Many people don’t understand what we do. A lot of people “think” they know what accountants do; “oh yeah, you guys do taxes and audits right?” And a large group of people definitely think accounting is boring, tedious, mindless or flat out lame. And to an extent, they’re right. So why do people stay in accounting? What are the benefits?
[Keep in mind as you read this. I like my job and I really like my coworkers. But like any other job where you’re relatively new there will be lots of things you suck at. So sometimes I get stressed out and complain, but in the end I’m happy where I am.]
To many accounting is synonymous with mindless number crunching. If you asked me how I felt about accounting after my first month I would have absolutely agreed. But after staring at excel schedules, trial balances, hand book sections and tax acts all day something starts to happen. You develop the ability to do the mindless number crunching without thinking, which frees up your mind to look at the big picture. Essentially you’re able to identify the difference between details and the big picture. And the ability to differentiate between the two allows you to transition between them much easier. It’s easy to get caught up in the mundane details of an engrossing project. This makes it really hard to lift your head up and ask yourself, “is what I’m doing make sense?” Conversely you need to understand the details as they make up the big picture. That’s why being able to transition rapidly between both points of view is so important. The more files I work on, the better I get with this.
Being an accountant you get to see how many different businesses work. As you complete more files, you begin to see a feedback effect, where what you’ve learned on a previous file can be applied to your current one. Therefore to be good at your job it becomes a requirement to always be learning. Not just learning though. You need to learn with the foresight of questioning “how will this information be useful to me in the future?” And I’ve found the difference between these two types of learning to be extremely important. It forces you to develop the ability to see useful pieces of information that you don’t need now, but you will need later.
These are some of the benefits I’ve come across while working in public accounting. Does knowing these things make my job any less tedious? Nope. Does it make it any less boring? Maybe a tad, but not much. But I’m speaking as a 24 year old with one year’s worth of experience. And I trust that sticking with something that forces me to get better will ultimately be in my long run self-interest.