As of June 30 of this year, I am making a huge transitional jump in my CPA career, resigning as a tax partner, and becoming a full-time accounting/tax professor at Trine University. While I’ll still retain some limited client contact as a consultant/employee of my prior firm, my primary focus will be on teaching accounting and taxation to college students.
This is a daunting plunge for me after 30+ years solely in public accounting, but one that I hope I will find as challenging and mind-stretching as I have
found my full-time public accounting life. And one that I can honestly say was never boring! I truly hope that I can translate my 30+ years of public accounting experience effectively into the classroom.
So my question for discussion here: “How do I transfer my 'old school’ training and development, that I put forth for many years in my public accounting CPA life, and make that relevant to a classroom of students who are exceedingly more proficient technologically than myself; i.e., can an old dog teach new tricks? I am going to make a conscious effort to not get into an 'in my day when we had to walk uphill both ways to prepare a Form 1040 and you kids ... (fill-in)’, which is harmful and demeaning to us all. We all need to work together, and the sooner the “you’s” become “we” the better we will all operate!
One “old school” area I will still employ is preparing tax returns by hand. Despite today’s graduates’ exceptional technological expertise, I still find that many times a total trust of computers to do the work can lead to unexpected (and incorrect) outcomes. Computers are a wonderful tool, but our new hires also need to be able to critically analyze whether the outcome on paper (or on screen) makes sense, and matches the expected outcome. Too often, a lack of knowledge of the intricate details can lead one astray when interpreting the results forthcoming. Yes, we have wonderful tools to help us crunch the data, but how can we drive home the importance of analyzing whether the resulting data make sense?
Critical thinking is often cited as a needed skill. In fact, it’s one of the core competencies that INCPAS and the CPA Center of Excellence® have been promoting. And it’s not the only important one – they all contribute to the CPA of the future serving an expanded role and becoming proficient in vital business skills to add value for clients and employers. I truly hope I can utilize my gray-headed experience in today’s classroom and be able to discuss meaningfully how one can apply critical analysis to big data in the CPA world. Is this something we can even teach, or do students require “hands-on” trial and error to obtain critical thinking skills? I’d welcome thoughts, comments and suggestions on what skills accounting professors truly should try to focus on and hone in the classroom.
For recent college graduates, I would greatly welcome comments and suggestions on what projects, discussions, etc., have proven the most relevant to your initial years in the CPA world – public or private. Taking this a step further, what did you not obtain (take away) from your college accounting/tax courses that you think would have been useful in your current work as a CPA? Looking back, what could your accounting/tax professors have done better (more of/less of) to transition from book knowledge to the practical application of those ideas? I hope that we continue to have open dialogues on better ways to train and engage our young professionals – they are our most important resource.#CPA #Education #careertransition #vitalbusinessskills #criticalthinking #publicaccounting #CoreCompetencies #teaching