Book Review: Tips for a Successful Accounting Career

Jerry Maginnis has written a book that should be in the library of anyone in the accounting profession, from interested students to seasoned professionals. Tips for a successful career in the accounting profession is a treasure trove of practical advice along with a lively, user-friendly narrative. Those who read it will be well positioned to pick up on one of the book’s subtitles, “Reaching Your Full Potential and Optimizing the Benefits of Your Accounting Degree.”

The book is organized into three sections. The first section, containing six chapters, is addressed to students. It emphasizes the desirability of a career in accounting with its myriad of career paths. Maginnis discusses the importance of becoming a CPA while explaining the many other certifications that can be earned in accounting. A helpful roadmap provides tips for students to optimize their time on campus and better ensure excellent job opportunities can be secured. As an emeritus professor of accounting, I found myself agreeing with everything on the roadmap and acknowledging the lessons I emphasized to my students. The section closes with two hot topics on the minds of many students: work-life balance and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Maginnis addresses these issues frankly and positively, emphasizing the significant progress the accounting profession has made in recent years.

The second section, comprising nine chapters, focused on the early professional experience of accountants. Maginnis defines this group as those in the first six to eight years of their careers. This section covers the core values ​​that are essential for accountants, developing and improving the most important technical skills and interpersonal skills. Most of these factors are well known, but the author’s take on them emphasizes why they are so important to young professionals. Perhaps the best examples are found in the chapter, “Block and Tackle: The Importance of Being Organized and Accomplishing Tasks Large and Small.” As obvious as this sounds, the author provides fresh ideas, and some of the later chapters provide even better advice. As Maginnis points out, in today’s environment, the more value you can add, the more successful you will be. Consequently, a later chapter guides the reader on how to develop a value-creation mindset through advice, tips, and practical examples. Another chapter on embracing change and making technology your friend is also timely in today’s environment. Finally, a topic that really resonates with me is the power of personal relationships – an entire chapter is devoted to how this can be critical to professional success.

The final section contains material that is particularly appropriate for those further along in their career. Topics include how to avoid burnout and how to make good decisions when contemplating a career transition. The book concludes with the importance of giving back, something epitomized by the author.

As the accounting profession faces a major “channeling challenge,” with accounting enrollments at universities continuing to decline and the number of people sitting for the CPA exam declining, this book is an excellent resource. . High school students and understated business students will appreciate the direct discussion of these opportunities, which may attract them to the profession. The book can also be used to reach underrepresented populations and other students at community colleges evaluating possible career paths.

the beauty of Tips for a successful career in the accounting profession lies in its format, which is easy and enjoyable to read. Each chapter begins with a key conclusion, and many chapters address a myth about the topic at hand. Each chapter concludes with a personal anecdote from the author’s life in or out of accounting and “food for thought,” an incisive quote from a famous figure about various activities.

Some readers may feel that the book is relatively short and wish the author had shared more career advice. In fact, the book is 176 pages long and the chapters are short (the longest is 12 pages). The language is succinct and crisp, not what accountants are known for! The book can be read from cover to cover in a sitting or two. However, recognizing that accounting students and professionals have busy lives, the book can also be read as a chapter here and there.

Two additional elements are also worth noting: Author Jerry Maginnis’ entire career was spent with large international public accounting/professional services firms. Although many of the anecdotes are obviously drawn from his professional experiences, the book is not biased towards his background; in fact, various accounting career paths and certifications are widely covered. Finally, I once asked the author what attribute he considered important for accounting professionals that many people may not consider essential. His response was the importance of reading. In the book, Maginnis notes that many people, particularly younger people, get most of their news and information from mobile devices. He encourages readers to also obtain information from reliable and unbiased sources that contain solid analyzes of topics or issues. I think that raises a point that is relevant to the book as a whole: although the intended audience is accounting students and professionals, the lessons are applicable to anyone embarking on a professional career and provide excellent advice for life in general. .

David D. Wagaman, CPA, is an emeritus professor of accounting at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania.

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