Why did you go into accounting?

I discovered my love for the profession at a personal injury law firm in the accounting department a few years ago. The way the numbers worked together made sense to me, and I loved the gratification of a case balancing. Working in a bustling and high-volume firm also showed me that I would not have to give up people to take on this profession, like I had once thought. Enjoying my work and being part of a prestigious group of respected professionals are great assets to me as well, and I have found both in accounting. When I returned to the University of New Orleans to earn my degree, it solidified my choice in career path. I really enjoyed learning how business works, how to account for different things, and how to use reports to see a clear picture of a company and its operations.

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Who were your influencers?

No one in my family was an accountant or had even graduated high school before my generation, but they have had the most influence in my life. My grandfather always told me that I was smart enough to do anything that I put my mind to. My grandmother was a strong woman, and always made sure that I worked as hard as I could. She always said, “Don’t try to do it, just get it done!” I believe it’s that drive that got me through the hardest parts of my journey to where I am today. My caring mother instilled compassion and the will to serve others in me. These qualities have compelled me to encourage and assist people in my life. I have worked hard to be the best at everything I do while helping others along the way. It makes me feel great that they believe in me so much, and I do my best to give that back to those around me.

What do you think about accounting as a profession?

The accounting profession is diverse and gives people the unique opportunity to live their best lives. I don’t think a lot of people realize all the different things we do, see, and help grow as accountants. We have the ability to help our clients do their business better, which can directly translate into better lives for them and their families. Giving people peace of mind is another valuable aspect of our profession that I feel is important; the less our clients worry about their finances and what might be ahead of them, the more they can enjoy the things they work so hard for. Also, the more confidence the public has in the companies they invest in, the healthier the market becomes. At the same time, just by caring, doing our best, and building relationships, we can grow our business and reputation. It’s hard not to stand proud in a profession that stands for honesty, integrity, and ethics at its core.

I believe accounting is an exciting profession with many opportunities to find your niche and build a recognizable brand. There is an ever-growing global market with a need for talented people to specialize and come together. We must push both domestic and international business to a better and more efficient place. Whether you want to work a traditional workday in an office, work from home, travel across the country or the world, or work part-time, you can do it with an accounting degree. There is always a place for a good accountant, whether in industry, government, or public accounting. Also, you can be an accounting professional and still have a family with a work-life balance, and that says a lot to me.

Which areas of accounting are you interested in?

I am interested in tax planning and business consulting for both the healthcare and hospitality industries. Having background knowledge in both of those areas, I feel I can offer insights into those fields to help my clients get the most out of their hard work and resources. Running a business isn’t easy, but I plan to help make it easier and more productive for as many people as I can.

Do the new AI, RPA, and other technology advances make you concerned about the security of your career?

I welcome the new technological advances in our field. I feel that we are simply giving robots the jobs that humans are overqualified for, freeing us up to be critical thinkers who add value to our clients and their businesses. An accountant’s worth does not come from our ability to determine which box the numbers go in, but rather why they are there and how we can make the outcome better by helping our clients structure the underlying causes of the numbers differently. We now have the advantage of years of data at our fingertips that can quickly be sorted and analyzed to give our clients the clearest picture of their business. Gone are the tedious days of data-entry and mind-numbing repetition, making way for the ability to see data trends and business cycles at a glance. We no longer worry if every number was put in the system correctly and waste precious time before we can work through the data. With real-time syncing across networks, the data is being mined as it comes in, and we can notify our clients immediately if something can be changed to improve their livelihood. Through advancements in AI, less time is spent managing inputs and is better spent maximizing outputs.

By embracing these changes, I plan to secure my career. I will champion learning new systems and teach others about the technology making its way into our world. Many firms, offices, and companies are struggling with this transition. As an accountant and a technology specialist, through understanding the demands of our work, and explaining how those demands can be better met by the new systems, I will grow myself and my firm.

Where do you want to go after graduation, and why?

I will be working at a regional firm in the New Orleans area as an aspiring CPA candidate in the tax department, and plan to go into consulting in the future. I feel this is the perfect-size firm to provide the lifestyle that I want. Having an office in both the city and the suburbs will be very convenient and allow me to live closer to my family. I have worked hard toward my degree and will work harder to obtain my CPA license, so I feel I deserve to be happy once I am done. I plan to start a family and want to be available when they need me. In my opinion, larger firms require too much of your time to get ahead, and smaller firms don’t have enough room to allow their professionals to grow into what is best for them.

Angelica Valeros is a recent graduate of the University of New Orleans with a BS in accounting. A New Orleans native with a passion for knowledge and people, her first major was premed biology. She also worked in the hospitality industry throughout the United States before returning home. She feels blessed to have found her way into such a great profession.