I strongly believe in the power of following your gut while also letting yourself be guided and mentored. That’s exactly what I did. One day changed my life forever: the day I met my accounting mentor at orientation in college. I was nervous and anxious and felt lost. As I went through the different degree booths, I stopped at the one for accounting and just stared, overwhelmed by it all. The person behind the booth saw me and told me something I still think of to this day: “Find what you love and what makes you happy. See if that has any correlation with any of these careers. If it does, give yourself a chance. At the end of the day, it’s your journey and your narrative. And you get to write it and change it at any point in time. But hey, accountants will welcome you with open arms!” This was only the beginning.
Here are five ways accounting changed my life as a first-gen Latina and how it can change your life, too.
1. I was able to break generational curses and build generational wealth.
One early hot morning in the Dominican Republic, my mother and I packed our belongings, left everything we knew behind, and took a one-way trip to the United States. We had no return date in sight. That first year was, without a doubt, the most challenging year of my life. I had to adjust to a new country and learn a new language. After getting rejected from most colleges I applied to, I was conditionally accepted into a school known for having a great accounting program.
I never knew what this acceptance was going to do for my career. Studying accounting helped me become fluent in English, get acclimated to the business world in the U.S., become financially intelligent, and, best of all, become the first one in my family to graduate from college debt-free. Not only that, but I am also the first in my family to start a savings account for retirement and build multiple successful streams of income. With this, I am breaking curses in my family and opening doors for the future generation. Imagine how many doors accounting can open for you. One resource I recommend to anyone looking to pursue a career in accounting is Accounting+. They provide scholarship opportunities and free resources for current and aspiring accounting students and are leading the way to empower future accounting professionals of the nation.
2. My confidence grew tremendously.
As a first-gen Latina, I still needed to learn what it meant to apply for college, get an internship, get a full-time job, and speak English properly! My parents come from humble beginnings and always say to me: “Trabaja fuerte mija para que consigas lo tuyo a puro sudor” – Work hard, daughter, so you can get what you want through your own sweat and hard work.- I’ve always valued these words and brought them with me to this country.
Thanks to my parent’s support and wisdom, I began to imagine that the impossible could be possible. I learned English in three years and secured over six internships and full-time offers in accounting. Not only that, but my confidence grew after being bullied for many years for my accent and “lack” of English. In many of my accounting classes, I met people who looked like me or went through similar experiences. Many of them landed the same internships and full-time opportunities I had as well. We created a support network and lifted each other as we climbed, reminding ourselves how powerful we were. This was when I discovered the accounting community’s immense diversity, collaboration, and understanding.
I firmly believe that if you have a goal in life, you have to work hard for it and don’t let limited beliefs or external circumstances stop you from reaching that goal. Have confidence in your work and make the impossible possible.
3. I became my own boss.
By 19 years old, I was using accounting to provide an urgently needed service to an underrepresented community, all while building a sustainable business emphasizing healthy revenue growth and consistent cost planning.
Navigating college and recruiting as a first-gen in the U.S. was extremely difficult. The accounting industry was very competitive, and many minorities and people of color didn’t have access to resources and guidance to succeed in the field effectively. I made many mistakes, from not knowing how to write a resume correctly and not wearing appropriate attire for interviews. After I learned the proper ways of doing this, I was able to share my advice with 300+ students while in college. Then, I decided it was time for me to start something on a bigger scale. I started an initiative to change thousands of students’ narratives worldwide.
While studying accounting, many of my professors encouraged me to venture out to different avenues, and the knowledge they shared with me in accounting served as a foundation for my successful business. This is where Max Up was born: A career consulting firm for college students and early career grads. Since then, publications such as 30 Under 30, Forbes, Fortune, and Business Insider have covered our success. Not only that but Max Up was awarded in top lists worldwide. The learnings, network, and experience I gained while studying accounting were key to my success with my business. Remember, no dream is too big; dream big and make it a reality.
4. I gained 200K+ amazing followers.
Through my accounting network and the multiple conferences I attended, I met several content creators who shared their personal stories on social media. This inspired me to start sharing my journey in accounting, being an immigrant, and all that I’ve learned so far. Little did I know what started as a hobby was quickly becoming a successful side hustle. When some of my posts on how I landed accounting jobs went viral, I gained 200k+ followers. This community of people inspires me to do more and to be a change-maker in the world. This community has also opened doors for me to collaborate with major global brands on paid sponsored content that gets shared with millions worldwide.
5. I got to fly first class!
The beauty of accounting is that you can work in many different roles and industries, giving people a lot of flexibility with varying goals in life. I have found that remote and hybrid work has allowed me to discover places I didn’t know existed across the globe. I even had my first-ever first-class flight experience! I can confidently say that my career has been a critical factor in obtaining these types of experiences. As part of my previous accounting jobs and because accounting is a global career, some of my primary responsibilities included traveling to meet clients. I would consult with them on their specific areas of concern, meet team members in other countries, attend corporate conferences, and more. Accounting jobs offer the flexibility to work remotely, work hybrid, or in person. Because there are so many areas to explore in the field, those studying accounting have access to a large pool of options.
Although some roles require busy seasons where you’d typically see more than a 40-hour day’s work, I love the work-life balance I have gotten in my career. There are options for everyone in accounting, and that’s what I love the most about it.
Thanks to my mentor, the unconditional support of my family, and the open arms of accounting, I can confidently say that I’ve become a winner in a non-traditional way. My life is forever changed, and I hope my story inspires you if you’re ever confused about which direction to go in life. If you take away one thing from what I wrote here, I hope it’s to take action and leverage the resources available to you.