Intern Insights: The Importance of Culture

As you embark on your own recruiting process, make sure culture is at the forefront of your decision-making process.
What do you look for when comparing other firms?
By BFBA

Salary, benefits, size, types of clients? How about the thing that will contribute to your overall happiness that is just as important? The thing that I’m talking about is firm culture.

You’ve all heard of the hard work that public accounting can be, particularly around tax season.  Well, I haven’t seen the rule that says you can’t have fun while working hard.

Below are a few scenarios I’d like you to consider:

Scenario one:

You arrive at 8:00 AM and walk past the reception desk with the usual “Hi” greeting and you proceed to sit down at your desk. Your manager stops by to assign you more work and leaves. You work until lunchtime and take an hour break. You finish the rest of your work and head home at 5:00 PM.

Scenario two:

You arrive to work at 8:35 AM and you open your work e-mail to find a funny thread regarding an upcoming annual “Wedgie Day” lunch party. You get a good amount of some challenging work done and the partners invite you over to their daily 11:30 AM lunch (which they never miss).  They proceed to fight over which fast-food restaurant they are going to and are not sick of eating at yet (Arby’s anyone?). You get more work done after lunch and someone sends out an e-mail for either an impromptu “dessert in the 3rd-floor kitchen!” (preferable) or “wall-sits at 3 PM!” (less preferable).  After a quick break you get some more quality work done and before your day is over the audit department starts a full out nerf war on the tax department (this isn’t over yet, audit department!). As you pack up to head home, one of the managers asks how you’re doing and the conversations lead to a discussion of where the firm is headed and how you can help in becoming a contributing member to its success.

As you can see, the first scenario is what can be described as a “dull” firm work environment. This firm may have checked off all of the items on your initial list but you forgot to consider its culture.

In the second scenario, the environment still involves very technical work but it is more flexible, engaging and is fun at times. The partners see you as more of a peer as opposed to just a subordinate. The people at the top are vested in your success and care about your progress. You get challenging and quality work is done but you are also part of a firm “family.”

To expect your work days to be like scenario #2 every day would be highly unlikely at a CPA firm but make sure you take into consideration and gauge if your days are going to look more like scenario one or two when you decide between firms A or B.  At BFBA we work hard, but in doing so, we understand that people want to be proud of where they work. Your career is important to us and providing you with a purpose in your career is one of our goals. As you embark on your own recruiting process, make sure culture is at the forefront of your decision-making process.