The Importance of Learning and Adaptation
Photo by Wes Battoclette
With an ever-shifting economy and college tuition costs soaring, many young adults are thinking long and hard about their career choices and the opportunities that might be available to them in the future. In particular, career paths that take one closer to the sphere of accounting and financial advising have become greatly affected by the economic climate, the speed of technological advances and the continuing shift into a global market. Don Fritz, a CPA and shareholder with VonLehman, says the most important thing anyone looking to become an accountant should consider is whether or not they want a career or just a job.
“If someone chooses an ongoing, professional career path, they’ll need to be prepared for a competitive environment,” says Fritz. “You have to work hard to succeed, which takes a lot of sacrifice and time. You’re also going to have to be willing to learn right up until the day you retire because every professional has to stay abreast of new information.”
Fritz, who has worked with VonLehman for 22 years and has been an accountant for 40, has seen the profession make distinctive shifts since he first started. However, he says nothing has changed the world of accounting quite like the technological revolution of the past 20 years.
“The economy comes and goes, and you adjust,” he says. “But as a profession, the most dramatic change we’ve undergone has to be technology.” Since technology has become a factor in almost every profession, Fritz suggests that students planning a career path as an accountant prepare themselves for the ramifications of this technological revolution. “ The sheer volume of professional information that you have to have a grasp on has increased,” he says.
The process has not just shifted away from simple forms, papers and calculators, it has also changed how companies and individuals do their taxes, train employees, store information and manage their finances. “It can be hard to keep up, but everyone has to be trained well and know how to use a vast amount of tools,” says Fritz. “Technology has made the world more complex, for better or worse.”
Because accounting is reliant on global shifts and the information new technology brings to the table, accountants must have an understanding of international markets and an acute awareness of international events. “You also have to consider what topics are applicable to your client’s specific circumstances,” says Fritz. “Their company maybe affected by oil and gas prices, or other global factors that they may deal with. You have to use a lot of professional judgment in whether factors impact their performance.”
Fritz also advises those looking to start a career in accounting to work on themselves personally as much as they work on their professional work. “ You have to be exposed to a lot of things and learn what you need to be competent – which takes time – but you also need to be willing to develop,” he says. “It’s one thing to be knowledgeable and have professional experience, but you also have to have great inter-personal skills. You need to be able to express yourself both in writing and speaking, and convince those around you that you are truly the best person for the job you’re in.”
Few college graduates fresh out of the classroom can be choosy about the positions they accept, but Fritz suggests searching for a firm that feels comfortable. Each individual will feel comfortable and productive for different reasons, and it’s important to find a workplace that keeps employees happy and motivated. “When I interviewed and came to VonLehman, I was looking for somewhere I could be comfortable with people socially and professionally,” says Fritz. “Everyone there respects and addresses one another; they all have the same business principles and motivation. It’s really like being a part of a family, and it goes above and beyond a normal professional environment.”
In the end, students and young professionals must decide which major to choose and which career path to embark. As Fritz recommends, there’s a distinctive difference between choosing a full professional career and choosing a job. “No matter what school you go to, what you get out of your position is what you make it.”
VonLehman has offices in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. You can reach them at 800.887.0437, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website at www.vlcpa.com.