August 12, 2019 at 2:41 pm #2626299
Thanks for everyone's time for reading this post. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Here is something about me. I'm an international student, passed all four CPA exams recently, so my top priority is to get the work experience for the license. I have 2 BS degrees (accounting & finance) from a satellite school under Penn State with a 3.5+ GPA. And I will graduate with an MBA in Dec from the same school. I want to do audit, but don't have much real accounting experience related to it.
1. So what is my best shot if I want to work in the US as an auditor? In particular, what is my priority level in terms of applying for different companies? Big 4 > small CPA firms > private? Since I can relocate, what are the cities that will give me a better chance? And what are job-seeking channels I should focus on? Campus recruit > LinkedIn > Glassdoor > Indeed? I plan to go to the job fair on our main campus.
2. And for those companies said they don't sponsor work visa in the job description, should I just ignore them and don't waste my time? I mean that would eliminate most of the small and regional CPA firms and most of the private sector.August 12, 2019 at 3:29 pm #2626407
Hope this post will serve for everyone, including those who are local and searching for answers to the future.
1) You do not have to miss all the non-sponsors. You can still shoot an resume. It's FREE. Just be honest and say “will need sponsorship H1B/OPT”. Never miss any opportunities. Maybe by chance they got a huge client from another country and just need someone with a specific languages / background / etc. The accounting world is very bad, and we also value other experiences. A chef who worked in the restaurant business for 10 years can audit a food inventory better than a CPA.
2) My tips to all my international friends. Your best bet is actually the “H1B exempt category”. If you don't know what that is then you should Google it. That's all I can say without violating any rules.
3) Your best relocation cities will be any city that give you the best advantage, either by the industry you are aiming for, or the city where they need a lot of “you”. You should re-evaluate what your skill sets are, including your language skills, if you speak, type, read or write in foreign language, if you know excel, QB, etc., if where you came from or you had previously worked in a restaurant / factory / art & design, etc. Audit is never a stand-alone skill. You should try to best fit yourself into a category and say I have background in the “food” industry and is looking for “audit exp” where I can combine these two…etc.
4) To max the game,give yourself at least some flexibility and say ” I can also be A/R, A/P, bookkeeping, audit , consultant, adviser, etc.” Up to whatever limit you can accept. Auditor is not the only path that lead to CPA, and wall street is not the only place on earth. I've worked under a world famous art designer who earned over $1M just by sitting on royalties. There's only 6 full time employees and we all got $$. I was referred to a CPA firm for a potential job but didn't make it. You never know where opportunities are. Unless you are very uncomfortable working at a particular task, don't close the door. I also got 3 referral from some random people after getting stuck in the train and complain to my next seat passenger. NYC = business people everywhere. Also got a college interview spot by running into the same accounting partner 3 times and just by saying “Hi!”
5) Read # 3 again and come up with a plan on your campus recruit speech. Research these firm really well and be prepared to say “I am interested in joining the xx team and I have background in the xx industry”. Ask for specific details about a particular group will show you really know something. Then, just pray. I would spent more time on other resources. Linkedin and indeed are good sites because it only required a quick upload resume to submit. I would apply on anything that doesn't take more than 10 secs to complete the process. Just scroll down and read the experience requirement, I am not picky and anything I qualified I will apply. Do at least 100 a day. If you read my #2, I will also specifically go for that. Use idealist.org. Anything else, shoot for the big / famous firms first, doesn't matter if they are private or public. 90% of the small firms will reject sponsorship because it cost about $20k to go through the paperwork.
6) Lastly, for job fair, I would keep notes on what and who I talked to, what the story was. I repeat the same stories on the interview. (Lazy). Anything else I just submit resumes. The trick is, if some random # call in, don't pick up. The person will leave a message for interview. Then look back at what you've submitted and found the record, call back and say sorry I missed your call. This avoid the weird moment where you picked up the phone but doesn't remember what you've submitted. Interviews are usually hosted 2-3 months after submission. I'll have accumulate about 1xxx submissions by that time.
I think I write enough…Brb.August 12, 2019 at 3:36 pm #2626419
oh forgot. you should also prioritize those who match your “original country” expectations, just in case you don't make it you want to be sure you picked up something where you can translate or use if you need / decided to leave the country.
I came form a very different environment. If you worked in “Smith CPA firm” which doesn't have a website / any information, crossing over might be difficult. I always prefer something that can be easily translate / explain. For example: Working in taxation might find yourself difficult if you go to Europe / Latin America / Asia, or even Canada, because they worked on a totally different tax system.August 13, 2019 at 6:45 pm #2629116
@JFKGY Thanks for the advice! It cleared many of my doubts about the overall strategy, what kind of company and what position I should apply for, and how should I prepare for them.
I was thinking about going back to my home country if I didn't land a job here or the H1B didn't go through in a year. So that's why I decided to stick with audit, simply because of the exit opportunity and the transferable skills. But you made a good point; I shouldn't limit myself to audit-related position only.August 14, 2019 at 8:49 pm #2631429
@Yfz Depending on your country, doing audit could be a good and bad thing. You should look into your countries policy if you will be allowed to practice audit. Some counties will allow US CPA to practice audit while others don't. The license doesn't converted. Also, be aware that rules and regulations will be very different.
Personally I'm working in reviews and compliance, so it's highly related to law. All of our cases are directly linked to about 30 laws, which then crossed reference to another 5 sets of laws (from different agencies) and 100 pages of contracts. You might face something similar if what you planned to work is not main steamed enough.
Also, from my understanding, US CPA is not transferable in any other countries (correct me if I am wrong). You might be allowed to practice in your country with the CPA license ONLY if you worked under a US company, or if you are singing on behalf of US case. I have to say there ilare only TWO Bank of America in my home city, so US firm is definitely not the big stream. In fact, none of the wall street banks made it on top 10. If you wanted to be CPA equivalent in your country, you will need to retake the equivalent tests. My native country's test required 4 different steps of exam, you literally have to take part 1, work on exp, part 2, and repeat. Each level grant you different authority to do bookkeeping, sign off reports, audit, etc. Unless you are lucky and worked in one of the few big accounting firms, it will be very difficult to get to lvl 4 and do audit (or maybe level 3).
As far as I know, EU, UK, China, JP all has different policies. The only certificate that's transferable is the EU/UK one.
I'm not saying no to audit, but that should not be the only skill you picked up. 90% of people worked on a different job then they dreamed.
– ignore any misspellings, sent from my phone at 10:49pm.August 17, 2019 at 5:59 pm #2636778
This is a tough time for international student. I heard many people said that Big4 wouldn't sponsor H1b visa anymore. Don't know if it's true.
I started my career with a Big4 firm in tax. I wasn't selected in H1b lottery 2017. Luckily, I found a job in other country, same company, same position, better pay. This year, the US firm will sponsor my L1 visa.
It was such a great opportunity to go somewhere else and you can always come back to the States. Especially easy if you make it to manager before moving back. Don't just focus on US firms, also looking for opportunities in countries like Canada, Cayman Island, Bermuda, Ireland, etc. Good luck!August 18, 2019 at 11:42 am #2637999
Same boat. But I am doing Master in Accounting. Passed all sections during the summer prior to my starting date of my program, but got no satisfaction since that I am constantly thinking about my job situation. See some good advice above, I may try them and prepare myself for this recruiting seasonAugust 18, 2019 at 5:17 pm #2638815
@JFKGY Thanks for sharing your insight about transferable skills in the audit, and things to consider when practicing aboard. And I really appreciate the time you spent typing this information! No worries about the typos! 🙂
You are definitely right about the difference in the US accounting, audit standards and, applicable laws vs. those in foreign countries, and whether the US CPA credential is recognized in the foreign countries. Just like you said, my home country recognizes its own CPA credentials. The US CPA practice is like a niche market.
I currently have an offer from my home country. They do the SEC audit and my direct supervisor is an active US CPA. So the worst case is if I don't have a job in the US, I can still go back to my home country and get the CPA work experience there. But like you mentioned, I gotta check with the state board of accountancy for practicing overseas if I decide to take that job.
What I meant by transferable skills in the audit, is more like the “accounting sense”, or experience. Many CPAs who jumped the ship from the public sector to the private mentioned they just know what is right or what it should like, when they look at a company’s financial reporting.
I was thinking about the same thing for transferable skills/knowledge in audit in the US if it’s not mainstreamed enough. I don’t know if it’s beneficial to think this much for now, as I don’t even have a job offer in the US. The more I think about it, the more I start to question my desire to stay here, especially with the uncertainties for international students. Sigh, let's discuss this when I have a job offer here. I'm just applying for everything for now and see where I land.August 18, 2019 at 5:25 pm #2638821
@jeany_1312 Thanks for the suggestions about those countries and sharing your experience! I think another mistake I made was thinking that I have to start working in the US to stay in the US. My top priority should be getting that experience first. Will look for opportunities in other countries as well.August 18, 2019 at 7:08 pm #2639094
Hey guys, just came back from 7 hours of shopping, plus consulting another international student on her career (law).
I think for every single firm, including the big 4, your value to the firm weighted in as to whether they will sponsor you. You can be very straight forward on the resume and mentioned that you need a sponsorship, but you should never attend an interview and just say you need a sponsorship (talk to the HR prior on this if you are concern WHEN YOU SCHEDULE for an interview). To be honest, if you do have some unique skills that will bring great benefits to the firm, they will try to sponsor you (at least they will try to talk to the HR to get it), but if you only have general accounting skills (nothing special), they are less likely to sponsor. In order to sponsor, on top of the money and risk they have to take, they must also proof to the US government that “there's no replacement of you, and it is essential for them to have you to accomplish a certain task that will bring benefit to the US country”. When I was interviewing with the Big 4, I was offered one because I have special skill in the transportation industry (cars, trucks, insurance, lease, etc). It was a very specialized field.
I've got a feeling that the Big 4 started to reject sponsorship because a lot of international students have very limited work experience. At least it is for NYC, and most people wanted to go into the “wall street” business. Nothing wrong with it. But throughout my experience assisting other students in their career, 50% of people will tell me they are interested in audit, but can't tell the difference between review, compliance and audit; another 40% will failed to tell me the most basic procedure of going through the audit and some basic ways to justify / reasonable a cost. As a manager, I am not interested in knowing that “you've assisted the CPA in 50 audits and worked for 2 years”, I am interested in knowing if you can “handle an audit and the client on your own (bringing profit to the company).
@Yfz It is possible to be certify while oversea, but you should definitely check your registered state's requirement. In NY, CPA are allow to hold their CPA title even if they are inactive (such as my coworker), you should check to make sure they are active and actually renew their license. Also, I am not sure if every state allow another state's CPA to certify the experience (like NJ can certify for NY license), they should. Some states also have requirements on you must get the exp requirement within 3 years or so. Lastly, if none works, there are states that don't required an exp requirement, and you can transfer there (it will grant you CPA title, but you cannot sign off an audit or financial paper, something like that).
@Wang You can still do CPT while at school and OPT one year after graduation.
To all others, my advice to everyone is that you should get the H1B paperwork done by January, then moved on to finding a backup job in home country, just in case you failed and OPT expired in June, you can head home and don't become jobless. It's very hard to secure a job in June no matter what country you are (except in Japan), there's a million freshly graduated people searching the same job.August 18, 2019 at 7:27 pm #2639157
In case you all have nothing to do (like you've passed your test), a good strategy I practiced is to do freelance. I always recommended international studies to pick up at least one freelance job from their home country, either online or continue connecting with their old supervisor (very common in business). There is nothing wrong if you work and earn money in your own country (sorry, got to pay my tuition). This way, you stay connected with your home country and you will have something to say in case you failed. You will also have something to say on US interview, like “I'm still connect with my home country and know about the business, etc.” The longer you stay unemployed the less likely you will find a good job. Also, a lot of people don't actually realized leaving their town for 4 years made them really missed out of the trends / market. In my hometown, every year is like 2 years in the US. If you do failed and you've been unemployed for 4 years, you will be returning to the market facing competition with people who are local and have 4+ years of experience. Stay connected no matter what (hey, in case you failed maybe your old boss will offer you a job?). There's nothing wrong earning a few tips here and there, and you are not legally breaking any rules on working in the US. Anything helps, even if it is teaching English? I've see people going from assistant online bookkeeping, writing business proposal / case, translating English paperwork, meeting up with a few US clients on behalf of a firm (bring them to dinner), to even writing books and traveling magazine on US tourist spots (talk about free traveling and working together).
If you are too rich, then please go volunteer. It is legal to volunteer as many hours as you wanted in the US, as long as you are not getting pay and will be not converted to an employment (while in school before CPT / OPT / H1B and other visas). Even it means planing trees or doing street research, maybe you will hook up someone to offer you a job.
(It's funny because I am an American but I have know enough international students to remember all the important rules. I even got pick in my school as the event host for international student affair. LOL)August 18, 2019 at 8:47 pm #2639346
@JFKGY on point, I did one CPT during my undergraduate, then did 7 month OPT this year, and now I am starting my master. So I had three internships, Beta Alpha Psi officer involvement, volunteer & scholarship, excel certification, Passing CPA exam on my resume. Man, I wish I am in a much bigger city, opportunity is kind limited here for me.August 19, 2019 at 6:43 pm #2642010
Hey Wang, not sure what city you are in, but consider aiming for firms that have multiple locations. If you build good relationship, they might refer you to another HQ after graduate. I used to work for a firm based in NYC and CA, and people fly back and forth. They also started a sales market in China so we actually hired a specialist to represent us in China. Don't miss out on opportunities that might send you oversea for conference / work too, even if they don't offer a sponsorship, if you have no other choice to pick from, at least you get a free trip for several days to Pairs, UK, etc.
If being a CPA is not a “must”, do consider business analyst and other accounting qualified position. Maybe you will find the grass greener. I first started with bookkeeping, moved to audit, and now spending 90% of my time pure data analysis (macros).August 19, 2019 at 6:53 pm #2642043
JFKGY, that is always the tricky part. But I need to start to consider the companies outside the traditional public accounting track for sure. Worse scenario is going back to my home town, it would not be as bad as I thought.
However, if I do have to consider going back, then I need to get enough experience for licensure prior to that date.August 20, 2019 at 3:42 pm #2644323
Hey Wang, I am going to assume you are Chinese from China, pardon me if I am wrong. I know little about China, moving back is not as bad as you think, but do give yourself at least 6 months to find something nice. You might find yourself in a different city than your home town. If your experience can be passed on, great, but do be mindful that people in China are also highly competitive. If you have been using English on a daily basis, you might find your Chinese “not as good” anymore. Also, when you do go back, your education needs to be certified (which takes time). People will also judge you because you were oversea (being superior, supposedly, or the other way, not good enough because you didn't know the local market). I have a friend who recently moved back to Beijing (originally from Xi'an), hold a MS degree but they only gave her recent graduate college level salary. Anyhow, it was a decent company with benefits and she took it.
I am not sure if you were from China, Wang is very popular (of cause mostly in China), but could also be in every county as well.
You know even if you exit traditional public accounting track, there is still private / N4P / gvn't, etc. Plus, there are other jobs that are accounting related, grant CPA, but not necessary 100% accounting (like analyst, program management, etc.)
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