Blog Archive

Monday, October 17, 2016

Q&A with a First Year Associate

Eric Anzelone
Consulting Associate
Chicago, IL
Briefly describe your role within RSM.
I work in the Transaction Advisory Services group at RSM.  This line of work primarily focuses around performing buy-side/sell-side due diligence for potential mergers and acquisitions.  As a member of the due diligence team, my responsibilities include, but are not limited to, identifying potential earnings and working capital adjustments, client communications, building an excel-based workbook that features several financial statements and schedules, and preparing a report for the client.  In addition to this role, I am also a part of the Business Performance Analytics (“BPA”) team, which is a recently added service for our team.  BPA seeks to perform more extensive levels of analysis of a company’s operations overall, and can ultimately lead to providing our clients with better information for decision-making.

What have been the most exciting things you’ve experienced/learned since beginning your career within RSM?
In my 15 month career with RSM, my most exciting/valuable experiences have revolved around working with several great people within, and outside of the firm, and tremendously increasing my accounting and business knowledge.  In retrospect, it’s remarkable to see how far I’ve come in terms of skillsets and knowledge, and it’s exciting to know that I will continue to improve.  Every individual I have worked with along the way has willingly contributed to my growth.

How have you successfully balanced your career while studying for the CPA?
Since passing the CPA exam had been a goal of mine throughout college, I kept it atop my priority list after graduation and upon entry into RSM.  When I spoke with my Career Advisor at RSM, I made mention of that right away and he strongly encouraged it.  Before studying for any of the sections, I probably had a conversation about the CPA exam with 20-30 different colleagues.  I especially sought commonalities in each of their experiences to better grasp the nature of the exam and how studying for it impacted both their personal and professional lives.  Soon after I began studying, I realized how important it was to hold yourself accountable and to remove distractions throughout the entire process.  The key was communication.  I communicated with friends and family about the level of commitment the exams require, and they supported and respected it.  RSM supported it 100% and I maintained a balance by devoting work hours to client/internal work, and would switch gears to studying. In the early part of my career, I had a considerably more time to study during normal work hours and continue into the night.  Although studying was a priority, I prioritized any teamwork first at work. Achieving the balance is certainly not easy, nor is it the same for every individual.  I found my balance by learning what worked best for me and testing my own limits.  Each test was unique and there are many times where you might not be able to stick to your study regiment.  In addition to communication, confidence was the other key.  Maintaining confidence in what I was doing, even though it required making sacrifices along the way, really helped me strike the balance and ultimately pass the exams.

Any tips for new first year associates? 
Absolutely. Just a brief background - as a first year in the TAS group, I was made aware of being the first associate to be directly hired into the group. I was both excited and nervous.  In order to adjust to such circumstances, I focused on establishing professional relationships right away, gaining insight and knowledge from others, and equipping myself with helpful advice.  I knew I couldn’t learn everything about the line of work overnight, so I would read through some reports, resources, and articles I could find to help kick start my level of understanding.  I was also very eager to learn and contribute, which I’m sure is very common amongst accounting graduates.  My advice for first years is to possess and maintain enthusiasm and curiosity each and every day, and continue asking lots of questions.  Be patient at the same time.  Although this might seem contradictory, it’s important you are also aware skillsets and knowledge will take time to develop, despite how eager you are.  Also, do not beat yourselves up for mistakes you make.  You will find yourself making mistakes on multiple occasions which is completely normal because each project you are tasked with is unique and presents its own set of complications.  With all of this in mind, don’t forget to let yourself have some fun, too! Engage in work activities, and be social with friends [unless you’re studying for the CPA exams too…ha!].

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