CERTIFIED: The difficult path

Written on Feb 08, 2018

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA content manager

Certified follows a group of aspiring CPAs on their journey to prepare for and take the CPA exam, starting in May 2016. This is part one of Janeen Smith-Hughes’ story. Read more here.

Life was already good when Janeen Smith-Hughes decided to make a career change. She had a secure and promising job in sales at a local bank along with a family. Making a change would be a difficult path.

But she saw the way her clients valued the opinion of their CPAs.

janeen-smith-hughes“I was always in a client-facing role, and quite often when I would attempt to sell something, a client would say ‘I need to run it by my CPA first,’” she said. “So I decided, because the favorite part of my sales job was advising clients and helping them solve problems, that being a CPA would be a good long-term career move.”

She has embarked on the path to earning her CPA certification after much planning and preparation. She quit her banking job to focus on graduate school full-time, while her husband, a sergeant with the Columbus Division of Police, works as the sole financial provider for their family. Their children, son TJ, 5, and daughter Jasmine, 9, are old enough not to need full-time daycare, so that reduces the financial burden.

“From the time that I decided CPA is the route to the time I started my first graduate class was about two and a half years,” she said. “When you have a life built, it is harder to turn on a dime.”

After earning her master’s in accounting from The Ohio State University (her first pick for graduate school), Smith-Hughes has decided to focus on studying during the summer and passing the CPA exam before beginning her job search.

She said she decided to take the CPA exam because she was impressed by the depth of knowledge CPAs had whenever she interacted with them, and she wants to join their ranks.

“They always seemed to be extraordinarily detail-oriented and specific about multiple ways things can impact the business owner,” she said. “They would understand the three different levels of implications a certain transaction would have on the owner.”

She has yet to receive her notice to schedule yet, but is hoping to take the Financial Accounting and Reporting section in the next couple months because she feels most comfortable with that material. Her current study schedule consists of MDS CPA Review review materials while her children are at summer camp during the day, studying for an hour or two at a time with short breaks in between.

Although studying takes up most of her time, Smith-Hughes said her family life allows her to switch mindsets, so she’s not overly stressed about the exam. Because outside of the CPA exam, real life is waiting: tomorrow her son has a soccer game and her daughter a dance recital.

Next time: Getting ready for FAR

The Certified series is sponsored by MDS CPA Review and Yaeger CPA Review.

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