Attending a concert helps Norma realize a fact about starting grad school. The twins rant about group work in college. Becky and Norma discuss why asking questions are important. Becky talks about how she used positive affirmations to prepare for job interviews.
To CPA or NOT to CPA? Public vs Private?
What if you could run an experiment?
Take twins, with identical DNA, life experiences, education, GPAs, majors, internships, and careers as accountants. Then have twin A go private and have twin B become a CPA and go public.
Follow Becky Steiger and Norma Steiger on their separate journeys in the private and public accounting worlds! Together they will compare and contrast their experiences and goals in the accounting profession.
[00:13] Becky: Hi, everyone.
[00:13] Norma: Welcome back to the Accounting Twits Podcast. My name is Norma.
[00:17] Becky: And I'm Becky.
[00:18] Norma: Sorry in advance if we sound a little raspy. We went to a concert last night and may or may not have lost.
[00:24] Becky: Our voices and it was so worth it.
[00:27] Norma: While we were there, we saw one of our friends who is actually a Masters of Accounting student at UOA also. And I don't know, just seeing her there kind of made me a little relaxed for next year because I know that the Mac courses are super intense and super busy. And seeing her there kind of made me realize she does have a life outside of studying and she can actually enjoy herself and go to concerts and have fun. And while I was there before the concert started, I just talked to her about the Mac program and she's like, well, it's still tough and super busy while trying to study for the CPA, but she makes time for herself and has funds, sees friends, and goes out. So it kind of just made me a little less nervous for next year because I was really struggling with the idea that we would have to or that I would have to have no time to myself. So it really kind of just made me feel a little bit better because I really thought I was only going to ever hang out with my roommate because I had no time for anything else.
[01:26] Becky: I think it's important next year that you, even if you have to etch it out in your planner to be like, I'm going to set aside 2 hours, whether it's reading, watching Netflix, getting my nails done, just doing something for me. Because one thing I've learned, especially this semester is you can spend all your time studying, but the end of the day. Everybody says this, but on your gravestone when you pass away, no one's going to say she was a 4.0 student who loved accounting. They're going to say she was someone who enjoyed life and had fun.
[01:56] Norma: So try to take as much time.
[01:57] Becky: As you can just to have fun and do things that are enjoyable for you, but also at the same time, do get that degree and do get your Masters just because it's also something you enjoy. Just don't make your whole personality trait one thing. Do multiple things.
[02:12] Norma: Yeah, I'm not going to revert back to our junior year self or we literally had no social life. I only care about grades because although school is important, I'm really not trying to drown myself in grades again.
[02:27] Becky: I've learned that this semester, absolutely. Especially with it being my last semester of school ever. I've learned that at the end of the day, I have a job and I'm making a salary and I have friends and I know what I'm doing after college. So I'm not going to spend my days hold up in my room crying over studying, when I can study to the best of my ability and still go enjoy my social life, because I'm trying not to ruin myself over school, because there's so much more to me than just being a student. I'm also a person who has hobbies, and I'm tired of holding myself up thinking that school is the only thing I have going for me when I have so many more things.
[03:05] Norma: Yeah, exactly. One thing that I wanted to talk about this week is group work. Whether it be within, like whether it be in school or at work. I just honestly don't like group work at school. Becky and I were fortunate enough that we paired together a lot for group work. And some of our friends, we pair with the two of them a lot whenever we want to do group work. But the times when you're told what groups you have to be with, it never works out. Like, Rebecca and I were both the team captains of our groups, freshmen, or the first semester of junior year, and that sucked. We know where we strive to the best of our abilities and want to do the best as we possibly can. And being paired with people who don't have the same ambitions as you sucks. I know there's a lesson to be learned and that you have to work with people you don't want to, but it sucks when they don't have the same goals as you. That's different than when you're working, like, on an audit team or something, where everyone has the same goal to complete the audit to the best of the ability. And you know that they are your peers who want to do well. But when it's work, when it's school, I personally hate the fact that we have to get assigned group work. It just doesn't help in the fact that it's going to ruin our grades. Also, my group and I did not perform well on some of our first assignments because even though I did mine to the best of my ability and those parts were graded well, everyone else wasn't. And I wasn't about to spend more hours of my life doing their work.
[04:39] Becky: And what I've realized is sometimes as a student, you would get graded just on what you put into the assignment. However, if you think about it, if you're doing an audit, the company is not going to care about just what you do, because if your teammate is slacking and they're not doing what they're supposed to do, the whole audit there is downturn. They're not going to go, oh, well, Rebecca did great on her part, but so and so didn't do that great. That's totally fine. We'll just tell so and so to do better. No, they're going to say, why didn't you work together as a team to get this audit done to the best of its ability?
[05:14] Norma: Yeah, I'm not necessarily as worried about that next year going into my internship and then having a job after. About the group work, it's really just in school, I understand you're taught to learn, you're learning from your group, but you're also just like, putting yourself at a disadvantage. And groups don't necessarily work like that in the real world because honestly, from my perspective, a lot of the accounting students performed very well in our classes, especially the group ones, because we all had the same mindset. So going into the workforce, we all just want to work together. But then there are some students who are kind of just passing by. Like there's a lot of people who just aren't in business just to do business, and they're not necessarily in love with their major, as Becky and I are. So it's sometimes just difficult to work with them.
[06:05] Becky: One of the things that I've actually learned is what type of person I work least well with, what type of person I do not work well with. And it sounds like it's printful because it is. I don't work well with procrastinators, and it's not because I want the work done right away, but it's because I want to be able to review the work and make sure it's right. And if they're getting it done ten minutes before the deadline, you can't go back and make sure it's working because, let's say working on an Excel file and they get it done ten minutes ahead of time, well, if they get it wrong and you have to go back and edit every single cell or something, it's so hard to do that. And I also love being able to give myself time to go and review everything. For example, even studying norma and I typically study for exams one to two weeks ahead of time. So then the one to two days before the exam, we're kind of just sitting there, twiddling our thumbs, being like, what do I study? I feel like I'm not doing enough. When in reality, because we started studying so much ahead of time, we're not cramming, we're making sure we know everything, crossing our teeth and dotting our eyes. And it's so helpful because if I had to cram and I didn't know something, I don't have the time to learn it. I can't go ask my professor, I can't ask my friends, because it's 130 in the morning and the exam is at 930. So I've really learned that I love to give myself time to complete things. That way I feel safe and secure, and if someone's a procrastinator, that's fine because that works for them. However, being a procrastinator absolutely does not work for me. I can't do it while we're talking.
[07:43] Norma: On yes, like Rebecca saying, while we're on the topic of group work, there's definitely some type of people I don't like working with. Mine is the people who think they know everything and don't ask any questions. I've had some leadership experiences in the past where someone was in a role where it is okay to ask questions, but they just didn't want to seem vulnerable and didn't ask any questions, no matter how many times we reiterated it's okay, like, better to ask a question and get it right the first time around instead of misleading people. And it's just so frustrating, in my opinion, to work with those people who have such a prominent role because it makes the entire group look bad. Like, yes, it makes you as an individual look bad, but it makes your entire group look bad because you're working together. If you can't rein in one person from acting in a certain way, it's going to reflect badly upon the rest of you. And I just realized going forward how important it is to ask questions. I'm pretty sure I mentioned this in the last episode where I'm the type of person to ask a ridiculous amount of questions. This experience working with that person kind of just reinforced to ask as many questions as possible because it is better to ask questions and learn and get something right the first time instead of doing it wrong, not realizing what you did wrong, and then going back and making the same problem and not doing something correctly.
[09:05] Becky: Exactly. Today we were in one of our accounting classes and I had asked my teacher to go back to step two of a ten step problem because it made sense on paper. However, I wasn't internalizing it and understanding, and I'm glad I asked what step two of ten was because now I know how to do it. I would rather look stupid in front of my classmates than saving myself and not understanding. Granted, that class is really hard, so I felt really stupid in the first place, but that's something that I will always be proud of who I am for, for always being able to ask a question, no matter how smart or stupid it is. Because at the end of the day, I'm trying to learn from myself. I'm not trying to be smart or unstoppable for certain people. Yeah.
[09:52] Norma: My recommendation for any of the accounting students out there listening, ask as many questions as possible because accounting is not a black and white major. There's so many different factors, and it also depends on what type of company that you're working for, on how things go, what accounts to credit or debit, or just how to even do a process. Ask a ridiculous amount of questions because then you're going to understand the content enough better to where when you get to the application settings, you'll know all the different ways and solutions to do the problem and you'll be able to get it right. It's better to have no, I wouldn't say short term humility, but sometimes when you're in class, I know I'm that person where I ask too many questions to where I get embarrassed because I know that peers are annoyed with me because they just want to get out of Cost. But I'm like, I want to know the content, ask as many questions. It saves you in the long run.
[10:42] Becky: Agreed. Actually, as Normal was saying earlier, accounting is not very black and white. It's very much kind of like a skill. You got some easier stuff, you got some really hard stuff. I don't know if you guys have heard, but the AICPA is talking about passing a bill where accounting is part of a Stem program and should potentially be taught in high school. Personally, I think this should happen as Norm and I were talking last week in episode two, that accounting is something that should be taught to everybody because you need to know how to do your taxes, you need to know how to account for your money. I think that they should be taught in high school as someone who is lucky enough to be good at accounting and major in it, I'm good. I can do finances and I can do my taxes, and I can do accounting. However, there are some people who are not as lucky. And so I'm glad that this is a proposed bill, and I understand it may take a while to pass. Some people may not be happy with it, but I think in the long run, it's going to be something super beneficial.
[11:40] Norma: Yeah, I know. Obviously, Becky and I are biased just because we do love accounting and it is our major, but it should be taught in high school. It even just gives you the basic understanding of money in general, so then you know what to do with it in the future if you want to invest it, how to save it. Honestly, in high school, I don't remember being taught about money at all besides an economics. So having accounting mixed in with that, it just will teach you how to use money smarter. So I really do hope that this bill passes just so people have a better understanding of money. And then it might also help people decide if they want to do accounting or even business as a major. Because in my opinion, high school does not give you enough exposure to different career choices and career paths. So by having something else included, that's not science, english, history, math. There's another option for students to look at before they get into college, and also it reduces the amount of people in the weed out classes, because we all know the first year or two of college, there's just weed out classes. So if I introducing business into the curriculum earlier, there's going to be less people in the weed out classes and more people who are really dead set on being a business major.
[13:02] Becky: Honestly, those weed out classes were not fun. You know, those classes are for the people who are just dipping their toes in the water trying to figure it out. I hated the weed out classes because I felt as if it not that it was too easy, but I knew what I wanted to do. So this class was kind of just reassuring knowing that I wanted to do what I wanted to do. And obviously they're needed because not everybody is fortunate enough to know what they want to go into college with. I also was in that same circumstance. I wanted to be a special education teacher. I wanted to be a social worker. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. And then when I realized that the business path was best for me and my personality, I then found accounting. But for some people it's a lot more difficult than that too, because I knew I could excel at business. But some people aren't sure what path they want to take the most. And so I think that providing accounting in high school can give people a little idea of what business may be like. I personally do not believe high school prepares us enough for picking a major in college. I think it prepares us enough for getting the background information we all need. However, there are no business classes in high school as much. You have your typical science, math, English, electives, all of those things. And so I just think this would be a better tool for preparation for students.
[14:21] Norma: Yeah. So last week I mentioned that I had an interview and I heard back that although it's too early in the process to get an offer already too early to get a job offer for fall 2023, they wanted to keep in contact with me. I kind of came to the realization becky and I think we're pretty successful when it comes to cover letters, resumes.
[14:43] Becky: Interviews, and I think we should just.
[14:44] Norma: Kind of give our advice on what we do in each of those situations and how to be successful with it. By no means you do not use this advice as like a Bible and go buy it, but it's kind of just how we've been successful in our experiences with them.
[15:00] Becky: One of the things I have really learned throughout my interview process is absolutely prepare. I remember being like, if they're interviewing me, why do I need to prepare? Why do I need to know the company and their financials and who they are? However, by reading ahead and understanding what the company does, what its values are, what they stand for, just some things that they do every day, it helps your interview so much because you will understand some of the questions that they are asking and some of the things that they are talking about. And it makes everything easier because you feel more accustomed to the language they are speaking. I had an interview process that was four steps, in a sense. One interview waited a week, another interview waited a week, another interview waited a week. And then I had four interviews in one day and had a presentation, and I spent more time preparing for my interviews than I did for one of my finals, which I was okay with because I was so passionate about getting this job. And so I went to my professors and asked for help understanding their financials a little better. One of my dad's best friends was a CEO of a company, and he helped me prepare interviewing, and he helped me understand how to package myself, how to make myself seem like the ideal candidate. It's okay to say, My name is Rebecca, and I believe I am a great candidate for this position, because X, Y, and Z, they want to hear that. They want to hear how passionate you are about something. It's okay to go into it with the idea, I am perfect for this, because if you have that mindset, you're just going to continue forward with it. I've carried something with me throughout high school, and it was, if you believe you can achieve. And I know it sounds silly, but I would always say this to myself before interviews and before exams, because half of the preparation for an interview, outside of looking at the company, is preparing yourself, mentally preparing yourself for possible rejection, for possible critiques, possible learning curves. If you believe you can do something, you're already ahead of the game compared to the people who are not sure if they have their foot in the door.
[17:03] Norma: Yeah. Becky was intense during that month, month and a half process where she was interviewing with the company. She now has the job for, like, non stop. I would just hear about the interview, she's prepping for it, and it's like every different week with an interview, and she just, like, really was on top of it. But like she was saying, you need to research the company. I know sometimes we all get into the headset, like, I need to look for a job, so you're just applying. But by researching that company, not only are you learning their values just so you can impress the people you're interviewing with, you're also just educating yourself on the company and whether it fits with you or not. And then it kind of aligns your questions to it. I honestly didn't understand until this semester. My last semester has undergrad how important it is to research companies. And honestly, during Covet, because we've had online interviews, I've had sticky notes on my laptop about all the things that I want to talk about, all the questions I want to ask, just any of that important information. So, I mean, if your interview is on Zoom, maybe have a few sticky.
[18:10] Becky: Notes here or there. I remember Norma was sending me a photo of her computer screen. I can't remember why, but she was sending me a photo of it before her interview, and it was covered in sticky notes. And I was like, you go, girl. Because obviously in an interview, you're nervous you kind of might forget things. So by being able just to have a little starving, like, you're awesome. You're just like, wow, I am awesome. I think Norma and I are really good at boxing ourselves and packaging ourselves, and I think we're very lucky for that. And so it's kind of nice to just put a little reminder on your laptop, being like, hey, you're really cool. I know. I'm really cool. I'm going to go show this interviewer. I'm really cool. What about it?
[18:51] Norma: Oh, my gosh. Rebecca, do you still have the quotes of, like, I'm a badass or something like that on your shower mirror? And then, like, our roommate or not our roommate, her roommate wrote stuff on her bathroom mirror and her dresser mirror. Yes.
[19:07] Becky: Before my really big job interview, I was so nervous, I couldn't sleep, I was shaking. So what I would do is I don't know if you guys have seen Grey's Anatomy, but Amelia, before a big surgery, will do her Superman pose and she'll stand there for five minutes just to give herself feeling something. So I can't stand still for five minutes like that. So what I would do instead was I took an expo marker and I wrote on my bathroom mirror. I was like, you are beautiful. You are amazing. You got this. One of my roommates came in and said, I am so proud of you. And then she went into my mirror in my bedroom, and I was like, I am so proud of you. You are so amazing. And so what I would do is I'd be brushing my teeth, looking in the mirror, being like, you're so amazing. You got this. And then whenever I was picking my outfit for the day, I would see my mirror. And it was just perfect because having little reminders just to pick you up during the day is perfect. It's words of affirmation for yourself. Oh, my gosh, that's so great. Thank you for remembering that because actually the other day my friend was over and we were getting ready to go get dinner and she saw it and she took my expo marker and she wrote something on there. It means a lot to me because I have those words of affirmation for myself. But I also had my friends affirming what I believe of myself already. So, you know, you've got a good support system and that's my little way of doing the Amelia from Grey's Anatomy.
[20:23] Norma: Yeah. Going back to just advice to give on interviews and things, I would say one thing. Oh, I love our dad. He gives the best advice, one piece of advice that he's given Becky and I during our interview process, if you're asked a question, you can ask them to repeat themselves just so you have more time to process the question and think of an answer. But you could also just like, it's not a bad thing just to take a second and pause and just have a little moment of silence and then speak. Sometimes if you speak and answer way too quickly, you're not giving the best answer, but taking those extra one to 2 seconds, you're able to provide an answer that more adequately fits the question. And then another thing. I know I've been too stubborn about this. I'm the stubborn one in the family. Don't be afraid to ask for advice. I go to my dad. Becky went to our dad's friend who was the CEO. She went to our uncle. I've gone to my career advisor. Just ask for help. I'm independent. I like doing things by myself. But I'm really glad that I've gotten to that point where I'm not afraid to ask for help on interviews and get people's advice. I asked her peers, she sent me like a list of her questions on what she asks interviewers, and I added to it. And now we have a shared Google Doc. So don't be afraid to collaborate and ask other people.
[21:44] Becky: Also, find someone who's not afraid to critique you 100%. Obviously, Norma and I are best friends, and with being the same major, we obviously are able to critique each other so well. So sometimes we'll ask each other questions and we'll give each other 100% the ruthless truth, which is so nice because we are so lucky to have that, where we can just chew each other out and be like, you need to do this better. You need to do this better, you need to do this better. And sometimes it kind of stinks hearing it all at once, being like, this is what you could do better. But at the same time, when you have someone who is not afraid to give you the 100% truth, it helps you. And so normally I are so lucky to be BFFs and sisters to the point where we can do that. So find someone who's not afraid to tell you the truth because you don't want someone to sugarcoat it. You want someone who's going to tell you the truth and give you something good. You don't want good stuff all the time. You gotta have a little good with the bad.
[22:36] Norma: Yeah. For resumes, my piece of advice, I honestly love resumes. One, have everything be the same amount of lines. So, like, I have four different job experiences on my resume. Each has three bullet points of what I do, and each is just one line each. Also, for resumes, quantify everything. People love numbers, especially if you're a business major. Quantify everything. For example, I said I was in charge of over $200,000 when I was the treasurer. When I was facility manager, I was in charge of the health and safety for 350 plus women. So really just quantify everything because otherwise it's just getting vague and you can say you were in charge of a budget. Was it a $5 budget? Was it a $50,000 budget. Just quantify everything.
[23:25] Becky: Quantifying makes what you have done something tangible and something that people can visualize. If normal were to say that she handled a budget, if it was $5, it's $5. But if it's $50,000, you know, that is so much more difficult to manage. And she did it fabulously. So being able to give quantification of something and being able to quantify it, it makes everything easier to read and easier to visualize, and it makes everything more you. You're being able to say, hi, my name is Norma Stigger, and I had a budget for X amount of dollars. They're like, wow, normst. Tiger can do that. How amazing.
[24:02] Norma: I also would say at the bottom, do like activities, interest, hobbies, certification. Just throw something on there that can make you as a person and your personality shine on to your resume. I like having the interest section because I can put the things that I do cooking, hiking, reading, spending time with my families because I've gone to interviews. And not only are they asking me questions on my experience, they're trying to get to know me as a person. And I think part of the reason companies hire you is not only are you capable to do the job, but will you fit in with the culture? And by including your interests and hobbies, then the company is going to see if you're a better fit for them, and they'll be able to realize what type of person you are besides just a working person. And I've had questions on what types of books are you reading? And I went into an interview, and we just spent ten minutes talking about books and how I like them. And it kind of gave. Even though it wasn't necessarily about work, I was able to at least show them my personality a little bit. So have something that makes you not seem like just another resume.
[25:10] Becky: Exactly. One of the best interviews I ever had, actually, was someone asked me what I do in my free time, what my hobbies are, and I said, in full transparency, I don't have a specific hobby. I love to spend quality time with people, whether we're sitting next to each other, doing our homework, whether we're just going to the store and getting groceries. I'm a quality time person. And she goes, what's your favorite thing to do with people that you think is what you love to do for quality time? And I go, My roommate and I love to watch movies. We would make pasta and nachos, and we watched every single Barbie movie last semester. And the interviewer thought that was the best thing ever. Don't be afraid to say something silly about yourself. I'm 22 years old, and the interviewer and I talked about Barbie movies and how we would love to be mermaids. And I think that you should be able to be yourself and be vulnerable in an interview. Because at the end of the day, you want to find a place where you fit best. And I know Norman and I are really good at being vulnerable because we're vulnerable with each other, because we are the exact same. So we have to be able to talk about a lot of things. So don't be afraid to be vulnerable. I love practicing with Norma before interviews and being like, ask me a question.
[26:23] Norma: What should I do?
[26:24] Becky: And just fully practicing interview questions that aren't hard skills or soft skills. Just fun interview questions. Because then you get to know who you really are and when it's your.
[26:36] Norma: Turn to ask the interview questions, don't ask the same questions. What's your favorite part of working at the company? What's the culture like? You can find that on just their website. Like I mentioned last week, I asked, what's something about your company I wouldn't know. But just by looking at the website, you could ask what the company does. One question I had was during Covet, there was a lot of decrease in morale. People just didn't want to work. How did the company combat this? Decreasing morale? Then you can see how much the.
[27:09] Becky: Company really cares about employees.
[27:10] Norma: If it's just a raise, okay, fine, everyone loves the money, but what are they doing to connect them with the people around them?
[27:17] Becky: Exactly. I think one of the overarching themes I hope you are getting from this week's episode is interview preparation. Whether it's hard skills, soft skills, learning how to ask questions, learning how to be vulnerable. Prepare. It's never going to hurt you. It will only help you. Yeah.
[27:36] Norma: So that's all that we have for this week on the Accounting Twins podcast. Tune in next week. We'll probably have more things to talk about. To be honest, you'll probably hear us crying over one of our accounting projects that is due. Who knows? Might be a soft story, might be funny. Tune in next week to find out.
[27:53] Becky: Thanks for listening. Bye. This has been a production of the Accounting Podcast Network.