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“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”
One of the fundamentals that got me through this career change was fully understanding what I had to give up to get where I wanted to be.
I already had a Masters degree in Agriculture when I decided to switch careers in 2011, and went back to school on January of 2012. I was in class (brick and mortar state school, Big4 feeder) for all but three weeks over the next 23 months – I took summer school and made use of the interim sessions between summer and fall and over winter break to take online classes. I put my social life on hold and watched my SO and friends head off for weekend camping trips and other fun stuff while I stayed home to study. 23 months of all accounting, all the time…
Knowing my age (43 at graduation) would work against me when it came time to get public experience, I started looking a year early. I identified regional and boutique firms that had taken on other non-traditional candidates and found a part-time $10/hr position in the finance department of a small municipality to replace the more traditional internship experience that I was unlikely to get. At school, I participated in Beta Alpha Psi and made sure I had a very strong GPA. I practiced my pitch for Meet the Firms night and conversed regularly with my professors to get introductions and help build a professional network. I landed four interviews and received two offers through campus recruiting, and I accepted the offer with a boutique firm in Denver that seemed to have the best cultural fit. I had a job in public waiting for me after graduation, likely the most difficult step for non-traditional students in Accounting. I credit good long-term planning, realistic expectations and a little luck with successfully entering public accounting at age 43. The backstory is that I had an open spot in my interview schedule so I requested an interview with that firm “just for practice”… and ended up working there for nearly 2 years. Lucky, for sure.
I put the CPA exam on hold because of demands at work, and ended up cold-sitting for FAR in 2014 with zero hope of passing just so I wouldn’t throw away an NTS fee. I got a 26. 🙂
About a year later, I got serious. I dug out the Roger Course I bought when I graduated and modified his study plans to fit my schedule. I applied for BEC first because I was
told it was “easiest” (that’s debatable). A friend told me about Ninja, and I added Ninja MCQ for my final review. I took 6 weeks to study and passed in Feb 2016. AUD was next, I used the same study timeline and Ninja MCQ to pass in April 2016, and I had more confidence from the proof that my study system was working.
I put everything on hold when I quit my job and relocated to western CO in July 2016. After three months, I took a new position in banking and picked up the REG book on November 1st, one week after I started working full time again. I sat for REG on January 4th, took one day off, and started studying for FAR on January 6th, planning for a Hail Mary attempt on March 10th. I passed REG and FAR with 8 weeks of prep, again using Roger lectures and Ninja MCQ.
I took three days off from work to squeak in a few more hours for FAR, but the routine for all four exams was ~2 hours every weeknight and 10-12 hours every weekend. I went through the book and lectures first, and spent the last three weeks of review on MCQ. I took maybe three days off from studying for each section. This “willful immersion” got me four passes in four tries. Ignoring my little
Sabbtical last summer, it took leas than 8 months of prep time to get through all four parts.
Now it is time to move on. Thanks for all the study tips, commiseration and encouragement through this process; I read many more posts than I wrote, taking in the experience of others to maintain momentum and keep my eye on the prize. I took the Ethics exam and submitted my CO application the day after the last Q1 score release, and now I’m re-learning how to enjoy free evenings and weekends again. Congratulations to those who have also finished, and good luck to those who aren’t quite there yet. Y’all can and will *CRUSH* this thing!