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Top 5 Things I Learned My First Year in a CPA Firm

By September 30, 2014 August 5th, 2020 No Comments

My name is David Milligan, and I am a staff accountant here at Brickley DeLong. As my one year anniversary here at Brickley DeLong approaches, I wanted to countdown five lessons I learned in my first year here.

1. Tax season does not stop for bad weather.

The weather no longer closes work like it did in college. My first day at Brickley DeLong PC was one of the worst ice/snow storms of 2014. Needless to say, it was a stressful drive; but, if I could make it on that day, then the rest of the tax season would be a breeze. The weather is a significant factor when you are driving toward the lakeshore in the middle of winter.

2. You must experience your first tax season to understand it.

Tax season is nothing like what I thought it would be like in college. During my entire time at Grand Valley State University, I only had to prepare a single 1040 for a class. That was definitely not the case once January approached. Learning everything there was about tax made for a quick study on the whole tax side.

3. Tax returns have a “feel” and “smell”.

Partners and managers have a “feel” and “smell” when preparing tax returns. As stated earlier, I had only prepared a single return through college. When I began preparing returns for clients, I would be asked if the return “smelled” or “felt” right. Over the first couple weeks, you get to know exactly what those smells and feelings are. They develop without any conscious thought; and, before long, I could see the input and know what was supposed to be showing up on the return.

4. Audit and tax are very different.

Audits and tax are not similar in any way, well, at least 1040s and audits. Learning how to do both at once was, in my opinion, like jumping off the proverbial deep end. While this was difficult, it also got me acclimated so much quicker. I am so thankful for all of the experience I got at the time. Learning to manage both and overcome the stresses made me a stronger person than if I had eased into it.

5. Workplace culture is important.

The final thing I learned is that the people you work with make all the difference in the world. The feel and culture at Brickley DeLong is amazing. Having people who care about your learning and education are key to your success and prosper in your future career. So, thank you to all who have helped me learn so far, and those who will help me learn in the future.

For more information on the experience of working in a CPA firm, please visit our accounting career pages or contact Christine Dill (231) 726-5835.