November 19, 2018

Big 6?

Can I Temp for a Local CPA Firm Prior to Starting My Full-time Job?

Welcome to the massive-hangover-creeping-up-on-you-yet? edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a future “Big 6” associate wants to know if temping for local CPA firms is kosher prior to starting at her full-time employer or if this sort of thing is frowned upon.

Trying to get a handle on Twitter? Need help writing an intriguingly vague farewell letter? Annoyed by a co-worker? Email us at [email protected] and if I manage to sober up, I’ll respond in due time.

Back to our problem du jour:

Hi GC!

So here is the situation: I graduated in December with a Masters and I have a job at a “Big 6” firm that doesn’t start until next October. And while I would love to do what the recruiter suggested and go on a trip or hang out with my friends and do nothing for the next 6+ months, I need to pay rent/student loans/eat.

HR at the Firm told me I could do whatever I wanted except work in public accounting so I have been temping. Fine. Except that the only jobs that are currently available in my area are helping out a local CPA firm with tax returns. I explained to the temp agency recruiter that I can’t work in public but then we both came to the conclusion that since my timecards, paychecks, etc. all come from the temp agency, not the CPA that I am technically not working in public accounting.

Does this sound kosher? Or like my friend who calls herself a vegetarian but still eats bacon?

Thanks a bunch!
Signed,
Need to pay rent! (Rent’s too damn high) (‘Cause everything is RENT!)

Dear Need to pay rent! (Rent’s too damn high) (‘Cause everything is RENT!),

First off, in what year are you living? There hasn’t been a “Big 6” since BJs got a President impeached (I know, I still can’t believe it either). I’ll forgive your dated terminology and get to your problem at hand.

This is an interesting little loophole you’ve found and personally I feel as though you have a legitimate argument that you are complying with your future firm’s policy. The likely intention of said policy was to prevent you from landing a gig with a competitor and thus poaching you before you even start with them. As a temp, you’re simply bounding around to whomever needs the help. There’s very little risk of you joining one of these firms you’re temping for because you have a job waiting for you. Everyone involved – you, the temp firm, the temp placement agency – is aware of this. Getting your future firm involved will only cause headaches for you.

However, if you’re the anxious type that will start having nightmares about a mean ol’ partner breaking into your apartment to rifle through your records looking for any sign of your betrayal, you will run this past your future firm just to be sure but I personally don’t think it’s necessary. Temp it up!

Anyone else been in this pickle? Chime in.