Author Topic: feeling like a failure as a accountant  (Read 2133 times)

theyoungaccountant5757

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feeling like a failure as a accountant
« on: April 15, 2018, 10:05:33 AM »
   I'm a new accountant got a job right out of college and I went straight into tax season. I thought the company would teach me  but they just threw me work and expected me to know how to do it. I have become better but I feel like a failure because I keep making mistakes. I'm writing my self notes to I don't make the same mistakes but I'm afraid they are going to fire me. They have a intern and I think they like her better then me.  I'm not sure what to do.

ysette9

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Re: feeling like a failure as a accountant
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2018, 10:39:54 AM »
I feel for you and have two thoughts.

First, look up Imposter Syndrome. You probably are suffering from it. I certainly have had it badly in the past.

Secondly, it is normal to feel you don’t know what you are doing and mad mistakes in the beginning of your first job out of college. Employers know that and smart ones plan for it by providing training and mentoring. Don’t stop asking questions! It took me over a year before I felt like I had learned enough to even start earning my paycheck at my first job. Keep focusing and trying hard and asking for help, but cut yourself some slack as well. The transition from college to work is a hard one and it takes time to get comfortable.

plainjane

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Re: feeling like a failure as a accountant
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2018, 12:15:00 PM »
There are a bunch of recent Accounting grads on the forum who might be good people to speak with. Take a look around the journals. [eta: I initially tagged the wrong Amanda. @AmandaS1989 is the one I was thinking of]

From a general work perspective - talk with your boss about the mistakes and how you're trying to avoid them in the future. Ask if they have any other ideas and whether they feel like your learning curve is slower than was expected.

In addition to your boss, is there someone in your office who has been there for a year and was going through this journey in Apr 2017? Can you take them out for coffee and ask to pick their brain about the ramp up?

Without knowing the number and severity of mistakes and how they were caught, it's hard to give specific feedback. I would say that brains can be cruel when you're tired and overworked, which it seems is a common thing for accountants during tax season. Try to do what you can to sleep, get decent food, and move your body on a regular basis.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2018, 12:17:05 PM by plainjane »

L2

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Re: feeling like a failure as a accountant
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2018, 12:34:59 PM »
I reckon I was in a similar position you are in when I started in large public accounting in January of 2014. Not much time to settle in before busy season. Really don't know anything (and you aren't really expected to know much). Imposter syndrome.

My first piece of advice (one that helped ease my worries early in my career as well) - solicit feedback from your coach. Thats a good way to clear the air to see what their expectation are and see how you are doing.

From my perspective for new hires - get work done and try to work somewhat efficiently. Be a good communicator, meet deadlines, take notes, be able to learn from your mistakes and show the ability to develop technical skills and you will be fine. Working hard and showing the ability to develop is what is most important early in your career. People always make mistakes...that's why there are multiple steps of review. Speaking of review, make sure you do a self-review before sending to your senior/manager. Use last year as your guide if you haven't already. Makes thing much easier.

Regarding the firing thing, and assuming you are at least a national firm (anything smaller will vary some), they likely aren't going to give up on your prior to 6 months. If you get put on a performance improvement plan, you will likely be fired. If not, you are good for the foreseeable future. Best of luck and congrats on finishing your first busy season!

Linda_Norway

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Re: feeling like a failure as a accountant
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2018, 01:20:36 PM »
Can you find a relevant course for yourself? Often you need to suggest things like education yourself. Your boss might have an education budget, but doesn't suggest you to have any. Come with a suggestion yourself and let your boss pay for it.

SweetRedWine

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Re: feeling like a failure as a accountant
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2018, 04:00:45 PM »
When I started at a small public accounting firm right out of college it was a similar situation.  They do seem to expect you to know how to do work that they have to know you've never done before.  I'm actually glad it isn't just me who felt that way. 

If you stick with it, and continue to learn and reduce your mistakes (note taking, etc.), eventually it does get easier.  I'm pretty sure I was in a blind panic for at least the first two years of public accounting.  I don't remember much of it, except that now I've got a solid accounting background.  Try not to get discouraged.  It's sort of the CPA version of boot camp and you will figure it out.

wageslave23

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Re: feeling like a failure as a accountant
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2018, 07:07:06 PM »
Yep, what everyone else said.  If you aren't sure about something look it up and ask someone about it.  Also know that no one knows everything about tax, your superiors just seem like they do because they know more than you.  But if after 2 years you still feel stressed and uncomfortable, cut bait and move into the corporate world.  There's much less to memorize and learn, and you don't have the same type of stress.

mozar

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Re: feeling like a failure as a accountant
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2018, 08:05:35 PM »
Were there specific tax questions you didn't know the answer to? There are lots of tax forums (including on this website) that can help you with trickier topics.
I had a similar experience except on the audit side. Did you generally like the work? Don't worry about how they feel about the intern. You'll find out what they think of you in the performance review, and you can ask for tips for improvement. I never got used to working in an accounting firm. It was too cut throat for me.

CptCool

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Re: feeling like a failure as a accountant
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2018, 10:17:01 AM »
I think the biggest thing is that you're taking notes on any mistakes you made. I worked as an accountant too (started in audit, not tax) - trust me, they don't expect you to know 100% and be perfect. However, it IS important that you don't repeat the same mistakes.

When I had 1st years starting under me, it was expected that errors were made. That's the whole reason for the lengthy review process. If that person made the same mistakes 3+ times, that demonstrated a lack of caring or learning ability & that was when it was recommended they look elsewhere for jobs.

The fact that you are posting here and taking notes when you make mistakes shows me that you will learn from your mistakes and will be a great accountant

MustachianKentuckian

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Re: feeling like a failure as a accountant
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2018, 10:27:04 AM »
Just want to echo what everyone else is saying!  Hang in there.  It will get better.  Ask for feedback.  Take notes...not just on the things you are making mistakes on, but anytime someone is explaining something new to you.

I too was once a wee accountant that started during busy season.  it was brutal and overwhelming.  Just keep learning from mistakes and ask for feedback.  You'll get there!    I bet you will feel a little better once busy season is over.  It's so tough, especially your first one.

Rosy

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Re: feeling like a failure as a accountant
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2018, 11:30:06 AM »
   I'm a new accountant got a job right out of college and I went straight into tax season. I thought the company would teach me  but they just threw me work and expected me to know how to do it. I have become better but I feel like a failure because I keep making mistakes. I'm writing my self notes to I don't make the same mistakes but I'm afraid they are going to fire me. They have a intern and I think they like her better then me.  I'm not sure what to do.

1. You've become better:) of course you have, because you take notes and you give it your all.
2. They are not going to fire you in the middle of tax season unless you are a serious screw up. Think of it as trial by fire:) They hired you because you have promise and because they had enough business to justify that particular position.
Unless they have a history of chewing up and spitting out college grads during tax season you are probably just fine:)

3. The intern may be a little ahead of you in the curve, but that doesn't necessarily mean a thing.
If it is a large company they may well have room for both of you or the intern already has other plans or receives a better offer from somewhere else or ...

Worst case scenario they let you go after the tax season - it happens, people do get fired, but it isn't the end of your career. It may be a company that is simply a bad fit for you and down the road, you'll be glad you tested your mettle and went on to find a better company to work for.

About the imposter syndrome - well, believe it or not, but regardless of the profession we all have it at times. Especially if you just got a nice raise and/or are tackling a difficult project. Professionals know that the trick is to keep learning and to get better and more efficient and therefore more valuable to your company. That gives you choices, like making more money at another company or moving up in the working world.

You assume the company holds all the cards and you may well feel insecure about not receiving helpful feedback or encouragement at this time - but reading the replies you received, your experience is nothing unusual and fits right in with the MO of tax accounting firms.
In reality, during this busy tax season, you may have a bit of leverage as long as you make it clear you have already learned a lot and are committed to becoming one of their best accountants ever. Ask for some feedback and see what happens - just don't let them see you sweat:)

Networking is key and since you are so new to it all - make it a habit from day one, by next year you'll be considerably better at evaluating what is really going within your company and if you keep your ear on the ground and continue to network you will also learn about the industry at large.
Hitting some of the forums as was suggested seems like a great way to start. Good companies have coaches and support in place, but even then it is always up to you to improve your skills and aim high.
You don't become a superstar professional overnight, it takes time and lots of practice.

skekses

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Re: feeling like a failure as a accountant
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2018, 11:39:17 AM »
Pages like this exist for a reason. http://lifeinabig4firm.tumblr.com/

Edit: this one has more content: http://howshouldweaccountforme.tumblr.com/

Welcome to public accounting.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2018, 11:54:08 AM by skekses »

mattcuffCPA

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Re: feeling like a failure as a accountant
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2018, 11:52:57 AM »
   I'm a new accountant got a job right out of college and I went straight into tax season. I thought the company would teach me  but they just threw me work and expected me to know how to do it. I have become better but I feel like a failure because I keep making mistakes. I'm writing my self notes to I don't make the same mistakes but I'm afraid they are going to fire me. They have a intern and I think they like her better then me.  I'm not sure what to do.

I had a very similar experience. I started at a large firm in January and was thrown right into tax season the same way.

Next year you will be much more comfortable and feel like you are contributing. It takes time to learn how to prepare returns. College really doesn't prepare you for the job IMO.

The good news is you are one of the cheapest employees at the firm and are not likely to be fired unless you are not improving/trying and showing a good attitude. Try to relax and enjoy post busy season, take a vacation.

clutchy

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Re: feeling like a failure as a accountant
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2018, 01:29:27 PM »
   I'm a new accountant got a job right out of college and I went straight into tax season. I thought the company would teach me  but they just threw me work and expected me to know how to do it. I have become better but I feel like a failure because I keep making mistakes. I'm writing my self notes to I don't make the same mistakes but I'm afraid they are going to fire me. They have a intern and I think they like her better then me.  I'm not sure what to do.

am CPA; went through the same thing.  It takes time.  One thing that helped me in college was doing VITA.  It gives you time to learn. 


The best advice is always to ask the questions; go through the entire return if you can and list out your questions.  If they require client contact give the list to the partner. 

If you're not sure about something don't just sit on it.  Ask the question. 



being willing to learn and teachable is about 90% of any job.  wallowing in your own misery and backing yourself into a corner will get you fired all day long.