The first year in public accounting can be a major transition, as new employees move from their academic environment as students to a corporate environment as employees. This summer, I chatted with first-year members of our audit staff to talk about their experiences during their first year of working in public accounting at Insero & Co. CPAs. Here is what they had to say:
What about your first year in public accounting was surprising or different from what you expected?
Matt Allen: I was surprised with how much the firm values team members at all levels, from administrative staff and staff accountants all the way up to partner. Every team member is recognized for their accomplishments and provided the chance to give their input. I also was surprised with how much client contact I had in my first year without having prior experience which was pretty neat.
Tara Marcello: I was introduced to the work that I was going to do in a way that was helpful so I wasn’t just thrown into the workpapers without guidance and support.
Josh Peterson: I found that the firm was really accommodating and helpful, especially since I started working remotely for the firm which was something I wasn’t quite expecting. They provided me with the training and resources to successfully work remotely.
Sarah Buckley: I was surprised with how much experience I got right away, as a new employee I was able to start right on client jobs and be given responsibility for completing valuable tasks. It felt nice to be able to learn how to do several things right away, despite being a new employee.
Are there any aspects of the job that took some time to get used to?
Matt Allen: It took me some time to learn how to manage my time and prioritize tasks so that I worked more efficiently. As I’ve gained more experience I’ve been able to figure out how long a task should take me and learn the best way to communicate with my in-charge.
Sarah Buckley: Figuring out how to manage my time was difficult at first but then I was able to get into a good rhythm when I utilized the assignment and budget sheets which gave me a template for how long a task should take.
Have you had support as you made the transition from student to full-time employee?
Tara Marcello: The transition from student to full-time employee was very smooth since I had done two tax internships between finishing school and working full time at Insero. The internships helped me become familiar with the firm and their great culture.
Matt Allen: Transitioning from a student to full-time employee was made easier by taking advantage of the advisor program at Insero. They met with me a couple times before coming on full time to check in and show me around the office which I found helpful.
Josh Peterson: I had been working part time before transitioning to full time, so the transition went well and the advisor program at Insero was also helpful in making me feel comfortable in my first year.
Sarah Buckley: I did have support as I transitioned from student to full-time employee as Insero checked in with me a couple times before I started and my advisor helped me track my time and answer my questions. I found it helpful that I met with my advisor a couple times before I started working as well which allowed me to become familiar with the firm.
What stood out to you during your first year at the firm?
Tara Marcello: I noticed right away how great the culture was at Insero including the frequent updates relating to COVID-19 which made me feel good about how the firm was handling the remote working situation. In addition, I was impressed with all of the health incentives and programs that the firm provides employees.
Matt Allen: I was impressed with how well the firm handled the COVID-19 issues relating to the work environment. I never was put in an uncomfortable situation and the firm took into account everyone’s safety and made great decisions.
Josh Peterson: It was nice to have an advisor that I could ask questions to about work and non-work related issues. Since I started working remotely it made me feel more comfortable since I hadn’t met too many people in person.
Sarah Buckley: Everyone is so willing to help and teach which is an important part of the team-oriented environment that they have cultivated. I’ve always felt like I can ask questions and don’t feel like I’m left clueless or without support.
Are there any specific programs or benefits you found helpful during your first year?
Tara Marcello: I found that the advisor program was very helpful during my first year since it allowed me to have someone to guide me and answer questions that I had as I started to work on different engagements and learning to manage my time.
Matt Allen: I liked that I had the opportunity to work in different departments right away as a new employee. I did a tax internship and internal audit work within several months of starting at the firm and they’ve communicated that they are open to having employees try different types of accounting work.
Sarah Buckley: Their incentives to obtain our CPA license is really helpful and provided me the support and resources I need to start studying. I appreciated the major discount on study materials and time off to take my CPA exams without having to use PTO.
If you were talking to a friend who was currently interviewing for their first accounting job, what are three things you’d want to tell them?
Tara Marcello: The first thing I would tell them is that you won’t understand a majority of the work that you’ll be doing right away, and that is okay because you’ll have the support and resources you need. I would also tell them to ask a lot of questions and don’t hesitate to speak up if you don’t understand something. The last thing I would suggest is to really try and retain what you learn because it builds on each other and will come up again in the future.
Matt Allen: Look for a firm that values growth and development in addition to giving you the opportunity to explore the whole accounting field. And lastly make sure that the firm provides good resources and support as you start your accounting career.
Josh Peterson: I would tell them to make sure to ask as many questions as possible, don’t be worried about trying to figure something out on your own if you aren’t sure, and stay organized.
Sarah Buckley: I would suggest that they do a few practice interviews to prepare for the real interview, make sure to look for signs of their culture during the interview process. Also ask a lot of questions to make sure that you have the information you need to make the best decision about where you want to work.