My Journey to Becoming a Public Accountant  

Damian Contreras

In-Charge Tax Accountant

When I was beginning my journey to become an accountant, I had the opportunity to intern at Cray Kaiser and KPMG. These internship experiences allowed me multiple opportunities when deciding on my post-graduation employment. In the first semester of my senior year, I signed and accepted an offer to join the CK team where I  currently work full-time. It is essential to take the initiative to take as many internships as possible. Taking a proactive approach allows you ample time to secure a spot, as many firms tend to fill up a year in advance.  

Working full-time at Cray Kaiser was a smooth transition. I was getting exposed to so much as an intern that I felt prepared to advance into the next step.  What was an adjustment for me was not going to school while working. Now with my extra time, I use it to focus on my career goals. One career goal for me is studying for the CPA exam.

Preparation Made Easy

If you plan to pursue the CPA exam, I recommend the Becker program. The software is easy to use, provides printed material, and is always on sale (there is usually a better sale around the holidays). They also have a fantastic planning system. You enter when you want to take the exam, and it will tell you how many hours you need to study, or you can tell Becker how many hours you can study, and it will give you a custom plan for what days to study, what to study, etc. The program makes you feel less overwhelmed when you are deciding when, what, and how long you should study.

Audit or Tax?

In any career, I think it’s important to make sure you enjoy what you are doing. In the accounting profession, everyone always asks if you are interested in audit or tax. Without experience in both fields, how does one know? Two solutions I found to this are to have internships in both areas or work at a smaller firm where you can assist in both areas.

I love working on complex tax returns and was thrilled to join the tax department. However, I still am allotted the opportunity to work with the assurance team and build on those skills too.  

One skill I have built is being a self-advocate and letting management know what areas interest me and where I would like to see my skills grow.  Remember that no one can read your mind. You will need to speak up to management to tell them the areas you find most interesting to work in. My goal is to enjoy what I do and make a difference to the organization I work for and the clients we serve. I have found at Cray Kaiser, we aren’t just tax preparers and auditors we are trusted business advisors who are going to help all the family-owned businesses we serve.

<< Back to all blogs

Mentorship is a Win for All

A Culture of Community

Why Choose CK for an Internship Experience?