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Monday, April 13, 2015

First Busy Season

by Munir Ahamed, Assurance Associate
Chicago, Illinois

You can mentally prepare all you want. You can ask all your friends already in public accounting. You can ask every experienced associate you meet at new hire orientation. But there is no better teacher than experience. This definitely applies to the question, "so what is busy season really like?"

During new hire orientation, the common consensus seemed to be "it all depends on what clients you're on". This definitely wound up being true, however at the time it didn't help much for what lie ahead. I was also told that your first busy season would "not be that crazy". With all this vague advice, I went into January with a positive attitude ready for whatever was thrown my way. I mean, this was what I went to school for, what all those nights in the library while friends were out partying were for. I would say my first busy season was definitely a big learning experience. There were many ups, a few downs, a lot of stress, jokes with team members, and new relationships formed with clients and coworkers.

I was on two main clients for this busy season. One was the for the entire month of February and one for the entire month of March. I was able to experience and put my feet in the water with many different sections of the audit by being on the same client for entire months at a time. I really got a feel for the client's business and all that was going on. One of the biggest takeaways from this busy season is the importance of having a good relationship with your clients. Working on a client for a month straight allowed me to really get to know the controllers and staff accountants. A couple of weeks into each client, we had reached a level of comfort to where we were able to joke around about non-work related things. This builds a level of trust and comfort where both you and the client feel approachable. Being around for a month was definitely beneficial for that.

I would be lying if I said I was never stressed out during these past few months. The hours were manageable. You go into this profession expecting the longer work days. It really was "not that crazy", as I was told. I'm sure going forward, as responsibilities increase and I become more familiar with the procedures, hours will go up.

All in all, I enjoyed my first busy season and learned a lot about the financial services industry from my two main clients. Busy season advice I plan to give when asked in these next coming months from new hires would include, "just have a positive attitude and you'll be fine." They'll realize everything else best once they're actually in the field.

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