CPA At­lantic School of Busi­ness

When the ca­reer search just adds up

The Coast - Career Minded - - NEWS -

An­drew Lip­sit spent one year as a math teacher, but he knew be­fore long that teach­ing wasn’t right for him. Af­ter de­cid­ing to switch paths, he sought ca­reer coun­selling to nar­row down his best path. Con­sid­er­ing his math and busi­ness back­ground, ad­vice he got was to try out ac­count­ing. He was able to se­cure a three-month term at Grant Thorn­ton, a lead­ing global ac­count­ing and busi­ness ad­vi­sory firm, and he took a lik­ing to it. He also de­cided to try the in­tro­duc­tory fi­nan­cial ac­count­ing course in 2013 through the CPA At­lantic School of Busi­ness, and it stuck.

With a goal of be­ing a char­tered pro­fes­sional ac­coun­tant, Lip­sit started pre-req­ui­site cour­ses on­line through the CPA At­lantic School of Busi­ness to meet the en­try re­quire­ments for the CPA Pro­fes­sional Ed­u­ca­tion Pro­gram (CPA PEP). The CPA PEP is com­prised of six eight-week cour­ses, each with an on­line and in-per­son com­po­nent, cul­mi­nat­ing in the Com­mon Fi­nal Ex­am­i­na­tion (CFE) – a three­day exam that chal­lenges can­di­dates to ap­ply the knowl­edge and com­pe­ten­cies learned dur­ing the CPA PEP. Along with the com­ple­tion of the CPA PEP, and the suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of the CPA CFE, all can­di­dates must com­plete 30 months of rel­e­vant prac­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ence. This prac­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ence can be gained in any in­dus­try or sec­tor. In fact, the slight ma­jor­ity of can­di­dates work out­side of ac­count­ing firms. It’s also worth not­ing that the CPA PEP has three start dates a year, so there’s ad­di­tional flex­i­bil­ity around work and life com­mit­ments.

As part of his prac­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ence re­quire­ments, An­drew con­tin­ued work­ing at Grant Thorn­ton, which, like many em­ploy­ers, fi­nan­cially sup­ported the cost of his CPA stud­ies. “The big­gest chal­lenge through­out the cour­ses for me was my time man­age­ment, which is a key fac­tor in the CPA pro­gram,” says Lip­sit. “The ma­jor­ity of stu­dents are work­ing full time, so you need to bal­ance both school and work,” he adds. Many of the exam ques­tions are in busi­ness case for­mat, which can prove to be time-con­strain­ing. Lip­sit says the key to be­ing suc­cess­ful in an­swer­ing the ques­tions is time man­age­ment and pri­or­i­tiz­ing the is­sues.

With the bulk of CPA PEP con­tent be­ing on­line, learn­ing and growth comes from a stu­dent’s ex­pe­ri­ence in the work­place and self-study. As part of their prac­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ence re­quire­ments, stu­dents must be paired up with a men­tor who is a CPA, which speaks to the em­pha­sis placed on ex­pe­ri­en­tial learn­ing in the work­place.

Lip­sit says that he’s al­ways been good with “the facts” – he’s wanted to be­come an ac­coun­tant af­ter all – and his ex­per­tise came in handy. He fin­ished the CPA pro­gram with the high­est exam mark in Nova Sco­tia, re­sult­ing in him be­ing named vale­dic­to­rian at the re­cent con­vo­ca­tion. Be­ing a CPA has al­ready opened many doors in his ca­reer. His orig­i­nal three­month po­si­tion with Grant Thorn­ton has now turned into a per­ma­nent one. “Hav­ing those let­ters at­tached to your name helps peo­ple rec­og­nize that you have been through the in­ten­sive pro­gram, and that you have been prop­erly trained as a pro­fes­sional ac­coun­tant both in the class­room, and in the work­place,” says Lip­sit.

He en­cour­ages ev­ery­one to make it past the ini­tial over­whelm­ing feel­ing. “The first course feels over­whelm­ing be­cause it’s very dif­fer­ent from univer­sity, and there is a lot of in­for­ma­tion to han­dle. How­ever, if you keep with it, you will get the hang of the cour­ses and case stud­ies. In the end, it’s all worth it.”

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