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Kaarin Kontio Evens

CPA as a second calling

June 28, 2023

Kaarin Kontio Evens

Each year the Elijah Watt Sells award recognizes outstanding performance on the CPA Exam. This year, one of those awards went to Kaarin Kontio Evens, an MNCPA member and an accountant at Lottsa Tax & Accounting.
But a career as a CPA wasn’t always her goal.

Kaarin, whose background is in chemistry and music, found herself reconsidering her career trajectory during her time in graduate school. Originally, she imagined becoming a professor while continuing with research that would ultimately lead to treatment.

“I was looking into research for Alzheimer’s patients,” she said. Eventually, she realized that she was no longer enjoying the work she was doing. Rather than directly helping others, she felt her research was so abstracted from those that she wanted to help.

“There are definitely people who need to be a part of that entire research process and they do good work, but I realized that wasn’t for me,” Kaarin said.

With that, she left her program with a terminal degree and sought a career that would allow her to be more directly, materially involved in helping others.

Finding the CPA path

Initially, Kaarin had no desire to work within finance, let alone become a CPA. But she had someone with a unique insight into what she herself was going through — her mother, Jean Evens, a fellow MNCPA member.
Like Kaarin, Jean followed a nontraditional path into accounting, first working within social service and academic settings for many years. Jean eventually sought a career change that was practical, flexible and kept her employable, while also giving her the chance to stay in public service.

“I’m also an analytical and intellectually curious person, so I wanted work that spoke to those qualities as well,” Jean said. “Accounting seemed to fit the bill.”

These words were also true for Kaarin, who initially planned on working for nonprofits to follow her passion for helping others.

After some consideration, and discussions with those around her, Kaarin decided to instead focus on taxes. The constantly changing landscape of tax legislation allows Kaarin to exercise the same analytical and problem-solving skills that drew her to science, while also giving her the chance to continue learning. Now, she predominantly works with small businesses and sole proprietorships.

It is the best of both worlds, giving Kaarin the chance to blend her innate analytical strengths with her desire to make an impact in others’ lives.

Accounting as a second career

Kaarin encourages anyone who is curious about becoming a CPA to volunteer to get a better feel for the industry. She described volunteering with Prepare + Prosper in 2020 as one experience that solidified this career path for her. Jean similarly suggests volunteering or taking a seasonal position in accounting to get a sense of the industry, citing her two-year experience as a volunteer bookkeeper as key to her career trajectory.
Kaarin was also quick to note that an accounting degree is not necessary for becoming a CPA, which might be a concern for those looking to switch careers. Because she already held an advanced degree, Kaarin simply took the necessary courses while she worked part time in accounts receivable, completing coursework in about a year and a half, then sitting for the exam.

“I know I was able to finish coursework more quickly than if I worked full time, but I want to show others that this is definitely doable, particularly if you have an employer who is supportive.” Kaarin said. “Employers are invested in their employees becoming CPAs and some may even pay for a prep system or the exam itself.”

Far from boring

Both Kaarin and Jean came to the profession after working in other careers and at moments in their lives when they have a good sense of who they were, what skills they have and what they wanted in life. For Kaarin, this meant taking time to consider other options through many conversations with her mother and, eventually, with her professors.

While she was initially hesitant to follow the CPA path, in the end she found the work both challenging and fulfilling.

Topics: Member Profiles

Julia Shiota

Julia Shiota is the MNCPA’s communications coordinator, bringing her passion for storytelling to members through content development, media relations, and covering member accomplishments and events. Outside of her work with the MNCPA, Julia enjoys knitting, reading, and keeping track of all the birds she encounters on nature walks. You can reach Julia at 952-855-5533 or at

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