USA Choosing between Public Accounting vs. Industry


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Hello Everyone,

Forgive me if this topic has already been addressed but I am having issues deciding on the best career path for me after school. So to give you a little background on myself, I am currently a full time accounting student at Oklahoma State University and am a Senior. I just recently changed my major from Management to Accounting, and am projected to graduate Fall of 2019. Luckily for me it only added 1 full semester and 2 summer classes compared to the original major.

I guess what I am asking you guys for, is what are the Pro/Cons of Public Accounting vs. Industry? Which one would you recommend pursuing based on your experience? How do I know which one I would be a good fit for?

I am hoping to maybe learn more about what is the best fit for me after taking my Intermediate Accounting 1 and Federal Taxation courses this Fall.

I am still very ignorant about the Accounting industry, and I don't know if I am asking the right questions or what questions I should be asking. So if any of you could share some of your wisdom, I would definitely be grateful!

thanks,
Brandon
 
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I apologize, I am new to the forum and just saw that there is a student section with careers. I understand completely if my thread gets moved.
 
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Steve-LevelUp

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I'm an industry accountant, so please take that in mind.

Public accounting. You can expect to make more money right out of school. Much more work (long hours, likely involving travel). More job options and self employment options. (eg, 10 years at KPMG can easily lead you to open your own practice. Your schedule is set by your customers (not by you).

Industry. More routine accounting (closing the books is the same either way). Longer career path to reach higher salary levels. Once reached, the work is still steady/routine. More difficult to move from one firm to another, limiting horizontal moves.

Honestly, I recommend public practice/audit. It is hard work, but it is financially rewarding. Additionally, later in your career, it is possible to move from public to private (eg, Controller or CFO). It is very difficult to move to the other way around.

Get your public audit experience now, as it is difficult to change your mind later.
 
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Thank you for your comment! It seems that everyone (even my professor from last semester) tells me the same thing. He says that if I can endure and bust my butt working in Audit for a couple of years, then I would be golden to then step into industry making good money (for industry standards). My next concern I guess is whether or not the opportunity to land an Audit job will be available to me. I don't think I attend a school that is heavily recruited for that type of work.

is there anything I can do right now, that would help me prepare for Audit? Is there anything I can study that would give me a head start on the learning curve? That way it would take less time to maybe train me because I already understand some of what I need to do.

Thanks
 

Steve-LevelUp

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To be honest, the one skill the people are not able to develop is their interview skills. So, do the following.

1. Get good grades. Finish your key classes with top marks, and work your ass off to get those top marks. This will help fill out your resume.

2. Make sure your resume is solid. Look at a ton of sample resumes and make sure your resumes shines. Include any relevant volunteer work that you do, and if you don't, start. This resume is what people look at to get you in the door. Things like 90% in Audit will help draw their attention. Hiring manages have 100 resumes to look through for 2 roles. They are looking for any excuse to discard a candidate. Don't give them one.

3. Once you have the interview, make sure you are prepared. This doesn't mean that you think about the questions they ask, it means doing practice interviews. Ask your professors if they will give you a mock interview. Ask community job centers. Do not ask your parents. Sharpening your interview skills will help to alleviate the nerves during the interview and will also help keep your mind sharp in answering the difficult questions (eg, weaknesses, etc)

So, in summary, the resume lands you the interview, the interview lands you the job.

Keep that in mind.
 
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Well the good thing for me is that I am pretty good at interviews and I have a pretty good resume built. So I will keep doing my best to make good grades in my classes, and one thing I am looking forward to is the next career fair. I am going to work hard at getting an internship if there is one that I think will benefit me career wise
 

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