A question about first year at the job


K

k.

Hello,

I recently graduated with my bachelors in accounting and I'm actually
starting grad school in a few days to fulfill my 150 to sit in for the big
test.

I already have job as a staff accountant in a mid sized firm, starting a
couple of months from now and I'm wondering if some of those who've been in
this business can tell me what I should be expected my first year.

I have a good GPA because I've worked hard however I feel as though half the
stuff I've learned and I've been tested on I've since forgotten.

What do staff accountants do their first year? Am I going to be grabbing
coffee for people and just doing data entry or am I going to be doing real
work?

How much pressure is put on rookies? I am very adaptable to change and I
know that I can and will handle whatever is thrown at me but if some of you
can share your personal experiences I'd really appreciate it.

Thank you.

k.
 
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P

Paul Thomas

k. said:
I recently graduated with my bachelors in accounting and I'm actually
starting grad school in a few days to fulfill my 150 to sit in for the big
test.

I already have job as a staff accountant in a mid sized firm, starting a
couple of months from now and I'm wondering if some of those who've been
in this business can tell me what I should be expected my first year.

Congratulations onthe job. Many graduates don't have one in their field -
yet.


I have a good GPA because I've worked hard however I feel as though half
the stuff I've learned and I've been tested on I've since forgotten.

You'd be surprised how much will come back during the exam. Not that it's
easy, but you'll get more right than you might think. It's in your head,
and it'll come out if you let it.



What do staff accountants do their first year? Am I going to be grabbing
coffee for people and just doing data entry or am I going to be doing real
work?

Gosh, what a first year staffer does is all over the board, depending on the
firm and their needs. But primarily you'll be learning (it never ends).
They'll teach you from the ground up (ok, maybe the landing between first
and second). And no, you'll probably not be asked or expected to get coffee
for anyone (exceptions for clients, always ask the client if you can get
them something).

You might work on basic accounting work - yes, data entry. It's part of the
learning process. You might work on audits, generally more data entry,
tabulations, counting inventory, bank reconciliations, etc. Heck, you might
get to work on some very basic tax returns (corporate or individual).

How much pressure is put on rookies?

Depends on the firm, but they should be expecting you to learn, so ask a lot
of questions as you go. And don't spend hours or days struggling with
something before asking for help or guidance on an issue.

They should not expect you to develop clients (although if the opportunity
arises, go for it), nor should they expect you to handle something from
start to finish without supervision throughout. You'll probably have client
contact, but not directly, just as part of your job.

If you haven't yet, when you start, ask them what they expect from you, who
your supervisor/mentor is, who you report to, etc and so on.
 
X

xyzer

k. said:
Hello,

I recently graduated with my bachelors in accounting and I'm actually
starting grad school in a few days to fulfill my 150 to sit in for the big
test.

I already have job as a staff accountant in a mid sized firm, starting a
couple of months from now and I'm wondering if some of those who've been in
this business can tell me what I should be expected my first year.

I have a good GPA because I've worked hard however I feel as though half the
stuff I've learned and I've been tested on I've since forgotten.

What do staff accountants do their first year? Am I going to be grabbing
coffee for people and just doing data entry or am I going to be doing real
work?

How much pressure is put on rookies? I am very adaptable to change and I
know that I can and will handle whatever is thrown at me but if some of you
can share your personal experiences I'd really appreciate it.

Thank you.

k.
Public accounting for me was somewhat tedious, yet also stressful. I
worked at two different small firms over the course of a year, so
things may be different at your larger firm. But, I had no formal
training and I was basically doing a lot of bank/checkbook
reconciliations, compilations, payroll tax returns, and many individual
tax returns.

The main challenges throughout the day were trying to stay alert while
doing fairly tedious work. The problem is that if you start to get
tired, then your speed starts to go down. The entire day is like a big
test. You will most likely be timed. And you are expected to get
things right within a resonable amount of time. The only difference,
of course, is that you can ask questions. But, yes, accounting firms
love to employee the timesheet. Not all accounting firms make
employees fill out timesheets, but I think most do.

The other problem for the first-year preparer (in a small firm at
least) is that you are doing work at an INCREDIBLY depth, while at the
same time you may be required to swing to employing knowledge of
incredibly breadth (recognizing lots of different broad issues when you
see them).

For example, I did compilations for law firms a lot of times, and if
you really want to understand the accounting for a law firm, then you
really need to have a good understand (depth) of law firms and the
myriad of transactions they MIGHT engage themselves in. Yet, there
really was no manual for this in my office. This was "ok" because I
could always ask questions or look at what was done last period, but
this would not necessarily help me in gaining a complete understanding
of what was really going on. Often, only after months of doing
something, would I then finally understand why something was happening
the way it did. Some things you will not understand until you've been
at a place for a year or more.

Here's my advice: If you're just a normal person who's not some
genius, then to increase your probability of success in public
accounting, you're going to sort of have to give your life to it for a
while. You have to read read read read read and read some more. Learn
to use Microsoft Excel well, and stay late... One problem I had with my
old firm is that one of the partners didn't really like people staying
past about 8 or 9 PM during tax season. That's unexpected, I know, for
an accounting firm, but that's the way it was. Basically, all that
mattered was how fast I did returns, and I was not fast. I did in fact
have a hard time concentrating sometimes, and I sometimes would try to
figure questions out myself before asking. So, I did about 100
returns, where I think the firm probably expected something closer to
200 or more, but I'm not really sure. That's not what they looked at
anyway I believe... average time spent was what they were concerned
with.

Also, you may hate tax but like audit. The tax code can be extremely
arbitrary in nature, so that what matters more is your ability to get
into tax -- not so much your analytical abilities, although those
always come into play in accounting. Auditing is more of a "common
sense" venture than tax, though.

Anyway, good luck.
 
K

k.

k. said:
Public accounting for me was somewhat tedious, yet also stressful. I
worked at two different small firms over the course of a year, so
things may be different at your larger firm. But, I had no formal
training and I was basically doing a lot of bank/checkbook
reconciliations, compilations, payroll tax returns, and many individual
tax returns.

The main challenges throughout the day were trying to stay alert while
doing fairly tedious work. The problem is that if you start to get
tired, then your speed starts to go down. The entire day is like a big
test. You will most likely be timed. And you are expected to get
things right within a resonable amount of time. The only difference,
of course, is that you can ask questions. But, yes, accounting firms
love to employee the timesheet. Not all accounting firms make
employees fill out timesheets, but I think most do.

The other problem for the first-year preparer (in a small firm at
least) is that you are doing work at an INCREDIBLY depth, while at the
same time you may be required to swing to employing knowledge of
incredibly breadth (recognizing lots of different broad issues when you
see them).

For example, I did compilations for law firms a lot of times, and if
you really want to understand the accounting for a law firm, then you
really need to have a good understand (depth) of law firms and the
myriad of transactions they MIGHT engage themselves in. Yet, there
really was no manual for this in my office. This was "ok" because I
could always ask questions or look at what was done last period, but
this would not necessarily help me in gaining a complete understanding
of what was really going on. Often, only after months of doing
something, would I then finally understand why something was happening
the way it did. Some things you will not understand until you've been
at a place for a year or more.

Here's my advice: If you're just a normal person who's not some
genius, then to increase your probability of success in public
accounting, you're going to sort of have to give your life to it for a
while. You have to read read read read read and read some more. Learn
to use Microsoft Excel well, and stay late... One problem I had with my
old firm is that one of the partners didn't really like people staying
past about 8 or 9 PM during tax season. That's unexpected, I know, for
an accounting firm, but that's the way it was. Basically, all that
mattered was how fast I did returns, and I was not fast. I did in fact
have a hard time concentrating sometimes, and I sometimes would try to
figure questions out myself before asking. So, I did about 100
returns, where I think the firm probably expected something closer to
200 or more, but I'm not really sure. That's not what they looked at
anyway I believe... average time spent was what they were concerned
with.

Also, you may hate tax but like audit. The tax code can be extremely
arbitrary in nature, so that what matters more is your ability to get
into tax -- not so much your analytical abilities, although those
always come into play in accounting. Auditing is more of a "common
sense" venture than tax, though.

Anyway, good luck.
Thanks a lot, I've done about 50 or so tax returns in the past (Volunteer
Program for IRS) over a 2 year span and I like to take my time to make sure
everything is done right.

Looks like the firms out their seem to want to rush you which I need to get
used to.

Thanks again.
 
K

k.

Paul Thomas said:
Congratulations onthe job. Many graduates don't have one in their field -
yet.





You'd be surprised how much will come back during the exam. Not that it's
easy, but you'll get more right than you might think. It's in your head,
and it'll come out if you let it.






Gosh, what a first year staffer does is all over the board, depending on
the firm and their needs. But primarily you'll be learning (it never
ends). They'll teach you from the ground up (ok, maybe the landing between
first and second). And no, you'll probably not be asked or expected to
get coffee for anyone (exceptions for clients, always ask the client if
you can get them something).

You might work on basic accounting work - yes, data entry. It's part of
the learning process. You might work on audits, generally more data
entry, tabulations, counting inventory, bank reconciliations, etc. Heck,
you might get to work on some very basic tax returns (corporate or
individual).




Depends on the firm, but they should be expecting you to learn, so ask a
lot of questions as you go. And don't spend hours or days struggling with
something before asking for help or guidance on an issue.

They should not expect you to develop clients (although if the opportunity
arises, go for it), nor should they expect you to handle something from
start to finish without supervision throughout. You'll probably have
client contact, but not directly, just as part of your job.

If you haven't yet, when you start, ask them what they expect from you,
who your supervisor/mentor is, who you report to, etc and so on.
Thank you for the useful informoation Paul. From the responses I've gotten,
it seems that asking questions seems to be the key. I normally like to
solve problems on my own but it seems like to get the most out of everyone's
time, asking questions is the way to go.

Thank you.
 
P

Paul Thomas, CPA

k. said:
Thank you for the useful informoation Paul. From the responses I've
gotten, it seems that asking questions seems to be the key. I normally
like to solve problems on my own but it seems like to get the most out of
everyone's time, asking questions is the way to go.

Ask general, and some specific questions, up front, then take a stab at the
task give you, then seek someone to review the progress of your work (before
you claim you have finished just to find out you have been doing it all
wrong for seven hours), and if not provided, seek feedback on what you need
to do to be better.

And remember a few things:

1) quicker is not always better
2) they might not have done it right "last time"
3) never ask the client what you should be doing
4) if you think of a better way to do things, ask before you take the
initiative to make any changes
5) be prompt to work
6) unless you are told otherwise, turn off your cell phone at work, and
always when you are with a client.


I'm sure there are other pointers you should know.
 
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J

Joe Canuck

~^ beancounter ~^ said:
good points Paul.......
Yes, I particularly like #1.

As a customer I'd rather have accuracy rather than speed, and I'm still
prepared to make allowances for plain old human error.

Unlike machines, humans were only meant to go so fast... yet the
emphasis is on ever increasing productivity.
 
K

k.

Paul Thomas said:
Ask general, and some specific questions, up front, then take a stab at
the task give you, then seek someone to review the progress of your work
(before you claim you have finished just to find out you have been doing
it all wrong for seven hours), and if not provided, seek feedback on what
you need to do to be better.

And remember a few things:

1) quicker is not always better
2) they might not have done it right "last time"
3) never ask the client what you should be doing
4) if you think of a better way to do things, ask before you take the
initiative to make any changes
5) be prompt to work
6) unless you are told otherwise, turn off your cell phone at work, and
always when you are with a client.


I'm sure there are other pointers you should know.
Thanks again Paul,

Also next month I think that I'm going to be spending around $1000 on
clothing. I've never spent that much on clothing at once. It should be
interesting.

I know that I need to be at work for atleast a month or so, so that I can
get a feel for the culture and see how others who have been there longer
than me do things.

Just 1 more direct question. I know that in nearly any profession, hard
work pays off.

Are there any negatives (besides the lack of personal life and leisure time)
to spending a lot of hours at the job (more than the other co-workers)?

I know most firms encourage this but I'm sure that employees that have been
there would not want someone working very hard and setting the bar higher
than it has to be so there could be backlash.

In your experience is the accounting field similar to what I described above
or is it instead very competitive where everyone is working incredibly hard
and putting in large hours to get ahead? So basically other's won't feel
like like you are showing them up.

I believe I described that as best as I could. If you need any more
clearing up on what I mean please ask.

Thank you,

k.
 
P

Paul Thomas

k. said:
Just 1 more direct question. I know that in nearly any profession, hard
work pays off.

Are there any negatives (besides the lack of personal life and leisure
time) to spending a lot of hours at the job (more than the other
co-workers)?

Yup. Mistakes. Pace yourself to some degree. When you catch yourself
making mistakes, take a break, or go home, or something. Get your head
screwed on straight and come back to it.


I know most firms encourage this but I'm sure that employees that have
been there would not want someone working very hard and setting the bar
higher than it has to be so there could be backlash.

In your experience is the accounting field similar to what I described
above or is it instead very competitive where everyone is working
incredibly hard and putting in large hours to get ahead? So basically
other's won't feel like like you are showing them up.

If anyone needs to be bothered about a newbie working a few more hours, or
they fear for their job if you did, then they probably shouldn't be in this
business. I've learned long ago that there's no reward for a heart attach
in the office working at 2 am on some clients return that's three years
late, or when they brought you the stuff at 5pm on the 14th of April.
There's no amount of money in the world that can compensate for crap like
that.

If you learn that the "team" you are working with is full of "I" people,
then calmly begin looking for another position elsewhere.

You get ahead in any buisness by learning your craft - well I might add.
And you do that over time through experience and education (ask to go to as
many CPE classes as you can, when the time is right). You also get ahead by
getting along with your coworkers, supervisors, and most importantly, the
clients. No, you don't have to be syurpy sweet to them, but be polite,
professional, and personable.

Unfortunately they don't always teach this enough in school, but
communication is the key. Talk to them, certainly, but listening is more
important. Not always for what they say, but how they say it, and pay
atttention for what they don't say.
 
R

RidgemontRat77884

k. said:
Thanks again Paul,

Also next month I think that I'm going to be spending around $1000 on
clothing. I've never spent that much on clothing at once. It should be
interesting.

I know that I need to be at work for atleast a month or so, so that I can
get a feel for the culture and see how others who have been there longer
than me do things.

Just 1 more direct question. I know that in nearly any profession, hard
work pays off.

Are there any negatives (besides the lack of personal life and leisure time)
to spending a lot of hours at the job (more than the other co-workers)?

I know most firms encourage this but I'm sure that employees that have been
there would not want someone working very hard and setting the bar higher
than it has to be so there could be backlash.

In your experience is the accounting field similar to what I described above
or is it instead very competitive where everyone is working incredibly hard
and putting in large hours to get ahead? So basically other's won't feel
like like you are showing them up.

I believe I described that as best as I could. If you need any more
clearing up on what I mean please ask.

Thank you,

k.

One thing to keep in mind whenever receiving advice from Paul Thomas,
is that Paul is looking at your situation not from the angle of an
entry-level person in 2006, but from the standpoint of his own place in
the field (Paul has worked in accounting for many years).

Paul also could basically be called a "cheerleader" for the CPA
profession. He could be a national spokesman for CPA's because he only
talks up the positives, and doesn't acknowledge anything negative about
the current state of the profession. So keep that in mind.

When Paul Thomas got into accounting, the field was much, much
different than it is today. Not only was there much more opportunity
for accountants (availability of jobs, pay, etc), but companies
accounting firms were much more likely to invest in their people for
the long term.

I can assure you that Paul Thomas (and others from his era) had a much
easier time getting started and established in the field than graduates
in 2006 will ever find. That isn't really meant to discourage you or
turn you negative on accounting, but just keep that in mind whenever
receiving advice from Paul.

For instance, I sincerely hope that this firm invests in you fully,
compensates you well, and allows you to learn and develop your
potential to the fullest. It is encouraging that this firm is bringing
you aboard so early (before tax season) because this means you SHOULD
receive a great deal of training, orientation, practive, guidance, etc,
before things really get busy. It's encouraging because the timeframe
means this firm will be investing in bringing you up to speed before
things get really busy, so you'll have time to learn.

But one of the things Paul has not mentioned, is that many accounting
firms bring in new hires, work them like hell during tax season, than
lay them off once spring comes. Remember, accounting firms do about
70-75 percent of their yearly business during the spring tax season.
And they often don't need their new hires (those who do the most labor
intensive and boring "grunt" work) once the busy time is over.

What starting salary did they offer? Because another thing Paul never
mentions is the fact that firms offer new hires what "seem" like
attractive starting salaries, when in reality they are not.

For example, many new hires look at their starting salary as being good
because they are looking at it in terms of a 40 hour workweek. But
during tax season, many firms will work new hires at 70, 80 or even
more hours per week.

So this new salary which "seemed" nice becomes a very low amount PER
HOUR (sometimes not much more than minimum wage). Paul, never talks
about this, because it's one of the ways that partners at accounting
firms take serious advantage of new hires by this
not-so-easy-to-recognize "lowballing" tactic. It's also pretty sleezy
when you look at how much firms charge per hour (for accounting work).

So be very careful about how much your starting salary is, and try to
get a good idea of how many hours you are gonig to be working.

This might be a very good firm that will make an investment in you,
keep you employed (when tax season ends), and continue to allow you to
grow and learn. I really hope it is. But if they are only going to lay
you off, don't let yourself get taken advantage of on the salary angle.

Believe me, firms do this, no matter what Paul Thomas says.
 
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K

k.

One thing to keep in mind whenever receiving advice from Paul Thomas,
is that Paul is looking at your situation not from the angle of an
entry-level person in 2006, but from the standpoint of his own place in
the field (Paul has worked in accounting for many years).

Paul also could basically be called a "cheerleader" for the CPA
profession. He could be a national spokesman for CPA's because he only
talks up the positives, and doesn't acknowledge anything negative about
the current state of the profession. So keep that in mind.

When Paul Thomas got into accounting, the field was much, much
different than it is today. Not only was there much more opportunity
for accountants (availability of jobs, pay, etc), but companies
accounting firms were much more likely to invest in their people for
the long term.

I can assure you that Paul Thomas (and others from his era) had a much
easier time getting started and established in the field than graduates
in 2006 will ever find. That isn't really meant to discourage you or
turn you negative on accounting, but just keep that in mind whenever
receiving advice from Paul.

For instance, I sincerely hope that this firm invests in you fully,
compensates you well, and allows you to learn and develop your
potential to the fullest. It is encouraging that this firm is bringing
you aboard so early (before tax season) because this means you SHOULD
receive a great deal of training, orientation, practive, guidance, etc,
before things really get busy. It's encouraging because the timeframe
means this firm will be investing in bringing you up to speed before
things get really busy, so you'll have time to learn.

But one of the things Paul has not mentioned, is that many accounting
firms bring in new hires, work them like hell during tax season, than
lay them off once spring comes. Remember, accounting firms do about
70-75 percent of their yearly business during the spring tax season.
And they often don't need their new hires (those who do the most labor
intensive and boring "grunt" work) once the busy time is over.

What starting salary did they offer? Because another thing Paul never
mentions is the fact that firms offer new hires what "seem" like
attractive starting salaries, when in reality they are not.

For example, many new hires look at their starting salary as being good
because they are looking at it in terms of a 40 hour workweek. But
during tax season, many firms will work new hires at 70, 80 or even
more hours per week.

So this new salary which "seemed" nice becomes a very low amount PER
HOUR (sometimes not much more than minimum wage). Paul, never talks
about this, because it's one of the ways that partners at accounting
firms take serious advantage of new hires by this
not-so-easy-to-recognize "lowballing" tactic. It's also pretty sleezy
when you look at how much firms charge per hour (for accounting work).

So be very careful about how much your starting salary is, and try to
get a good idea of how many hours you are gonig to be working.

This might be a very good firm that will make an investment in you,
keep you employed (when tax season ends), and continue to allow you to
grow and learn. I really hope it is. But if they are only going to lay
you off, don't let yourself get taken advantage of on the salary angle.

Believe me, firms do this, no matter what Paul Thomas says.
Thank you for your thoughts as well. It had never even crossed my mind that
a company could basically hire me just for the tax season. I hope this firm
has more corporate ethics than that.

However, I do feel a bit confident in this firm because of the fact that I
was the only one hired out of all of the interviews at my University and the
fact that they seem to care about me growing and learning as an individual.
(ex. the tuition reimbursement of my Masters degree as well as the other
cost reimbursements regarding CPA review courses etc.. However, like you
said, I can be laid off after tax season, before any reimbursement is made.

I actually interviewed with the firm in the late fall of 2005 and was hired
to work in late summer of 2006. (A good 8 or 9 months before I was to start)
It really felt great not having to worry about finding a job after I
graduate and I just concentrated on my last semester of school and pulled a
3.8 GPA.

As to my starting salary, I am starting in the mid 40's which is about 5 to
7 (I believe 10-12 less than those with 150 credits, ready for the CPA Exam,
I am graduating with 120 credits) less than what the big 4 are paying for
the new hires to move to a big city such as NYC. Before I accepted the
offer, I did some research and asked from other friends who had offers from
other firms and thought that it seemed like a fair offer since my cost of
living would also be considerably less than a big city. (However, taking
into account the $8000 tuition re imbursement, I think of my starting salary
more like in the low 50's)

As for being worked like a horse during tax season, I believe that I am
required to put something like 55 or 60 hours a week during tax season and
anything above that is overtime based on a salary pro-rate per hour. (no
time and a half :(

Altogether, I see all your points in that the profession can have negatives
but I suppose I just need to wait and see what happens.

One reason I went with this mid-sized firm was the fact that I felt as
though they were willing to invest in me and seemed like a firm that I could
work for, for a long time.

I do know that these days working for 1 firm for a number of years is rare
but that's what I was hoping for.

I guess we shall see.

Thanks again,

k.
 
P

Paul Thomas

But one of the things Paul has not mentioned, is that many
accounting firms bring in new hires, work them like hell
during tax season, than lay them off once spring comes.

Some, yes. I would not call it "many" though.


Remember, accounting firms do about 70-75 percent of their
yearly business during the spring tax season.

Some, yes. Tax work is about 50% of my business. One firm I know does
about 70% of their work in the summer/fall auditing health care facilities.
It really depends on the firm. If you are unclear about the expected hours
on the job, how many, when, where, etc - ASK.


And they often don't need their new hires (those who do the most labor
intensive and boring "grunt" work) once the busy time is over.

Look, some do hire full blown degreed accountants just for tax season.
Others that want a worker they can trash in 4 or 5 months get more clerical
type help, a temp, a student, etc.....not a degreed person.


What starting salary did they offer? Because another thing Paul never
mentions is the fact that firms offer new hires what "seem" like
attractive starting salaries, when in reality they are not.

For example, many new hires look at their starting salary as being good
because they are looking at it in terms of a 40 hour workweek. But
during tax season, many firms will work new hires at 70, 80 or even
more hours per week.

And some chain workers to their desks, whipping them on the half hour and
forcing them to listen to Brittany Spears songs for hours on end.

Don't guess, or cower in fear. Research - then ASK your employer what they
expect of you.

http://www.hollandcpasearch.com/survey.htm
"During tax season, the average amount of overtime expected is 225 hours."

I call it about 90 days between January 15 and April 15. That averages an
extra 2 hours a day.

Is it going to hurt you to work till 7 pm each workday and a couple of
Saturdays during the coldest part of the year (February and March)?

If you're a hotdog on a snowboard, you had better consider a career change
or a move to New Zeland.

So this new salary which "seemed" nice becomes a very low amount PER
HOUR (sometimes not much more than minimum wage).

http://www.hollandcpasearch.com/survey.htm
What are you actually earning?

To make a sound, financial, career decision for your next job change, you
need to calculate what you are earning per hour. An average work week
consists of 40 hours, multiplied by 52 weeks, equals 2080 hours per year.
During tax season, the average amount of overtime expected is 225 hours.
Added together this totals 2305 hours. If you, for example, work 2600 hours
for $50,000 per year and another person works 2305 hours for the same pay,
you are actually earning $19.23 per hour compared to their $21.69 per
hour--$2.46 less per hour! It would take an additional 295 hours per year to
receive the same compensation--something you certainly want to consider when
making your decision.



So be very careful about how much your starting salary is, and try to
get a good idea of how many hours you are gonig to be working.

ASK the employer. It's the only way you'll know.

Also, many firms offer comp time (ie: work the hours during tax season and
take them off during the summer). Illegal in some states, but often
offered - and taken by the employees.

Other firms, like mine, pay overtime, as everyone is on an hourly basis.


This might be a very good firm that will make an investment in you,
keep you employed (when tax season ends), and continue to allow you to
grow and learn. I really hope it is. But if they are only going to lay
you off, don't let yourself get taken advantage of on the salary angle.

Believe me, firms do this, no matter what Paul Thomas says.

ASK your professors. They would have heard about that if it were the case.
ASK other employees at that firm, they should be truthful with you. ASK the
person you interviewed with, they too, should be up front with you.

Agian, communication is the key. Always was, and always will be.
 
X

xyzer

Paul said:
Yup. Mistakes. Pace yourself to some degree. When you catch yourself
making mistakes, take a break, or go home, or something. Get your head
screwed on straight and come back to it.
Quick question, Paul: What's the average number of returns a
first-year preparer (right out of UGA, for example) does for you? 150?
200? 250? 300?
 
P

Paul Thomas, CPA

Quick question, Paul: What's the average number of returns a
first-year preparer (right out of UGA, for example) does for you? 150?
200? 250? 300?


I don't think I have ever hired an actual new graduate from UGA (or any
other school for that matter). Now, It's been maybe seven or eight years
ago, but I hired a UGA student, who eventually graduated (so they say) and
passed the CPA exam (so says the state). The latest person hired was a
transplant (called a damned yankee in these parts) from up north. That
person has been here for a tad over three years now.

Now to the point of your question. The number of returns I expect a first
year hire to do - maybe a dozen to two dozen and primarily corporate or
other entity. It really depands on how long they've been here and how much
they've learned during that time. I rarely hire late in the fall (November
or December) except for purely clerical work. I never - ever - hire during
tax season (although I've fired a couple during tax season). Generally,
idealy actually, it would work like this, the new hire would do some basic
accounting on a specific business client, and with guidance, up to the point
where they wrap up the clients year-end financials, then they'd prepare the
corporate return (for example the "S" return), and if not too complicated,
have them continue on with the shareholders personal returns.

But it really depends on the client and their needs and situation and then
if I feel the employee is ready to move up to do more complicated work.
 
X

xyzer

I don't think I have ever hired an actual new graduate from UGA (or any
other school for that matter). Now, It's been maybe seven or eight years
ago, but I hired a UGA student, who eventually graduated (so they say) and
passed the CPA exam (so says the state). The latest person hired was a
transplant (called a damned yankee in these parts) from up north. That
person has been here for a tad over three years now.

Now to the point of your question. The number of returns I expect a first
year hire to do - maybe a dozen to two dozen and primarily corporate or
other entity. It really depands on how long they've been here and how much
they've learned during that time. I rarely hire late in the fall (November
or December) except for purely clerical work. I never - ever - hire during
tax season (although I've fired a couple during tax season). Generally,
idealy actually, it would work like this, the new hire would do some basic
accounting on a specific business client, and with guidance, up to the point
where they wrap up the clients year-end financials, then they'd prepare the
corporate return (for example the "S" return), and if not too complicated,
have them continue on with the shareholders personal returns.

But it really depends on the client and their needs and situation and then
if I feel the employee is ready to move up to do more complicated work.

Interesting... The firm that fired me never had me work on business
returns (Forms 1065/1120/1120S), although of course I saw K-1s from the
flow-thru entities all the time. I guess they figured they would give
the guy who had three years of experience (and four at the firm itself)
from PricewaterhouseCoopers all the business returns. But, I don't
think the business returns would have been that bad really.

Do you use Ultra tax? I liked Ultra tax ok, but the organizers could
have been better in my opinion. Basically, for all the returns I did,
I had to input the data into the organizer by hand, then input the data
into the system, then print the return and tick off to what I entered
in the organizer. So I guess the average return maybe took me 4 to 5
hours whereas it should have only taken me only 2 hours according to
the tax partner ... but I did about 100 individual returns. I'm just
wondering whether I should mention this fact in interviews when trying
to defend myself, but I'm thinking probably not.

I live in Spartanburg, SC, though, so I'm thinking there should be lots
of industry jobs around here. I doubt another public accounting firm
would look at me right now.
 
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P

Paul Thomas, CPA

Interesting... The firm that fired me never had me work on business
returns (Forms 1065/1120/1120S), although of course I saw K-1s from the
flow-thru entities all the time. I guess they figured they would give
the guy who had three years of experience (and four at the firm itself)
from PricewaterhouseCoopers all the business returns. But, I don't
think the business returns would have been that bad really.

They are easier than individual returns in my eyes (save for multi-state) if
you have a clean or mostly clean set of books (BS & IS) to pull numbers from
that is prepared on the income tax basis of accounting, which most small
companies are. Data entry is the easy part. Getting the raw numbers is
what all the fuss is about.


Do you use Ultra tax? I liked Ultra tax ok, but the organizers could
have been better in my opinion. Basically, for all the returns I did,
I had to input the data into the organizer by hand, then input the data
into the system, then print the return and tick off to what I entered
in the organizer. So I guess the average return maybe took me 4 to 5
hours whereas it should have only taken me only 2 hours according to
the tax partner ... but I did about 100 individual returns. I'm just
wondering whether I should mention this fact in interviews when trying
to defend myself, but I'm thinking probably not.

Currently starting a long term relationship with Drake (from Franklin, NC).
Used them this past season with much success. The way your other firm does
things sounds old-school, with a lot of duplicate work and a lot of printing
pages just to shread them at a later date. We copy as many source documents
as practicle, and work off of those (makes great space to jot a note or
three) highlighting what got entered as we go. Then those same copies of
source documents are used in the review process being checked off as they
are verified they are entered correctly. The copies are put in the client
file mostly in return order. W-2's, 1099-INT, 1099-DIV, broker statements,
self-employment information, etc, with itemized deductions at the back.
That way if the client or reviewer (me mostly) has a question about
something, we're looking directly at a copy of the source document and not
our hand written notes (which we find often contain errors or are otherwise
lacking some critical piece of data).

Believe it or not, clients don't always complete a tax organizer correctly.


I live in Spartanburg, SC,

Home of the Marshall Tucker Band, I believe, or what's left of them.


though, so I'm thinking there should be lots of industry jobs
around here. I doubt another public accounting firm
would look at me right now.

Maybe. It couldn't hurt to get out there early.
 

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