Ed. note: I’ve been called to an emergency meeting in an undisclosed location, so here’s a guest post from your friendly human resources professional, DWB.
Caleb interrupted my weekly Wednesday tradition with the following reader submitted question:
I am an undergraduate at a pretty big school and recently decided I want a job when I graduate so I switched my major from History to Economics with the intent on minoring in Accounting (it is too late for me to officially major in Business Economics but I plan on taking all the relevant classes anyway).
I am entering my junior year this fall but right now, my accounting academic career puts me with about a freshman level of relevant classes under my belt.
Normally, next summer would be the internship phase of a student’s life but I’m wondering if I should put off graduation by a quarter and/or go to grad school so that I might also push off my internship applying to a different summer when I have more than GC-provided gossip to offer a firm.
If I do this, are there Big 4 or mid-tier firms who would look at me for summer leadership programs (and other sophomore-oriented recruiting) or have I missed the boat on that?
I’d appreciate anything you have to say on the matter — snarky or otherwise.
Dear History Buff,
You wanted a job, so you decided to major in Economics. That statement is so conflicting I can’t tell whether it induced my headache or I simply need a third cup of coffee. The reason I say this is because I see my fair share of 3.95 GPA Econ majors from “pretty big” schools every day, and they’re desperate for work. Your accounting minor is a start but like you pointed out, it’s lacking in worthy experience. Your consideration of internships/grad school demonstrates that you’re looking beyond the remaining cup on the beer pong table and thinking about your future. Kudos.
I’m going to assume you’re considering a career in public accounting, because why else would you be on GC in the first place? You’re certainly not here for the chicks (“Chicks, man.”). If I am wrong on this assumption, follow up with me and we’ll discuss.
So, assuming the above, I suggest a few things:
1) Start talking to recruiters: They should be all over campus by this point in the semester. Make it known to them that you are pursuing a Masters in Accounting following your undergraduate degree. Ask questions about leadership programs and internships. Remember, the general timeline for Big 4 programs is leadership program two summers before graduation (for you – summer ’11); internship the summer before graduation (summer ’12).
2) Make it easy for the recruiters: Want to make a recruiter’s day easier and better position yourself in their pool of candidates? List all of your ongoing and anticipated education on your résumé, like this:
“Pretty Big School” – Anywhere, USA
• Masters in Accounting – XYZ School of Business Anticipated Graduation: May 2013
• Will be CPA eligible upon graduation
• Bachelor of Science – ABC School of Economics Anticipated Graduation: May 2012
• Economics major, Accounting minor Overall GPA: X.Y | Major GPA X.Y
Formatting your résumé in this fashion provides the reader with answers to key questions – what is this candidate majoring in; when are they done with their education and ready to work; what is their CPA eligibility.
3) Follow up: Your educational path is not the road heavily traveled by most students with dreams of Big 4. Keep yourself in the conversation with recruiters by occasionally updating them through your process. Tell them when your GPA improves after a strong semester, when you get into grad school, etc. Don’t expect a response right away but rest easy knowing that they’re updating their records. Sharing this information can be done formally over email or informally during a conversation with a recruiter while they’re on campus.
4) Talk to Career Services: Be sure you’re taking the right classes to become CPA eligible in the state where you want to be licensed. Nothing worse than taking a counselor’s word on Ballroom Dance 201 counting toward the 150 credit requirement.
Go forth…and one more piece of advice if you’re following college football: Stanford over Oregon this weekend. Do it.