By Joshua Sult
Fresh out of college with an accounting degree, armed with an internship and having landed an entry-level job just months ago (both with Weinstein Spira), I am hitting the ground running as a tax accountant—in large part due to my participation in a rotation program.
Originally, I was certain that I would pursue a career in auditing, forensic auditing in particular, as it became my passion early in life due to an accounting scandal I witnessed in my hometown. Even during school, I found myself enjoying the auditing classes more than tax. It seemed to fit my personality, being a social person I looked forward to meeting clients on their turf, learning first-hand about their business operations and working closely with other members of an audit team.
To my surprise, however, this thinking was about to be challenged. Upon interviewing for an internship at Weinstein Spira, a member of upper management encouraged me to rotate through both the audit and tax departments (four weeks each) before deciding on one. Although I was sure that tax accountants work in isolation most of the time preparing returns, I decided to give it a try while I had the opportunity. But, I still felt that I would ultimately end up in audit.
It turned out that my internship rotation in tax landed right in the middle of the busy season! This gave me exposure to a variety of business and personal tax returns, as well as estate and trust tax returns. While learning the ropes, I gained a new appreciation for the quirks of each return. Tax law occurred to me like a puzzle, making sure all the pieces fit together to the get best result for the client. So, what I had once considered to be too “nit-picky” a job for me, I now discovered was actually challenging and enjoyable. In the process of doing the work, I got the feel for it, and it all made more sense. A big bonus was the clients’ excitement when more deductions were found.
When I met with a Weinstein Spira shareholder at the end of the internship, the question was raised about which rotation I liked better. After hands-on experience in both disciplines, it had become clear to me that I would go with the tax side of the accounting profession. This led to a full-time offer as a staff tax accountant.
If you have not already chosen your career path (i.e. with a specialized master’s degree in either tax or audit), an accounting rotation program is an ideal way to help you make a decision. It can serve to reinforce your first inclination, or it might change your mind like it did for me. Either way, it opens your mind to the available career options out there in the accounting field. Wearing different hats and getting your feet wet by performing job tasks in the real world is much more valuable than hearing about it in class or reading a job description. It is way easier to see if you are a good fit by stepping through a planned rotation program, designed for both parties (employer and employee) to determine what you are best suited to do.
I made the right career decision for me, and I would not have known it without doing an accounting rotation. I am constantly learning new things. On a daily basis, there is never a dull moment, especially with the new tax law, which has promoted an even closer team atmosphere with everyone learning together. I can honestly say there is camaraderie in our tax team, from preparers all the way up to shareholders. Through collaboration, I have developed more relationships that I thought possible. It may be a different workstyle than audit, but you can still build great relationships with co-workers.
My original interest in the audit process has not gone to waste. Rather, it has afforded me better insights into the big picture. As a tax accountant, I understand the waiting process to receive auditing information. As for the future, I look forward to moving up from preparer to reviewer to the management team.
Rotations may not be for everyone. However, if it piques your interest, be sure to ask about rotation opportunities when interviewing for an accounting internship or first job. You will be glad you did! And if not available, Weinstein Spira is always looking for new talented accountants to join our firm through the rotation program.