Certified: Sink or swim

Written on Mar 01, 2018

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA content manager

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 two of Donald Jungquist’s story. Read part one here.

Don JungquistDonald Jungquist started at RSM in January 2016 and was promptly thrown into the chaotic, stressful world of busy season. He said the process was both frustrating and eye-opening, especially as a newcomer to the accounting profession.

“One of the more challenging things about public accounting is, once you figure something out, they’re going to throw something more difficult at you,” he said. “From what I can tell and the people I talk to, you don’t get comfortable because you’re constantly getting something new, and that’s what I wanted.”

His baptism by fire paid off, giving him a confidence boost to begin studying for the CPA exam.

“I don’t even feel like the same person that I was when I started, and here we are four months later,” he said. “I just feel like a completely different person because of the adversity I went through and the way I handled it.”

Jungquist will first take the Business and Environmental Concepts (BEC) section, and has yet to receive his notice to schedule. He submitted his application a little bit later than he originally planned, but is hoping to take BEC in August.

Becker is his study material of choice, and so far he’s been pleased with the course material. In the evenings he tries to study for two hours, and he’s been lucky enough to get a chance to study at work, too. But that doesn’t mean hitting the books in the evening after a full workday is easy.

“Sometimes when I sit down to study after work or over the weekend, especially when it’s nice out I totally understand why people don’t do this,” he said. “Or why sometimes people quit. It’s just so hard. If this is all I was doing it would be one thing, but when you’re working full-time, it’s just a lot and it’s really hard. I totally get why people get discouraged.”

His goal is to pass each section on the first try, and he says the difficulty of the material has only motivated him more.

It helps that Jungquist has the support of his wife. She was initially hesitant when he told her he was making a career switch, but after learning more about the opportunities available in accounting she has since come around.

Life outside of the CPA exam continues at full speed. Jungquist will celebrate his graduation from Cleveland State University over the weekend at a joint party thrown for him and a family member who graduated from nursing school. Although he is excited, he knows he will lose precious studying time.

“It really all does feel new, even though I’ve been in school,” he said. “There’s a lot of anxiety that comes along with it, and you lay in bed at night thinking ‘Am I on track?’”

Sponsored by MDS CPA Review and Yaeger CPA Review.

Next time: Gearing up for BEC

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