Job Title: Accountant
Type of Company: I work for a YMCA.
Education: BA, Liberal Arts, University of Michigan MS, Accountancy, Northeastern University
Previous Experience: I worked for five years in public accounting for a national accounting firm. When I had young children, I worked part-time for two different commercial real estate companies. I also worked for a non-profit. These jobs led to my current full-time position at a non-profit.
Job Tasks: The YMCA is a nonprofit community service organization made possible because of charitable donations, member support and dedicated volunteers. The YMCA is devoted to the education, physical health, mental well-being, and moral development of children, families, and communities. The Y strives to incorporate all its programs with the core values of honesty, caring, respect, and responsibility.
I supervise a staff of three. My team is responsible for keeping track of all of the revenue and expenses of our organization. Each month we generate financial reports that include a balance sheet and a statement of changes in net assets (similar to a profit and loss statement). These reports are used by our management team and Board of Directors to evaluate our performance, and determine if we are meeting our goals, as well as serving the community. Each year we must plan and prepare the annual budget. We are subject to audit by an outside accounting firm. All our records must be accurate and presented in a timely manner. I also review all contracts. I ensure that donations are spent in accordance with the donors designation.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: When I first started out in public accounting it was exciting to be able to meet with corporate leaders, presidents of companies, and chief financial officers, ask them questions and learn about what their jobs entailed. As I continued in my career, it was beneficial to be able to have flexible work hours.
The worst aspect is that accounting is cyclical and never ends. When you go away on vacation, the work is still there when you come back. There are important deadlines that must be met and there are significant penalties if they are missed.
Job Tips: The best advice I have is to get a quality education with specialized skills, in a field in which you have many options. The worst thing in life is to have no choices. When I first decided to become an accountant, I was not sure in what area I wanted to work. Fortunately, the skills I gained are transferable to many different industries. In good or bad times there is always a need for accountants. An accountant can perform audit work, prepare taxes, work in the business office of a company, or teach. Companies both large and small are in need of accountants. By choosing a career in this field you still leave many doors open for the type of places you can be employed.
Early in my career, I worked in corporate America. This was a great opportunity to build my skill base. Now that I have more experience I have greater flexibility in the work I can do. By working for a not-for-profit, I am able to use my skills to give back to my community.
Choose a career in which you can utilize your strengths. You are more likely to be successful doing work for which you have an aptitude. I have always loved math. I am very detail oriented and precise. I hate to make mistakes and strive for accuracy. The work I do is very satisfying, and I am good at it.
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