Students preparing to graduate with degrees in accounting don’t have much time to savor their accomplishment. An approaching graduation means having to find a job and begin the process of studying for the CPA exam. Deciding where to work has a special significance for accountants.
The right work environment affects both future career direction and proper focus on CPA exam prep. As you enter the accounting field, having a desired specialty for the future will impact your choice of employment. Larger firms generally offer the most advanced specializations. These organizations encourage and even expect you to specialize. They guide you toward work with clients in a particular industry.
If you prefer variety, a smaller firm is usually a better solution. However, some small boutique practices do specialize. For instance, some cater only to restaurants or medical businesses. You may want to tackle CPA exam review before deciding upon a specialty. In that case, you can start with a generalized mid-size accounting firm and later gravitate toward an area of specialization.
Work supervision is another feature of accounting firm size. A preference of working with high level partners is most likely achieved at smaller firms. Large engagements at big firms typically mean more staff per partner. This situation leads to working mostly under middle managers. So, if you are eager to find an experienced mentor for guidance during a CPA review course, a smaller firm is the better fit.
As expected, larger firms have more structure and written policies about almost everything. For some personalities, this is good training about how accounting work is accomplished by the top dogs. However, it is somewhat constraining because innovation is limited. Smaller firms offer more flexibility, which provides opportunity for individual expression.
Possessing work history with a Big Four accounting firm is sometimes the right move because it is a steppingstone to an ultimate career objective. That is, financial executives at large industrial corporations are usually recruited from the Big Four. Employment within the Big Four will deliver exposure to Fortune 500 companies, which are the main clients. However, contact with decision makers at these large enterprises tends to require several years of accounting experience.
If you are striving for a position as controller or CFO at a company outside the Fortune 500, Big Four experience is less valuable. In fact, the highly structured environment at a Big Four firm is generally misaligned with the relaxed corporate culture at small growing companies. In addition, a smaller accounting firm is more likely to render contact with the upper echelon executives at client companies.
These are just a few of the considerations. They address the right job match for your career goals and development during CPA exam study. Other factors, such as compensation, present tradeoffs for evaluation. Fortunately for accounting grads, they have plenty of job market choices, which is not the case for many graduates in other disciplines.
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