Friday, May 22, 2009

How to be the all star first year junior

Juniors are not created equal.

Your success in the big 4 starts at the junior level as you work towards your CA designation.

If you're a good junior, impress the right people, you'll be booked on more interesting jobs, and leave the "ticking and tying" party behind.

Let's face it. Life as a junior sucks, especially if you're an accounting intern trying to get that CA designation. Seniors always tell you how fun and stress free it is to be a junior. They are blatantly lying to you.

The Junior staff accountant does have the least stress, but also the least job responsibility. Sometimes the job responsibility is equivalent to photocopying, hole punching, and making check marks with green pens.

What exactly should you do to impress?

Here's my top 5 do and don't list.

Do ask for help when you need it. However, seniors need to get their work done too. Think about the questions you are asking carefully, and see if you can solve it on your own. Make a list of questions and then ask them all at the same time. Nothing annoys seniors, and clients for that matter, more than one question at a time ... every 5 minutes. =(

Don't think you are better than you are. If you don't know how to do something, don't sit there all day acting cool thinking you do. Getting the job done correctly is more important than pissing anyone off.

Do try to learn. Its very possible to finish your portion of the audit not learning anything. This is not a good approach. People forgive juniors for making mistakes. When your a senior, people are less likely to forgive you.

Don't just copy last years file. I know it's easy to do. But you are less likely to learn. Try to create your own template and compare to last years file. You'd be surprised how much you learn by documenting your own purpose and procedure rather than just rolling forward.

Do more than what you are assigned. Everyone loves people who makes their own lives easier. When your done your work, ask the senior for more. Take Photocopying jobs with pride and honor.

Don't have messy working paper files. Learning is important. Documentation is even more important. Nothing is more yucky than messy working paper files. If you have bad handwriting, you better make sure you type it out.

4) Do try to have a strong relationship with your audit team and the client. Some clients are very hostile. Try to joke around with them. Some audit teams are serious. Try to lighten the mood. Some of the partners are not the strongest in terms of accounting skills, but their ability to speak with any type of person got them to where they are.

Don't ever piss the client off. It is GG for you if you do. If they are slow in getting you your required documentation, you're the one who is going to get in trouble. Remember at the end of the day, the client is paying your salary. They are your customer.

5) here's the juicy one..I had the to put a bad one here =)

Do stay very close to allocated budget. If you're allocated 40 hours a week, book 40 hours a week even if you spent 50. Eating hours is inevitable in the auditing profession. It is wrong. I don't like it. But it gets you ahead. At the end of the day, partners are rewarded more the less hours you have. Happier the partner, happier the manager, happier the senior, better your review.

It's the sad truth, but a hidden secret that only your close friends will tell you. HR, training, partners will tell you to never eat hours. Don't buy that BS. Everyone is eating hours, including your friends who tell you they don't eat hours.

I challenge any senior, manager or partner to tell me they have never eaten hours.

Don't worry about the designated hours. If you stay in a big 4 firm. You are guaranteed to get your 2500 hours. Never overbook cause you think it will fast track you to the CA designation.


  1. Thanks for your post. Could you be a little bit more specific about what we would be doing as a junior?

  2. in terms of the actual audit work

  3. Thanks for the advice. Could you get busted eating hours.

  4. I wish I found out about this sooner... however luckily I don't go over the budget very much