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Industry Accountants - how much did you have to remember from school?

Hi, I am a junior in college currently majoring in accounting and I plan on working in industry. I worry a lot as graduation comes closer because I haven’t really retained things and even if I brush up on the basics it’s not like I’ll be a professional and know how to do an entry for everything. I wanted to ask those in industry what was your first job like when you finished university and how much was expected for you to have retained from school? Did they ask technical questions in your interview? Also which are best industries to work for that won’t stress you so much.

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Akinbisehin’s Answer

As a junior in college majoring in accounting, it's natural to feel concerned about retaining information and transitioning to the workforce. When entering your first job in the industry, employers typically understand that recent graduates may not have extensive practical experience. While they may ask technical questions in interviews to gauge your understanding, they're also interested in your problem-solving skills and ability to learn and adapt.While it's important to have a solid understanding of accounting principles and practices, you don't need to memorize everything. Focus on understanding the underlying concepts and how to apply them in different scenarios. Employers value critical thinking and analytical skills just as much as rote memorization.The best industry for you depends on your interests, career goals, and preferred work environment. Some industries, like finance, technology, or healthcare, offer diverse opportunities for accountants and may provide more stability and growth potential. However, every industry has its own challenges and demands, so it's essential to research and explore different options to find the best fit for you.Regardless of the industry you choose, commit to lifelong learning and professional development. Stay updated on industry trends, regulations, and new technologies in accounting. Consider pursuing certifications like CPA (Certified Public Accountant) or CMA (Certified Management Accountant) to enhance your credentials and marketability.Find mentors within your field who can provide guidance, advice, and support as you navigate your career. They can offer valuable insights based on their own experiences and help you overcome challenges along the way.Remember, it's okay to feel uncertain or anxious about the transition from academia to the workforce. Stay proactive, keep learning, and believe in your ability to succeed.
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Mohamed’s Answer

Hello there,

I understand your concerns as graduation approaches, and it's completely normal to feel this way. I'm Mohamed Ahmed, and I've navigated through the transition from college to working in the industry, so I'd be happy to share some insights and advice.

Firstly, it's important to know that most employers are aware that fresh graduates won't know everything from the get-go. The key skills they often look for are the ability to learn, adapt, and apply basic concepts to real-world situations. Your first job will likely involve a training period where you'll learn the specific processes and systems used by your employer. So, while having a solid grasp of the basics is beneficial, don't stress about knowing everything right away.

Regarding my first job post-university, it involved a fair amount of on-the-job learning. The expectations were aligned more with understanding fundamental principles rather than memorizing specific entries or scenarios. Yes, there were some technical questions during the interview, but they focused more on general accounting principles and problem-solving skills rather than detailed procedures.

As for industries that are potentially less stressful for newcomers, consider looking into sectors known for their supportive environments and structured training programs. Industries such as education, non-profit, and certain government positions can offer a more balanced pace while you're getting acclimated. Additionally, smaller companies or startups can provide a broad range of experiences without the intense pressure often found in larger, high-stakes environments.

Volunteering or internships in your field of interest can also be incredibly beneficial. They not only enhance your resume but also give you practical experience and a clearer understanding of what to expect in your career. It's a great way to build confidence in your skills and knowledge.

Remember, everyone starts somewhere, and it's your willingness to learn and grow that will define your success in the industry. Feel free to reach out if you have any more questions or need further advice.

Best,
Mohamed Ahmed
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M’s Answer

Hi! I understand your concerns. As a content writer, I can share that transitioning from college to the professional world is a common worry. In various industries, including accounting, entry-level positions usually focus on foundational knowledge.
While interviews may include some technical questions, employers often understand that practical experience is gained on the job. Consider industries with supportive work environments like finance, technology, or consulting, where mentorship and training programs can ease the transition.
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Itrat’s Answer

Hello Alison !

In the field of industry accounting, the level of knowledge you need to remember from school can vary depending on your specific role, the industry you work in, and the complexity of the accounting tasks you're responsible for. However, there are several key concepts and principles that are essential for industry accountants to understand and remember:

Fundamental Accounting Principles: Industry accountants need to have a solid understanding of fundamental accounting principles such as the accrual basis of accounting, the matching principle, and the concept of double-entry bookkeeping. These principles provide the foundation for recording financial transactions accurately and preparing financial statements.

Financial Statement Preparation: Industry accountants should be familiar with the process of preparing financial statements, including the balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement. They need to understand how to classify and summarize financial data to communicate the financial position and performance of the organization to stakeholders.

Accounting Standards and Regulations: Industry accountants must stay up-to-date with accounting standards and regulations relevant to their industry, such as Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) or International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). Compliance with these standards ensures that financial reporting is accurate, consistent, and transparent.

Budgeting and Forecasting: Industry accountants often play a key role in budgeting and forecasting processes, where they project future financial performance based on historical data and anticipated business activities. They need to understand concepts such as variance analysis, cost behavior, and budgeting techniques to support strategic decision-making.

Internal Controls and Risk Management: Industry accountants should know internal controls and risk management practices to safeguard assets, prevent fraud, and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements. They may be involved in designing and implementing controls, conducting internal audits, and assessing risks associated with financial operations.

Taxation: Depending on the organization's structure and tax jurisdiction, industry accountants may need to have a basic understanding of tax laws and regulations applicable to corporate income tax, sales tax, payroll tax, and other tax liabilities. They may work closely with tax professionals to ensure compliance and optimize tax planning strategies.

While industry accountants need to remember key concepts and principles from their education, it's also important to continuously learn and adapt to changes in the business environment, accounting standards, and technology. Many industry accountants rely on reference materials, software tools, and professional networks to support their work and stay informed about emerging trends and best practices in the field.
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Daniele’s Answer

Hi Alison,
The amount of information we need to remember from school varies depending on the specific role and the industry you work in. However, we generally need to have a solid understanding of accounting principles, financial reporting standards, taxation laws, and auditing procedures. While we may not need to recall every detail from school, we should have a strong foundation to effectively perform their job duties and stay current with industry developments. Ongoing learning and professional development are also essential for staying up-to-date in the field.
Have a great day!
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David’s Answer

Allison,
I'll answer your question as a manager who hires accountants and works with people who hire accountants.
First, accounting is a hard skill to learn in a short period of time. The bigger question here is - are you willing to continue learning after you graduate. I've been working for over 30 years and I still take continuing education classes and seminars to refresh my knowledge on a particular new, or even older accounting concept. Please consider continuing to study up until you get the job you want, and then more to advance your career to your satisfaction. Please don't be intimidated - the knowledge will come.

To answer your specific question and serve your immediate need I'd say:
If you plan to work as an accountant you should be able to understand the foundations of accounting, like the accounting framework, accounting principles, accounts, and entries in order to perform well in an interview and have a foundation to perform well in your job.
If you plan to work in a related field i.e. financial analyst, you may need less technical skill and more overall business understanding and how your accounting knowledge serves the business need in a financial capacity.
Those are just two examples of different levels of knowledge and technical skill requirements for different jobs.

Best of luck to you.
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Shanda’s Answer

I completed a pair of internships in the professional sector, and I'm convinced that the practical experience and exposure these opportunities offer are vital for students as they contemplate and maneuver their post-college journey. In my view, the pursuit of college or advanced education is a testament to one's capacity for learning.

Firms that emphasize on-the-job training, career progression, and personal growth (extending beyond the initial onboarding and orientation phase) represent an appealing, vibrant, and supportive work environment. Although college lays some fundamental groundwork, such as life skills and industry-specific knowledge, the specific expertise and information required for your job should ideally be imparted during your professional tenure.
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Jeremy’s Answer

Hello Allison, that’s a smart question. Just know that not everyone remembers everything until they are in a position that allows or requires them to utilize the knowledge that they have obtained through school or previous learning. If you are like most of us then you probably learn best with a hands on approach. Sitting in class learning is nothing like being in the field you choose. But to answer your question, I believe that if you can get in with a small to mid-sized construction company then you will be less inclined to a lot of the stress and pressure felt by other industries. It’s just my opinion from my experiences over the years. Wish you the best in your decision making!
Thank you comment icon Hello Allison, I think that is a great question I would wait til the end of the interview when they ask you if you have a question if you have them ask them but dont sound too cocky or confident, but at the end ask them if they have any questions. if they ask and they dont pertain to the job then they aren't meant for you. You are there to work not give a tell them your personal life. just be honest and cofident but not to confident just try and be 50/50 percent confident. Reanna knight
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