In high school, I knew I wanted to be a doctor. I was interested in working with and helping people and I excelled at math and science—the classes that would guarantee my entry into a pre-medicine program. Two years into the pre-med program I realized I didn’t enjoy the curriculum, more specifically the labs.
While in college, I was working in a music store and teaching guitar. The store owner’s father, Cliff Kohlhepp was a CPA. He would often stop in and we would talk about college and my future. I told him I wasn’t sure what I was going to do and he told me I should consider accounting. Honestly, it is a path I would never have chosen. I had friends who took accounting in high school, and based on their reactions, it was the last thing I wanted to do.
Mr. Kohlhepp nudged me in the right direction and eventually let me help with the accounts payable, keep inventory cards and assist with physical inventory at the music store. These tasks sparked my interest and I decided to enroll in an introductory accounting class. I remember working through a 13 column trial balance. I loved the way it balanced and made sense. After that I was hooked.
Eventually, I got the opportunity to do higher level book keeping for several private companies. I worked full-time and attended class in the evenings to earn my degree. This combination of work and class allowed me to apply the things I was learning to my work, which I found exciting. When I graduated in 1994, I took a position at one of the private companies for which I had been working, until it was sold. I then pursued a business venture for a couple of years but came back to accounting when I heard talk of the exam going to a five-year requirement. I also missed the technical aspects of accounting and dealing with people and projects. In 1996, I entered public accounting and have worked in the public sector ever since.
I received my CPA license in 2000. When I worked in industry, I didn’t think about getting my CPA license. It was something you got only if you wanted to work in public accounting, so I didn’t initially see it as a resume builder or a stepping stone. Now, I believe the CPA license is worthwhile no matter what type of accounting you’re in. I also think it made me more credible in the early years of my career and will continue to help me in the future.
I am very happy I chose to follow this career path. I enjoy helping my clients, interacting with co-workers on big projects, and even acquiring a new audit. I’m not exactly sure what field I’d be working in if it weren’t for Mr. Kohlhepp’s nudge to pursue accounting, but I thank him for it.