As you're thinking about your career in accounting, it's important to have as much information as possible to make an informed decision. So we spoke to one of our contacts who worked as an auditor in a public accounting firm in Miami. Here's what he had to say about the day-to-day tasks in audit that will perhaps give you some better insight as to what to expect should you choose this route.
This is all from my perspective of a day in the life of audit.
My experience wasn't always the norm (i.e. everyone in Miami gets into the office around 9:45am as opposed to 7:30am for me). So you will probably have variations of this experience, but hopefully it will give you an idea of what to expect nonetheless.
I remember my very first week as an intern and how overwhelming it felt to join the workforce. I had to get familiar with technology, the company's methodology, and accounting in general. While the expectations for me were as of yet nonexistent, I was still nervous. I just knew I had to stick with being confident, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable.
When I first woke up, I checked my email.
This was a huge motivating factor for me as I knew once I saw emails, I needed to get up and respond to address comments before everyone else arrived at the office. While this wasn't a requirement, one of the best feelings was arriving an hour before everyone else and watching everyone else have to respond to emails for the first hour or two of their day, which started after mine. While they started to feel behind, I was able to stay ahead.
Once I read my emails and got motivated, I got ready and drove to work.
When I arrived at the office, I booted up my computer, which could take about 15 minutes as I was oftentimes dealing with PCs on sketchy wifi connections, which could yield frustrating days with technology.
Once I started the computer, I headed to grab a cup of coffee, use the restroom, and start the day (now about 7:30am, two hours before the Miami workforce gets in at 9:30am).
The first things I did while online were the following:
- Checked my email and responded to anything I could
- Replicated my database (I'll explain in a moment)
- Addressed all "coaching notes" or "review notes" in the database
- Read the news
- Enjoyed my coffee
- Prepared information for the client whose desk I'd stop at 10 minutes after they walked in
Each person has a "database" on his or her computer that is shared with all other team members. "Replicating" essentially means sharing the work with your other team members because as you "replicate", it will show up on their computers. I learned quickly that it was important to replicate every 15-20 minutes to ensure that there were no "replication conflicts" with other people working on the same documents.
Once I had gone through all my emails and coaching notes, I planned my day and prepared for meetings with the client and team.
I made sure I had good reasons for why my work is outstanding and followed up on outstanding items from my team and client. At this point, people normally started walking in so I could ask questions or start performing some actual work. Sometimes I completed an hour or two of work before we started a "status update." Whether or not the team asked for a "status update," I always liked to let my senior or manager know twice a day where things stood. Typically this started with, "Hey Ms. Senior, whenever you have a minutes, I have a few questions." Then I would compile all the questions I had into one meeting and also provide a brief synopsis of my work progress and what was outstanding.
After the status update was done, we headed to lunch.
The lunches were almost always out at restaurants and many times were paid for by the client or the firm. While many of these lunches were awkward, I was lucky in that I was vegan and without fail, it would come up at lunch. Right after I told the waiter the fourth thing that couldn't be in my pasta, everyone would start staring at me: "Are you a vegetarian?" It was like clockwork. I pretty much had "prepared remarks" to share on the matter. I will say that it did well to pass the time. Most of the people I went to lunch with weren't close friends, and anything that could stir up conversation without being awkward was a bonus.
After lunch I headed back to the office where I would continue to work and respond to emails.
I was able to get about two to three hours of work done in addition to client meetings, team calls, and any other meetings. I spent a few minutes on what the "Accounts Payable Search for Unrecorded Liabilities" test would be like for any new hire, just to be more prepared.
When the afternoon comes to an end, I would be thinking about heading home.
However, I would wait for the senior to leave before I headed out. I kept this in mind because I felt that other people would feel like I was "cheating" or not being a "team player" if I left before they did, despite the fact that I always arrived early. Even if it's unreasonable (which it mostly is), in general, I would recommend leaving when the team does. If you have a doctor's appointment or a friend is in town, then leave with permission, but normally leave with the team.
Lastly, I made sure to check my email a few more times throughout the night to make sure no "emergencies" had occurred.
While this isn't required, I always liked to be responsive if the Partner or CFO was having a melt down and it could take me just 20 minutes to solve on the spot. Other than that, I enjoyed my night and then woke up to do it all again!
What made my days as an auditor even more exciting were all the things I had to look forward to.
Such as a new challenging role on a client I had asked to take on, a new student I was trying to have hired at the firm, a new event I was running, etc. I tried to find something I was passionate about and then I would see if the firm would support me in that endeavor. While I enjoyed the client work, all of the "extracurricular" activities I participated in made a HUGE difference day in and day out!
So if you're looking to become an auditor, make sure you're also taking initiative in different programs and whatnot for your firm that can help you both grow personally and professionally.