I want to share some news with those of you still read this long-neglected blog: I got a job. After I finish my Master of Professional Accountancy at UC Davis this June, I’ll be working full time for the California State Auditor in Sacramento. I received the job offer and accepted it back in February; I meant to share this sooner but was deeply involved in my classes until I finished finals last week.
When I took my first accounting course over two years ago, this isn’t where I imagined I’d end up. I became interested in accounting through agriculture. At first I knew little about what a CPA does and whether or not that’s what I wanted to become. I figured I could take a couple more accounting classes and find a job at some farm business in the area, where hopefully I’d get a little hands-on accounting experience.
At the beginning of 2012 I realized I needed to leave the farm. I’d had enough of leaky rice irrigation waders and yield monitor maps so decided to commit to accounting and become a CPA. I looked around for graduate programs to meet California’s new CPA requirements, found the new Masters in Professional Accountancy at UC Davis and applied.
One afternoon in early May, Professor Snyder called me to share the good news that I had been accepted to the graduate program at UC Davis. I was so excited that afterwards while loading an ATV into the back of my work truck, I revved it up too much and slammed it very hard against the toolbox in the front of the bed. After that the toolbox would sometimes pop open while driving those bumpy farm roads in South Sutter.
In an attempt to bridge my interest in farming and accounting, I wanted to specialize in agricultural accounting when I first started graduate school. Since the job search began immediately, I sent out my resume to a few firms that served clients in food and ag. One firm in Fresno offered me an interview. It seemed like a great place to work, since their clients included nearly every kind of agricultural operation from cotton gins to cheese making plants to citrus packing and almond hulling.
|Almonds, Yolo County, March 2013|
After my interview in Fresno, I realized that despite my interest in farming, the firm wasn’t the right fit for me. I will say that Fresno may get a bad rap but they have excellent carne asada tacos, Armenian bakeries and Mexican ice cream (chongos!). After I returned to Sacramento after the three hour drive up the San Joaquin Valley, I began to let go of this idea of agricultural accounting (I held onto the food memories of Fresno a bit more). I didn’t feel like repeating the Fresno experience in other agribusiness hotspots like Bakersfield, Salinas, Visalia or elsewhere, regardless of the cuisines those locals may offer.
Other factors in my job search became more important to consider as Fall Quarter progressed. I felt less and less inclined to relocate somewhere new and start from scratch at the beginning of my new career. Being near classmates and not having to sever the ties I’ve made in the Sacramento-Davis-South Sutter area mattered more than wheat cooperative taxation in rural Eastern Washington. I knew I had to cast a wider net locally so I could stay closer to home.
|American River, Sacramento, Fall 2012|
When I first considered becoming a CPA I imagined myself preparing taxes at a smaller accounting firm. However, as time progressed I realized audit is where it’s at in the accounting world. Auditors work in teams, they get to travel sometimes and they are like detectives, unearthing the mysteries of an entity’s finances and controls. In addition, they don’t have to deal much with that labyrinth of the tax code that is ruled over by our favorite government agency, the IRS.
When a recruiter from the California State Auditor presented to our audit class in November, I got excited. The public service element of the work connects with my experience teaching in low-income schools in the Bay Area. The type and variety of assignments at the State Auditor promise endless learning and the work-life balance seemed much more balanced. When I interviewed at the State Auditor’s office on Capitol Mall in Sacramento, I something about the place just felt right in a way that other accounting offices I’d visited hadn’t.
Though I am excited about my career and am glad I decided to pursue a master’s in accounting at UC Davis, being a full time student isn’t without its struggles. This quarter in Intermediate Accounting we read a 1500 page textbook: I nearly drowned in the ‘Dollar Value LIFO Pool’ and got very lost in the ‘Corridor’ of Pension Accounting. Grad school is rewarding, but it packs a punch.
I survived this odyssey into the depths of GAAP, itemized deductions and variance analysis thanks to a few things. One of these is that I started doing Latin dance after the New Year: I immersed myself in it and took classes at the rec center and at a small studio in town. I also joined the student salsa club, where we have been practicing a really fun choreographed routine to the Bachata song “No Vuelva” in a chemistry lecture hall. In addition, I spend nearly every Tuesday night attempting to Salsa, Bachata, Merengue and sometimes Cumbia and Kizomba on the dance floor at the Davis Grad, which is conveniently located across the street from my apartment.
Also within a short walk of my apartment is the Experimental College Community Garden. I used to take walks here, because it is such a beautiful spot. The possibility of having a garden there this season became more real after I had accepted the position at the State Auditor. My employment last season kept me too busy during April and May, and after I started summer school classes in June, it was too late to plant. This year I have my own plot and I’ve been spending much of my spring break in the garden. It feels great to have my digging fork in my hands again, turning over the rich, loose soil and contemplating the summer harvest.
|My plot, EC Garden|