From the Film Industry to CPA Exam Student, Jerry’s Done it All

This week we feature another snapshot into the very personal journey of another CPAexcel student. Meet Jerry and read how his very diverse career path brought adventure and growth to his home and professional life.

Hi all! My name is Jerry and I’d like to share a bit about myself and what it was like for me on my CPA Exam Journey.

I was on schedule to graduate in 2003 with a BSBA. I majored in Finance because I enjoyed reading about the stock market and investing; however, as my internships had shown I did not enjoy the process of being a stockbroker and hadn’t quite found the right post-college job. Then, during my senior year I received some great advice from some friends who had graduated the previous year—“Focus on your accounting”. Thankfully I ended up receiving an offer from a Big 4 firm who also agreed to pay for my MS in Accountancy! After three years with the firm, I decided that working in public accounting wasn’t for me and therefore, I had no need to take the CPA exam.

Over the next four years I worked in the television and film industries, sometimes taking random accounting jobs here and there to help support my creative pursuits…until I got married and had a daughter, at which point I decided it was best to dust off my college degrees and forge a renewed career in accounting and/or finance.

I ended up landing a job which set me up nicely for a consulting position, a year and a half later. But despite the promotions and raises I’d gained since re-joining corporate America, the lack of a CPA license continually weighed on me. Not only that, but it was apparent that any time a great management-level position came up, not being a CPA always took me out of the running. So, very reluctantly I pulled out my debit card and purchased the CPAexcel study materials. I scheduled my first two exams, AUD and BEC, and gave myself 6 weeks to study for each. I was ready to go!

Very motivated for those first two exams (after spending the money, of course!), I studied whenever I had the chance—in the morning, on the subway, at lunch, etc.—using the iPad iBooks and iPhone app. While studying for BEC I received my AUD score—a 97! I was pumped! My wife always said I had a great memory, so this gave me the extra bit of confidence I needed to wade through the next section.

A few weeks after walking out of BEC concerned that I might have failed, I found out that I received an 86. I was ½ of a CPA, and very motivated now since I had begun my 12 weeks of study for the beast known as FAR. Since it had been years since I was knee-deep in the nuts and bolts of accounting, and IFRS was completely new to me, I was more than a little bit on edge. Much to my family’s dismay, I basically sequestered myself in my bedroom on mornings and during the weekends. I was completely ignoring them, but I felt I had to—otherwise, I was afraid I’d find myself doing this for another 12 weeks. I made multiple promises to my daughter of things we’d do when I finished studying, and I was hoping and praying that this process wouldn’t take any longer than it needed to.

I ended up pushing my FAR exam date back 2 weeks, but felt that I needed every bit of that extra time. I even took advantage of CPAexcel’s weekly virtual class, which definitely helped. But when I finally walked out of that exam room in late October, I was convinced I failed. I didn’t even answer one of the TBSs! So a few weeks later when I learned that I got an 86, I was almost in tears. I was about to pass all four sections on the first try!

Unfortunately though, the combination of losing those 2 extra weeks studying for FAR and taking an extended Thanksgiving vacation with my parents did not leave me adequate time to pass REG before the end of the testing window…I was devastated with a 71, and didn’t even look at the materials for several weeks. I even considered giving myself an extra six months to study for it the next time. But after enjoying a refreshing Christmas vacation and reading lots of success stories online, I was ready to give it another go. I re-committed myself to studying at every possible opportunity and three months later I passed with an 83! The journey was over!

I started out very diligent—studying whenever I could, but towards the end (and three passing scores later), I got a bit cocky and just expected to pass…so don’t do that! The biggest takeaway for me from this process though, is how I feel about myself. I’m much more confident in my abilities, and I feel like I’ve finally been validated in this industry. It’s an incredible feeling, and I’m very thankful that CPAexcel gave me a concrete study timeline to follow; otherwise I’m not sure I would’ve ever made it through!

Note from CPAexcel – Congratulations Jerry, on your journey through successfully passing all four sections of The CPA Exam. You are a great role model for your family and you should know that you’ve provided a valuable character example of tenacity and dedication to your daughter.

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