University of the Philippines in the Visayas
Into the Shoes of a CPA
A 150-hour practicum experience as a requirement in
BA 123 course Ð'- Public Accounting Office
What I expect to get from the Practicum
When Professor Bernadette Lorenzo, our BA 123 (Public Accounting Office) adviser told us to look for accounting firms for our practicum, I got excited because I never had the experience to work in an office or company before. Practicum is defined as a school or college course, especially one in a specialized field of study that is designed to give students supervised practical application of previously studied theory.
The first firm that popped into my mind was SGV. Maybe I could work in Cebu or Manila. Yet I thought I was being ambisyosa. There are many accounting firms here in Tacloban anyway, but I fear I won't learn something worthwhile. I asked some of the Management students who have undergone practicum and some of them told me that all they did was file documents, encode or even make coffees for employees! Although they have a different degree program, I feared that their experiences would be the same with what I was about to face.
But somehow, I was hoping for optimistic things in this undertaking. I was looking forward to experiencing what a CPA really does or at least a part and parcel of what they really do. According to Valix in his Financial Accounting book, Certified Public Accountants generally practice their profession in three main areas, namely Public Accounting, Private Accounting and Government Accounting.
Public Accountants usually offer three kinds of services Ð'- Auditing, Taxation, and Management Advisory Services. Ricchiute defines Auditing as a systematic process of objectively obtaining and evaluating evidence regarding assertions about economic actions and events to ascertain the degree of correspondence between those assertions and established criteria and communicating the results to interested users. Taxation services involves the preparation of tax returns and determination of tax consequences of certain proposed business endeavors, while Management Advisory Services, as defined by Roque, is the function of providing professional advisory services, the primary of which is to improve the client's use of capabilities and resources to achieve the objectives of the organization.
A CPA is practicing Private Accounting when s/he is employed in a business enterprise as an accounting staff, chief accountant, internal auditor, or controller.
Government Accounting encompasses the process of accounting transactions involving the receipt and disposition of government funds and property and interpreting the results the results thereof.
From among these three major areas of the Accountancy Profession, I was looking forward to doing public accounting, specifically auditing and taxation services. I also wanted to do bookkeeping because it is the "how" of accounting, so to speak. It is concerned with the development and maintenance of accounting records.
I was also thinking of dressing up in executive attire walking from one institution to another doing transactions for our clients. I was imagining sitting down in my office desk doing paper works and all that stuff. But the most important of all the things I was anticipating was that this experience would enhance my sense of responsibility and dedication towards work, build relationships with the people that I will work with, and boost my morale as an individual. This total package, I believe, would aid me in my endeavors as a Certified Public Accountant.
What I experienced and learned
About FSF Accounting FirmÐ'...
My experience in the training was far beyond from my pessimisms. I learned a lot, most especially in the field of taxation and bookkeeping where I was assigned. Thanks to FSF & company accounting firm.
FSF stands for Fua, Sales, Fabila. These are the surnames of the founders of the said firm. Its office is located in Melecio Tan Bldg, Salazar Street in the downtown area of Tacloban. It was the youngest among the accounting firms in the city. The managing partner is Sir Telesforo Sales. Most of its clients are cooperatives.
Eleven of us in our class chose FSF because one of our classmates was a friend of Mr. Sales. We started working in the last week of December and we have to complete a total of a hundred and fifty hours for the whole course of the training.
Sir Sales assigned each one of us a particular client to work on. He gave us all the necessary files and documents and gave us instructions on what to do. XMB Great foods was assigned to me together with another classmate, Kristine Pelingon. Hand In hand, we did the bookkeeping stuff and Taxation.
Working with XMB Great FoodsÐ'...
XMB Great foods is a merchandising company Ð'- both a wholesaler and a retailer of well-renowned products of processed foods. It is a single proprietorship owned and managed by Mr. Alex Belleza, located at Apitong, Tacloban. The business started in the mid 2006. Since it was just starting, it kept no books. It just filed official and delivery receipts, invoices, cash remittance reports and other source documents. With this kind of system, we needed to organize books for the firm. We had to record everything from July 2006 to January 2007. Not only that, we also needed to file income tax return for the third quarter and file percentage tax returns from July. Also, XMB had not yet applied for the renewal of business permit for the year 2007.
The first thing I did was to make a chart of accounts. A Chart of Accounts is the listing of all the accounts and their account numbers in the ledger. I followed the format of another company and an illustration in an intermediate accounting textbook. In the following days, Kristine and I worked on journalizing. Journalizing is a chronological recording of the entity's transactions. Before we did that, we first looked at discrepancies between source documents and remittance reports to ascertain accurate recording. The books that we created for the firm were the sales journal, purchases, cash receipts, cash disbursements, and the general journal.
The following article was inspired by Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.
All I really need to know I learned in practicum. Practicum was just the beginning of a rewarding career that includes lifetime learning, giving of self, acceptance when a client is not progressing as I would like and priceless glimpses of what can be accomplished when one is open to change. During practicum, I learned my professional and personal truths and the ideas upon which I intend to base my career.
I learned that individuals intuitively know when you are invested and that it is something you simply cannot fake. My favorite moment in practicum came when a client looked at me with tear-stained cheeks and said, “Thank you for caring about me — really caring about me. I don’t think I’ve ever had that with anyone but my family. Unfortunately, there are many within my family who do not care like you do.” It was hard to believe that in just four short sessions, we were able to break through barriers of distrust and begin to heal the hurts of disappointment.
I learned that verbal abuse can cut much deeper than anything physical. I never believed the adage “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” But I do not think I have ever experienced such defeat radiating from an individual as I did recently. In our session, I said to a client, “Tell me one good thing about yourself.” My client replied, “Nothing. I can’t see anything good about me.” She then began to sob. This was my least favorite moment in practicum. It was the result of a lifetime of poor communication and devaluing that had put her in such a deep, dark place — a place I prayed never to lead anyone to. This experience will reverberate with me forever.
I learned that even when someone is really trying to get better, the beast of mental illness can sometimes be too strong to overcome, despite the best efforts of the client or those around them. The client that challenged me the most had seven previous inpatient hospitalizations and 10 previous suicide attempts, three of which occurred while she was hospitalized. For the first four sessions, I knew that my client desired to get better. She wanted to do whatever was necessary. My supervisor, the client and I had talked through suicide ideation for two hours on a Friday afternoon. There appeared to be a turnaround, and work was definitely being done at every session. And then it happened. Two weeks after the Friday talk, the client received a phone call from her primary care physician indicating that there might be a major problem with her liver. No one was home except for the client’s sister. The client thought it would be easier to end her life than to risk being diagnosed with yet another chronic illness. She attempted to overdose on her insulin and found herself admitted to a local psychiatric hospital. In that moment, her fear was too much to bear alone, and she panicked. She fell back into the trap of what she had always done and tried to end her life. Although I was definitely disappointed, I was not surprised. The enormity of her mental illness was at times overwhelming for me. It was certainly reasonable for her to be overwhelmed and to feel like she could not face one more thing.
I learned that counseling is definitely an art and, with practice and opportunity, even the most difficult tasks can be eventually mastered. In the words of Philip Clarke, “Your reflections are your strongest skill. Stop impeding them.” In practicum, this truth finally settled in my mind. I do possess strong reflections, and utilization of them can lead to powerful growth opportunities for clients. For many clients, reflections represent the only time in their lives that they know they have been heard. Just as Dr. Clarke previously had assured me, most of the time my reflections were strong, spot on and succinct. During reflections, I “shared space” with my client and was able to relay immediacy.
I learned not to make assumptions based on what I have researched or read in a book. In my first class, I wrote a paper on borderline personality disorder (BPD). Upon completing the paper, I decided I wouldn’t want to work with that population of clients because therapy is rarely successful and the clients’ self-sabotaging behaviors are emotionally draining for the helping professional. During practicum, however, my caseload was flooded with BPD. Although clients with BPD are challenging and self-sabotaging, it is possible to facilitate improvements, even though they may be minimal. If I am able to make a difference in only one person, then that is one life that I helped to make better. Helping to make life better was one of the reasons I chose counseling. I found that I do want to learn more about this population and that I should not be “afraid” to work with these clients. Rather, I should proceed with caution and accept the challenge.
I learned that every counseling theory has salient points that resonate with me. Prior to practicum, I thought that I would primarily focus on dialectical behavior therapy and solution-focused orientations. Although I do still identify more closely with these two approaches, I am thankful for my knowledge of varying theories. Sometimes existentialism or systems theory are more congruent with what my client needs. I have to be open to what works for the client.
I learned that becoming an “expert” in a given client population is achieved by doing research, observing others who work with that population and reviewing everything that you can get your hands on. I still desire to work with adoptive families. I still desire to work predominantly with the age group I first anticipated — ages 15 to 30. Becoming an “expert” does not always mean there is a certification to obtain. It is important to follow your passion.
I learned it is OK not to have a rigid plan and to go where the client needs to go. I must confess, I have been known to be a “control freak.” Although I still do not believe it is wise to move forward with reckless abandon, it is OK to “roll with it” and be open to working on whatever the client finds important that day. It is OK if the perception of the interpersonal relationship between a client and a loved one is not objective because it is the client’s truth. His or her feelings are never wrong. Although reframing is imperative in many situations, the goal of counseling is life improvement. I have always been a “truth seeker,” and I do not advocate on behalf of misconceptions and untruths. I do not do well with lies. But a client’s truth is not a lie — it is a perception. This growing edge can be applied in my personal life as well. I have gained perspective on what is important in life and how blessed I truly am. I am willing to accept the truths of those I love, although their truths don’t necessarily align with my perception. I acknowledge that I will make mistakes, both professionally and personally, and that is part of “being real.”
I am certain that I will continue to learn in the semesters to come and even when I am a licensed counselor. However, these are the current truths upon which I will grow. These are things that will allow me to earn the privilege of meeting someone where they are and join them on their personal journey.
Sandy Boone is currently pursuing a master’s degree in counseling from Wake Forest University, which she anticipates completing in December 2015. She previously worked as a clinical research coordinator for more than 14 years. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Counselors Audience, Professional Issues