What are the main advantages of starting with a CPA firm as opposed to working for a small/medium/large company as an accountant? Is working for a CPA firm a good place to start re: developing experience?
I’ve never worked for a CPA firm, so I can’t say for sure. Though it seems public experience is the way to go. Private will hire someone with public experience into a lot of roles, but private seems to pigeonhole a lot of people. I’m not even 30 and I’ve already been pigeonholed as an IT/database type of staff accountant (simply because I can actually use a database)- which isn’t necessarily bad, but my career path is 100% set for me. On the other side, my boss’ boss spent 10 years at a big 4 (I think, in audit) and was hired directly into CFO of about $10+ billion bank holding company. I think he made better career decisions than me. And he’s only like 8 years older than me.
So starting with a CPA firm is the way to go! Get experiences in different engagement and move on to industries.
After 2 and a half years as a financial analyst for a $6 billion automotive company, my CFO’s advise was that at least 2 years public experience would be best for me in the long term. He was once a CPA and did public for 3 years, inactive now. So i am looking to transition, start in public!
I started off in industry and totally regret it. If i could do it over, I would have worked in a CPA firm first. I think the experience is invaluable. Plus, industry is boring. Save it for when you have kids and need a work/life balance.
Most of the higher level and good paying accounting positions all seem to want some public accounting experience. I wouldn’t want to miss out on these opportunities and be stuck because I chose to do industry instead. This is at least what I’m thinking and hoping to get into public accounting while I’m younger.
I have two sides of story from people worked in public (tax). On one side, some said that public trains your adaptability. On the other side, some said that the first two years in public adds no value, because you are just doing some mechanical stuffs which a monkey can do. Any thoughts guys?
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