After more than ten years of working in Human Resources in the public accounting industry, I can’t tell you how many coaching conversations I’ve had with team members who are worried that they’re far too busy to study for the CPA exam. My advice to them is always the same: don’t wait, because life always happens.
Even though I’m not an accountant, I do have some personal experience in this area that formed the basis of my advice. When I was in high school, I thought life couldn’t possibly get any more complicated. Between extracurricular activities, AP courses, dances, college applications, and part time jobs, life was busy. Then I got to college and faced tests, projects, cleaning my apartment, buying groceries, paying bills, applying for post-graduate jobs, and yes, a party or two. And then I thought that surely this was the busiest my life would ever get.
My first job after graduation involved long hours and I was TIRED. All. The. Time. All of a sudden I realized how much I had counted on my mid-afternoon naps to get me through college. I thought that life would surely slow down once I got used to this whole “working world” thing.
Then I got married. Adding another person to the mix brought the complication to a whole new level. Now it wasn’t just about what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it. I needed to consider what was on my husband’s plate and what his priorities were.
It was around this time that I realized life wasn’t going to slow down. If anything, it was picking up speed. At the same time, I was facing a bit of a quarter-life crisis. I didn’t like my job and knew I needed a change. I wanted to transition into a corporate Human Resources role, but I knew that in order to even be considered, I would need a PHR (Professional in Human Resource) certification (the HR equivalent of the CPA).
I always knew the day would come when I would need those three letters after my name to get my dream job. My plan was to wait to take the exam until life slowed down and the craziness subsided. However, life wasn’t slowing down.
I had been working for five years by this point and I had a choice to make. I could continue to wait for the craziness to subside, or I could buckle down and start studying for this six-part, really difficult test. I chose the latter. I went to months of classes to prepare, I missed parties and get-togethers in lieu of studying, and my poor husband had to deal with my perpetual crankiness. It wasn’t fun, but I did it. I got my PHR certification and my dream job soon followed!
I wish I knew then what I know now – don’t wait. Life will always happen. It doesn’t slow down and there will never be a “perfect time.” If working hard to obtain something like your CPA certification will make you more money, land you that promotion, or get you that dream job, it will be worth the sacrifices.
Now, as a mother of two little girls, with aging parents, and an even busier life, I am glad I made the sacrifices when I did. The moral of the story? The sooner you can get these accomplishments under your belt, the better. Trust me, you will be happy you did!
Bobbi Kelly is Kreischer Miller’s Director of Human Resources. She has over 12 years of experience providing human resources advisory services to a variety of businesses, including privately-held companies and partnerships. Bobbi joined Kreischer Miller in 2014. Contact Bobbi at Email.
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