Become A CPA

Become A CPA

Volunteer to Develop Social Skills Needed in Your Accounting Career

by Gilbert Plascencia, CPA, CFE | Oct 20, 2014
Gilbert PlascenciaAs your career in accounting takes off you will find yourself in situations where your social skills will be more critical than your technical knowledge about accounting. These social skills, like how to relate to clients and how to explain complex accounting transactions in a way that clients can understand, come easy to some but for most of us take time and a conscious effort to develop.

An easy, non-stressful way to develop these skills is to volunteer. Some of the obvious benefits of volunteering are the opportunities to meet new people (especially if you are new to an area), strengthen your ties to the community, and broaden your support network. The less obvious benefits of volunteering are the opportunities it provides to interact and practice your communications skills with others. One of the volunteer activities I enjoy is serving on one of the community investment panels through our local United Way. The investment panels are tasked with determining which nonprofit agencies in the community should receive financial support through United Way. Volunteering in this activity has given me the opportunity to directly see the effect United Way has in our community as well as allowing me to interact with other volunteers and existing or potential clients of our firm. The chance to spend time with these people in a setting outside of work provides a personal connection that I can then use in a professional setting.

Another volunteer activity I have been doing for several years now is serving as a mentor to at-risk high school students who are interested in going to college. There is no greater test of your communication skills than explaining accounting to high school seniors. As part of this activity we have also developed a job shadowing program at our firm where students interested in learning more about accounting can come to our office and spend a day visiting our staff members and seeing what accounting at a public accounting firm entails. Being a mentor has been very rewarding and has allowed me to be more confident when talking in front of groups of people.

My ability to be comfortable and confident in front of clients is due in part to the volunteer activities I’m part of, and I strongly encourage you to consider volunteering to develop the social skills you’ll need to be a successful CPA.

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