Are you studying accounting and are about to graduate? Don't know what awaits you after college, or what alternatives are available within the accounting industry?
We interviewed mentors and professionals from Puerto Rico and created a compilation of their experiences in the field to help you know what to prioritize or what your future options are before you graduate in the coming months.
Accounting opens doors for you
What careers related to accounting do you recommend for recent graduate students?
- Albert Tamarez: “Courses related to computers, programming, even computer repair.”
- Raquel Ortiz: “Law. Tax and corporate law”.
- Eugenio Lomba: “You must specialize. Law, if you go for taxes, and investments, if you go for finances. You can't cover everything. Go smaller and give better service.”
- Miguel Fonseca: “Study law. Specialize in contributory areas.”
- María de los Ángeles: “I have learned that what you study at university is not necessarily what you end up practicing as a profession. So, I would say that it is important to look for what fulfills you and what complements your purpose. You must know what you want to do to know where you are going to do it. If you studied accounting, this could help you with many things, such as starting or continuing as a CPA.”
- Alejandro Méndez: “I understand that everything related to health is important, especially in Puerto Rico, with its steady increase in the aging population. So, careers related to health, be it a pharmacy technician, a laboratory, x-ray, nurse, or doctor - I think there is a lot of work out there. Accounting is important and I believe that people have learned over time that accounting has a lot to contribute to the decision-making of a company, and in that sense, I believe that accounting will always be relevant.”
- Rolando Lopez: “I always recommend that there be a match between your aptitudes and your skills and what is required in the different areas of accounting.”
- José Figueroa: “Finances. The stock market and cryptocurrency. That is something that has already started, and we'll have to integrate them soon when filing taxes. Federally speaking, it's worse if you don't know about it. You would lose a lot of customers. Right now, I would tell you that 30% of the individuals I work with have investments and that 30% are investing in cryptocurrency. On the other hand, I think people should have some marketing skills. That knowledge, when the client comes with an idea that they want to do or experiment with, is not a bad thing.”
- Lilliam Cedeño: “I like to remind students that they don't have to graduate to start working. Once you get your accounting specialist number, you can fill out taxes without having graduated yet. I emphasize the topic of payroll. Payroll is something they can start working on before they graduate. Learn about the IVU. Specialize in an area. There are fields, and according to what one likes, one can specialize.”
- José A. Tort: “Laws”.
What advice do you have for accounting students who are about to graduate?
- Albert Tamarez: “I always advise them to seek experience in their field of work before graduating. Theory must be tied to practice. Do not only pay attention to what is captured in a book but go further."
- Raquel Ortiz: “May they always aspire to the maximum within their profession.”
- Miguel Fonseca: “The system has changed a little. That is why it is important to study accounting as it was before, where the tasks were done manually, tasks that give you a visualization of what the job entails. Students nowadays don’t know what a T-account looks like, a visualization that is needed.”
- María de los Ángeles: “You're about to graduate, so keep going. Take the exam as soon as possible so as not to waste years of study.”
- Alejandro Méndez: “They must aspire to the Certified Public Accountant license, regardless of what area they are going to practice in. They must fight to obtain this license. Secondly, allow yourself to work in a company where you are supervised. I think it is a mistake to want to graduate and quickly want to start a business or an accounting firm without having experience. Anyone who wants to start a business must acquire at least ten years of experience.”
- Rolando Lopez: “Carry on with your studies.”
- José Figueroa: “You must be firm. If I can give you one piece of advice, it is that when you graduate, don't fill out taxes for a family member. None... you have to be very careful with who you accept in your company, especially when you are starting in your career. You must carefully evaluate who you are choosing. Be selective, don't believe everything they tell you. Stay within the laws.”
- Lilliam Cedeño: “Don't limit yourself to one thing. Learn and acquire knowledge from other concentrations because that will open more doors for you. It reminds me of a student who did research and discovered that the manager of an H&M store had a background in accounting. Meaning that those who are going to study management are going to need knowledge in accounting.”
- José A. Tort: “What I see all the time is that people don't deliver on time. You must constantly deliver what you promised: financial reports, spreadsheets, etc. Don't let everything accumulate until the last minute."
What should every recent graduate or person practicing as an accountant do to stay current in the accounting profession?
- Albert Tamarez: “You should be taking continuous education courses in your area of work and in topics that interest you. I don't audit, I take auditing classes to stay up to date on the processes that it entails. Do not discard some areas of study or become obsolete in others."
- Raquel Ortiz: “Continuous education is the only way to keep up with so much change.”
- Eugenio Lomba: “Look for someone to help you make it easier to stay up to date.”
- Miguel Fonseca: “Continuous education. Seminars and gaining experience in other fields.”
- María de los Ángeles: “Study and read. Something I do is use my LinkedIn account to bookmark topics that interest me, and I start my days by reading about those topics to stay up to date. It's an easy way to access information and stay informed. Also, become a member of the CPA, as it has many training resources and sources of information to help you stay up to date. But it is crucial to find a way to stay up to date.”
- Alejandro Méndez: “You must take continuous education seminars. The market provides many options, both online and in person, and the truth is that it is imperative. This profession is constantly changing, no matter if I work in the area of authorship or taxes, so continuing your education is important.”
- Rolando Lopez: “Continuous education – through associations, certifications, and your research.”
- José Figueroa: “To keep your license up to date, those 120 credits that I previously mentioned are necessary by law. You shouldn't focus on the fact that there are 120. If you can add 200 or more, do it. If a seminar comes up, take advantage of it. You must stay up to date on all possible laws and all possible changes. In Puerto Rico, they even change the form sometimes. Maybe next year it will be the same number, but they change a checkmark and that can damage the entire tax form. On the other hand, sharing what you know with other people, being able to hear what is new, helps a lot.”
- Lilliam Cedeño: “Continuous education. You must read, you have to study, you have to prepare and update yourself with what is happening.”
- José A. Tort: “They must be studying constantly. Do not let the changes that arise accumulate.”
Studying accounting is just the beginning. You have the opportunity to select which branch of study interests you and how to stand out as a professional within it. Find your niche, seek to gain experience, and surround yourself with professionals who complement your skills.
To learn how Expert Tax can help you in your accounting studies, visit our blog Are you an accounting Student? Do you know about Expert Tax?
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