audit reflections

For the past seven years, I've been a CPA that answers to the title of "auditor".

My professional career started in a mid-sized firm in New Jersey. I was fresh out of college, and I knew nothing.

How I looked the first time in the audit room.

I was fortunate enough to learn the ropes with some of the best in the business. They set the bar high, but I'm convinced it helped to set the tone for who I ultimately became as a professional.

How you feel receiving review notes from the senior
and then the manager.

After two busy seasons, I progressed from the level of Staff to Senior, running audit jobs, answering to partners, training entry-level auditors, and becoming a primary contact for clients.


I learned a ton during that phase, and I worked with a lot of terrific people. But this scenario happened sorta frequently...

When you roll onto a 3/31 year-end client
right after "finishing" busy season.

So, after two busy seasons as a senior, I moved to a global firm in Grand Cayman and worked my way to Manager, juggling dozens of jobs simultaneously while helping with various firm-related functions like recruitment and continuing education.

My answer when a new hire
asks me for busy season advice.

After a total of seven busy seasons, I made the difficult but timely decision to hang up my hat as auditor and carve out a new path.

I am no longer in public accounting.

What I imagine my last day of public accounting will be like was.

You know what that means: We're taking a winter vacation this year, baby!!!

I could probably list out a ton of reasons why I'm super excited about functioning in a non-audit accounting role, particularly since I've been blessed with an absolutely perfect new job. But instead, I'd like to cover a few of the positives of my seven years of audit.

So here we go: Let's hear it for the CPAs!

One of the main reasons we watch awards shows
is to cheer for the CPAs.

Perks of auditing:
  1. Variety.
    They say that it's who you work with that can make or break your day-to-day experiences. And that's totally true. The great thing about audit? If you don't like your people on your current team, just sit tight; within a couple weeks, you'll be on a different team, and the coworker with those annoying quirks that drive you crazy will soon be a distant memory. Also, you get to service a variety of clients. So if one of your clients is driving you to tears (it happens), it won't be long until you're moving on to the next one.

  2. Expert status.
    If you introduce yourself as a CPA, people automatically jump to the conclusion that you are great at math, love numbers, and know every intricate detail of the tax code. Actually, none of those are prerequisites of the accounting profession, but it doesn't hurt to give off the nerd smart-kid vibe.

  3. War stories.
  4. When we lived and worked in New Jersey, I noticed that a lot of people engaged in the war story habit. Everyone's busy season tale was worse than the person before, and respect was primarily granted based on hours worked and undying commitment to the job. I guess that was just part and parcel of working in the greater New York area; the rat race was all about running faster than everyone else. If nothing else, I guess 80-hour work weeks do warrant some associated bragging rights. (As a post script: I think this is somewhat location-specific. We found that after moving to Cayman, the I-work-harder-than-you attitude translated into I-play-harder-than-you. Which is a much better result. Keep it up, Cayman expats!)

  5. Career progression
  6. Assuming you do work hard, you're reasonably good at what you do, and you manage to stick around for a while (three big assumptions!), the auditing career has a fairly clear-cut ladder worth climbing. The general auditor path is Staff, Senior, Manager, Senior Manager, Director / Partner, spending 2-3 years (on average) in each role. I was always motivated by the next stepping stone in front of me, working to perfect the role I was in while preparing for the next position.

  7. Predictable calendar
  8. Although "busy season" can mean a variety of things in terms of dates and deadlines, auditors have a general sense of what parts of their year are horrific and which parts are just bad. Busy season is like a big, terrible storm that you need to survive on an annual basis. The benefit of it being (somewhat) predictable is that at least you can prepare.

  9. Free food
  10. A 15-hour day could mean a $12 dinner allowance. Free food always tastes better! Of course, by the end of the season, you're left in this kind of situation...
When you have your first home-cooked meal
after months of busy season takeout.

All in all, it was a good run. I have no regrets - seven years of auditing taught me so much about time management, accounting standards, analytical analysis, team work, and the importance of just getting things done. I've had a lot of great clients and coworkers along the way, and I'm thankful for the experiences those seven years brought me.

But it's time to test the green grass on the other side! What am I going to be doing with all this extra time in busy season? Well for starters...

When people ask what you're doing after busy season.

Just kidding, guys. But I do have a lot of things I want to do. I probably should start a spreadsheet for this...

All gifs above come from the great tumblr blog #howshouldweaccountforme. Check it out. It contains truth.


  1. Offshore CPA this type blog are really great.

  2. Hi there,

    I've really been enjoying your blog, it's answering a lot of questions! We just started considering this and I have so many more questions but here's what's currently floating around.

    I'm also a CPA but coming from Canada. I'm just curious what busy season looks like there? Similar hours and time frame to busy season at a firm in North America? I assume OT isn't paid or comp time? What happens during slow season? Are they okay with people taking off for several weeks when its slow to travel or visit home? I'm fairly involved in the Canadian student training program, do the offices have similar programs going on there that I'd be able to help with?

    I'd be moving with my boyfriend and we're generally homebodies who'd rather spend a Friday night with our dog and a couple of beers (maybe on the beach there!) than at the bar. Is there an expectation in the work culture there that you're regularly attending cocktail hour with the team? Once in awhile is great, but every week will exhaust me.


    1. Hi, thanks for your comment and for reading the blog! That's exciting that you're considering a move to Cayman.
      We've gotten similar questions in the past - check out our CPA FAQ page, and look at our responses on the December 2013 reader question.
      As far as how OT is handled, each firm sets their own policies, so it's hard to give a definitive answer.
      There are student programs organized by the local colleges here that you could get involved in; sometimes the firms have a link to a program.
      Socialization is a big part of the Cayman culture, but you can choose to live whatever lifestyle suits you best! We answered some of those questions in this post: Check it out!
      I hope this helps, and best of luck with your decision!