To: Chris Tusa
From: Otis Redding
Subject: Interview Report
Date: 13 October 01

I conducted interviews with Mrs. Laura DeLaune and Mrs. Elizabeth Briggs; both are instructors at Louisiana State University and are Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). Mrs. DeLaune received her B.S. in accounting from the University of Alabama in 1993 and her M.S. in accounting from Louisiana State University in 1994. Mrs. Briggs received her B.S. in finance from USL, an M.B.A. from Louisiana State University, and is also a Certified Internal Auditor (C.I.A.) She also took the exam for the Certified Information Systems Auditor and passed, but never worked in the field.

INTERVIEWEE #1 (Mrs. Laura DeLaune)

Preparing for the Profession
Mrs. DeLaune stated that majoring in accounting is the first step in preparing for this profession. She pointed out that grades are important, but employers also look at other qualities in applicants. Most employers would rather hire someone with a 3.5 G.P.A. who was involved in extracurricular activities on campus or had a part time job as compared to someone with a 4.0 G.P.A. who did no extracurricular activities. Mrs. DeLaune also said that a 3.0 G.P.A. or higher is usually satisfactory. 

Knowing where you want to live can also be very helpful, according to Mrs. DeLaune. With that information, you can check with the state’s board of accountancy and review the requirements in order to become a C.P.A. in that state. She also believes that taking as many accounting classes as possible will be very beneficial when taking the C.P.A. exam. Mrs. DeLaune also pointed out that not only is it a prestigious profession, but accounting is the language of business. Knowing the “language of business” creates vast opportunities besides becoming an accountant, such as becoming manager or president of a company.

Realities of the Profession
Becoming a C.P.A. is a difficult task in itself. Mrs. DeLaune explained that it is a two step process. First, you must pass the exam. (One major discouraging point she made was it has a very low pass rate. Most people have to take it two or three times.) Second, you have to meet a work experience requirement, which is one year under the supervision of another C.P.A. After the work experience, you have to apply to the state board of accountancy by completing many forms. The board reviews your forms, approves them, and sends you your license. She said at this point, you are able to start your own business if you want because you are a licensed C.P.A. Mrs. DeLaune also stated that after you receive your license, you are required to do 40 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) a year in order to keep yourself current in the profession. 

Forms of Communication
According to Mrs. DeLaune, there is a large amount of oral communication because of constant interaction with clients. Mrs. DeLaune was an internal auditor and she explained that the job entailed going through a company’s financial statements and proving each number in the statement. Therefore, she needed supporting documentation. This is where oral communication becomes important. She said she had to ask clients for things such as bank records, invoices, cut checks, etc. Basically, communication consists of interviewing clients, asking them questions, and analyzing your work.

INTERVIEWEE #2 (Mrs. Elizabeth Briggs)

Preparing for the Profession
Like Mrs. DeLaune, Mrs. Briggs believes grades and extracurricular activities are important. A part time job, she stated, is important because it shows you are organized and can handle both school and work. She also stressed the importance of internships because they give you experience and also a chance to meet potential employers, who will most likely hire you afterwards if they are impressed with your work. Going to graduate school is very beneficial because having a master’s degree makes you more marketable and will allow you to advance in your career more quickly. Today, computer skills are needed in almost every profession. Mrs. Briggs said the more computer software you know, the greater advantage you have over other applicants. She also believes that people skills are a must because of the interaction between clients and coworkers that occurs.

Realities of the Profession
Mrs. Briggs stressed that accounting is not a 40 hour work week because there is a high degree of overtime involved. Accounting has deadlines that must be met, which creates pressure and the feeling of constantly being rushed. She also said you get better with experience and you will have less overtime. Mrs. Briggs pointed out that most people begin working at a public C.P.A. firm and after two or three years, move into industry. You can demand higher pay, have less overtime, and better balance family life. Mrs. Briggs also stated that accounting is a good field for women. Women are paid fairly as compared to men and advance as quickly as men. Mrs. Briggs believes one of the best aspects of accounting is that trends are always changing and you are always learning. It is not monotonous, so it keeps your excitement level up.

Forms of Communication
Mrs. Briggs said writing is essential to the accounting profession because you write memos continuously and sometimes business reports. Oral communication was also stressed during the interview because of interaction, especially being an internal auditor. Mrs. Briggs has also done tax accounting and she said oral communication is only about 10-20% of her job. She said clients come in and tell her what they have done. She then takes this information and does their taxes. She also stated that in her career, there was only one job where she had to give a mini seminar once every six months. This provided practice doing research and speaking in front of people.

I feel both interviews were extremely beneficial. Mrs. DeLaune’s interview provided information about being an undergraduate student and steps I should take to prepare myself for the C.P.A. exam. Mrs. Briggs provided me with “real world” information. What is it like after becoming a C.P.A.? 

Conducting these interviews proved to be a great learning experience because I now have more knowledge about graduate school programs, salaries, responsibilities, career opportunities, and different areas of accounting. My goal is to become a C.P.A. and because of the interviews, I have a better idea and understanding of how to achieve that goal.