Interview Project

Seth Christensen

Communication 1010-049

September, 18 2010

My Interviewee

I ended up interviewing Sherilyn Neuenswander who is an accountant for a small accounting firm. I conducted the interview at my apartment because she works late hours and the firm she works for is very busy with an audit for Rhodes Bake n’ Serve.

Career Research

When I first started going to school, I thought of going into Mechanical Engineering. After taking a few courses and also interning with a mechanical engineer, I have decided that’s probably not the way I want to go.

Recently I have become very interested in the stock market and finances. I think being an accountant will be something that will interest me as well as help me provide for my family. I read in the Occupational Outlook Handbook that accountants make a median of $32,000 a year while the top 10 percent make about $50,000.

The Handbook also indicated that it is a growing industry as businesses will always need accountants to keep the financial order in the companies. The book states that “[accounting] is one of the largest growth occupations in the economy.”  If I go into this career, I know I’ll have job security.

The Blum and Clark CPA mission statement is to “improve the financial outlook for their clients and community.” They are committed to this by using integrity in their accounting. This seems like it would be the mission statement of all accounting firms and is definitely important in today’s world where greed and dishonesty have destroyed companies and ruined the economy.

In my interview, I’ll ask him if he works in a small or large business as the tasks and responsibilities differ based on the size of the companies. In smaller businesses there are normally one or two people who have to cover everything, but in a larger cooperation, there are many people who have specific tasks.


Interview Outline

Thanks for the opportunity to ask you a few questions about your line of work. I have recently become interested in the financial sector and am glad to have this opportunity to ask a few questions about the real world of accounting.

I’ll take a few notes for my own records, but you can feel free to talk while I jot them down. The interview will only be about a half hour.


General Background

  1. I read that there are different responsibilities depending on the size of your firm. Do you work for a large accounting firm or a smaller business? (Primary, Closed)
    1. i.      -What are your specific tasks and responsibilities in the company? (Secondary, Open)
    2. ii.      -Have you ever worked for a large/small firm? (Secondary, Closed)
    3. iii.      If yes:
    4. iv.      -Did you prefer working for a large company or a small business better? (Secondary, Closed)

–          Why did you prefer working for the large/small firm? (Secondary, Open)

  1. What would you say is most rewarding about your job? (Primary, Open)

–          –What would you say you least like about your job? (Secondary, Open)

  1. Is your job very stressful? (Primary, Closed)

–          -Do you have to put in a lot of overtime to meet deadlines? (Secondary, Closed)

  1. What kind of benefits if any are there to being an accountant over other occupations?(Primary, Open)

Decision to become an accountant

  1. What made you decide you wanted to become an accountant? (Primary. Open)

–          -Had you thought about going into another career?(Secondary, Closed)

–          If yes:

–          -What other areas did you consider?(Secondary, Open)

–          -Did you know anyone who was an accountant? (Secondary, Closed)

–          If yes:

–          -Whom did you know?(Secondary, Open)

–          If yes:

–          -Did that affect your decision? (Secondary, Closed)

  1. What kinds of classes were required to get your degree in accounting? (Primary, Open)

–          -Would you say the schooling prepared you for your job in the field? (Secondary, Closed)

–          -Why or why not? (Secondary, Open)

–          -What types of skills if any, did you develop in the field that you didn’t learn in the classroom (Secondary, Open)

  1. What computer programs do you use the most in accounting?(Primary, Open)

–          -Were these programs difficult to use at first? (Secondary, Closed)

–          -Had you been trained in them while earning your degree or mostly on the job? (Secondary, Closed)

Addition Schooling

  1. How has continuing your education helped you in the field? (Primary, Open)
    1. -Does additional education help you to earn more as an accountant? (Secondary, Closed)

Clearing house questions

  1. Are there any other aspects of being an accountant that you think I should know about? (Primary, Open)
  1. Do you know anyone else I could interview to learn more information before going into the field? (Primary, Open)


Thank you very much for your time. You’ve been very helpful in my decision to pursue a degree in accounting. I was glad to learn about your different likes and dislikes in this career.

As I mentioned before there is an evaluation sheet for you to fill out. Please be honest in the evaluation as I won’t be graded based off of the evaluation, but I will not receive a grade until my professor receives it. She said she would prefer if you email it to It was very nice to meet you. (Handshake) Thanks again.

Interview Analysis

DATE: September 24, 2010

TO: Professor Johnston

FROM: Seth Christensen

SUBJECT: Interview Project, COMM 1010-049

I was able to interview Sherilyn Neuenswander who works in a small accounting firm as a junior accountant. It was interesting to hear about her experience in the field.

I have wondered what career path I should take and have become interested in finances. I have considered accounting though I am a little concerned it may get monotonous after a while. It was interesting to hear about why she chose this career path and gave me some insight as to how working as an accountant would be.

Here is an analysis of the interview.

General Background

Sherilyn works for a small accounting firm although she has worked for a larger one in the past. She prefers working for a smaller firm because she has more responsibilities and can work with the whole project rather than just seeing part of the balance sheets.

The most rewarding part of her job is being able to help people with their finances. This is in line with the mission statement I included in the research portion of this paper. Her least favorite part of the job is tax season. She stated how the three months around tax season she has to work long hours in the night and that it is pretty stressful. On a positive note however, after tax season there is less stress and things start to slow down a little.

One thing I didn’t realize before is that auditing, or checking the financial statements of other companies is many times more profitable than doing taxes. So while accounting firms advertise a lot to complete taxes, they really make their money through auditing.

Decision to become an accountant

Sherilyn told me that initially she was going to school in sports communication and minoring in accounting. She changed her major when the University of Utah put their broadcasting communications program on probation.

Another thing that helped her become an accountant was that her brother in law is an accountant. After changing her major, she had to go to an extra year of school, but she graduated with a four year degree in accounting. Another thing I learned is that to become a CPA you need to have a master’s degree in accounting.

She said that school definitely prepared her for her job. She also gets paid training every so often to learn more about government regulations. As you can imagine, the ever changing regulations require accountants and other financial related occupations to adapt to the new rules.

She uses a few computer programs that help walk her through the tasks like Quick Books and Tax Works. They are very easy to use according to her.

I learned a lot about auditing through the clearing house question. I’m glad I asked it because it brought other questions to my mind. I learned that even the auditors get audited and that the IRS only does auditing through taxes. If a business is found to be violating the law, they are to be reported to the IRS. Fortunately she has never had to do that.

Analysis of Accounting as my Career Choice

The interview allowed me to think of whether or not I would like to be an accountant. I would be happy just to get a bachelor’s degree and jump into a career where I can use it so being a junior accountant would work out. However, I learned that certified public accountants can make a lot more money and can even start their own firms. This would allow me to make about three times more than I would as a junior accountant. I think that I would like to first start out in the field and go from there, to make sure it is really something I want to do.

The interviewee was honest that it does get tedious sometimes. That is also where I wonder if I would like to go into accounting. She told me that her husband is involved in the investing side of finances and that he really enjoys it. That may be a career path I take as well.

Analysis of my Interview Process

I was nervous at the beginning of the interview and I admit I probably could have practiced a bit more, but as I began to ask the questions, the conversation flowed very well and felt more natural. I ended up changing some questions and leaving some out all together. As the conversation progressed I became aware of other questions that I had not thought of before. I really enjoyed being able to do the interview to learn more about the process and be able to put in practice the things I have learned.

Sherilyn XXXXX

XXXX S. State St.

Midvale, UT XXXX
Dear Sherilyn,

Thank you very much for the opportunity to interview you. It was very interesting to learn about your work and your responsibilities in your career.

I liked how you said the most rewarding part of your job was being able to help people organize their finances.  This let me know that you really enjoy what you do and you are dedicated to your work.

From the interview I gained an appreciation for accountants and what they do each day. I also learned that accounting isn’t just about doing taxes for people or planning budgets, but also making sure that everything that has been spent adds up. I also learned that accountants have to stay up to date with the new regulations that are put in place by local governments and the federal government.

I was also glad to hear that school will really prepare me for the work in the field. This helped me realize how much I need to work hard in school to be able to perform well in the field.

Thanks again for taking the time to be interviewed. I really appreciate your help and willingness to evaluate the interview.


Seth Christensen