down complex subjects into comprehensible form. 
  • Surgent helps you create a personalized study plan. Your plan is unique to your needs, schedule, demands and career goals. This is not the time for guesswork. A meticulously crafted study plan is feasible to implement and gets you faster to your goal of passing the CPA Exam.  
  • Surgent also provides 1-on-1 virtual coaching from a CPA Exam expert that’s available with Premier Pass and Ultimate Pass purchases. Sometimes, you need a little extra guidance from someone who has been there. From beginning to end, Surgent’s experienced, compassionate coaches help you hone your study plan and stay on track.

ReadySCORE™ and pass guarantee

When to take the test is another decision that can’t be left to guesswork. Surgent CPA Review tells you when you’re ready to take the test. It’s just one way that Surgent builds confidence every step of the way: 

  • The proprietary ReadySCORE™ predicts what your score would be if you were to take the test that day. Remarkably, ReadySCORE is 98% accurate! Score 75 or higher on practice exams, and you know you’re ready to take the CPA Exam. 
  • Surgent offers a 100% pass guarantee. From the moment you enroll until you pass the CPA Exam, you have full access to Surgent CPA Review and its state-of-the-art learning. 
  • You get peace of mind. An investment in the right study aid is an investment in your future. Instead of worrying about passing the test, you can concentrate on your studies. Even better, you can keep your mind on your new job and get the attention of co-workers and employers who see you as a valuable asset to the team.

Discover how Surgent can enhance your career

It’s your first year as a new accountant. You’ve got this! Your college degree was just the beginning. You have chosen a field where the learning never stops, and Surgent is your lifelong partner. Chances are, the next step in your career plan is earning your CPA credential, which opens doors to jobs, opportunities and pay rates that are closed to non-CPA accountants.  

Surgent CPA Review tailors studies to your individual needs and schedule, so you study smarter and pass faster. Plus, Surgent’s rich choice of CPE courses keeps you up-to-date on hot topics, so you stay relevant and current for your employer and your clients as your career advances.  

With Surgent on your side, the momentum never stops on the way to achieving your career goals. Find out how Surgent CPA Review can help advance your career. Sign up today for a free trial.