They are currently more than 46,000 public accounting firms, ranging in size from local practices to the Big four and other international practices. By all accounts, there should be no shortage of opportunities in accounting in the
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects accounting employment to grow at least as fast as the average for all U.S. occupations through the year 2006. The increasing complexity and number of business transactions require the specialized knowledge and skills of more accountants and auditors lo analyze and interpret data.
However, the competition for these spots will intensify as the roles of accountants transform. As accounting software takes over more and more of the old “bean counting,” accountants will increasingly be asked lo provide more value-added service and lo become more helpful as business strategists.
Thus, aspiring accountants must have a broader range of skills that includes communications, analytical and other general management skills, in addition to technical accounting knowledge.
How Do I Get a Job?
They are several ways lo break into the field of accounting. The most straightforward is through on-campus recruiting. The others include making contacts and identifying opportunities through the Internet or friends and family.
Internships at the Big Four
The easiest way lo get a full-time job at one of the Big four accounting firms is through the internship process. Each of the public accounting firms hires a large class of interns from all of the top schools and from many regional
schools each year. A majority of these interns will receive full-time offers at their internship firms.
If you want a job at one of the Big Four firms, remember you have only four chances to get a job. These opportunities are each precious, so prepare thoroughly ahead of lime. Know all the answers to the typical questions. No matter what your goal is, in order to succeed in getting a good internship, you need lo be well prepared for all of your interviews.
For internship interviews, most of the questions will be “behavioral” (rather than technical questions about accounting). But you should be prepared for some of the basic technical questions. Competition is fierce – know why you want to work in accounting, why at that specific rum and why they should hire you. These are some of the basic questions.
The Value of Summer Internships
Summer internships are valuable because they offer the student a chance to get a sense of their early job responsibilities. Usually, summer interns perform work similar to work done by full-time employees in their first year of employment.
Another possibility is to consider taking a semester off from classes to pursue an internship with a firm during their “busy season.” typically the period between January and April. This can result in credit toward an accounting degree as well as a large lead in climbing the experience curve.
Many public accountants claim they learn more during this period than any other time during the year. Stated one former senior accountant at a large firm, “Learning definitely comes in waves within this industry. Those particular three months represent a tidal wave of learning and work.
If your goal is to end up full-time alone of the Big Four, but don’t land an internship at one of the them, don’t lose hope – you can still get a full-time position. The next step is to make sore that you obtain an internship in a related position.
For instance, you can work at a smaller public accounting firm, a government institution or in an accounting role within the corporate finance or accounting departments of a large corporation. Even relevant work at a small company can help.
“In my sophomore year in college,” says one senior tax accountant at a Big Four firm, “I was the accountant for a small, local heating and air conditioning company. I pretty much handled their little general ledger and prepared their federal and state tax returns, nothing too complicated.
Later, when I was interviewing with the Big Four, they were very interested in my small company experience, even though I had since worked for a large investment bank and had a summer internship at one or the Big Four.”
Because most of the Big Four firms hire a significant portion of their full-time accountants from the internship class, competition is tough for those seeking to land a full-time position without an internship. Prepare well. Be able to
explain why your internship has prepared you for a full-time position at one of the Big Four. Whatever your goal is, if you work hard and prepare well, you can succeed.
Interviews will be mostly behavioral, designed to assess how you have handled. or would handle, certain situations relevant to the profession. However, firms will expect you lo be more proficient with the technical aspects of accounting than they will be during the internship recruiting process.
You will have some basic technical questions. The companies are not necessarily looking for the one correct answer, they want to know your thought process. If you do not begin your career in public accounting, you can still get into the profession later on.
Individuals with valuable work experience in certain industries are hired directly from their firms to work at all levels within the public accounting firms. Depending on what type of work you want to do, focus your resume on the type of work that is relevant to those jobs. It will make the transition to public accounting significantly easier.
Originally posted 2016-09-08 18:49:07.