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Career Story: Bookkeeper For A University Research Group

Bookkeeper For A University Research Group

Job Title: Bookkeeper

Type of Company: I work for an agricultural research station that is part of a university.

Education: BS, Business, University of Great Falls (Great Falls, MT)

Previous Experience: I was the business manager of a school district with a $4.6 million budget.

Job Tasks: We operate under 50 grants and I track them, which means keeping tabs on the amount of money available in each grant, where money can be spent and the deadlines by which the transaction must happen. Some grants are only for salaries. Some do not allow the purchase of equipment. I pay the bills, either by purchase order or a university credit card, where the amount I can spend per transaction is limited and some categories, such as "services," are completely off limits. I also process payments for people attending the programs we put on and for the sale of publications we produce. We create a yearly informational publication and I am co-editor of that. I am now learning how to update our website, and help create PowerPoint presentations as they are needed, both of which I am enjoying. And I'm gathering our publications electronically which will be uploaded to a university website.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: I enjoy the variety of the job. I would not like to do the same thing every day. I believe in why we exist, which is helping this portion of the agricultural industry. I get to meet the growers, others in the industry and visiting scientists. The people I work with are very professional and I respect them.

There are really no negatives to the job. I enjoy the feeling that it mattered that I showed up for work.

Job Tips: I think to be happy in a job, you need to know what gives you a feeling of satisfaction. I enjoy getting something done and at the end of the day, I see what was accomplished. Do you like working by yourself or with others? Although I interact with the others, I do my work by myself which I like. Do you like to be independent or given a lot of instruction? I pretty much figure out how to get the job done. My supervisor showed me how in the beginning but now I figure it out myself.

Additional Thoughts: Working for a university has a lot of benefits, such as discounts if you want to further your education and there's a lot of pride being associated with it. The negative is that it's a fixed income structure. In private industry, your boss can give you a raise as merited. In the public sector, there's a scale and you get an increase based on time on the job.

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