Michelle Riedner graduated from Herzing's Accounting and Payroll program in 2018, and now works as a Financial Officer for Electra Sign Ltd. in Winnipeg
Michelle Riedner had never even used a computer when she enrolled in the Accounting and Payroll program at Herzing College. She could barely work a mouse or keyboard, and had zero experience with Microsoft Office applications.
Now she's a successful Financial Officer. She uses Excel and QuickBooks on a daily basis, manages files, enters data, and handles a range of computerized accounting and office tasks.
In just a little over 12 months, Michelle went from an unfulfilling job in food services, to a challenging, deeply rewarding accounting position with a respected Winnipeg business. She went from dragging herself into work, to loving every single day of her new job.
This is exactly the kind of transformation so many students dream about. And Michelle made it happen while balancing family and school, and with no prior training in business!
We interviewed Michelle this week to learn more about her journey through the Accounting and Payroll program. We talked about what inspired her to change careers, her new accounting job, and how life has changed since graduation.
Here's what we found out.
Q: Michelle, can you tell us about yourself? What inspired you to go back to school?
Michelle: Before I enrolled in Herzing, I was working in the food service industry. I am a married mother of 3, and the only job I really knew and was comfortable in was serving others and cooking.
But, when my youngest son graduated high school, I felt like I was standing on the edge of a precipice. I now had the opportunity to do more - but what?
Throughout my years in the food service industry, I'd worked as a manager and had some experience with business administration and finance tasks.
I knew about balancing a daily float, bank deposits, menu planning, scheduling, food costs, inventory, ordering, etc. I loved this aspect of my job. As I got older, I grew to love the paperwork more and dealing with people less.
With my son graduated, I had the chance to pursue the very thing that my employers would not allow me to grow in, so I took a chance. I started by signing up for an income tax course with H&R Block.
After that, I started checking into various training programs at various schools.
Q: What inspired you to choose Accounting and Payroll training?
Michelle: Accounting felt like the best fit for me. I'm really not interested in learning photography or how to manage a whole business. I wanted to learn a subject that would take me out of the public, and put me in a quiet place where I could use my brains instead of my mouth.
Q: There are several accounting colleges in Winnipeg...so why Herzing? How did you make your final decision?
Michelle: I checked into Red River College and Robertson as well. They all offered the same accounting and payroll program, but in different ways.
Red River was the cheapest, but it was also the longest with a graduation date 2 years away. I needed something faster. Robertson was too pushy! And expensive. They offered me a computer and kept calling to see when I was going to enroll.
It was extremely annoying. And then I got a call from Cheylynn at Herzing. We made an appointment to meet. I was so nervous, but she was pleasant and easy-going, and we talked.
She showed me the different diploma programs. I took an aptitude test, had a tour of the school, and then she encouraged me to speak with EI to see if funding might be available. She helped me through everything!
I went to EI and found out that I did, in fact, qualify for funding. And then I went from there to enroll in Herzing.
Q: What was your opinion of the Accounting and Payroll program? How was the instructor, course material, and overall experience?
Michelle: The accounting program was excellent. Everything I learned has been very helpful at work. My teachers were always available for help, and they encouraged me to seek out answers on my own, too.
I was allowed to ask questions and never penalized for not knowing something.
Q: What about your classmates? Was there a mix of people from different age groups and backgrounds?
Michelle: I made some great friends there. In fact, I still get together with one of them, and keep in touch on Facebook with the others. At Herzing, I didn’t feel like I was the oldest person in class, or the youngest. There were students of all ages.
There were many different people coming and going for classes and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Q: What was the hardest part of the Accounting and Payroll program for you?
Michelle: Managerial Accounting nearly killed me! I could not, no matter how much study time I put in, grasp some of those concepts. And the Accounting II course was quite difficult as well.
Having to understand depreciation and all the contra accounts was sometimes mystifying to me. But I was successful in the end, and graduated with honors!
Q: What was the best part of accounting training? Your favourite aspect of the program?
Michelle: I truly loved working on my own, in the classroom, listening to music. Watching the videos and taking notes was my second favorite thing. I learn best by taking my own notes.
I have discovered that I am hungry to learn. My desire to succeed in school was the motivation I needed to push through the tough times. But having the ability to pace myself was a gift that I treasured.
Q: Where did you do your accounting internship? What was it like?
Michelle: I did my internship at the Maples Personal Care Home. It was so amazing to be able to do things like work on the computer with Excel and enter in account payables.
I was so pleased to use the stamp machine and the printer, and file and view the payroll program. I loved getting up and going to work every single day.
The staff I worked with were friendly and helpful and pleasant, and I felt useful there. One of my favorite memories is when my boss was going over year-end paperwork, and she couldn’t match numbers.
I sat in her office and helped her go through almost 215 different account names to find the error. And we did! I was ecstatic and so was she. She had been trying, unsuccessfully, for a couple of days to find that error.
I loved that everything Herzing had taught me had brought me to that moment, where I could enjoy the pleasure of her success.
Q: Where are you working now? Can you describe your role and responsibilities?
Michelle: I am currently employed at Electra Sign Ltd. And I love my job. I get up every morning and look forward to going to work, which is something I had lost in my previous career.
My title is Financial Officer. I post bills, invoice service orders and jobs created from the sales team. I enter in time sheets for our employees, answer the phone, and do filing and mailing.
I work daily in QuickBooks and SharePoint. I have learned how to type faster and answer the phone professionally - and I am learning new skills every day. I love this job.
Q: How long did it take you to get hired after graduating from Herzing?
Michelle: After I graduated, our son got married and on the same day, my father-in-law passed away. Life was very busy and stressful, so I did not do any job hunting for several months.
I went on 9 interviews before I got hired at Electra Sign. Herzing was there to encourage me and point me in the direction of a few places that were hiring...but it took me some time to find the right fit.
In the end, I got hired because I had no old habits to speak of, and I could be taught how to do things the way Electra wanted them done. I told them I had no interest in job jumping, and that my goal was to learn the ropes of this place so I could become an asset to the team.
Q: Any advice for someone who is considering the Accounting and Payroll program?
Michelle: I took this program with absolutely no previous experience with computers or accounting software. If you're like me, make sure you're ready to spend a considerable amount of time in front of a computer, studying and learning numbers.
If you're looking for a change in career and want to learn the basics of accounting, I would suggest the business courses at Herzing. I had to learn everything from scratch: How to log onto the computer, how to access different files, and how to work a mouse and a keyboard.
Each step that others take for granted was a brand-new experience for me. And I am still loving each new thing I learn.
Thank-you, Michelle, for sharing your story with us. We're very proud of your success in starting a brand new career from scratch. We know you'll continue to grow and thrive in your new job.
Have questions about the Accounting and Payroll Program?
Herzing's Accounting and Payroll diploma program is 10 months long, and includes a 6-week internship. Training includes all the computer and accounting skills you'll need to get hired in this field.
If you're considering this program, we strongly recommend meeting with an Admissions Advisor. An Advisor will walk you through courses, tuition costs, financial aid options, career options, and more.
Click below to explore the Accounting and Payroll program, request free information via email, and book your advising appointment. We'll help you get started!