How to survive your first year as an accountant
By PJ Bishop, Vice-President for Partners, Accountants & Alliances, Africa & Middle East at Sage
You’ve spent many years studying and the time has finally arrived. You’re about to go out into the world and embark on your first year as a professional accountant.
While this is an exciting time, it can also be more than a little daunting. After all, university has equipped you with all the theory you need, but the real world can be unpredictable.
Here are four things to remember that you may not have learned in accounting theory:
:People skills are important
No doubt, accountant skills, like knowing everything there is to know about auditing, macro- and micro-economics, cloud computing, and cloud software, are important.
However, people skills are just as significant in making the transition to a successful professional life.
When you go for your first interview, start your new job, sit in the office every day or engage with your new colleagues remotely, you’ll need to use these skills to impress, communicate, and solve problems at work.
Remember, your future manager or employer will be assessing your soft skills in the interview.
They’ll be observing things like eye contact, how you hold yourself, your self-awareness, and the ability to engage in a professional conversation.
Equally important is to consider you’ll be part of a team. You’re going to work with people of different cultures, religions, and races – quite likely located in different geographies around the world – so it’s a good idea to learn about them while remaining polite and respectful.
This fosters mutual respect that is crucial for a healthy working environment.
Never stop learning
Get into the habit of learning all the time. Your degree is just the first step. Never stop asking questions and learning new skills.
As a lifelong learner, you remain open to continuous personal development.
For starters, this key skill will help you:
- Complete onboarding programmes to learn about your new firm’s culture and procedures
- Meet new colleagues
- Familiarise yourself with new cloud-based accounting practices and business management software.
Embrace this time. Take it all in. Very often, you’ll be required to learn on the job.
Even experienced accountants can learn something new.
Accepting the unknown is a vital part of your skills development in the new world of work.
You’re new at this and, therefore, are not expected to know everything.
This is the perfect time for you to ask questions and find out all you need to know – about your colleagues, different work scenarios and professional experiences.
What’s more, your boss and colleagues will expect you to ask questions. They were once in your position, so it’s a good way for you to earn their respect while also learning from – and avoiding their mistakes.
See your performance reviews not as criticism of your work but as an opportunity to understand where you can improve. Keep a list of all the things you’re learning – and all the things you want to learn – so you can get progressively better at what you do.
:Manage your time
People often start their careers and work until they burn out. Make sure you’re prepared for what your new life throws at you:
- Your first busy season will be challenging. Prepare for it and use your time wisely.
- Make sure your family and loved ones understand this time of year is particularly stressful and that you need their support. Also explain that it’s only for a short period.
- Don’t neglect your health. Nutrition and exercise must always be a priority, no matter how busy you get.
- Schedule holidays and rest time so you can recover and spend quality time with the people you love.
:A final word
While there is no formula for success, some things are certainly within your control. This is a new and exciting time in your life, and your career is just beginning.
Go out there and show off what you’ve learned while continuing to learn. Take each day as it comes, learn from every opportunity that arises, and help people where you can
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