Joining, Learning and Growing During a Global Pandemic

Candice M. Amaral, MBA

 Assistant Director of Professional Development

7 April 2021

Here at O’Connor & Drew, P.C., our slogan in Professional Development is Join, Learn, Grow. Our most recent class of new
professionals made the decision to ‘join’ our firm pre-pandemic and
now, as a firm, we must onboard these recent college graduates amid a global pandemic… and exactly how do you do that?

There is a lot talk regarding remote work – no commute, productivity (whether it be more or less), more time spent at home with your family, fulltime professional and 2nd grade teacher, etc., but how much talk is there about being a new professional and acclimating to that profession while remote?  I certainly cannot speak to the experience of being a new professional and working mostly to entirely remote, but I can say that as a firm, O’Connor & Drew, P.C. has tried to make the transition from college student to first time professional, all during Covid-19, as seamless as possible.

Our new professionals, recent college graduates and known as first years, joined us in September.  For the first years, we rented a ballroom at a local hotel to train them in-person during their first two weeks of onboarding. They sat at each of their own tables, 6 feet from one another, and the trainer/s had their own space at the front of the room. We did as much live training as we could and as safe as we could. The first years appreciated this effort.  The remaining of the onboarding process was hybrid/remote. Any additional trainings, outside those 8 days, were virtual, meet and greets with department
leaders were virtual and the group of 7 new hires were split between days when they could come to the office and when they would work from home.

Then the holiday season hit and the number of covid cases drastically
increased. Everyone went fulltime remote – new hires included.  We sent them home with tasks, projects, and case studies. But then what? Tax season was quickly approaching, and I was tasked with: How do we prepare new professionals to their first busy season at home?

First, we train. Training happened back in September, both live and virtual. Now, in January 2021, we trained entirely virtual. Thank you, Microsoft Teams! We used this platform to conduct our tax, accounting, and audit trainings for all levels of professional staff.  For our new hires, we spread these trainings over a week, ensured the
training materials were available electronically and even recorded
the trainings so the new hires could go back to them when preparing their first corporate tax return or dealership cash workpaper.

Second, we set expectations.  During the first week of January,
Professional Development met with the first years and discussed the schedule and hours, client and non-client work, additional training– on-the-job training and last but certainly not least, communication.

Communication being key as to how their first tax season and being remote would run smoothly.  I meet twice a day, Monday through Friday with the new hires to discuss their workload, any difficulties they may be having, I help them to the best of my ability and then redirect as I see fit. I help manage their time, assign the work that aligns with their capability, and ensure they are learning and growing.