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CERTIFIED: Worth the effort

Written on Aug 16, 2018

Certified follows a group of aspiring CPAs while they prepare for and take the various sections of the CPA exam. We started following our candidates in May 2016, and this is the final part of Janeen Smith-Hughes’ story. Read the other parts here.

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA Senior Content Manager

In the end, it was worth it. The hours of studying, the expense, the stress: they’ve all added up to passing every section of the CPA exam for Janeen Smith-Hughes.

janeen-smith-hughes“The future is so exciting now,” she said.

She committed to taking the summer of 2016 off, planning only to study and take sections of the CPA exam. She’s glad she took that approach, acknowledging not everyone can press pause on working to focus on the exam, but it made the most sense for her family.

“For me, sticking to the plan I made was the hard part,” Smith-Hughes said.

Despite knowing this, she said she was still tempted with different opportunities over the summer that were exciting but would certainly have made studying for the exam more difficult. She also wasn’t thrilled about the expense of sending her kids to summer camp, but knew she needed the daytime to focus. With her family obligations, she didn’t want to delay each section, preferring to knock everything out in a short period of time.

“I didn’t have years like other people might; I don’t have that time available,” she said.

She said if she could redo it, she would have taken the Audit section first instead of Financial Accounting and Reporting. She also opted not to start studying for the exam until after she finished graduate school, but said rearranging her class schedule would have allowed her a chance to study and take a section in the spring.

Every individual is different, but Smith-Hughes said she thinks if you stick to a consistent study and testing schedule, you can pass all four sections. If you try to fit in studying time at random, it can easily get neglected and you’ll end up less prepared.

Now Smith-Hughes has started her own business called Proprietary Accounting and works directly with small businesses that are brand-new or growing exceptionally fast. She encourages others who are considering the certification to take the exam, citing the benefits received over a lifetime career.

“If you are a person who can get your 150 hours, you are a person who can pass the exam,” she said. “Especially if you’re young, the return on that investment long-term and the options and flexibility are substantial. To have those internationally recognized letters behind your name is huge.”