Embarking on your first year in public accounting, especially in the audit sector, can be a daunting yet exciting experience. While you may hear stories during the recruitment process, the true essence of this journey unfolds only when you step into the world of public accounting. Drawing on personal experience, this comprehensive guide aims to provide insights into what to expect during your first year and how to thrive in this dynamic environment.
Chapter 1: The First Day
Your inaugural day at a public accounting firm sets the tone for the journey ahead. Contrary to regular workdays, the first day primarily involves introductions and orientation sessions. Downtime during this day offers an opportunity to connect with fellow first-year associates, set up your workspace, and familiarize yourself with the firm's culture, often exemplified by a collection of firm "swag." While no substantial accounting work occurs on the first day, it is common for some to learn about their assigned client and location, adding an extra layer of anticipation.
Chapter 2: The First Week
Transitioning from orientation, the first week accelerates quickly as you get staffed and report to the client site. Expect the senior on the engagement to provide essential details, including location, dress code, arrival time, lunch arrangements, and access instructions. The client site experience involves numerous introductions, meeting the audit team, and touring the client's premises. The senior will guide you through the basics and introduce you to the firm's audit software. You'll delve into company information, such as prior-year workpapers or financials, laying the groundwork for the upcoming tasks.
Chapter 3: The First Month
The workload in the first month varies based on the season of joining the public accounting firm. If you start in the fall, you're likely to enter during the audit's "planning" phase, focusing on risk assessments and interim testing to ease the busy season workload. Winter new hires can expect a quicker onboarding process, diving into work at an accelerated pace. Regardless of the season, the initial month involves gaining a deep understanding of the client's background and preparing for the challenges ahead.
Chapter 4: The First Year
Your first year in public accounting is a rollercoaster of highs and lows. Slow periods may offer a standard 40-hour workweek, while other times may push you to 80 hours a week, testing your resilience. Embrace the diversity of experiences, as slower weeks will follow the intense ones. Towards the end of your first year, performance review discussions with your counselor – typically a manager or senior manager – become crucial. They provide feedback, advice, and serve as valuable mentors. As the first year concludes, the initial challenges transform into familiar routines, and the once-daunting workload becomes second nature.
Transitioning from college to a full-time job in public accounting can be challenging, but it's a journey of growth and adaptation. Embrace the diverse experiences, seek guidance from mentors, and cherish the slower moments. The Life of an Accountant Series aims to facilitate a dialogue among accountants, providing valuable insights and support for those navigating their professional journey. For additional advice or questions, connect on Instagram @Lets_Get_Fiscal. This guide serves as a roadmap to thriving in your first year in public accounting audit.