Why You Should (and Shouldn't) Accept a Full-Time Offer From a Public Accounting Firm

Public accounting firms are wrapping up their summer internships and unless one did something horrifically wrong, most can expect full-time offers.

Most will accept without a moment of thought or hesitation, but a few perplexed summer interns may be wondering if they should take the offer or not. If you have an offer and are feeling unsure, consider the following when making your decision.

Why You Should Take the Offer

  • Business bootcamp. Transitioning from student to full-time working professional is a big deal. Even if you worked multiple jobs or had a full-time gig in college, joining the ranks of a professional services firm is different. You can think of this phase of your career as in-depth professionalism training. Working in public accounting provides you the opportunity to see a variety of businesses and industries. To this end, it almost doesn’t matter what type of work you do for the first two years out of college.
  • Starting salary. Unsure if you enjoy debits and credits?  Who cares?!  Use this time as opportunity to pay down your student loans or save up to travel the world.  That salary can carry with you to future employment. When you apply for another job down the road, you will be asked to share your current salary.  Prospective employers attempting to lure you away are likely to at least match it.
  • Big 4 still counts (for some). Another reason you may want to take an offer -- which I don’t believe to be true but will mention for the trolls -- is people still believe there is a lot of value in having a Big 4 firm on your resume. I don’t see this as a deal breaker. Smarts, related work experience, the CPA designation, and your network will all support you in getting a big-wig industry job down the line. 

Don’t Take the Offer If...

  • If you hate accounting. Don’t set yourself up for failure. You won’t be engaged in a career that you aren’t excited about from day one. You should also decline the offer if you didn’t feel like you fit in with the firm culture and/or saw anyone you don't want to be like someday. You are going to be spending more time with your colleagues than your significant other. You will want to enjoy your company and surround yourself with behaviors that inspire you.
  • If you're accepting the offer out of sheer laziness. You should find another career path. Public accounting abhors laziness.
  • The job today does not serve the future you envision. This is perhaps the most important reason you shouldn’t accept an offer. A lot of people start off in public because they see it as a vehicle for an industry job down the line. If, for example, you want to become a restauranteur, grinding out a few years in public accounting may not help you reach that goal.

All in all, public accounting is a great place to start one’s career. Unlike most many other majors, you won’t have to worry about what you will do once you graduate. You can start off with a great salary and be part of a start group comprised of people close in age and in the same chapter of life. But you got to be in it -- physically and emotionally -- to win at it.

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