Posts Tagged ‘education’

Investments in Your Life

Investment: “An asset or item that is purchased with the hope that it will generate income or appreciate in the future. In an economic sense, an investment is the purchase of goods that are not consumed today but are used in the future to create wealth. In finance, an investment is a monetary asset purchased with the idea that the asset will provide income in the future or appreciate and be sold at a higher price.”[1] 

Stocks or bonds usually come to mind when people refer to ‘investments’. However, there are other investments that you have made or will make which are more important than money. Time is something we can never get back, so we need to choose our investments wisely.

There’s the saying “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Education is how you get fed for a lifetime. Formal education, such as attending university, is the best path for some. Obtaining professional licenses like the Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Professional Engineer (PE), Doctor of Medicine (MD), and so forth, are also investments that people make for their future. For others, an informal path via experience is the best way to learn. Then, there is the melding of the two and getting both experience and a formal education. I’ve been working since high school, obtained a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering with a Management minor, and am planning to graduate with a Masters of Accountancy (MAcc) at the end of 2012. Though the cost can be high, we make an investment in education because we expect there to be a return in the future. I am patiently awaiting to see the fruits of my labor. =)

Are you of the mind that you should live to work or work to live? Having a work-life balance is very important, and requires effort to achieve. Investing in your passions such as spending time with family and/or friends, athletics, learning new languages, or travel will enrich your life. Who you select as your partner/spouse is also important because they are part of the strong foundation upon which your life is built. There will be times when you need to invest in working more now (such as studying 20 hours a week for six months for the CPA exam) in order to generate a higher return in the future. By ensuring you don’t operate in a silo, you will have a strong support network to help you negotiate the highs and lows.

There are also financial investments, such as stocks, bonds, etc. Financial investments are not made just so that you can say “I have $xxx,xxx” in the bank. Their significance lies behind what they represent, which could be security, retirement, freedom of choice, and so forth. When you choose to invest money instead of spending it now, you are investing in your financial future for the sake of what is significant to you, such as a secure retirement.

When considering some of the investments you have made in your life, what are they and have they paid off?


When in Rome…

“When in Rome, do as the Romans do” – Unknown

It is not an “increasingly” global society – it is a global society. You will likely visit other countries, or even live there if you choose. The following advice will help smooth that transition when going to another country, either for a visit or relocation.

Research and understand the culture. Being stubborn and refusing to learn is not constructive behavior, and you need to be adaptable. A useful place for research is the Embassy or Consulate website – they are representatives of the country and want you to have a positive experience. You can find a lot of information on the customs, culture, etc. A list of web sites for some of the foreign embassies in the US can be found at (it is also a good idea to register with your embassy in the other country while you’re there). A search on the internet will also yield sites for other countries as well as a plethora of information. In addition, first-hand knowledge is the best kind of knowledge. See if you can find people from that country and talk to them. Everyone loves to share information and advice, and they will be thrilled by your interest.

People communicate 7% with words, 55% visually and 38% vocally[1]. Let’s focus on the main mode of communication, the visual. Visual – body language, eye contact, gestures. Find out what is acceptable behavior so that you’re not considered rude in that country. For example, Latin Europeans stand closely together when talking, while Western Europeans avoid standing too close. Another difference is that Americans believe direct eye contact is important and portrays confidence and honesty, but it is considered an aggressive gesture in Puerto Rico. Learn the nuances so that you can avoid miscommunications that may make it uncomfortable for you and others.

Unless you can survive exclusively on air, you’ll be eating in that country. The dining style may be different with respect to utensils, so a bit of practice with the Continental style and American style will make eating out more relaxing.

You cannot control the behavior of others; you can only control your behavior and your reaction to them. Everyone wants people to react positively to them. By respecting their social norms, you are on your way to earning their respect and having them view you in a positive light. Though there may be cultural aspects that you are uncomfortable with, you can try to minimize instances where it may occur. Learn about the culture and absorb it, but don’t lose sight of who you are. Make your experiences part of who you are, and it will enrich your life.

So, when in Rome, do as you would do – with some Roman knowledge and background, and respect for the culture.

=IF(“accountant”=“bean counter”,“Yes”,“No”) : Output–>No

An accountant is not a bean counter, and if you think so, you’re more outdated than a floppy disk (yes, I remember when those were around).

For students who are seeking an accounting position, be aware that during the recruiting season, technical skills are seldom the topic of discussion. That’s because it’s so easy to verify: 1) GPA above 3.3, check, 2) Member in honor society (e.g. Beta Alpha Psi, Golden Key, Phi Kappa Phi, etc), check, 3) Recommended by professors as among the brightest, check, and the list goes on.

So what are your potential employers looking for? It is the ability to:

  • Communicate to people
  • Communicate with people
  • Build relationships

Communicate to People: You submitted your resume and got an interview! Next step up is to communicate to the interviewer why you’re the best candidate for the position, be it an internship or full-time position. Can you articulate who you are and the value you will bring to the firm in a concise and engaging manner? Because if you can, then you move on to the office visit, which means you get to demonstrate how well you….

 …Communicate with People: Is every conversation a monologue, or is it a dialogue? How well you establish rapport with people is something they’ll be looking at. After all, accounting is not a solo field. You’ll be working in teams, so if the associates believe you’re someone they can work with, and the managers and partners feel comfortable putting you on an engagement with a client, you can expect to hear from them soon.

Build Relationships: Remember that recruiting doesn’t take place in only one semester. It takes place throughout the entire year. It’s highly likely you’ve already met some of the people you will interview with (remember the firm tours, luncheons, Meet the Firms Night?). Your ability to build relationships is shown in how you keep in touch with the people at the firm. For example, did you send out thank you emails/cards to the people you interviewed with, and did you continue to stay in touch throughout the recruiting process?

This does not mean that technical knowledge isn’t important. It is important because if you’re not technically capable, you lose credibility in the value you can provide the firm. You might also wonder why I didn’t put down integrity as a key value. Integrity is crucial in all industries, and if you don’t have it, you’re doomed to fail.

Summer fast approaches, as does the fall recruiting season. Stay calm, and remember that the firms are as eager for talented employees as you are to building a career with them.

By the way, to put some credibility behind my words, I’ve been through the recruiting process and was among the students at my university who received several offers – from the Big 4 and Top 10 Firms.