Thursday, May 2, 2013

Your First Job as a Corporate Accountant

Those considering a career in accounting and those that have completed their college coursework will want to have an idea what awaits them when they finally start that first job in accounting.  Accounting is a worthwhile, stable and generally well-paid vocation, but starting out can be difficult and stressful. 

There are many distinct fields of accounting that one can wind up in for a first position.  Public Accounting, or acting as an outside auditor, is one of the better known, but virtually every organization larger than a few employees needs an accountant.  Companies, hospitals, and governments all need financial statements put together by accountants for auditors to audit. 

Although each type of job, and every company, is somewhat different, as someone starting your first job, there are a number of things you can expect no matter where you happen to fall. 

Jobs for a Beginning Accountant

Since you are starting out at the bottom, it is very likely you are going to be assigned the most menial task that the office has, something no one else wants to do.  You’ll find that four years of intense study at the university is more of less useless in your first few months.  No one will give you anything to do that requires advanced accounting knowledge. 

Depending on how technically advanced your office is, the first few jobs will consist of working with an already created database, collating financial documents, or filing away all the reports that have been waiting for your arrival.  A novice isn’t going to be trusted with presenting to the board of directors or reviewing the CFO’s work. 

The most likely job a beginning accounting will get is to prepare the bank reconciliation.  In a large company, this is usually tedious work and will likely be several months behind.  Preparing account reconciliations is pretty safe work to hand to a novice, as is preparing journal entries.  Expect to have to do several revisions, as accountants are very particular people by nature. 

Hours of Work

A beginning accountant is expected to be at work the same hours the senior staff do, even if they haven’t been trusted with much work to do.  Expect to be there late into the evening and some weekends, especially if it tax or budget time.  It is most important to look busy when any of the big bosses are around.

Moving up the Accounting Ladder

Eventually, newer accountants are given more meaningful tasks under close supervision.  How long depends on the size of the company and whether any vacancies appear above.   The novice can look forward to years of doing financial program analyses, monthly closes and dealing with bankers, auditors and department heads, if they can get through the first few months and years.