I recently sat down with a few of Insero’s auditors to discuss their experiences during their first year in public accounting. Here is what they had to say:
What about your first year in public accounting was surprising or different from what you expected?
Kelsey Scott-Avery: The work-life balance was what surprised me. You sometimes hear these horror stories about public accounting and busy season and working crazy hours. Here at Insero, the partners truly encouraged the balance between work and life. In turn, this really helped us to be committed to getting the work done while also preventing burn out.
Rachel Zicari: What surprised me was how often you get to work with different levels. There was direct interaction with partners and managers, so you always had someone to go to with your question and you really got to know who you were working with on an engagement. It makes you feel more like a team.
Zach Lang: I was surprised by the fact that we had different “seasons” – busy season and Employee Benefit Plan season, etc… Everyone knows there is a busy season in public accounting, but it’s super cool that another big part of Insero’s work involves EBPs. It gave a nice transition and a nice switch up going from commercial audits to EBPs and it was interesting to learn something new.
Are there any aspects of the job that took some time to get used to?
Zach: I took some time to get used to the procedures and language used. At first, it seems completely foreign. But the more you do each workpaper and work through each process – combined with making sure to ask questions and takes notes – the more familiar everything becomes. It’s surprising how quickly you can catch on.
Rachel: There is definitely just a learning curve in general to the audit work. First with regular audits, then moving to EBP audits and especially with learning how to read and understand the financial statements. You have to accept you are not going to know everything right away, so that’s when making sure to ask questions becomes super important.
Kelsey: Similar to what Rachel said, you just have to understand you are constantly learning new things. Whether it’s a new workpaper or new type of audit, your first year is when you are getting introduced to everything so I knew it would take a few times before I began to really see how the pieces fit together.
Have you had support as you made the transition from student to full-time employee?
Kelsey: One of my favorite things was how supportive and how communicative the higher levels are. You can always ask questions and they will always do their best to help. It truly helped with the transition.
Rachel: Specifically, for me, everyone was so supportive while I was studying for the CPA exam. My managers allowed me to use my down time to study and were there to offer advice from their own experiences, as well.
Zach: Block scheduling, knowing my managers schedules helped a ton when it came to communication and scheduling. I knew what they were working on, when they were working on it and when was a good time for my questions, so it helped me organize my time and workload.
What stood out to you during your first year at the firm?
Zach: All the extra activities that the firm offered were really cool. The happy hours, the lunches and the wellness challenges – to name a few – truly helped to build relationships outside of work and allowed us to be co-productive when it was time to work.
Kelsey: What stood out to me was the resources the firm offered that helped us to continue our learning. We just went to a training in Chicago which was very informative and we were able to meet and interact with other people our level from different firms around the country. On a smaller scale, we’ve also been through the AHI training and on-the-job training.
Are there any specific programs or benefits you found helpful during your first year?
Rachel: The advisor program was what helped me the most. It allowed me and my advisor to pinpoint my weaknesses and come up with ways to aim to improve them. Additionally, knowing I have someone there to ask questions – whether job-specific, industry-related or questions about Insero – was reassuring.
Zach: I found the RSM website to be super beneficial to my learning during my first year. It had resources such as the GAM manuals and research tools that came in handy and allowed me to answer my questions on my own at times.
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?
Rachel: Make sure you like the environment you are working in; be yourself in the interview process; and ask questions to learn about the firm.
Zach: Be a sponge and absorb everything you’re learning because it’s just going to keep popping up; it’s okay to go slow and take your time; and stay organized!
Kelsey: Remember the support you have to help you; make connections along the way; and take part in the extra activities/challenges/social events to build relationships.
To learn more about careers in public accounting at Insero, visit inserocpa.com/careers.