Expect the unexpected. It’s pretty hard to pinpoint a day in the life of a first year Audit Associate because no two days will ever be alike. Ever!
Every day is different with new situations with multiple different clients. I think that’s the best part of being part of an audit team. You can’t really say what we do is boring because we always have to be on our toes with whatever may arise.
As a first year associate, you’ll be dealing with the easier audit areas like the cash section and searching for unrecorded liabilities testing. Essentially, your entry-level work environment will leave out any sections that don’t require a lot of judgment.
As you progress in your career as a staff auditor, you’ll be given harder sections and be trusted to work on more difficult tasks. Hence, it really all depends on your team members, the client, and how big your firm is. The smaller the firm, the more likely it is that you’ll be seeing a lot more sections in your first couple of years.
Now that I’m a Senior Auditor, here are a few things that I wish I knew coming in as a first year Audit Associate:
1. It’s Overwhelming
Unfortunately, you will be completely overwhelmed starting out on an engagement team: guaranteed. School does not prepare you in any way to be an auditor. Thanks a lot, Audit 101! But really, there’s just no way to learn about auditing from a lecture. You’ll learn almost everything on-the-go as it’s happening and put it into real-world applications.
So don’t panic when nothing is clicking in the beginning. It’s normal for a first year associate to not get the big picture for several months in. Even though most things aren’t really coming together as you would hope so, take every task and everything that you’re learning in and go with the flow. It’ll all make sense eventually. If you’re looking for a place to find your first audit job, check out Acctal Jobs.
2. Ask Questions!
If you don’t understand what you’re doing, then ask for clarification. In public accounting and auditing, there’s no point in spinning your wheels and wasting time when you don’t understand something. This also avoids work being redone by your senior associates if your work isn’t done correctly.
However, be sure to take some time to try to figure things out yourself using your resources (experienced associates on your team, firm research material, etc.). You shouldn’t always rely on your seniors to baby you through your work.
3. Learn, Learn, Learn
As a first year auditor, you should ask those relevant questions, take notes, and take in those new learning experiences. Don’t do it just to appear like you want to learn. You must be a willing learner without being that one new hire that’s too eager. Furthermore, the last thing you want is to annoy senior associates with redundant and repetitive questions. Seniors are there to help you, not to follow up on the same questions over and over again.
Take anything that’s thrown your way and learn from it. During your first year you will be asked to do mindless work like binding or making copies. Oh yeah, makin’ copies! The copymeister! (SNL anyone?) Well, we all just have to start somewhere.
Pay attention to what financial statements you’re given and use it as a learning opportunity. Get familiar with those reports, memos, or confirmations because you’ll be dealing with them a lot later on and you’ll be the one responsible for compiling them.
In your first year, you’ll also become all too familiar with those dreaded review comments. Often times they’ll be trivial or even on the verge of condescending but try not to take it personally. These comments are meant to teach you no matter how silly they seem!
4. Communication is Key
Something I didn’t really expect is how important of a role communication (both written and oral) played for an auditor. We’re in constant contact with our clients, coworkers, and supervisors alike.
E-mails and phone calls must ride that fine line of being aggressive, getting straight to the point but at the same time being cordial. In fact, this is important even when your client is unapologetically uncooperative. Trust me, you’ll get lots of those clients. Keep your cool, breathe, and always stay professional.
5. Find a Mentor
Connect with a senior or manager that shares the same values and level of work ethic as you. Take those qualities you respect and even the ones you don’t to figure out what kind of leader you want to become.
6. Get Your CPA, ASAP
The first year is confusing and overwhelming and it seems logical to push the CPA exam back until you feel more comfortable in your new position. Well think again. Get that CPA license as soon as you start or even better, try to start before your job begins. Yes, you’ll be more comfortable in your position a few months in but as you move up the ranks, you’ll have more responsibility, more work, and a lot more stress to deal with.
This is coming from someone who pushed it off and ended up studying for FAR at the same time I was promoted to senior. Save yourself the all-consuming stress and just get it out of the way as soon as possible. You’ll thank me later.
Your first year will be one of the most eye opening experiences of your life but it’ll go by in a flash. Soon enough you’ll just be one of the regular staff, talking shop with some beers at happy hour (just don’t get too crazy and act a fool). Take it all one day at a time and have fun learning, young padawans!
What Should A 1st Year Audit Associate Know To Succeed?
|Rank||Things To Know|
|1.||It Can Be Overwhelming|
|2.||Be Sure To Ask Questions|
|3.||Learn, Learn, Learn|
|4.||Find A Mentor|
|5.||Get Your CPA, ASAP|