In this premiere episode of the Accounting Twins Podcast, we get to meet Norma and Becky Steiger for the first time as they begin their six-week countdown to graduation! They discuss their soon-to-be diverging paths as Norma heads off to graduate school to complete her CPA while Becky is heading off to her first job. Both are finding burnout and focus at school are becoming an issue, but at the same time, they both maybe aren't 100 percent ready to start adulting. They discuss public accounting versus private, why accounting is sexy, internships, and their life goals.
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.
[00:15] Norma: Hi, I'm Norma. And I'm Becky. And welcome to the first episode of the Accounting Twins podcast.
[00:21] Becky: We are both going to be graduating from the University of Arizona in six weeks and we are going to major in accounting. We're both accounting majors, but my sister is going the private route, whereas I will be going the public route, and I'm going to be going to grad school next year.
[00:39] Norma: So this podcast is pretty much just about how we are navigating going through college and how normal will be navigating taking the CPA exam while I am going the more private route. And I am doing a leadership development program and working like we said. We have six weeks until graduation and the burnout is real, is all I have to say.
[01:01] Becky: Honestly, it's worse than senioritis. I think we're both just so incredibly dead from school. We both held leadership positions within the Panhellenic community this past year, and along with school and the job search, we're both just absolutely dead. We are great students, four point of students, always working and trying our best. But this past week has been the absolute death of us. We've had an exam and a quiz and the exam final study where this is important, the quiz. I think this is the first quiz we've ever gone into completely blind, like three blind mice, all that just there.
[01:36] Norma: It was hard, but like I said, we're graduating, so we're not really. I honestly think when we came back from spring break, we were just both in the mindset of graduating. We took our senior photos. We've been starting to fill out all of our forms through university about graduation. I've been apartment hunting, so I really feel like I've graduated, but I'm just sitting in a random classroom every day learning stuff and it's honestly getting pretty difficult because we've been in school for twelve years. It's just so hard to be able to get your head around continuing it when we're just burnt out.
[02:08] Becky: Yeah, and I'm so nervous for next year because it's going to be so long because not only will I be going to graduate school, I'm going to be studying for my CPA exams because I would like to take at least two or three of them before the school year ends next year. I'm just so worried how I'm going to do that because I'm so burnt out now and I'm just so unmotivated to do anything, which is completely unlike me.
[02:31] Norma: See, the nice thing is, once I graduate, I'm in the big girl life. I don't know if I work nine to five, but I work 8 hours a day and I'm living across the streets from some of my best friends and we're joining a kickball team and a softball team and I'm just going to be living the life while Norma will be spiraling downhill. So we're going to be leading very opposite lives, which is kind of scary, but also, because we are twins, we've always done the same thing our entire lives. We are in the same classes, we have the same groupmates, we have the same GPA, so it'll be nice to be doing something that's a little different for the both of us.
[03:06] Becky: Yes, it will be interesting to experience life without her because we've done every single thing together. Like, maybe there's like, a handful of experiences or even like, friends that we don't have in common. So this next year is going to be very different for us. We always rely on each other for studying for anything, and knowing that she's not going to be on the same path as me and I have to do every little thing by myself is going to be a huge adjustment. Because imagine you've been relying on someone your entire life to help you, motivate you, and then poof, they're gone. None of my friends that I know of are going to graduate school, at least where I'm going. So it's a completely new experience for me.
[03:45] Norma: It'll be hard because even though she lives three minutes down the road for me in the sorority house, we zoom together whenever we study. And it's kind of funny because if I don't know something, she typically does. So we always have each other to bounce back off, and we always know what each other is thinking. Like, we will zoom, and I'll be like, hey, something is not adding up. And before I can even finish my sentence, she'll go, oh, I know what you're talking about. And it's so nice to have someone on the same page as you because it makes everything so much easier. And also being able to study with each other is so nice because we're not afraid to be I wouldn't say rude to each other, but go, you're not thinking straight. You need to take the day off. Like, you're kind of making the dumbest mistakes ever, which is so fun and so nice to know about each other because we know each other's strengths and weaknesses. And even though you could do that with a friend, it's also sometimes just a little difficult because you can't be a straight up with them, but when your sister is with someone and you see them in their everyday lives, even outside of school, you can be like, no, you're not doing good. Just stop it. Like, do something better.
[04:47] Becky: Yeah, it's going to be so hard to stay motivated next year just because we're not going to be able to keep each other from going. Because at this point, we're both like, we need to study, we need to sit down, blah, blah, blah. But also, it kind of enables us to not study. Like, we had a quiz yesterday, and Monday I came back from our exam and I'm like, I just don't want to do anything. She's like, you know what? I'm not going to do anything either. And we do this. And they pulled each other to not study. But also next year we're not going to motivate each other. So I'm worried about my motivation for next year. It's going to be horrible, but a lot of my friends are graduating, and the only friends that I have are the ones I'm living with. So my social life is not going to be that existence. And then I'm just going to have to make myself study.
[05:31] Norma: Honestly, the thing I'm nervous for the next year is not being able to take naps. I sleep like 10 hours a night. I love to take naps during the day. It's always how I've been. So not being able to nap. Maybe I could sneak in a nap or two every once in awhile if I'm working from home, but if I'm working from in the office, I can't just push aside my work and lay my head down on my desk. That's not how it works. I don't want to have to be an adult. I don't want to get married. Well, I do want to get married, but I don't want to to have pay a mortgage. I don't want to have to be thinking of all that stuff. Like, I'm opening up an IRA account soon account, whatever. I'm getting an IRA soon. And that's terrifying. I remember being younger and looking up at my older sister and thinking, wow, she looks so old. She knows what she's doing. And now I'm at her age and I'm like, I want to watch a Barbie movie and go to bed early and just have fun. That's not what I imagined. I told myself when I was younger I wanted to be married by 22. Yeah, that's definitely not the case right now.
[06:31] Becky: She's been on maybe like five dates, so she's very behind that curve.
[06:39] Norma: You know what? But I'm not behind on the accounting curve. I'm doing pretty well.
[06:44] Becky: Oh, my gosh. I need to tell them about my not theory, but the way I look at it, accounting, I find it sexy. Like Modemoto. Sexy from Madagascar too. Whenever I think about accounting, I just think about moto moto. I find it attractive.
[07:03] Norma: When I think of accounting. I don't know if you guys have seen Vampire Diaries, but I think of Damon sitting at a desk, just like, tapping a pencil on the table, kind of irking you. Like, you're intrigued, but you're also too scared to approach it, so you're kind of just like, I kind of want.
[07:19] Becky: To poke the bear.
[07:20] Norma: But also, what if it bites me? Like, that's how I view accounting.
[07:24] Becky: Is it going to be good?
[07:24] Norma: Is it going to be bad? And while it typically comes naturally to me, if accounting looks at me like David Salvator, I'm a little scared.
[07:34] Becky: Yeah, accounting is interesting. I love it, but it scares me because it's like, obviously, like in the public route, you don't know the answer until you get to it. And like in school, you know the answer if you get it wrong, but if you're in public accounting, you don't know the answer even if you get it wrong. So I'm so nervous.
[07:53] Norma: That's what I'm worried about for next year. Because I'm a 4.0 student, I base my self worth on my GPA, on my grades. So what's going to happen next year when I'm not graded? Technically, I am graded. They're like, oh, you could do this better, but you got to give me an A. You got to give me a 90%, 95%. I need to know a percent range of how I'm doing. And a lot of this program is for you to figure out what you're doing. It wants you to push yourself. But what if I can't do that? I'm just nervous for how this is going to go, and I don't know anybody else who's in the program with me, but I'm glad that I decided to go private instead of public. I went on a little quarterlife crisis this year, and I just realized I don't want to be sitting at a desk all day doing accounting and be getting burnt out for four or five months out of the year during busy season and figuring out problems where there is an answer, but there's also not an answer. So I wanted to do something in the private sector. And also I want to be a part of a company that I'm passionate about. And while I do love accounting, I don't know if I see myself continuing with it for the rest of my life just because I'm a big people person and I love kids, but I'm good at it, so I'm continuing with it for the next few years, and then we'll see where the wind takes me.
[09:05] Becky: Yeah. Becky is going from public to private, but I'm going from private to public because going into my freshman and sophomore years at college, I had an internship in the accounts payable department of a company. And even though it was a great learning experience, I realized that going private was not for me. It's kind of like it was just too mundane and like, yes, I love having a schedule and love knowing what I'm doing, but it gets boring after a while. I kind of need some excitement in my life, and that's why I wanted to do public, because working on a job or a client is never the same, whether it be from one client compared to another or the same client from year to year. So as much as it can be uncomfortable at times, because I literally don't know what I'm doing sometimes, and I have to figure it out, that's what I like, because I will never be bored, and I'm not like Becky where I can do private, I have to do public. And I'm really excited to see where I end up because I'm currently interviewing for different companies. I'm getting a job offer within the next week or two for after graduate school, which is insane. I think that the route that firms are going to or like the pace they are going to find interns and workers. It's just so fast. Like when Becky and I were sophomores in college, we got an internship offer for going into senior year of college and it's just so fast. I wish that companies could take it back a few months and have it where it's like six to seven months before the internship. They find interns because what if you're still deciding on what you want to do? Because I know some people, there are some people in my sorority who are looking for internships and they're like, I don't know what I really want to do yet, I need a few more months to think. But they don't have a few more months. Like firms are already lining up internships for the sake of their interns fully knowing what they want to do. There needs to be a few more months on the reins.
[10:56] Norma: Exactly. I would agree with that. When I got a job offer from the internship we had, and it was in August of 2021, and the job offer was for October of 2022. So I accepted it because it was a job offer. Not that I would just accept any job offer, but at the time that was what I wanted. But then I started exploring and thinking about what I actually wanted and four months later I decided I wanted to do private. And for me that was a very quick turnaround. As in I had over a year between accepting the job and starting the job, which is just a lot in my opinion. Granted, I would be super stressed out if it was a job where I accepted it and started two weeks after in the sense I would feel very panicked because what if I had left a job and I needed one right away? But also I think that hiring people ahead of time, like over a year and a half ahead of time kind of, I would say closes them down from other opportunities. Because I have a job, I don't need to continue looking as much. And while that's not the same for every person, some people may think that, which isn't bad, but also just closes them down from other opportunities because they go, oh, I have a job, maybe I don't need to look anywhere else within that industry. But it could be holding them back. What if they don't know what they're actually passionate about but they're assumed to be college graduate just wanting to secure a job? Because that's what colleges push us to do these days. It's just to have a job as soon as you get out of college. They don't normalize taking a few months to be able to figure out what you want. And so I think there needs to be some communication with firms and colleges about how they should be hiring these people and how they should be approaching the situation instead of a year and a half early.
[12:32] Becky: Yeah, and I find it weird that it's just the accounting profession because one of our family friends, he's mine and my sister's age, but he's an mis major and he got an internship offer for this past summer, I think in January or February. But Becky and I had an internship offer a year before that for the same summer. So I find it weird that it's specifically just accounting that's starting to so early. And I think they kind of need to look towards other companies and see what they're doing because I don't know. I'm grateful for the opportunities we had, but I wish I had more time to explore other opportunities because imagine, I'm a sophomore in college, I just been accepted into the business school at the university, and I'm already accepting internships when I hadn't even started my upper division courses. And what if I had decided to change my major and then I would have had to forgo my internship? I wish that there would just be a little bit more time.
[13:33] Norma: Exactly. I know that in the accounting industry, there's been a lot of turnover with the audit profession in public firms, which is crazy to me because it seems like a lot of people want these, but then again, they're accepting the job almost a year and a half out, so then maybe they're not searching for anything else and realizing what they want. So then when it's three or four years into being an auditor, they're realizing either I'm completely burnt out or that they no longer want to continue with the job. So allowing students the opportunity to take a little more time and thinking could honestly help decrease the accounting turnover and keep people at companies for longer, or at least not switching companies. Because I know somebody who is working at a firm and this was her first busy season, and she was just like sending me snapshots of her bawling, her eyes being like, I've been working eleven hour days, I barely get to leave the house. I don't even get to walk my dog. Like, this is so stressful for me. And this is my first year and I'm still studying for my CPA. I understand that busy season is super important, but I think just throwing people into it and giving them 80 hours work week is just a big turn off for them. And yes, it's what they sign up for, but when you give them 80 hours work weeks in the same salary as other people who are getting 40 hours work weeks during busy season, they're really not making as much money as their salary states. So they're kind of just like, I'm making money for double the amount of work and I just feel burnt out like, what are the pros of this when all I can see are the cons?
[15:00] Becky: Yes. That's why I'm looking more towards mid sized firms. Like, I don't want to work for a big Ford because it's too fast paced for me. But also I want to work on smaller clients and companies. And during busy season, I think, yes, I'm going to be busy, but I think because I'm going to be working for companies and clients that I'm passionate about, it will be fine. Yes, I'll be out of my mind busy, but I'm doing something that I love, so it can't be the end of the world for me. I know what I'm signing up for.
[15:31] Norma: I think another reason I decided to go private was, like I've said before, I love kids. I want so many kids and I want a really big family, and I want to be able to be a part. Granted, I have to get married first and I have to have children first, but I want to be able to be a part of my kids lives. I want to take them to their soccer games, soccer practice, ballet, football. Like, I want to be a part of them. And I want to go to the pools on Saturdays, and I want to put my family first over work because at the end of the day, I saw this thing, it was like, on your headstone. People aren't going to put your company, they're going to put what they remembered you for. And I want to be remembered for family and loving life and having fun. I was actually asked in a job interview where I see myself in five years and I go, honestly, I'm not going to answer this about the job because five years from now I could be at any job, but I just want to be happy. And I think that's what accounting firms need to be prioritizing now for their work, is just being happy. Because, like I said, my friend sent me snapshots of her bawling her eyes out in her first busy season, and she wasn't enjoying life. She literally was not being able to go outside and see the sun. And I think that's something that needs to change because we only live once. Why are we sitting inside working the whole time when we should be doing other things?
[16:42] Becky: Yeah, I agree. That's something I'm a little scared for, going into public accounting, but I know that I will do what I can to make sure I can still enjoy what I'm doing, because I'm not one of those people where I want to make my profession my life. I just don't find a lot of joy in that. I think my profession is a part of my life, but not a huge part of it.
[17:05] Norma: I was thinking about that earlier. I was like, what is my personality trait going to be once I graduate? It can't be that I'm good at school. So what is it going to be like? Yeah, I'm funny, I'm quirky, but what is my personality trait going to be? Now I can't have a 4.0 outside of school. What's going to go on?
[17:19] Becky: Yes, that's pretty much a little ramble about private versus public, which is funny.
[17:26] Norma: We're identical twins our whole lives. We've done the exact same thing, and then we're just taking completely different career paths. I actually remember when we first joined the business school, I was like, I'm going to go to grad school. I want to do this. And Norman was like, absolutely not. And now we've completely won 80. I think we both are just finding things that fit our personality more because, like I said, although we are identical twins, we're also super opposite. Actually, that's a lie. We are not super opposite. There are some different things about us, but those tiny things make a big difference. And so I think that we both just realized what works for our personalities best and what works for both of us best.
[18:03] Becky: Yeah. So keep on listening to hear Becky go through the private life and me going through grad school and starting my public life and accounting and studying for my CPA exams, which will be an interesting thing. I can't wait for you guys to follow along and listen to me cry, because that's fine.
[18:19] Norma: You'll hear about Norma's CPA studying and you'll hear about me playing kickball on Tuesday nights. So stay tuned for the next episode and thanks for listening. Bye. This has been a production of the Accounting Podcast Network.