5 things I learned as a neophyte CPA (plus things you should expect)

It was only after passing the Certified Public Accountant Licensure Examination in October 2015 when I got to ask myself, “What now?” I had never thought of this then because I was too focused on becoming a CPA. Nothing more, nothing less.

So I ask myself again two years after:

What now?

Here are five things I learned as a neophyte professional:

  1. On becoming a professional: Great responsibility awaits you!

Two years of experience may not be that relevant yet. However, the first few years of being a professional is an important phase in every CPA’s life. Aside from setting the mood towards building your own career, it’s where everybody initially learns the practical knowledge and skills in their chosen field of profession. Basically, it is during that time that you learn things through the combination of theory and practice when it was previously limited to the former during the undergrad years.

More importantly, entering the professional arena serves as a commencement to living a more mature and independent life. I am at the point of life where I earn to live and live to enjoy the things of the world.

Now, it’s not only about you and your career and goals. It will also involve much developed life experiences that will make your individuality much better than it was before.

What to expect: Premature quarter life and identity crisis

  1. On my first job: Start up your career via public practice.

Where do I go? After the honeymoon stage with my title, I caught myself clueless on what to do and where to go. My family wanted me to enter the government field immediately but I refused. I remember an older colleague saying that a CPA’s life wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the busy season as audit associates.

Following the impression, I dropped resumes in various auditing firms including the “Big 4” of public practice in the Philippines but eventually signed under one of the biggest medium-sized firms. I don’t regret not getting to any of the more popular firms. Instead, I took the advantage of being able to audit various accounts full scope – from cash down to expenses.

On top of this, the whole experience gave me the opportunity to audit multiple companies in various industries, most of which was directly reported to the Manager and Partner in my capacity as Audit In-charge despite being a Junior Associate.

The learnings I acquired through this practice became a useful tool that I use even up to this day that I am already affiliated in a different field of practice.

What to expect: Low starting salary, frequent overtime, Makati life 

  1. On being a rank-and-file: Take it slow, you will get there.

As they say, great things come from small beginnings. So don’t rush the promotion; don’t get intimidated by the achievements (or level of salary) of your friends; don’t compare yourself to the others whom you started with. We have different timezones, so take it slow.

You will have your own timing — the perfect one.

For the time being, embrace being in the ranks and learn from those who are on top. It must be noted that there are those who rose from the ranks became executives and bosses.

What to expect: working papers, photocopy duties (lol); income tax return preparation; footing/ crossfooting duties

  1. On becoming friends with my coworkers: First officemates are family.

They are not just “officemates”. They are something more special. They are the family away from home.

I swear to the gods, you’ll never forget all the first times with them and it’s going to be a part of you, forever. They are your partners in crime, travel and food buddies, etc etc. Either you or they resign, the bond will never break.

What to expect: Basically bucketSSSS of beerSSSS and KTV (with beerSSSS), beer belly, hoarse voice due to bad singing the night before.

  1. On being a family-oriented man: Acknowledge their sacrifices.

A fine lady whom I met in Boracay and who is currently based in Singapore told me once that unlike the other races who pay forward (parents to children to future family), we Filipinos are very much family-oriented that we pay-backward (parents to children to parents, then to future family) after getting stable jobs. This literally means paying for the sacrifices of our parents by taking the duties of financial management of the family.

The Filipino children are their parent’s investments, thus, when the time is due, they enjoy the so called “ROI” or Return of Investment.

And it feels good making them happy. It’s my way of saying, Ma, Pa, I got you!

What to expect: monthly bank transfers or remittances (no longer to you but to your parents and siblings, if any)

My life has leveled up since then and thinking of the future makes me more excited. Thanks, G!

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About the Author

Charlos Janssen Cachola
Charlos Janssen CacholaCreative Director
CJ is a Certified Public Accountant working at the Commission on Audit. He is currently assigned as an Audit Team Member in a military command that provides comprehensive quality tertiary health care services. As a travel junkie, his ambition is to sojourn in all the 81 provinces of the Philippine archipelago.