How I Chose My Career In Audit #MyCareerStoryMonday

Name: Lauren Nicol

Class Year: 2019

Major: Accounting

Position: Audit Intern

Company: Ernst & Young (EY)

I started thinking about my accountancy career after entering college. The first internship I had was during the summer after my junior year of high school. I interned at the University of Delaware in one of their chemistry labs, working on experiments that converted carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide. This was probably one of the most important internships I had—not because I figured out what I wanted to do, but because I learned that science was not the field for me. At the end of my senior year of high school I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. In fact, the only thing I did know was that I didn’t want to major in environmental chemistry, which was my initial plan. Eventually I decided that business would be a good place for me to start. I had many interests, all of which were applicable to business in some way. When it came time to start looking for colleges, I found Bentley University through some extensive google searching and learned that it was a notable business school. It was through the many general education classes that we are required to take at Bentley that I started realizing where my interests really lied. I quickly found out that the more creative industries—marketing, IDCC—were not for me and that economics and finance did not really interest me either. I came into Bentley thinking that I would find a career somewhere in the marketing field, so I was extremely surprised (and a little bit startled) when I realized that the financial accounting and reporting classes I took clicked for me and that accounting was an area I felt like I could excel at and enjoy a possible career in. At the end of sophomore year I did my first internship at EY as a Core Business Services intern. I rotated throughout some of the service lines EY offers and got to work on some interesting projects. This internship further confirmed my interest in accounting and this is when I decided to pursue audit specifically. After my internship at EY I was fairly certain I wanted to start my career there. I loved the culture and people at EY, and appreciated all of the opportunities and perks big accounting firms offer. However, I did want to see what it would be like to work at a smaller company that was not an accounting firm. That curiosity led me to Pegasystems, where I worked part time during my junior year as a Junior Revenue accountant. While Pegasystems is not a small company by any means—it’s an international company with offices all over the world—this experience was completely different than my internship at EY because I was working in the accounting department of a company, instead of for an accounting firm. I did more internal accounting functions at Pegasystems. While my time at Pegasystems was great, I learned from that experience that I definitely wanted to start my accounting career at a big accounting firm. During the summer between my junior and senior year I did 2 externships, one at EY and the other at RSM. Externships are 2-3 day overnight trips where the sponsoring firm invites you to learn more about the company through different events, presentations, etc. At the end of the summer I ultimately decided that I would start my career with EY.

I became interested in accountancy from my first year of college. I gained an interest in accounting from taking GB112 and GB212. Accounting really clicked for me. I am a very analytical and detail-oriented person who likes structure and problem solving. Audit seemed to check all of those boxes. 

I find the most rewarding aspect of my position is knowing that we as auditors are responsible for protecting the financial interests of the public. Our reports are what the public uses to determine whether they will make investments in a company, provide debt, etc. and that responsibility is something I don’t take lightly. I learned about this in my auditing class and honestly before then I didn’t really realize the true impact and importance auditors have.

I find the most challenging aspect so far is Bentley’s accounting curriculum, as it has not been easy. Accounting is pretty easy to grip conceptually, but it is such a technical field and it can be difficult to learn and master all of the material.

The most helpful advice I have for someone preparing for this career is to start looking for internships early in your college career, especially if you’re interested in public accounting at one of the bigger firms. A lot of the bigger firms start their recruiting as early as sophomore or junior year and have internship programs you can get involved in. If you are going into audit or tax, most of the bigger firms require you to eventually get 150 credit hours and take the CPA exam, so the earlier you can start figuring out what your plan is the better.

The Bentley specific resources I would recommend to someone pursuing this career is, most importantly, Career Services! I mentioned it a little bit earlier but if you’re interested in an audit or tax position at one of the bigger accounting firms, they’re going to ask you pretty early on in the recruiting process if you plan to eventually get 150 credit hours and sit for the CPA exam. The recruiting process with the firm will differ whether you plan to get 150 credit hours in 4 or 5 years. It can be difficult planning that far in advance, especially if you are only a sophomore or junior. Career Services can help explain the recruiting process to you so that you understand what your options are. Academic Services is also helpful because if you choose to get 150 credits in 4 years, you will need their help planning your schedule!

The person that was most helpful in getting me where I am today was Professor Thibodeau, who taught my auditing class, and really inspired me to be excited about a career in audit. Not only did he do a great job of teaching the subject, but he also provided helpful life advice throughout his course about everything from how to stand out and succeed in the field to how to prepare for the CPA. Professor Thibodeau also highlighted the importance of auditing and auditors in a way I never thought of before that really made me excited to start my career in audit!

Be sure to connect with Lauren on LinkedIn if you want to learn more from her about accounting, audit, EY, or more!

By Rachel Linehan
Rachel Linehan CareerEdge Manager