You finally made it; you graduated college, landed a great job at a renown accounting firm, and you have the rest of the summer to relax. Because public accounting firms aren’t busy during the summer season you won’t start your job until September or October. This is your last real summer break and you know you won’t have another summer off until you retire (or get fired). This is the big one, the final hurrah. So the question is, what do you do with the summer before you start a career in public accounting?
Take the First (and maybe the second) Week Off
After spending the majority of your life in a classroom it’s important to find time to relax. Don’t worry about unpacking or even sorting through the endless number of knickknacks you collected from college – take it easy, you deserve it. Find a beach, sit in the sand, and proceed to do nothing for the next two weeks
Study For The CPA Exam
I know what you’re thinking, the last thing you want to do is study. But studying for and passing at least one part of the CPA exam during the summer puts you at a competitive advantage. Employers love new staff members that take initiative and get the CPA exams out of the way early. You’ll thank yourself in the long run because once you start your new job you’ll soon realize how hard it will be to find time to study.
Shop For Work Clothes
This might seem obvious but most people starting in public accounting don’t realize how much professional attire you will need – especially if you work at a public accounting firm that is more conservative. Transitioning from flip-flops and sweatpants to a suit and tie will probably the biggest hurdle for most young accountants. Once tax season is in full force you’ll find yourself working 6 days a week and needing 6 different outfits. When the occasional “Jeans Friday” comes around you will find yourself wondering, “Jeans?…. what are jeans?”
Work on Your Soft Skills
If you thought, like I did, that accounting was all about crunching numbers in a back room with little to no human interaction then you would be wrong. Those starting out in public accounting are on the front lines: answering phone calls, responding to emails, coordinating with supervisors, and calling in food orders (somebody has to call in the pizza order for late nights at the office).
The summer is the perfect time to brush up on your skills: go to bars and talk to people, jokingly respond to every text as if it was to your boss, actually call someone instead of texting. These are small ways to get ready for a job that requires constant communication.
My Summer Before Public Accounting
The summer before I started in public accounting I spent most of my time working at a part time job and laying on the beach. I delivered fruit baskets some days and drove down to Jones Beach on other days. I spent all my money going to concerts and events and lived paycheck to paycheck. One time I used $5 in quarters to put enough gas in my car to last me until pay day. I studied for and passed one part of the CPA exam and read a few books. I went to Puerto Rico for the first time with my family and got the worst sunburn of my life.
All in all, I would say the summer before starting a career in public accounting is one of the most impactful moments on a young professional’s life. This period marks the transition between your college and professional life. Enjoy it while you can and make this summer the best summer of your life.