Name: Christina Hernandez
Job Title: Accountant
Location (city, state): City of Industry, CA
College You Graduated From: UCSD
Class of: 2013
Degree/Major: Bachelor of Arts, Communication
Additional Degrees or Certifications for Your Career (optional): Minor: Literature/Writing & Visual Arts Media
This series of career interviews with college alumni will explore the various career paths that people take after graduation. Part of the goal is to show the wide array of options and potential futures for college students who are on the fence about what they want to do, and also to get a scope on how it's like to work in a particular field or industry.
Meet Christina Hernandez, who works as an accountant in the City of Industry, California. As an accountant, Christina crunches numbers and manages payments, invoices, and other documentation for her company. Thriving in accounting was a surprise to Christina, who had majored in Communications, and she quickly developed a passion and a knack for it.
What attracted you to the accounting industry?
It was never my intention to enter this field as it wasn't my field of study. When I graduated I had the full intention of pursuing a career in television and broadcasting but the job opportunities I fell into took me into another path. I suddenly found myself intrigued with the notion of business and I began to research and slowly develop a passion for it. I started managing a small business and took care of all the accounts and before I knew it one opportunity lead to another and I found myself working in the accounting department for a wholesale company.
How would you compare the reality of being an accountant to the vision you had of it while in college?
While I was in college I recall friends who were studying to be accountants and they were constantly stressing over their courses. I had no notion of what the major entailed let alone a career in accounting. My initial vision consisted of a very stressful environment that entailed numbers I couldn't even fathom. However, once I started working in the accounting department I found it captivating and I wanted to absorb as much information as I possibly could.
On a scale of 1-10 (10=best), how would you rate your college courses in preparing you for your career?
I can definitely say that my college courses did not prepare me for this career at all. I did take my general ed. classes which did consist of Calculus and Statistics, but that did not prepare me for what was to come. Much of the work I do now has been based off of the knowledge I received from other accountants and research that I have done on my own.
What surprised you the most about being an accountant?
I was truly surprised by the fact that I was so drawn to this field and how complex it was. While I was studying I had no real drive and I felt lost most of the time. I changed my major thinking that it would clear things up for me but even then I was still unsure of what I was going to do once I graduated. Accounting just felt right and I suddenly found myself passionate about a career that I never even considered.
Describe a typical day of working as an accountant at your firm/company/organization. What do you spend most of your day doing?
A typical day as an accountant consists of a lot of numbers and paperwork on a day to day basis. I have to process invoices, receive payments, enter payments, inventory, create purchase invoices, factory payments, etc. I have to make sure all the numbers match for each customer and that all payments have been documented. Everything has to be exact because even if one number is off that can make all the difference.
How many hours do you work each week? Does it vary depending on clients' needs or is it constant?
My work hours are consistent as our office is open Monday through Friday from 9 to 5. Our schedule rarely changes and most of our customers are well aware of this. There are rare occasions when a customer may come in near our closing time but we do accommodate them and stay as long as they need.
Describe your working environment. Is your company/organization/firm large/small, bureaucratic/intimate, do you spend a lot of time alone or talking to people face-to-face, etc?
The company is small with a little less than 20 employees and it is a pretty close unit. I am constantly working in my office and I tend to spend a lot of time alone. I do work with our walk in customers, but most of our orders are done online or over the phone with our sales representatives. Thus most of the work I do comes through email or directly from the sales representatives.
What are your favorite parts of being an accountant?
My favorite part of being an accountant is that everything is consistent and exact. Everything must be ordered in a certain way and documented for our records. In Visual Arts and communication there were always vague and abstract subjects that could be interpreted in various ways. This was always one of the things that I very much disliked about this field and when I began working in accounting I loved the fact that this was far from it.
What are your least favorite parts of being an accountant?
My least favorite part would have to be the overwhelming amount of work that I have at times. With so many numbers and so much to accomplish in a days work I find it overwhelming at times to complete the task at hand. My concern much of the time is that with my head being in a million places at once there may be an error and there is no room for error in accouting.
What changes can you see taking place in accounting over the next few years?
As far as changes in the current company that I am employed with I see much more data being entered into the system versus hand written documents. I feel that much of this documentation is headed in that direction regardless, nonetheless the company has been documenting much of their reports in this manner. It makes everything much cleaner and easier to locate when the information is required at a moments notice.
What advice can you give to college students who are thinking of pursuing a career in accounting?
I may not be the most qualified person to be giving advice in this department, however, I will say that students shouldn't limit themselves to one field. Students need to explore and find the right career path for them, don't settle for what you think is the best career path or what other people think your career should be. Research and work at various companies to find the right career path that fits you and your goals in life. Always continue learning and never lose that drive for knowledge, it's what keeps us going even after graduating.