By Bill Kennedy - Have you ever been asked to speak to a class of high school seniors about choosing an accounting career? I did it for several years. The lawyer beat me hands down every time. His room would be brimming with kids, where I would be lucky to have a few die hards whose parents were accountants.
Clearly, accounting doesn't have the same excitement as a courtroom drama or suing some mammoth corporation on behalf of an underdog. Yet, at the same time, accounting has been a satisfying and relatively recession proof career for a lot of people. The nice man with the immaculate lawn down the street from me, who just celebrated his fiftieth wedding anniversary, is a retired accountant. I don't think he's had his fifteen minutes of fame, yet he had a long career, raised a family and did a lot of good work for the Presbyterian church. The next time you see a college student eager to sacrifice their soul, working insane hours for a law firm, why don't you mention accounting as a career alternative?
Of course, we tend to shoot ourselves in the foot. It isn't just that there are very few public accounting role models. (Trivia Question: name any famous accountants from popular films or television shows.) It's also that we're not good communicators. Trial lawyers are trained to present persuasively. Accountants seek objectivity. Did you take any communications courses on your way to becoming an accountant? Me neither.
When I was in high school I wanted to be a lawyer too, but I decided to study commerce as good preparation for law school. Looking back on it, I'm glad that I decided not to apply for law school. Specializing in computer technology turned out to be a good career for me. This all came to mind when I saw an announcement by McDonald's Restaurant that they had appointed Dave Simsons, CA, CPA as Vice President, Shared Services and Information Technology.
So, the next time you face those high school students, talk to them about a career in accounting information technology. That'll grab their attention!
(Trivia Answers: "The Accountant" (1989) starring Alfred Molina, the character played by Rick Moranis in "Ghost Busters", the man who wanted to become a lion tamer in the famous Monty Python skit. Any others?)