I want to get good at my job but may be in over my head


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I just got out of school and landed a night audit job in the hotel industry. I took it because I just wanted to break into the firm. It is reputable and big. I thought it would look good on my resume (not that job but the promotion I was basically guaranteed if I would help out as NA for a start up hotel). So I did get the promotion about a month ago. Let me state I have a finance degree undergrad from a relatively good state university. My interest lies in investments. A major part of analyzing securities involves understanding accounting statements. I figured working in this field would give me a good understanding of this area of business. I got promoted to staff accountant.

So, on to my question. I feel I may be in over my head. I have only taken two classes in accounting (financial and managerial). They were required classes with my major. I have read through endless accounting statements but most of that doesn't really apply to what I am doing at work.

My duties include preparing the daily (or a revenue summary of the previous days performance), accounts payable, and payroll. Payroll hasn't been assigned to me yet because the controller wants me to be comfortable with the first two before I am given that responsibility.

I could get the daily to balance for the most part of last month, but she told me the other day she wants it broken up much further. There are a lot of reports I need to reference from to research the break up of information (like 500 pages). It is difficult in that information doesn't flow right (you kind of have to do it to know what I mean). I just started doing it this way two days ago so I think she understands it will take some time for me to get comfortable with it. But maybe not and she is dissatisfied with my performance. I also have been mixing up papers (getting pretty unorganized) which is almost inevitable because in each audit pack, there is around 500 pages.

Parts of A/P are pretty straight forward. I understand the system (Scala) somewhat well. I have had no prior experience with it but learned its basics functions pretty quickly. Enough so to research invoices and enter them into the system.

Every invoices needs to be coded to a separate account. It is really hard on me because, 1. There are around probably 500 accounts they can go to and 2. I don't know what exactly everything is on the invoice (for instance, in a description it will say "Ballast". I don't know what that is). Also a lot of codes are not used, yet I have a sheet which has 500 possibilities to choose from. I have attempted to code before, and 95% of the codes I chose were whited out and rewritten by the function managers and her. I think this is fine on my part mainly because I am supposed to have a meeting with the managers to have them verify my codes, and then show it to her to have her give a final verification before I enter it into the system. It is something that with 6 to 7 months of experience doing, I think the codes would start to gel. So I don't know if this is a problem, like she is again unhappy with this part of my performance.

I am also not very happy at my job. I feel like I am in prison because I would rather be working in the investment industry, but there are no jobs that I have been able to find or land because of the economy. So it is either I keep (hopefully) working here, or either go back to school or I guess be unemployed or underemployed at Walmart.

So to sum up my question, do you think that they understand it will take some time before I fully am capable of performing my job effortlessly? In other words, is it like this with most professional level jobs, being that it takes a long time to master the required task? Any advice would be helpful.
 
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bklynboy

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First off, you need to have more confidence in your abilities and recognize that you would not have been offered the promotion if management didnt believe you could do the job. Doing AP and payroll for that matter is not difficult. You need to understand that learning the role will take some time and you want to make sure you show growth. My advice would be to ask as many questions as you need to understand what needs to be done. For instance, you say that you dont know what each of the 500 codes mean and that a manager has to pick the right one. If I was you, I would ask them why they chose a particular code so that I dont make that mistake again and also start to document what the purpose of each code is used for (it may already exist and you just need to get your hands on it). If documentation doesnt exist, then start compiling it so that you can have a reference manual available and when the opportunity arises for you to do bigger things, someone new can more easily pick up you role. This also shows initiative and that you want to make the role better which should help in your career.

Also, try being more proactive, before picking a code talk to others with experience and see if you are doing this right and also to get their input before you just guess and assume the manager will correct it. What most managers want is someone who is ambitious and learns. They expect you to ask questions if you have any concerns and also to show growth over time. Also, as you get more familiar with the role, start to think about how the process can be improved and get your controller's opinion on how she would go about this. You will learn from these efforts and show your managers that you are genuinely interested in growing and not just following someone elses lead.

My background is similar to you in that I was an investment major who took accounting as an afterthought to supplement my career. Turns out I couldnt land a steady investment role and started as a staff accountant as a temporary role for a major insurance company. Well I have been doing accounting for 20 years now and through hard work have risen to the executive level. I can tell you its not easy when accounting isnt your primary major but all it takes is the right attitude and the mindset to understand you can learn from others and incorporate that knowledge into improving the company and its processes.
 
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it will take time to adapt to this role. as stated above purchase ledger is not difficult just take your time and get fimilar with the system. coding was what i struggled with (when i started my job and an account assistant i was coding everything to consumables). Its not a huge problem coding the odd invoice to the wrong code as this can always be corrected woth a journal. On your system you should be able to get hold of a trial balance which should list all the codes or nominal code enquiry.

and also i would of coded ballast to property maintenance.
 

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