By Homer Carrillo, Jr.
Shareholder, Head of Tax Department
You’ve chosen a great career that, from everything we can see, will always be around. Regardless of technology advances, clients want someone to talk to, to ask questions, to help plan ahead and so on.
With over 25 years as a tax accountant, I’ve seen it all. As I now reflect on earlier times, I’d like to share my two cents about challenges faced by new grads entering the field and how to launch a successful career. Think of it as a roadmap for how to be the best you can be. So, here goes what I would tell my younger self if given the opportunity.
1. BE EAGER.
When first starting a career in the tax world, be eager to learn new things, work hard and get to know your colleagues. Having a sense of eagerness will transcend into a lot of other positive experiences.
2. BE AN ENTHUSIATIC LEARNER.
Be willing to absorb as much information as you can on a continual basis. Figure out what you have a passion for, and get deep into the subject matter. This involves embracing constant change and incredible complexity like it’s fun!
3. BE RELATABLE.
You’ll quickly find out that tax accounting is not only about the numbers, but also about people and relationships. Be sure to tell folks what you do, and be proud of it. Always carry business cards—you never know when you may have the opportunity to plant a seed that can be reaped later on. All personal contacts can potentially pay dividends; maybe not immediately, but several years down the road.
4. BE OPEN-MINDED.
Don’t be too quick to put yourself in a box. It’s best to have an open mind about the different types of tax accounting (individual, corporate, etc.) you can practice before settling on one area. Get a broad foundation to leverage from, and be ready for any/all opportunities that may arise.
5. BE A GOOD COLLEAGUE.
Peer relationships with your colleagues are something to definitely nurture. Try to develop lasting relationships by being genuine and sincere. Even when busy, grab a few people to talk with and become their go-to person as a way to be helpful, while also maintaining contact. These relationships should stand the test of time, since you or they will inevitably end up somewhere else and today’s networking can lead to future prospects.
6. BE HIGHLY THOUGHT OF AND RESPECTED.
This has to do with reputation, which starts to accumulate on day one. While a solid reputation takes time to build, it’s also fragile and needs continual care to safeguard. Here’s a formula that’s worked for me: Come across as the person who can get the job done, and then do a good job. Keep it up, and it will get you noticed.Try this or come up with your own way of being that earns you respect from colleagues and clients, keeping in mind that consistency and reliability are valued traits in any business setting.
7. BE PROACTIVE.
Come into new situations with the right mentality, a positive attitude. Tell yourself that you can do this, even when facing periods of long hours and particularly challenging work. It’s all about gaining experience or, as they say, paying your dues. So, volunteer for the tough projects…you’ll learn a lot and be glad you did.
In closing, I’ve told people many a time that I’m rarely the smartest guy in the room, but I’ve tried to come across as the guy who works hard and does a good job. My philosophy that dependable, hard work goes a long way has paid off nicely with a success record I am very proud of. And, if you implement some (or better yet, all) of these tips, you will be off to a wonderful career in tax accounting.