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Back when you were a sitting in your math class in high school, did you ever ask yourself, "When will I ever need to know this in the real world?" If you did, you certainly weren't the first one to do so; and if you ended up being an accountant, you would have that answer to be a resounding, "Yes!"
Accountants are responsible for ensuring that a given business entity's finances are handled as efficiently as possible. They also make sure that taxes are properly paid off, and that public records are accurately communicated to individuals such as shareholders and managers.
Kan Stalcup is a manager at Somerset CPAs in Indianapolis, Ind. He's in charge of planning and supervising fraud and audit engagements. Ken took the time to answer questions about his life as an accountant.
CareerBuilder: What route did you take toward acquiring your first job in the industry?
Ken Stalcup: I had several interviews with recruiters for large public accounting firms on campus before I graduated. I never got called back. I got my first job in public accounting one month out of college. I got that job by hand-delivering my resume to several smaller, local public accounting firms. I was called for an interview shortly after delivering my resume to a small, five-person accounting firm. I was interviewed by one partner and offered the job a few days later.
CB: What is a typical day or week like in the office?
KS: A typical day doesn't exist. Most people think we sit alone in the same office all day long adding up long columns of numbers. That's just not the case. Much of my work varies from day to day. One day I might be visiting an investment banker on the 45th floor of a posh office building. Later that same week, I might be scheduled to count the inventory at a manufacturing plant two states away. We are always in contact with or meeting clients. Our days are scheduled around our clients' needs.
CB: Are there any challenges unique to accountants that you face?
KS: Some of the challenges are not unique, as we have budgets and deadlines like everyone else. A unique element of our work is that the deadline is established by the government; individual income tax returns are due April 15th. That compresses a lot of our standard accounting services into the first few months of the year. We have a busy season for this type of work.
CB: What has surprised you most since you entered the industry that you didn't know or expect beforehand?
KS: I was pleased to work with a variety of clients. I thought I was getting an office job and was surprised to learn how much I got to travel and how many different industries we serve. I have worked with funeral homes, hog farms, automobile manufacturing clients, banks, scrap metal dealers, doctors, retail stores, wholesale distributors and non-profit organizations.
CB: Do you ever get sick or working with numbers?
KS: I never get tired of the work. It's not all about numbers. It involves numbers, but we are really helping clients solve complex financial and reporting problems. Helping people never gets old.
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