As the new year rang in, 2020 was going to be my year! I had just earned my B.A. in Accounting in December, bought our first home with my boyfriend in August, and quit my 14-year job in retail management to start my tax internship at CJBS in January—what could go wrong, right?
Back in October 2019, I was a student officer for my Accounting Associates Club at Northeastern Illinois University, and I came across a virtual interview event in which CJBS was participating. I remember feeling skeptical that someone would be able to get to know me as a professional through a brief chat interview. However, my graduation was quickly approaching, and I had not started my interview process. Plus, the retail holiday season was right around the corner. In short, I had nothing to lose.
With my PDF resume uploaded and coffee at my side, I optimistically began the virtual interviews. With only 10 minutes to chat as they review your resume, however, I felt nervous. The interview was over before you know it. However, in those 10 minutes during my CJBS interview, I remember having a specific conversation with my interviewer about tax versus audit careers. This led to a follow up interview, which led to my first tax internship! Without their involvement in virtual interviews—and my willingness to take a chance on the 10-minute virtual format—we would not have crossed paths.
In January, I became one of four interns hired for the upcoming tax season. The first week focused on meeting the staff and our assigned coaches and managers, followed by three days of software training. I could not have been happier with the experience. Everyone was welcoming, and CJBS provided a supportive learning environment. I started to feel even more optimistic about my future and the big changes I had made in leaving a 14-year career in retail.
Helping launch tax season was fun! We started preparing tax returns, helping with journal entry adjustments, and bank reconciliations. In short, we were treated as part of the team. We attended firm meetings and were encouraged to voice our opinions and ask questions. Most surprisingly, they listened to us. Regardless of people’s work title, we felt we could approach anyone in the office for help or career advice. The consistent message that came across with everyone in the office was the importance of teamwork.
This remained true when the pandemic hit. The team was transparent and supportive, with up-todate information for the staff on safety procedures and plans for working from home. Unfortunately, this transition cut my internship short, and I hunkered down at home where I focused on multiple DIY projects and gardening, just like many people across the nation.
As I thought about my short time as an intern, I realized CJBS had set the bar high on work standards, team communication, and client ethics for future job opportunities. I knew I would want to work somewhere with a similar value system, and as I planted in my garden, I found myself hoping I would be able to find such a position. I was thrilled when I was offered a permanent position in July as a staff accountant at CJBS.
Upon my return, I saw that CJBS responded well to the pandemic. They were able to quickly reorganize their office standards and remain committed to their clients and growth plan, which included a summer audit internship candidate. A month in, I could not ask for anything better. Working from both the office and home has given me a chance to further develop my communication and client relationship skills. Plus, I look forward to working with different departments at the firm to get a taste of the various accounting responsibilities available to me for my career path.
I am happy to be a part of the CJBS team and eagerly anticipate my growth as a business professional. Taking a chance on a career change felt scary at the time, but with a little optimism I was given a fresh start!