Tips For Landing Your First Accounting Job


As a recent Accounting degree graduate, you may be facing many unknowns. Just as you thought you were getting the hang of being a college student, you’re thrown out of your normal groove and into the workforce. You have to decide what area of work to pursue, what your specialization should be, where to even work, or even face the challenge of deciding to return to school to pursue your master’s degree in Accounting.

Here are some common questions during your time as a recent college grad and tips for navigating through your journey into the real world:

Where Should You Work?

Like most business-related majors, you have the option of working at a small or large company. The “Big 4” accounting firms you vie for include Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. These companies may recruit immediately after graduation (or a semester before) and prefer someone with at least one internship under their belt. Larger firms tend to be more competitive than smaller firms or in-house accounting work, but nonetheless a large pool of entry-level accountants are hired each year at each of the organizations.

Small firms or in-house work is another option for college graduates. Working in a small business, you may be the only accounting professional employed but that comes with its benefits as well because you can get your hands on in multiple areas of the business. You may see that the structure of your workday is less rigid than at a Big 4 firm, but at the same time your opportunity for advancement may not be as clear.

Should You Pursue a Specialization?

There are a number of career paths you can take in accounting. It simply depends on your personal preference. Options can include tax accountancy, auditing, budget analysis, management accounting, and CPA employment. To practice as a CPA, you will need to pass the CPA examination. For other specializations, you have the choice of pursuing a degree specialization while in school, which can differentiate yourself from other candidates.

What if You Don’t Have Enough Experience?

Accounting firms you approach for a job may have different expectations about your level of experience (in addition to a degree). If you’re caught in this catch 22—no experience, but can’t get it without a job—consider volunteering at a non-profit organization and community association. Every business needs for an accountant – even nonprofit organizations – so this may be a great way to gain experience while serving the greater good.

You can also set yourself apart from the pack by taking courses in technology or advanced mathematics, things that can prove very useful in today’s technology-driven economy. As a college student, you could choose to get an emphasis in these areas while pursuing your bachelor’s degree or obtain non-degree certifications.

What Else Can You Do To Position Yourself for Career Success?

Most employers are take the time to hold informational interviews with students or recent graduates. Take advantage of this opportunity, as you will learn insights into the profession and opportunities available within the company.

Another step you can take is heading to your college or University’s career services department. This is one of the most underutilized services in college. Resume help and career counseling normally cost a bundle, but the career services department will help you at no cost. Having someone with experience to coach you through the inroads of employment is invaluable.

Getting your first accounting job may not be easy, especially in a bleak economy. But, put these actions to practice, and you may see great career success!

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