April 04, 2015

The Great Unprofessional Career Fair:
Robyn the Accountant

To me, accountants are sort of like unicorns: so unexplainable, it's hard to believe they exist. The difference is though that unicorns don't exist, while people who willingly submit themselves to that many numbers a day do.

I admire, respect, and, in a way, envy accountants and their ability to remain calm when faced with all those scary accounting rules.

Which is why I'm tipping my hat to Robyn today, who I've convinced to share a little bit about her career as an accountant. It's much more exciting than anything a unicorn'd have to say. I promise.

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Hello! My name is Robyn! I blog over at Robyn's Nest and I am a staff accountant in the manufacturing industry. A little background on my story... I started as an intern during college in the Finance department. At that time, the Accounting department was in Ohio, and yes Finance and Accounting are different! When I graduated, the company hired me full time as a Financial Analyst. I liked the job alright, but I knew i would prefer to be in accounting. The accounting department ended up moving to SC 6 months after I started full time. So I applied for one of the staff accountant positions, and that is the job I am currently in.

I interned for 4 months, worked part time while still in college for 5 months, worked as a full time Financial Analyst for 7 months, and have now been a Staff Accountant for 1 year and 7 months - all at the same company. My career is still very young, but I would love to share what I have experienced so far in the world of corporate Accounting! 


Robyn: Accounting revolves around months, so there really isn't a typical day. There may be a typical month, if you are lucky, but there are always surprises along the way! I will outline a typical month of mine, but first I would like to detail out a few of my job duties so that the month outline makes sense.

1) Payroll - I do not do the actual payroll, but I record the accounting for payroll. Basically, I upload Journal Entries to our system to record what we paid for payroll. This includes 7 pay groups bi-weekly and 6 pay groups on a monthly basis. I also reconcile the payroll reports to what hit the bank the week after I book it.

2) Wire Money - Accounts Payable keeps track of what money we need to send through the bank. Bi-weekly I process the invoices entered by Accounts Payable and actually pay them through the bank.

3) Sales Reconciliation - I use a spreadsheet to compare 3 different reports on our external sales for 3 different entities and make sure they all say the same thing.

4) Closing - The first 3 days of each month the Accounting department does what we call "closing" - which basically means that we make sure everything for the prior month is recorded in the books, all adjustments are made, and we are okay to roll the balances forward to the next month. There are a lot of last minute adjustments and Journal Entries we all have to make, so these 3 days are crazy!

5) Account Reconciliations - After the month is closed, we have to reconcile each account that we hit with our Journal Entries. We are all assigned accounts based on our job duties, so I am assigned all of the payroll accounts. I have to do 55 Reconciliations in total, which spreads across 3 different entities.

6) Quarter End - Every 3 months, in addition to closing the month, we have to close the quarter. This is done in 3 different stages across a week & is submitted to our parent company in Japan.

So, I would say a typical month for me looks like this:
Week 1: Closing out the month, Reporting, Payroll Reconciliation, Wires, Sales Reconciliation
Week 2: Payroll, Account Reconciliations, Sales Reconciliation, Quarter End (if 3rd month)
Week 3: Wires, Sales Reconciliation, Payroll Reconciliation
Week 4: Payroll, Sales Reconciliation, miscellaneous adjustments

R: I have always enjoyed math & logic - my brain just works that way! I took 2 classes in high school that started me down the path to Accounting - Statistics and Bookkeeping. During high school, I worked at a grocery store and got promoted to a bookkeeper. As I learned more and more on that job, I started leaning towards Accounting and slowly made the decision to major in it!

You may have noticed that you see the word "reconciliation" a lot in the monthly outline. A lot of Accounting is doing the work, and then making sure you can reconcile it. I love analyzing, organization, and numbers - so this job is the perfect fit for a nerd like me!


R: Honestly, the most challenging part has been putting myself out there. Applying for the Staff Accountant job was nerve wracking because i had just started this job and I didn't want applying for a different department to reflect badly on me. However, in the corporate world you just have to go big or go home!

R: Well, the people I work with are probably the best thing about my job now! We have a small department (8 people) and it is such a fun group to work in. We have fun even though our jobs are crazy most of the time!

The thing I like best about the actual work though, is the analysis aspect. I love fitting things together like a puzzle & figuring out how things fit together. When I took over payroll, we were in the process of merging 3 companies into 1, so there was a lot to fit together and I feel like I learned so much about payroll in that process!


R: The hours! As I mentioned, our company merged 3 different companies together - at the same time we started on a new system, and the Accounting department moved to SC which means that 80% of the staff were new hires to the company. Because of all of this, we have all worked well over 40 hours every week since February 2014 (over a year). Between February - May 2014 I worked a few 60 hour weeks. Plus, this year Good Friday (a company holiday) falls on Year End Closing, so guess who has to work while the rest of the company is off? I may be a bit biased because this is my first job, and the merging companies while starting a new system with new staff is a highly rare circumstance! But, if you are going into the Finance or Accounting field - be prepared to work! It is not for the faint of heart!


R: You will never know if you don't ask! Whether that be applying for a new job within the department, being promoted to Senior, or finding more efficient ways to do your job. Asking questions is so important in the Accounting field. I have detoured a few mistakes by asking someone else for advice - and in Accounting, mistakes can be huge! Also, asking to apply for the Staff Accountant position was hard, but it landed me a job that I love and don't mind working a little overtime for. So, don't be afraid to just ask!

Oh, and you don't have to be a math wiz to be a good Accountant! A lot of people think that Accounting = Math but it doesn't! Accounting is more about logic and rules. Basically all you need to know is how to add, subtract, multiply, divide, and solve for x! And you don't even have to do it in your head, Excel does it for you! ;)

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If you have any questions for Robyn, leave her a comment. Or even better, go make some noise over at her blog!

And of course, if you want to be featured in the The Great Unprofessional Career Fair, read what it's all about here and let me know!