Worst First Year Audit Associate Ever

tired girl

It’s true. The worst audit associate I ever worked with actually did pretty good audit work.

But I didn’t care.

They were so distracting, obnoxious and rude. That’s what mattered.

The transition from student to professional is bound to be one of the most stressful experiences of your life. I remember the first week of my internship. I was completely overwhelmed! That’s one of the reasons I created The Bean Counter. To help people understand what to expect. As most of you are just finishing up busy season, I’m thinking back on my experiences in public accounting and I remember when I worked with the WORST associate ever!

It’s actually pretty hard to mess up as a first year staff. People give you the benefit of the doubt. You’re new. You’re expected to not know anything. But here’s my account of why this was the WORST first year staff EVER:

Note: Let me preface this by saying that any one of these items may not have been that bad. But when you add them all up, each one gets worse and worse!

Be on Time

The first day, she shows up late. Not too late, but a solid 30 minutes late. Once she comes into the audit room and sits down, she starts complaining about the fact that she hasn’t been placed on any engagements since she joined the firm.

From bad to worse, already. And it’s only 9:30am.

Know the hierarchy

This was probably what sent this woman over the edge. She was working with me on the job. I walked through her entire section, from where it is located on the financial statements, down to the invoices needed to be vouched in the workpaper file. I was assigning her work and told her to let me know if she had any questions, I’m more than happy to help.

A few minutes later, she looks across at the manager on the job and says:

“I can’t understand this, can you help me?”

I butt in, “Hey, I’m happy to help you out. I think I’ve got a better handle on all the files at this point. The manager is just going to review.”

I continued to help her.

Let me pause here and say this was a serious NO NO. It got even worse when she emailed the Senior Manager a day later saying she didn’t understand her work and needed help!

KNOW THE HIERARCHY. This didn’t hurt me one bit. I got promoted early, I got my raise, and bonus. But everyone thought this woman didn’t know the rules. If there was ever a problem, she ran to the highest person she could think of. Everyone realized this and multiple people commented that it reminded them of a sibling fight where you run to the parents (even if nothing is wrong) and tattled.

As I mentioned, the strangest part is she was actually doing pretty well. She understood the work and executed it. I told her that time and again.  But she kept reaching out over and over to higher ups. Pretty soon, nobody trusted her or wanted her on their job.

Show Enthusiasm

I’m overly enthusiastic when it comes to work. You don’t have to be like me. But please, show some life! This is your career!

This first year staff begun to complain about every little thing, the more comfortable she got in the audit room. She started off complaining about how hard the audit work has been for her. She then moved because her chair was hurting her back. She finally left that evening talking about how she doesn’t want to work the weekend because her friends were going shopping. Come on!

You don’t have to like everything you are doing because lets be honest, testing cash on 159 different accounts gets to be pretty boring. You do, however, have to be enjoyable to work with. Try bringing up topics that you think your team enjoys. From weekend activities to food to even movies; “Anyone see Fifty Shades of Grey this weekend?”

Follow The Team’s Lead

When it comes to auditors and lunch time, there are some rules that are set up by the hierarchy. If the manager wants to go to lunch, everyone goes with. If the senior and manager both decide to work through lunch, you also work through lunch with them. This did not compute with the first year.

Around 11:30am, the first year states “So where are we going to lunch today?” The manager proceeds to let the staff know that he brought his lunch and is planning on eating it while he continues to work. The first year then tells the manager that she is going to go out to eat and requests for any good restaurant suggestions. The manager replies, “So are you going to just order it ahead of time and bring it back?” The first year proceeded to say “No, I think I’m just going to sit at the bar and eat”. Two hours later, the first year comes back into the audit room and proceeds to rave about how great her meal was. You have got to be kidding me!

Like I said before, any one of these items alone could not hurt you as a first year. But pull them all together into one staff and you have gotten yourself into some problems.

The 3 best pieces of advice I give to first year staff who are looking to do well in public accounting are:

  1. Be Enthusiastic
  2. Be Curious
  3. Don’t Be Weird

For more see my recent webinar on transition from student to professional.

This staff was clearly lacking all three items. I moved on from the engagement and hoped she would never be put on my team again. This wish was granted true!

Have any bad experiences yourself or with your fellow coworkers? Leave a comment below!

  • Sid

    Sounds like a large part of being a good auditor could be described as “falling in line”.