The Snapshot Series features PSE alumni and members sharing their expertise on anything from professional advice to specialized business topics. Below, alumnus Tyler Clayton shared some valuable insights on the importance of clear and consistent communication when transitioning from college into the workplace.
The Importance of Clear and Consistent Communication
Starting your first job out of college leaves you with a ton of mixed emotions. You are excited, nervous and usually a bit scared. Some of us walk through the doors a bit more confident than we should be, while some of us are not confident enough with our own abilities.
Working in public accounting for over a year now, I have learned that handling all of these emotions with an intense work load is only made easier by communicating effectively. I will lay out a few scenarios that most of you will likely find yourselves in, and hopefully you find my advice helpful.
First things first, there is no such thing as a dumb question. You are going to get a lot of new information and tasks thrown at you; most of the time it will feel like it is all coming at you at one time. You will not understand everything right off the bat. But guess what? That is understood and even expected. If you ever find yourself not understanding something or confused with a task, it is okay to try and struggle through it on your own for a while. After a short period of time, raise your hand and ask for help. Your employers know that you will have questions and that there will be tasks that you don’t understand, but we can’t help give you better direction if we don’t know what it is that you’re struggling with. Spinning your wheels accomplishes nothing.
One small side note: GROUP YOUR QUESTIONS. Work all the way through a task until you get to a point where you literally cannot go another step. Then go ask all of your questions to someone at once. Asking a superior a different question every 3-5 minutes is not the route to take.
It is important to be very clear on your timetables for completing tasks. In all industries, but especially in public accounting, there will be multiple people who need tasks accomplished by you at the same time or around the same time. Do not feel pressured to have to tell everyone yes for everything that they ask you to do. If you truly cannot get to something, let that person know so that they can find someone who does have time to accomplish the task. It is better to be honest up front, rather than taking on too much and not getting something completed on time. All that does is stress you out and make you look bad to your superiors all at the same time. If you truly don’t have time to get the task done, it is okay to say NO!
The most important thing I hope that you take away from my attempt at passing along knowledge is this: Understand and acknowledge that your lack of experience and need to learn is understood and expected from everyone. You are not expected to know everything or be an all-star right off the bat. Ask questions, and be honest about your own abilities to accomplish your tasks so that everyone is always on the same page. This will help smoothly transition you into the working world.