“What is your biggest accomplishment to date?” I was asked this question recently. Without hesitation, my response was passing the CPA exam. I would say, without a doubt, the journey to passing the CPA exam was the most emotionally, physically and mentally exhausting journey I have taken. I remember questioning many times if this was the path God intended for me. Could I really make this happen? Was it really worth it? It has been a year since I found out that I'm officially a CPA, and I can tell you now it was worth every tear and sleepless night.
My CPA journey would have been very different without the support of my team members at HORNE. The people here were genuinely interested in my success and failures along the way. Besides my family, HORNE was my biggest cheerleader. I received countless pieces of encouragement and help along the way.
I found out in November 2016 I had failed what would have been the last part of my CPA exam. Not only did I fail, but I also now only had one attempt left to pass or risk losing credit for my first passed exam. That definitely isn’t my fondest memory. This is when I was able to truly see HORNE’s culture shine. I remember an email I got from one of our partners on perseverance. He reminded me that this was a goal I could conquer and they had all the faith in the world I would make it happen. Encouragement like that helped keep me going at a time I really wanted to throw in the towel.
So it was crunch time, right?! I knew I had to give this last attempt everything I had, which meant I really needed to disconnect from work for a few weeks. So off I went to my performance advisor’s office to collaborate on the flexibility I would need. I decided I thought taking three weeks of PTO would be most beneficial for me to ensure I had the time I needed to study. I wanted to completely disconnect, but I knew that could be a difficult request considering work obligations and responsibilities.
My performance advisor worked with me to ensure I could take the time off needed and disconnect from my work responsibilities for a few weeks. Everyone I was working with at the time was very understanding and allowed me to step away to focus on the exam. Without the willingness of others to cover my responsibilities while I was away, I would not have had the time or energy to devote to passing my final part of the exam. It makes me proud to work for a firm that is devoted to the success of team members.
For those of you still on the CPA journey, I encourage you to openly communicate your needs for passing the exam. It can be very uncomfortable to share your failures or to speak up when you need help juggling it all. But if you don’t communicate those struggles to someone, you’re missing out on a HUGE support system.
Embrace the struggles and failures you may have along the way. Would it have been easier for me to pass all four parts on the first time with flying colors, or a gold medal? Yes. But I would not trade the struggles and failures I experienced for anything. I grew more in my journey of passing the CPA exam than I have with any other struggle I’ve faced. The temporary failure I experienced taught me how to truly persevere and rely on a God that is much bigger than that exam. I look forward to continuing to hear many success stories of my fellow accountants conquering the CPA exam. Keep on fighting the good fight!
About the Author
Ali is a supervisor at HORNE LLP focused on providing assurance and advisory services to public and middle market companies. She has found her path to purpose—building a career aligned with her passion—where she can serve HORNE, the community, and her own passion all at the same time.