I quit my temp job after 4 hours today and hope I learned something in the process.

Why Work an Accounting Temp Job?

Temp jobs have been instrumental in the early stages of Gillingham CPA as I built my firm one client at a time. They helped pay the rent as I then turned to my own goals at night. Here is how it generally works… A company gets desperate for last minute help so they contract a recruiting firm for some quick and dirty labor. The temp firm might charge the company, say $75 an hour and the temp worker receives about half of that. Generally you have a company in some degree of panic mode with performance (superhuman) expectations of the rate they are paying the temp firm.


You better like learning fast and taking orders

Temp workers are the lowest on any corporate totem pole. In fact, they don’t even exist in the company org chart (which will be provided you week one). The very nature of the employment guarantees the temp workers expendability. Day 1 – get your logins and start filling up notepads as a manager, or more likely manager substitute explains what took them three months to learn in three hours. I suggest having your best notepad, computer, or some kind of documentation instantly. Be well rested and ready because it is always a rapid ramp up. Forget the welcome emails, you are expected to produce in hour two of employment.

I and big corporate accounting… I am be zazen about my momentary feelings. I respect grinding corporate accounting efficiency, but Jeeeeez! So I love small business. Corporation… The desks… the vibe… ugh.


If you can survive

The doggy dog temp world is an opportunity to learn, perform, and meet people within the industry. Perform well enough and you can even take the place of your manager! Through any challenge and nasty dynamics that don’t crush your soul or nerves, you can become “stronger.” Looking at the surrounding staff you might really think that you would be weaker if you continued, but let’s be optimistic. Temp work gives trial by fire in managing yourself and managing managers. Managing managers? Yes. You will need to learn how to manage the expectations of others and confidently push back on unrealistic goals.


It is a paid internship

Seeing other companies, learning different procedures, and being challenged are wonderful opportunities. Take an eight hour temp assignment and figure it might require another two hours after to fill in work and educational needs on the side. This can be ok if you treat it right. Things such as Vlookups and Pivot Tables in excel may be commonplace temp worker expectations, but absent of any of your accounting curriculum. You must learn it on your own, on the job, and fast.

I hate badges, elevators with no buttons, and especially extra badges to access rooms within the badged building and badged button-less elevators

The big corporate life is just not for me. The extreme specialization which makes extreme productivity possible drives me extremely crazy. Being back in the corporate environment brought me back to the HID badge world of a prior life I tried to forget. 3-badges before your reach the super secret windowless accounting room? Yes that does exist. I loathe motivational posters everywhere. Encouragements that imply the corporate work had larger spiritual significance. Computers. Lots of dual screen PCs, docking stations, and about 25 logins. 24 of which barely work. My manager tried to print something and it took ten minutes for it to print, what year is it?


Director sounds so good, but looks like...

Director is just someone with more work and unlike the 80s, sits in a cube or open floor cube-light floor plan. I see energy drinks, half-finished plates of food from catered breakfast designed to keep the worklings working. Some have standing desks – yes there is humanity in all of it. Luckily the ERP software takes some time to load a report and I get to chat with my manager. So… “What do you like best about preparing quarterly tax provisions for 20 sub and parent entities across 4-7 states?” I mean, what is there not to like.


Gold is never where you want to find it

This is my favorite saying of 2015. In 2015 an investor is more likely to get rich off a Texas trailer park than California ocean view property. And in accounting the surface level pay is higher as the subject tends to dip into the specialized and obscure. Transfer pricing anyone? I-DISCS? Hedge fund anything? If one has the mind for these things there should be a bright and stable job future. I think it needs to be a natural fit.


Average accounting Partners are kinda cool, managers, not so much

Something about “corporate” seniors and junior managers that get to try and manage that is particularly strained. These people are the ones that give the accounting profession a stereotypical anti-social vibe. For all you beginner accountants out there, just accept it. Accept that you must learn from people that are not great teachers and that can be one of the greatest challenges academically and professionally. Thus you must become your own teacher. Is that what it all teaches? Or am I just a student again. I am so confused. Anyway, those that actually make it to the top of the rank might have some better social skills, but not enough to attempt to actually manage the “managers.”


Be realistic.

Starting out in accounting can be brutal and there are rewards for sticking it out. But there are alternatives with some small firms for example. The managers are not evil, but may be very difficult to learn from and work with. But such is life. The good news is that with enough dedication, the profession offers a ton of varied opportunity. It is great that some can crank complex work and others need to communicate with clients directly. It is ok to be optimistic, but ultimately you must have great team rapport and find more meaning than just dollar signs in the paycheck. Alignment with goals and expectations and decision making should guide you down a long-term path of fulfillment rather than a short-term path of money and pride.