Ready for Success: Starting a New Job

Starting January 2nd, I will begin my new job as an auditor for a large public accounting firm in Miami. Yay!


Most people assume I will be crunching numbers at my new job, but I will actually be doing investigative-type work. As an auditor, I work directly at client offices and spend weeks or months learning everything about their industry, the organization, and their daily processes. My main goal is to make sure their financials are free from errors so that investors can rely on them, but another part of public auditing is understanding if a company runs efficiently and if not, how to make this happen. Being an auditor is a great way to get a larger understanding of the business world because our clients range from financial entities to hospitals to non-profits, even companies like Disney are audited!

To stay on track with my long-term goals regarding work, I want to make sure I am in the best position to get a head start at my new job. Whether you are beginning a new job soon or not, I hope this list helps you consider some aspects of setting goals you hadn’t considered before!

Before Starting

  • Ask questions ahead of time:
    • From what to wear to what to bring (documents, laptop, etc.), asking questions beforehand can be helpful in making sure you show up ready to get to work. If you forget your laptop at home or didn’t get the dress code memo, you could be distracted from important first-day meetings and run the risk of continuing a negative cycle of giving the impression you are not prepared.
    • Email HR or your future boss to give them a heads-up before your first day if you already have a trip planned in the first few months on the job. Many people plan events in advance, and sometimes this overlaps with starting a new job. As long as you give your boss a heads-up they should be understanding. On the other hand, if you wait until the week before starting your job to tell them, it may reflect poorly on you work-ethic because it seems as if you are a last-minute planner and do not have high regards for your work schedule.
    • For the overachievers: Ask HR for material to read before your first day. This may span from benefit plans to employee handbooks, and will help you get an overall understanding of the basics of your job and allow you to ask the more important clarifying questions in person on the first day.
  • Do your research:
    • Do you have a friend who works (or has worked) at the company? Send them a short email with a few specific questions about the day-to-day lifestyle, the organization’s culture, and names of staff members that you should know. Stay away from vague questions like, “What should I know about Company X?”, “Any advice for a newbie?”, etc. Vague questions turn into vague answers and also make it seem like you are not fully invested.
    • If you work for a big company, you can often find important information online. News articles will give you a bigger picture of the company’s strategy regarding improving stock prices, future mergers, and new CEOs. Online forums can give you an idea of the day-to-day lifestyle from employees. Be sure to take those comments with a grain of salt, though! It is common for disgruntled employees to write negative reviews even when their experiences are very unique!

Your First Day

  • Get there early:
    • To make a great impression on your first day, be sure to get there at least 15 minutes early. Google Maps can help you estimate traffic beforehand, but if you live in a busy city like LA or Miami, be sure to give yourself even more time for those too-common car accidents that can turn highways to parking lots. If you are commuting via public transportation, be aware of any construction delays and plan an option B in case the trains are stopped. Maybe even consider a less convenient or more expensive commute option on the first day just to make sure you get there early!
  • Dress to impress:
    • Be sure to wear your best-fitting, most professional outfit on the first day. Anything too tight or too baggy will make you stand out (in a negative way) or make you look younger and less experienced than you are. Be aware of the dress code as well. If you have any doubt, it is better to dress up than dress down!
  • Make friends:
    • Plan to go to lunch with coworkers on the first day, or bring a lunch to eat in the kitchen if that is part of the office culture. Take advantage of this time to form friendships, especially if there are a lot of new people starting on the first day. Making friends, whether with other new employees or friendly experienced employees your age, will help you later on when you have simple questions you do not want to ask your boss.
  • Prepare an elevator pitch:
    • Plan a brief introduction about yourself and how you fit into the company for other employees and people you meet on your first day.
  • Take notes:
    • Carry around a notebook to write down and remember all of the new names and small, but important, details like your new computer login information. You should also write down any questions you plan on asking your boss or the HR.
  • Stay positive:
    • Smiling, listening, and paying attention will help show that you are excited to be there and ready to learn.
  • Act confident:
    • Even if you are feeling nervous, which is completely normal, remember that you worked hard to get to this point and that you deserve the new position! It is expected that you will make mistakes as a new employee, so be sure to take criticisms gracefully and learn from them for the future.

Your First Week

  • Absorb the culture:
    • An organization’s culture cannot be learned from any employee handbook. Be sure to listen and pay attention during your first few weeks on a new job to see how your managers present themselves and interact with clients and other employees.
    • Do employees communicate via messenger, calling, or face-to-face? Are there sports teams or volunteer organizations to join? Do employees often go out to happy hour? Be on the look-out to see how you can get involved and stand out.
  • Know the goals:
    • What are your goals in regards to your job description, and just as important, what are the company’s goals? Knowing the company’s mission and organizational goals will help you align yourself quickly and meet expectations quicker.
    • Sometimes jobs start off slow. Be patient and use your time wisely. You may reread the HR materials or do background research on tasks you will soon be assigned. This will help you do your best work when it is finally assigned.
    • On the other hand, if you seem to finish all your work at once, ask your manager what you should be completing in your first week, month, and quarter. Understand their expectations of you in order to stay on track or ahead.
    • Try to figure out the biggest priorities or challenges of your new team so you may organize your work accordingly. Be on the look-out for solutions to these challenges, but be cautious about making new suggestions your first week or you may come across as critical of the work culture.
  • Learn how you will be evaluated
    • Will you have performance meetings quarterly or yearly? Do these align with raises or promotions? What criteria will be tested? Will you have to complete a personal evaluation? Being prepared and understanding these possibilities will make you a stronger candidate for promotions in the long-run.

A new year and a new job, let’s work towards achieving our goals together! Please connect with Sophie Explains on Facebook and feel free to send any questions or comments via the Contact Page. Thank you for your support, and have a Happy New Year!!

Setting Long-Term Goals: Birthday Edition

This week I turn 26. My career goals have changed a crazy amount in the last five years! Back then, I was in my last year of college and on track to apply to medical schools…that did not happen. (I promise to tell you more about that in a future post!) A year ago while working, I realized I really wanted to learn more about bookkeeping and auditing, so I made the decision to pursue accounting as a career. I chose to go back to school full-time for a Masters in Accounting even though I had never taken a business class before.

Jump forward to today: I have finally completed school, am currently taking the CPA licensing exams, and have a full-time accounting position set for January 2018. My 21-year-old self would have never guessed where I would end up!


It is my wholehearted belief that it is never too late to change your life. Whether it is your attitude, lifestyle choices, or career path, you should always be true to yourself and figure out how you can achieve your goals.

Birthdays, similar to the new year, are a great time for reflection. I like to annually re-evaluate my long-term goals to make sure I am fighting for the right ones and not just comfortably stuck on the path I set for myself years ago.

“The hardest part of getting what you want is figuring out what you want in the first place.” – Nicole Lapin

I understand some people do not like discussing or even thinking about their long-term goals. This can be overwhelming and scary, especially if you feel like you are not where you wanted to be at this point in time. What helps me is separating my goals to make them more manageable. The goals you set do not have to be career or finance oriented. Your goals can be about family (buying a home or getting married), artistic endeavors or hobbies (taking painting classes or joining a community orchestra), travel (planning a big trip or a weekend getaway), health (mental or physical), or anything you can imagine. What are you passionate about? What makes you excited for the future?

Take 10 minutes right now to read the goal setting prompts below and really think about your answers. I encourage you to think extreme with these goals. Your ideas should seem ambitious because your goals should be ambitious!

Goal Setting Prompts

  • What is your ideal lifestyle, and what financial position will enable you to live it? Consider:
    • Do you want to eat at five-star restaurants regularly, own condos in multiple cities, and/or lease high-end cars?
    • Do you want to be able to buy nice clothes regularly, eat out often, and/or take trips whenever you want?
    • Do you want to have multiple children and send them to private or religious schools? How about college?
    • Do you have loans you have to pay off? Make a timeline of by when you’d like to have these paid off. (We will discuss this in a future post!)
    • Can you live comfortably with only the basic necessities, and do you prefer it?
  • What do you want out of your career? Consider:
    • Are you looking for a stable job?
    • Do you want substantial income?
    • Are you thinking of starting your own business?
  • What are your goals in regards to family? Consider:
    • Do you see yourself getting married and having kids? If so, what is your desired timeline?
    • Do you prefer a lifestyle without children?
  • Where do you see your ideal home? Consider:
    • Do you want to settle down in a house?
    • Do you prefer the flexibility of living in apartments?
    • Where do you want to live: suburbs, city, rural? Maybe in a different country?
  • How do you want to spend your free time? Consider:
    • Is your main goal to travel as much as possible?
    • What creative hobbies do you want to pursue?
    • Is spending time with family and friends imperative in my day-to-day life?
  • How do you want to give back to the community? Consider:
    • Are you interested in starting a charity, mentoring, or volunteering?
    • Would you like to become a board member of an existing organization?

Really take some time to consider your answers. Brainstorm on a piece of paper or Google document. Documenting your goals is a lot of fun because you can look at them later and see how far you are towards reaching them, or you can see how much they have changed.


You have to go beyond writing down your goals, though. Next, break them into smaller, attainable steps. For example, where do you want to be in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years? To give you a better idea of what I am talking about, here is an example of one of my goal strategies:

Sophie’s Long-Term Career Goal

  • 1-Year Goal: Begin job at a large accounting firm to gain experience with how businesses in a variety of industries are run.
  • 3-Year Goal: Continue working hard in the accounting firm to earn promotions and gain more relevant experience managing a team and dealing with clients.
  • 5-Year Goal: Continue to move up in the accounting firm while making great connections and starting to learn about the sales aspect of business.
  • 7-Year Goal: Continue saving up a hearty financial safety net and consider when to make the leap into starting my own company. Write a business plan, mission statement, and develop other financial details.
  • 10-Year Goal: Run my own company that provides business and accounting advice to small businesses, artists, and other organizations.

This goal is one of my passions, but I imagine over the course of the next year, it will change after I get some real experience in the accounting world. Maybe I will decide I want to become a partner in the firm, or maybe I will want to take a few years off to start a family or travel the world. Your initial goal may get a bit derailed, but the point of this exercise is to encourage you to strive for your ideal situation in the current moment and not get you stuck doing something that makes you unhappy.

Sometimes reaching for your goals means making a little sacrifice today. Going back to school to get a degree in a new field is not the most fun or cost-effective plan in the short term, but in the long term you can start a job in a field you truly enjoy.

I hope this post has given you something to think about and reminded you that you can change your current path and strive for something that inspires, motivates, and encourages you to be the best version of yourself at any point in your life. Feel free to reach out to me and let me know what your goals are! Sharing your goals with friends is a good way to build a supportive community and help you stay on track. Have fun with it, think big, and get creative!

Time to go eat cake!