Ostrow Reisin Berk & Abrams, Ltd.

Frequently Asked Questions


What do you expect out of interns and staff?
  • As a staff person, you should be able to adapt to our flexible environment and the timely demands of the services.
  • You should apply information from college courses, from the initial orientation and from on-the-job training. In addition, you should adapt the on-going recommendations of the ORBA directors and mentors.
  • To the extent you deem necessary, we will hand hold you through projects and engagements. We will do everything possible to help you understand the theory behind our procedures.
  • We expect you to ask questions (lots of them!)
  • After we supply you with the knowledge, you are responsible to retain it and apply it.
  • As necessary, we expect timely service to our clients, even if it means occasional personal sacrifices.
  • We expect that you will always strive for the highest quality and ethical standards, both in your adherence to accounting principles and in the thoroughness of your work.
What characteristics do you look for in a potential employee?

We want someone who wants to work here. The future growth of the firm depends on our being an outstanding professional organization. Our goals are professional satisfaction, a closely-knit staff, quality work and direct client involvement. We look for friendly, outgoing, bright, dedicated, hard-working people who will excel within the firm. Because our firm was founded by entrepreneurs and many of the clients we serve are entrepreneurs, we look for entrepreneurial characteristics - a self-starter who is ambitious, resourceful and an innovative thinker.

What about the CPA Exam?

We expect all professional staff people to pass the C.P.A. examination and gain certification within a reasonable time after joining the firm. We realize that timing may vary for different people.

At ORBA, we give as much assistance as needed to staff preparing for the examination. We offer reimbursement for review classes and exams, and we provide paid days off for study and exam days.  We even allow time throughout the work day during "down times" to study for the exam.

Is there a training program for new employees?

Classroom study and formal training are important and necessary. However, at ORBA, we strive to stimulate your thinking and creativity and believe that learning by doing is the most effective method of teaching. You will work closely with experienced personnel who will guide, instruct, explain and help you throughout your career. We believe the growth of the firm depends on the growth of its people, and ORBA will assist you as much as necessary throughout your career here.

Interns start and end as a group. We find this allows students to adjust to the professional world, and help each other learn. Interns will be trained together in an orientation session the first week, and seated near one another and near supervisors throughout the internship.

New staff employees also have an-in house training program. This informal training will help you understand our procedures, administrative policies and computers (see next question for more detail).

What is the company's commitment to developing its people?

TRAINING: Once you begin at the firm, you will participate in programs to acquaint you with policies and procedures. Throughout your career at ORBA, you will participate in programs and seminars to keep current. Our formal training programs are run by staff, directors, or our international affiliated organization, BKR International.

Continuing education is a high priority at our firm. We reimburse employees for appropriate advanced education (see benefits). Much of your training, however, will be on-the-job experience. You've been in a classroom for over 15 years; it's time to start learning by doing!

EXPERIENCE: Because we intentionally have a high director to staff ratio, staff members will have many opportunities to work closely with the directors and benefit from their experiences. Much of your work will be reviewed by directors, and you will get immediate feedback.

Of equal importance, you will have direct contact with the accounting department and top executives of the firm's clients and you will provide input towards the management of their business.

Does this position have any future?

If you are competent and work hard, your future is limitless. Like anything else, you will get as much out of your career at ORBA as you want. Because we have been growing and continue to do so, you have a future here at ORBA with plenty of room for advancement if you choose. Your advancement lies in your own hands.

We operate in a flexible, less-structured environment, so you have a chance to grow as rapidly and as much as your own talents and drive permit as long as you maintain our commitment to quality client service. This is part of the reason we don't have "titles" in our firm. From your first day on the job you are treated as a professional. As you progress, you are given the opportunity to handle all the responsibility that you can. Most of your assignments will be in conjunction with directors and experienced staff, members who will work with you to develop your abilities.

What is the culture of this firm?
  • ORBA is committed to its people. The personal aspect of our firm is definitely one of our strongest points. Our staff truly enjoys working here and with one another.
  • Due to our size, we have fewer rigid rules in a more relaxed atmosphere. ORBA's medium size allows us to become better acquainted with each other, both at and away from the office.
  • Our annual Company outing at a local resort, our health club membership, our athletic teams, and our various office gatherings promote camaraderie.
  • We hire friendly people who are looking to grow and achieve common goals. We enjoy being comfortable around each other and offer business casual dress policy year-round.
Does the company provide performance reviews on a periodic basis? How frequently?

At ORBA, we have an open-door policy and everyone is on a first name basis. This is the best form of coaching and review. Staff and directors meet periodically to discuss "business as usual" and your career path.

  • Informal suggestions may be made on how to improve skills or performance. Staff members are welcome and encouraged to discuss these issues at anytime with directors, mentors, supervisors, or any other staff person.
  • Formal appraisals are made on engagements throughout the year by the use of written and oral reports. These evaluations of professional, accounting service and administrative staff members are reviewed at directors' meetings during the year. Each new employee with up to four years of experience has a formal evaluation meeting with their mentor at least twice per year, once in January and once in June. All other employees have at least one formal evaluation meeting with a director each June. Salary increases, goals, suggestions for improvement and ideas on how to help the firm are discussed at these year-end meetings each June.
  • Mentors are accessible to their mentees at all times, but are encouraged to meet on a quarterly basis to discuss any personal or professional needs.
What is the company's position in the marketplace? Growing? Receding?

ORBA was founded in 1977 with seven directors, a secretary and a photocopy machine in a small office. Four of the founding directors have since retired, and today we have 22 directors and total personnel of more than 130 on the 15th floor of the NBC Tower in downtown Chicago. Our headcount has had stable growth the last several years. We have become more efficient through the use of technology, our revenues have increased modestly each year, we have expanded our services, and we have proactively penetrated the marketplace. We have accomplished growth through aggressive marketing and a commitment to be a full service, quality business advisor to our clients. If you have the drive and interest in helping the firm grow, we will support your efforts. We encourage (not require) personnel to get involved in the business development process.

Is it worth taking a semester off for an internship and is there any potential for full time employment?

Our internship program has benefited both ORBA and the student interns over the years. It helps the firm get work done during the busy season while providing students who want to enter public accounting with valuable hands-on experience.

The internship is not "gopher" work. You'll be doing real work for real clients. It is a chance to roll up your sleeves and look beyond four years of textbooks and accounting classes to see if this is what you really want to do for your career. The responsibilities added to your resume make you more marketable, and the internship pays a very competitive salary. While taking an internship may require you to take a semester off, many schools give you college credit hours for the experience.

Many students worry that they won't be able to find a job if they wait an extra semester to graduate. The truth is, the working world will still be there when you graduate and you've actually helped your chances of getting a job. Plus, as an intern here, we have had time to train and evaluate you so you have already gotten your foot in the door towards a full-time offer here. (About 20-25% of our professional staff are former interns.)

Who do I report to?

At ORBA, we don't have a rigid hierarchy, so you won't be riding on the coat-tails of any one or two individuals. Throughout your first couple of years, you will be working with many different staff supervisors on several different types of tax and accounting engagements. You will also likely work for each of the directors at some point during your first couple of years. You'll have different individuals to report to for different circumstances, and each staff person is assigned a mentor as a "go-to" person.

Does the firm promote from within?

Our general philosophy is to hire entry-level candidates out of top-notch colleges, promote them and help them grow with ORBA. This is beneficial in developing the firm's culture and promotes continuity and relationships with clients. However, we also look for people with experience and skill from other firms to add to our roster. We have been growing at a steady rate and in order to meet the demands of the workload and to avoid overburdening existing staff, we occasionally find it necessary to hire from the outside.

How does the company encourage professional growth?

Initially, you'll obtain the basic skills to become a good accountant. However, our role here at ORBA goes beyond being just a good accountant; our job is to be an overall business advisor and consultant to our clients. We foster growth by exposing you to many different types of tax, accounting and business advisory services, to various clients and industries, and to each of our directors and staff, all in your first few years! We combine the on-the-job training and the immediate feedback with a mentoring program and a formal evaluation process to allow you to gauge and take control of your progress. We have a commitment to quality and education, and have reimbursement policies for graduate level courses and continuing professional education courses. We encourage professional memberships and community involvement, and reimburse dues and expenses accordingly. Finally, a firm can only grow if it markets itself. We have programs to assist staff with business development skills and we pay commissions for leads that bring in clients.


If you still have unanswered questions, please contact us.