A post from guest blogger Renee Malenowski, Accounting Program Chair:
“Who in their right mind would do this for a living?” That was my first response halfway through my first course in accounting, and one of many to come!
Contrary to popular belief, accounting really isn’t really a “math” type career. Sure, it has numbers, you do calculations and you balance things–it sounds pretty cut and dry. It’s one of those careers that as you are studying it you wonder what it’s like in the real world–is it just staring at numbers all day? Can you only be an accountant?
Like many career fields, the first step is just understanding basic concepts of the career. I learned to understand terms like general ledger, double-entry, subsidiary ledgers, debits, credits and the list goes on. But as you get into the meat of any program, especially accounting, you start to wonder what in the world are you going to do with all of this knowledge and how are you going to apply it to a career.
Being in the boat of not knowing how I was going to apply my accounting knowledge to a career, I started researching the jobs related to accounting and visiting companies to get a handle on what all of this meant in the real world.
What I found was a massive amount of information about things I could do, jobs I could work, goals I could reach. It was starting to unfold before my eyes and I started seeing the exciting things I could do. I could go into auditing and actually become a detective–examining the financial statements for proper accounting, errors, and yes, even fraud. I could be an interpreter of foreign material (accounting) as the ‘keeper’ of the financial information. I could be a controller or CFO, ready to interpret the financial information to senior management, who sat anxiously wanting to know how the company was performing. It would be a diplomatic and prestigious job. I could be an IRS Agent, (that word “agent” has a mysterious sound to it). I could do taxes and quit paying to have my taxes done! Oh, the possibilities were endless. The more I read about accounting careers, the faster I wanted to get through school and get started on this exciting career!
So are you wondering how it all turned out for me? Was I just dreaming about getting the “fun” and nearly impossible accounting jobs out there? Did I become a detective, find fraud or help people with their taxes?
Well, after graduating, I studied for the CPA exam and passed it. I went to work for a CPA firm and did detective work. From company to company, I looked through financial books, found errors to correct and adjustments to book. I felt elated to think I was finding these things! I went to work for a company where, with much enthusiasm, I went from auditing their receivables to becoming their controller. And the detective work? I uncovered a large fraud scheme perpetrated by the CFO. I spent months recreating the fraudulent acts, weeks with lawyers laying it all out, and days in the courtroom bringing the CFO to a swift, guilty plea.
In five words: I LOVE what I do. And now, I have come full circle to teach students at Minnesota School of Business to become the best they can be and to show them the truly exciting world of accounting.