A Counting School - Hardcore Chartered Accountancy

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Timesinks

"You're not busy? Great, there's this competition we need you to judge..."

 If you know anyone who is a young CA student, say goodbye to them for the next few weeks. Chances are, though, that if you haven't said "have a good trip" you're too late - they've already disappeared down a rabit hole into the requisitioned conference room known as AuditLand.

They'll emerge before midnight, if they're lucky, subsisting on takeout and fastfood throughout the day, in a Sisyphean struggle to perform year end audits, only to return again at 7 or 8 in the morning to soldier through another day.

I know this is true, because I experienced it myself - with the exception of forging a more humane start time to 8:30 a.m. or so - 7 a.m. is just ridiculous.

CAs, like all normal people, would rather be skiing than sitting in an office. But "ski pro" generally doesn't pay as well, so trad-eoffs happen.

This is important to note: 10 or 14 hour days do happen for CA students. If you go into this line of work not knowing this, you're setting yourself up for a brutal shock.

Note that I wrote "CA student." Once you have your CA, you might continue to soldier through brutal January-February year-end audit busy seasons.

I don't work those hours anymore - anyone with their full designation does what they can to stick to work in other departments where you're busy during other times of the year. Others just quit and work for "industry" - meaning non-audit firms, where a 9 to 5 job is not seen as a rare perk, but something normal.

Once you're past the busy season hump, there's nothing like responding to friends and relatives who say, "oh, it's April, so you must be really busy, eh?"

No, you respond. The typical busy season, unless you're in tax, is January-February.

"Oh, so how was that?"

Not bad at all, I can now say - I haven't had to work on those jobs lately. My fall, on the other hand, wasn't as much fun, in terms of having spare time outside work.

I try not to be too much of a jerk about having "normal" work hours - when I see brand new staff waiting for their supervisor to explain how to run this or that through the audit I can usually help them out so they're not stuck and waiting for someone to come back. But helping the new hires is only one of the ways to stay busy. Then there's the surprise calls.

So, what's this about competitions?

I walked over to my desk and noticed a missed call - HR called.

But not the "you're about to be fired" HR call. Instead, it was from the nice people in campus recruiting, asking if I'd be available to judge a case writing competition at my old university this week.

They're smart people in that group - they know exactly what I wrote above - that my busy season is over, so if anybody might have a few hours to spare on short notice, it would be me.

Or someone in the tax group. But they picked me, so I win.

And so I return to my old university to see how well university students can grapple with an artificial simulation injecting a hectic week worth of accounting chaos into a single morning in the form of the delightful instrument of torture known as the "accounting case."

Then, with a CA from another firm, we'll judge them to see how well they answer the questions.

I think I'll bring my camera.

Posted: Jan 28 2009, 11:27 PM by Krupo | with no comments
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