What I’ve Learned in My First Year

It’s good to take professional inventory every now and then. And after being in the workforce for an entire year, I thought now would be a great time to look back and see what I’ve learned over the last twelve months.

Some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my first year:

Staying Organized is Important
One of the first things I learned in the workforce is the importance of staying organized. Tips I’d share with others looking to get organized include:

  • Use folders on your desktop to organize client work
  • Have “help sheets” in a folder at your desk or on your laptop so that you don’t have to ask the same questions repeatedly
  •  Make an excel sheet of open jobs (tax returns, audits, etc.) that you have on your to-do list and make notes on each one so you don’t forget where you are in the process of a job. This is helpful, especially as you have more on your plate.

Communication/First impressions are Key
It sounds cliché, but especially with clients, first impressions last, and a big part of that is how you communicate. It is important to look presentable, be on time, be friendly/confident, and represent the firm. Always communicate clearly, with confidence, and look over work papers before you discuss them with clients/ask them questions. Don’t be shy with the phone – a phone call can go a long way, especially since most clients are used to only getting emails. Finally, in a world of texts and emails, phone calls make you stand out.

The Learning Curve is Real
It might feel like you don’t know what you are doing at first, but that will quickly change with time. The software and IT part of the job was the hardest thing for me to learn because we use programs that I wasn’t familiar with. If you can take a QuickBooks class or familiarize yourself with it as much as you can in the first year, that is helpful.

There is so much to learn, so take it one task at a time to help avoid getting overwhelmed. Try things on your own first and do your best, but then sit down with a coworker who can help you with your questions. The more questions you ask, the quicker you’ll learn, but use your help sheets and your own knowledge first. Taking initiative and trying to learn independently will get you a long way and impress superiors.

Finally, and most importantly — take lots of notes! You can keep these in your help sheet folder. Writing things down with details and context can make it easier for you to master different processes and practices.