CERTIFIED: An aspirational change of heart

Written on Feb 01, 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 part one of Donald Jungquist’s story. Read more here. Sponsored by MDS CPA Review and Yaeger CPA Review. 

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA content manager

Some people just like a challenge. Donald Jungquist is one of those people.

He challenged himself to learn mixed martial arts when no one thought he could and competed until he injured himself and decided to give his body a break.

He challenged himself to work a full-time job as a paralegal and attend school at night, where he earned two degrees in legal studies.

The Westlake native grew up knowing lawyers and had friends in the legal profession and he felt comfortable in that world, so he’d planned to make his living as a lawyer.

Don Jungquist“And then something sort of changed in me,” he said, “And I was afraid that I was going to be too one-dimensional because all my education was legal. I thought if I went to law school that’s all I was going to know. I wanted a business education, and accounting seemed like a really good foundation for business.”

When he discovered all the opportunities accounting offered, Jungquist said he felt like he “hit a goldmine.” Fast forward four years after that realization, and he secured a job at regional firm RSM and is about to graduate with a Masters in Accounting from Cleveland State University.

But while some might think a career switch is challenge enough, Jungquist wanted to take it one step further and earn the CPA certification. He said because he had planned to go to law school and take the bar exam, it was a natural step to strive for the top certification for accountants instead.

“Really it’s a no brainer for me,” he said. “I feel like I don’t even have a choice. It’s something I know I’m capable of doing if I just stick it out and get it done.”

He doesn’t describe himself as a numbers person, instead saying he likes concepts and to look at the bigger picture.

“I was never really interested in math or anything like that. And it turns out, accounting is so much more than that,” he said. “And that’s kind of what I thought, that it was just numbers. It’s so much professional judgement, and there’s number crunching obviously, but that’s a pretty small part of it.”

But he’s not worried about not having an accounting-only background. Instead, he said he knows how important it is to have different ideas and perspectives on a team, and that he’s met many others who didn’t study accounting in undergrad.

Sticking to a routine he knows well – working during the day with studying to fill his nights – Jungquist plans on taking and passing each section over the course of the next year.

“It’s just something that I won’t accept anything less than that really,” he said. “As many opportunities as there are in accounting, there’s also a lot of competition. I think that I have what it takes to do it, it’s just a matter of sticking it out a little longer.”

Next time: Studying for the first section

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