Career Case Study: Accounting

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Irene Yu, Staff 1, Assurance, Ernst & Young

Irene graduated from the University of Missouri with a Masters in Accountancy and joined Ernst & Young in July 2011.

There’s a lot of variety in the life of a junior audit professional, which some from outside the industry may find surprising. We often travel for client engagements and our duties depend on the complexity of the assignment.

Generally, our seniors and managers delegate different tasks and audit areas to us. Some examples include working with our team and client contacts to audit financial statement accounts and performing inventory observations – namely, a company’s physical assets.

As we move up the career ladder, our responsibilities increase along with the complexity of the areas we work in. The other factor that adds to the variety of the job is the time of year – our busy season is typically January to March, since most companies’ year ends are 31 December in the US.

Also, there are different tasks depending on what phase of the audit we’re in – whether that’s planning, interim

or year-end procedures. Some skills that come in handy include teamwork, time management, organisation and multi-tasking. I’d recommend attaining an accounting degree before applying – it’s also important to be able to build relationships with your teams and clients.

My advice to students is to get involved in extracurricular activities at school, network and stay current on financial news and what’s going on in the market. That can give you a leg up among your peers. Get as much experience as you can in the accounting field through internships and professional organisations.

Also, if you decide to go into public accounting, consider all of the service line options – you don’t necessarily have to go into audit or tax.

One key challenge of the job for some is the significant amount of travel, depending on your client assignments. This was hard to adjust to at first, but there are many perks such as hotel points and frequent flyer miles.

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