During my senior year of undergraduate, I took the H&R Block tax prep course. I thought that it would be a good way to earn a little money and learn about taxation in my last spring semester. I quickly discovered my affinity for that sort of work; I found the course fascinating. I had no prior knowledge. Since 18 hours of coursework and theatre commitments ate up my schedule, I didn’t even know what a W-2 was when I started the course.
After I discovered that I loved taxes, I rethought Michael Shurtleff’s old theatre adage: “If you can see yourself doing anything else, do it.” In high school, I enjoyed theater too much to consider anything else, but the H&R Block course in college led me to work in taxation. After working with H&R Block seasonally for three years and teaching classes for prospective employees, I went back to college to get my masters in accounting. Through postgrad job experience, I learned that I pretty much love everything to do with accounting, not just taxation.
My grandfather was an accountant at Cargill for many years. He worked for a number of Texas companies, but they continuously got acquired by others until— by extension— he worked at the largest privately held company in the United States. My grandfather retired in the 1990s as controller of a Phoenix packing plant, and with nothing more than a high school diploma. Talking with him about his work and the changes since his retirement helped me realize my passion for accounting. We both have the same fire in our eyes when we discuss it.
Today, I view technology as more of a co-worker than a tool. 20 years ago, it was something accountants used when they needed it, but now we have to work alongside technology through most aspects of our daily routine. I appreciate being able to make changes to spreadsheets and receive email notifications when a client makes changes, although it’s bittersweet that the days of the green paper ledger have gone.
Cloud accounting is quickly becoming prominent. QuickBooks Online is currently pushing hard for it by providing free online software, but tying their desktop equivalents to a subscription fee. This model distributes the costs of developing desktop software for multiple platforms and incentivizes accountants to move to the cloud. It will be interesting to see how the ongoing competition between QuickBooks and Xero will develop; it seems similar to the format disputes between HD-DVD and Blu-Ray.
Accounting software has starting using integrated apps for deeper focus into specific areas. Instead of a “jack of all trades, master of none,” approach, QuickBooks Online expects clients to attach apps to the software to match their specific needs.
In the short term, focusing on accounting reports or taxation would allow me to hone my skills. My long term goal is to gain the experience necessary to work in forensic accounting, litigation support, and tax resolution.
Theatre provides me with escapism to counterbalance the problem-solving in my accounting work. Helping people grapple with their fiscal responsibilities is gratifying, but I enjoy using a more expressive skill set through theatre roles. I believe that the arts are critical to communication and the ability for people to connect. Keeping that in mind helps me stay grounded and empathetic.
I lead and participate in games of Dungeons and Dragons. Creating an entire world and building a story with your players is just as fun as playing in someone else’s. Tabletop games and video games engage me through improvisation and strategic opportunity. I can experiment with situations and outcomes that would be too risky for daily life. These simulations— whether with other players or solo— help me think critically and adaptively in my practice.