During her first year of college, Angie Fidler was studying biology with the intent to be a Veterinarian and open her very own clinic. But after taking an Introduction to Accounting course, she changed her mind: her true passion lied within accounting.
Angie’s ah-ha moment came when she took a break from her biology coursework to learn about the fundamentals of owning a business. She recalls learning about debits and credits in her Introduction to Financial Accounting class and rejoicing that something finally made sense. It was then she decided to pursue an accounting major.
It’s not surprising that Angie found an interest in this subject because accounting and biology use the same side of the brain. Both follow similar principles such as asking questions, defining problems, carrying out investigations and analyzing and interpreting data.
It was a “no-brainer” for her to pursue the CPA Exam. She recalls her professor explaining that a CPA will earn approximately $1,000,000 more over the course of their career than a non-CPA with the same degree – a major Return On Investment (ROI). Completing the requirements for the credential allowed her to show that she received a high-quality education, understands complex concepts, and holds herself to high ethical standards.
Angie started to study for the exam during a busy period of her life. She just started her first job at a public accounting firm while wrapping up her final semester of college. “I remember graduating from college and thinking, okay, this train is not stopping. I need to go full speed and sit for the CPA Exam before I get a taste of freedom, which was ultimately the best decision ever.”
A year after starting her journey, Angie passed all four parts of the CPA Exam. Her advice?
- “Don't let your practice exam results be the epitome of how you'll do on the exam. A poor score on the practice exam doesn’t mean that you will not pass the CPA Exam.”
- “Avoid studying the night before the exam. All you're doing is amping up your anxiety, causing yourself to second guess and exhausting yourself before the test even starts"
- “Utilize your peers. Everyone has a different strength. The exam is not a competition, so don't waste your time competing with them. Instead, use them to better understand your weakest areas.”
- “Preparing for and taking the exam requires dedicating a very short period of time in your life. Remembering this was a challenge some days, but it helped me push through with my studies.”
If you’re considering studying accounting or thinking about sitting for the CPA Exam, but are unsure what you would do afterward, don’t stress. Angie says that she’s still trying to figure it out, too. For her, a CPA is just a door opener, not a prerequisite for a specific type of career.
CPAs can do so many things. Take Angie’s experience for example. She thought she should be an auditor, but her company needed her to go into tax. She then found that she really enjoyed spending time working with non-profit clients, especially when it involved traveling, public speaking and writing articles. She was on track to become a partner at her firm, but desired more experiences in the non-profit world. “I've tried a couple of different positions and worked at a few non-profit organizations, but there are so many realms I can go into. You can go back to school within an Accounting Doctoral Scholars (ADS) program and teach. You can be an adjunct professor. I've done that too. You can also work for a for-profit company or in operations.”
5:30am - Alarm goes off
Alarm goes off, but I don't actually wake up yet.
6:15am - Wake up
Actually get out of bed. I always start my day with a book and coffee. I envy those people that wake up and head to the gym. What a rude awakening for my body, though. My brain prefers to engage first.
7am: Skype call with teammates in AfricaSkype call with my teammates in Lilongwe, Malawi to discuss accounting and business. Status of bank change? Budget to actual? New employees? Purchase of capital equipment? All reasonable topics.
Eat breakfast and get ready to head into the office.
9am: Arrive at the office
Arrive at my office in Seattle and debrief with my team on any exciting events since the previous day, including what we had for dinner and political blunders in current events.
10am: Review cash monitoring
Review cash monitoring - check bank balances. Approve the cash request from our offices in Malawi (MWI), Mozambique (MOZ), and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to fund their next month of programmatic work. Review updated Cash Flow for anticipated payables and receivables to authorize outgoing payments.
Probably an acai bowl delivery.
1pm: Update our Procurement Policy
Update our Procurement Policy to better align with our programmatic needs while still maintaining compliance with 2 CFR 200, which governs our governmental agreements.
2pm: Meeting with Grants and Contracts Accountant
Meet with my Grants and Contracts Accountant to review outstanding A/R, invoices to process, revenue recognition approach for new agreements, and any journal entries that need to be made to clean up fund accounting.
3pm: Work with a vendor
Work with a vendor on building out macros to increase capacity and gain efficiency on the review of DRC, MWI, and MOZ's monthly financial reports. Can we use bots to pull reports from our Human Resource Information System? Let's find out!
4pm: Catch up on work at my desk
Finally sit at my desk to get a few things done. Review accounting entries from the past several days: bank drafts, cash receipts, journal entries. Check, check, check!
5pm: Get ready to leave
Get ready to leave, but one last thing! Our new employee in Liberia needs a business credit card. I'll order it through our bank, and then I am out the door.
6pm: Walk my dog
After a quick stop at the grocery store, I am home and walking my 11-year-old dachshund, who is always so excited to see me after a long day.
7pm: Finish my run and cook dinner
Finish my 3-mile run and cook dinner. For the sake of convenience, my meal delivery kit arrived yesterday, so all I need to do is pull out the recipe card and follow instructions.
8pm: Finish dinner and read
Finish dinner and get back to my book. Or should I watch Friends for the 45th time?