Recently, I was speaking with Matthew Fulton @ParkwayInc of Parkway Business Solutions regarding how he has new employees take their ProAdvisor Basic certification as one of their first assignments. He said, “It has always been my belief that should an employee decide to leave your company, they should always leave with a new skill that can help them throughout their entire career.” He said he recently had his employee Mary @maryestrada complete the process and wanted to know if I would like to interview her. I jumped at the chance
I hope you find Mary’s story as encouraging as I did! I hope that it will give you or your team members some extra confidence when considering going for your own basic certification.
Our Interview with Mary
How did you 1st hear about the ProAdvisor Program?
Well actually, when I started the job here at Parkway Business Solutions, becoming certified was my first task requirement. I needed to obtain the ProAdvisor Certification in order to start accounting work. This was what my first weeks at Parkway Business Solutions looked like; I read a lot from the course material and tried to read and comprehend as much as I could.
Was that the Basic certification?
Yes, I now have my Basic certification
Aside from satisfying your current jobs requirements, did you have a personal goal of earning your ProAdvisor certification?
Yes, I did, because in my previous job, they used their own accounting software and it was very different than the modern look from QBO. And I knew that QuickBooks was the main platform for many businesses so it was definitely a goal of mine to learn QuickBooks. Now going into a job where my first requirement was getting that ProAdvisor certification…well, I was excited. I thought, here is my chance to learn about it. I think ultimately, I also got lucky because they allowed me to take the time needed to learn as much as I possibly could. They were there to help me when I needed it and it was actually a fun experience.
In the previous job, was the accounting software a homegrown program or was it one that is not as commonly known? It was their own program. I had no idea what accounting platforms are used aside from QuickBooks. But now looking back upon it I find their program to be a little intimidating and not very user-friendly.
How did you feel when you were going through the certification process?
The first time I attempted the exam I was going through it with my boss Matthew. Honestly, I found it harder because I was trying to focus on the course material and at the same time, listen to him explain it in his in own words. I was having a hard time understanding the information because I was getting it from two inputs at once, which made it harder for me to focus. The first time I took the certification, I failed it and it was overwhelming because there was so much information to grasp. And the 2nd time I took it by myself. My boss was there, but this time off to the side just in case I had a question. I found that after reading the material, and answering the questions it was hard to know what they were talking about if you did not have the sample company file open. It was easier to have the sample company file open because it helped serve me as a guide to know what they were referring to. While the first time around I could not remember where those buttons were that they were talking about or even have an idea of what that structure looked like. So that's what helped me a lot was having that sample company open while referring back to the questions.
How did it feel once you knew the certification was complete and you passed?
I was so ecstatic and I told my boss, "Yeah, I passed!" In addition, they congratulated me. And, I said, honestly, the second attempt was easier. It took me about 2 hours to complete it after all the reading and studying. Now I feel like I should not have spent so much time reading, taking notes, and studying. Instead, I could have just skimmed through the things that I felt were the most important. But having the hands-on experience with the sample company file open made it much easier and helped me the most. They were saying, "Oh, that’s a distinctive way to approach the exam, but glad you were able to use it for reference". It was exciting, and all I was thinking was, "Yeah! Finally, I am QuickBooks certified!"
So I heard you say to complete the test itself, it took about 2 hours. How much time would you say it took you leading up to taking the certification? So, the reading, going through the modules?
It took me about 3 weeks for the review to the point where I felt like I was ready. I really wanted to understand it and get that hands-on experience with the sample company.
How much time did you allow yourself each day during those 3 weeks to focus on preparing?
I spent about an hour to an hour and a half each day focused on going through the modules.
Have you updated your ProAdvisor profile and do you have it published?
Honestly, I don't think I have. I just dove right into working. I think my boss mentioned something about that.
What are you planning to do differently now that you have earned that certification?
In the beginning, I was very intimidated by QuickBooks thinking that pressing one button would delete or change something permanently. But I am much more comfortable with it now and it's actually very easy to navigate with. It gives me more confidence to know that I know what I am doing. I can eventually see myself going for the Advanced certification, but I just don't feel like I am there yet.
Now that you are certified what's next for you?
Right now, I am planning to learn as much as I can about QuickBooks. Many of our clients don't know how to use QuickBooks. But, now that I have my ProAdvisor certification, I am able to gain confidence in myself and to be able to guide them through their books. Before they would want to speak to one of my bosses and now that they know that I received the certification I feel like they think, "Ok, she is certified, so she knows what she is doing." And, I think that is putting a lot of value into myself.
Thanks again Mary for allowing me to share your story!
Way to go Mary! I remember when you were studying for it. This is a great article for those who are thinking about taking the test, but feeling a little overwhelmed.
My advice is to use the program first. Start to navigate your way around it. Use the resources here on this community to learn the program. I may be old-school, but I would definitely study the PDF ‘S And watch the videos uninterrupted. This is probably really hard to do when you wear several hats And have to answer the phones at an office. If you are a morning person, study in the mornings.
As for the advanced test, you’ll get there Mary! I know you’re motivated! Congratulations on being certified!