February 12, 2021 | By Jake Weber
It’s one of those “who would have thought?” encounters: Brandon Fisher, ’21, and Tom Jurasek, ’08, first worked together in the Harrington Elementary School Mentoring program, when Jurasek was a volunteer from the Albion College men’s basketball team and Fisher was in second grade. That relationship didn’t last (Fisher only vaguely remembers it), but nonetheless come June the two will work together again, as Fisher joins Jurasek and five other Albion alumni at Jackson-based accounting firm Willis & Jurasek.
“After Brandon’s internship last year, it was unanimous in the firm that everyone wanted him around,” Jurasek says. “He has what I call the ‘give a damn’ trait. He showed up early, stayed late, spun his wheels just enough prior to asking great questions. All in all, a well-rounded college graduate.”
For his part, Fisher showed that ‘give a damn’ spirit long before earning the internship. “I job-shadowed Tom my senior year of high school and that was the deciding factor,” says Fisher. “Then every year at [Gerstacker Institute] career nights, I made it a point to go talk to Tom and Willis and Jurasek to make sure that I was a face that they remembered.”
Despite—or possibly due to—his years-long preparation for the internship, Fisher found it to be an intense learning experience.
“In school, all the audit evidence is laid right out in front of you and it’s easier to navigate what you have to do. But in the real world, its nothing like that,” Fisher explains. “Most of the time, you get a big mess and you have to dig and research before you can even start the audit.”
That “digging” also involves talking to clients about their financial practices, a conversation that can be difficult in the best of circumstances.
“At first it was also challenging to interview the clients,” Fisher admits. “I had to push outside my comfort zone to do these audits in the proper way, but I did get comfortable with that.”
With the addition of Fisher, Willis & Jurasek will have seven Albion alumni among its staff of 28, whose student days cover every decade from the 1960s through the 2020s. Along with Tom Jurasek and his father, Brian Jurasek, ’79, Fisher's colleagues will include Phil Willis, ’63; Nancy Barton, ’81; Elizabeth Woolworth Hitchingham, ’01; and Sadie Wayman, ’19.
Jurasek notes that even with Fisher joining the firm this year, they’re ready to take on a few more, possibly with the help of Albion College.
“We use internships to see if a full-time position is mutually beneficial,” says Jurasek, noting that the firm has hosted Albion College interns for the past 43 years (beginning with Tom’s dad, Brian). “We are a one-stop shop; it takes someone with intangibles to make it due to the breadth of services the firm and each individual offers. Albion College continues to offer a pipeline of interns and full-time hires to keep up with our world-class client service.”