Earning your degree sometimes seems lonely experience, hunched over books with months of solitary study hours ahead. But getting a degree is more than earning a grade. Now is the time to start networking. Meeting people that share professional interests may not only help with your future career, it can keep you from going crazy.
A simple browser search for “accounting associations in [city or state]” will usually return several good results. In Kansas, for example, the Kansas Society of CPAs (http://www.kscpa.org/) is a membership association that represents the interests of the accounting profession in governmental affairs. Member accountants may see a future in tax accounting, or perhaps even nurture political ambitions.
Other associations meet to network and socialize, such as the Arizona Society of Certified Public Accountants (https://www.ascpa.com/). These associations also offer opportunities for students to meet local professionals, solicit advice, and inquire about available positions. In fact, organizations such as these often work to help young accounting professionals, offer scholarship opportunities as well as sponsor professional development events. Students are invited to attend free of charge, and sometimes to present.
Women and Minority Associations
There are several associations that cater to members of minority groups and women that offer the unique ability to share one another’s unique struggles. The National Association of Black Accountants (http://www.nabainc.org/) was founded in 1969 in New York City by nine African-Americans to address challenges for black accounting professionals at the time. Since then, NABA has established affiliates in many cities, where the organization offers the opportunity for accounting professionals to unite and share professional development opportunities.
The Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance (http://afwa.org) is an organization to support the advancement of women in the accounting profession. It does so by offering mentorships, leadership development and networking opportunities. There is a local chapter in most every state of the United States. The AFWA also supports accounting students with scholarships, awards, resume-building services, internships, and more.
Online Accounting Communities
The Accountant’s Resource Network (ARNE) https://cs.thomsonreuters.com/community/) is an online forum for tax and accounting professional. It offers 24/7 discussions and other benefits of social networks without leaving home. Helpful articles such as “Confrontations in the Cubicle” offer career advice and informational articles. A particularly interesting feature of ARNE is the Ideas Community, where members are asked to provide feedback on software packages that sponsor the site.
The CPA Exam Club (http://www.cpaexamclub.com/) is an online community that offers tips, exam-related content, discussion boards and more. There are also resources for your journey to taking the CPA exam. Particularly interesting is the Study Goal Roll Call, which allows members to account to one another their CPA exam study progress. There are also plenty of opportunities for socialization when taking a break from studying.
While taking an hour away from your studies to network may not seem like the best use of your limited time, making connections outside the classroom are often invaluable. When one person meets another and makes a connection, whether it is through personality or a mutual distant relation, it can be a lifetime opportunity that will lead to career, personal, and intellectual enrichment.
About Sara Huter
Sara Huter has over 15 years experience in the banking and energy industries, and over 10 years as an adjunct professor. Her work has been published for BusinessBee.com, the International Directory of Company Histories, the Encyclopedia of Business Insights: Global, EHow.com, and Examiner.com. Find out more about Sara at her Google+ Profile.