Career and Personal Development
This website is designed to provide information to students considering a career in tax, working on an MST degree or exploring that possibility, or seeking information on how to advance their tax career. It includes more than information on the technical skills and knowledge needed to be a good tax practitioner. It also includes information on the necessary "soft" skills needed to be a great tax practitioner and have a successful career and personal satisfaction. The SJSU MS Taxation program and SJSU offer many of the resources to help students become great tax professionals.
If you know of any information or links that should be added to this website or find any broken links, please let Professor Annette Nellen know. Thanks.
A career in taxation typically requires an undergraduate degree in accounting or a law degree. Tax professionals often are licensed by the state (such as CPA or attorney) or designated as an Enrolled Agent (EA) by the IRS if certain requirements (including testing) are satisfied. For any of these professionals, further formal study in taxation is valuable, such as accountants earning a Masters of Science in Taxation or attorneys earning either and MST or LLM in Taxation. In addition, licensed tax professionals are required to take continuing education courses to maintain their license or EA designation.
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
- Enrolled Agent (program administered by the IRS)
- Additional information on careers in taxation:
The SJSU MST Program has designed several activities to provide its students with opportunities to practice what they are learning in the classroom and to further develop both oral and written communication skills, and interpersonal skills. You will learn more about these opportunities at Orientation, from announcements from Professor Nellen and Cathy Dougherty, and the MST notebook kept at outside of the classroom. These activities include:
Writing for the MST journal - The Contemporary Tax Journal. There are also occasional employment opportunities, such as student editor or assistant editor, with the MST journal.
Delivering a financial literacy workshop on a basic tax topic to members of the community or SJSU students.
Attending a tax professional meeting of the CalCPA Society or TEI with the MST program paying your fee (you'll learn about these opportunities via occasional email announcements from Cathy Dougherty).
Participating in the IRS VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program
- SJSU MST Program Career & Personal Development Retreat - for information, contact Professor Nellen
- SJSU Beta Alpha Psi - if you are an MST student seeking employment, you should join BAP; MST students - the deadline to sign up for fall is usually end of August so don't wait until fall MST classes start
- SJSU Career Center - information on workshops, career fairs and online tutorials
Several skills fall within the category or "soft" skills including communication, listening, strategic thinking, work-life balance, time management, ethical conduct, information literacy and interpersonal skills. Below are some links to information about these soft skills. The SJSU MST program offers students opportunities to become better aware of these soft skills and to develop them.
Background Information - Why a strong set of soft skills is crucial for job seekers and career advancement
- Accountants Rank Soft Skills as More Important for Leaders than Technical Skills CPA Trendlines
- Tips for getting ahead from The National Law Journal (you should start practicing them while you are an MST student)
- Closing the Soft Skills Gap by Howard W. Wolosky
- Professional presence and soft skills: a role for accounting education (pdf) Journal of Instructional Pedagogies, by Kermis and Kermis
- Deloitte, What Do Companies Want from the Corporate Tax Function? (pdf)
- Ten career tips for young CPAs by Marc Ursick, CPA Insider, 2/25/13
Soft Skills Categories and Information Links
- Communication and Listening
- Interpersonal skills
- Mentoring information from the AICPA
- 25 Magic Words for Career Success by Rick Telberg (2/18/10)
- Personality types (information below is on one way to describe different personalities; knowing what makes you do and react in certain ways and how others do can be extremely useful in interpersonal communications and the workplace)
- Generational differences
- Mixing and Managing Four Generations of Employees by Greg Hammill
- Information literacy - American Library Association information (PDF)
- Work Life Balance
- Other areas
- Developing Your Personal Brand Equity by Alan Vitberg, Journal of Accountancy, July 2010
- Reminder on social media - be sure your Facebook and other social media sites are professional; use them effectively to market yourself; also use social media and other sites to find job leads (including Craig's list) - see links below for helpful information
- "Rev up your resume," NBC Philadelphia, 2009
- Mistakes on Cover Letters from the Wall Street Journal (8/9/11)
- Assortment of ideas using the Internet (use cautiously; are they appropriate for your
- Do Google, Yahoo! and Bing searches using your name. A potential employer will likely do the same. Is there anything you'd like to change (if possible)? Does your Facebook page make you look like someone your prospective employer wants to hire?
- Set up a Google or Yahoo! alert to get emailed news updates on your prospective employer
- "HOW TO: Land Your Dream Job Using Google AdWords" by Lauren Indvik (5/10)
- "How To Find A Job Using Social Media" by Jeff Bullas (5/10)
- Be sure to review the SJSU Career Center website for workshops and tutorials
- AICPA Career Insider (free online newsletter)
- New Accountant magazine
- Join professional organizations:
- AICPA - special $35 rate for full-time students or CPA candidates
- Be sure you have current and appropriate profiles, such as with TaxConnections and LinkedIn