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Are you a high school student curious about resumes? Or the CPA exam? Or the size of your future paycheck? Enter your question below and we’ll have a real-life CPA answer it. 

If you are in college or beyond, get the answers to your questions by contacting the Academic & Career Awareness team.

 

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Q: How likely is it to have job offers before you graduate if you have a 3.5+ GPA with a Big 4 audit firm?

A lot of factors go into consideration in addition to GPA.

- First, be sure you meet the educational requirements to sit for the CPA when you graduate college. You can access state-specific information at the following link: www.startheregoplaces.com

- Extracurricular involvement demonstrates an ability to work in a team, which is required for any public accounting job.

- Work experience and internships demonstrate professional skills.

- There are also intangible qualities firms look for in new recruits – Can the candidate work independently yet also as part of a team? Does the candidate enjoy problem solving and interaction with clients and colleagues? Does the candidate possess a curious mind and desire to learn? Be sure to exemplify these skills when applying for jobs!

- You also need to be proactive and work with your college career office and network and talk to people already working at a Big 4 firm. It doesn’t hurt to get started as soon as possible. You’ll find a lot of CPAs would relish the opportunity to help out any students interested in the field, so don’t hesitate to reach out to your contacts.

Internships & First Job, Public Accounting, Salary

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Q: I'm considering studying business and accounting in college but am unsure if it’s right for me. I'm not a big 'numbers' guy, but am very interested in business/marketing. I also consider myself to be a pretty creative/artsy guy.
Ben Ellingson

Answered by:
Ben Ellingson, Partner

The aspects of any successful business go well beyond simple number crunching. Communication skills, creative thinking, relationship building, problem solving, effective marketing – the list goes on and on – all play an essential role and are important tools to becoming successful in business.

With an accounting background, you are poised to succeed in accounting, industry, marketing, or any number of other career paths because you have the necessary background to be able to understand the inner-workings and financial aspects of business. You will have a great understanding of analyzing, predicting, reporting, and evaluating very important data, and with a compliment of creative skills as you mention above, your options will be even greater.

There is no better entrance tool to any business-related position than an accounting degree and the CPA designation. With these, you’ll find yourself holding a very important key to your future – whatever future you choose.

Being a CPA, Colleges & Classes

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Q: How much family time do you get? I'm afraid that if i do go this route that I'll become a work-aholic...is this right?
Ben Ellingson

Answered by:
Ben Ellingson, Partner

Work-life balance has been a frequent discussion recently for both private companies and CPA firms alike. The good news is that, as a CPA, you will have credentials that designate you as a knowledgeable professional who can manage their own schedule and workload.

I currently work alongside a number of successful leaders and staff in our firm that are under flexible schedule arrangements to help accommodate family and other interests. Additionally, there are a number of opportunities for me and others to occasionally work from home or at varying times in the day, allowing us to maintain the schedule of our families while continuing down a great career path in accounting.

With the work-life balance and flexible schedule conversations on the forefront of employers’ minds today, the stage is perfectly set for you to enter a strong profession for a successful career while maintaining the quality of life you desire.

Being a CPA, Work/Life Balance

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Q: How does a student obtain an internship at an accounting firm?

The job market has become increasingly more competitive over the years. While I never applied for an accounting internship, I feel most firms have the same hiring process for potential intern and full-time candidates. From my experience interviewing for full-time positions, as well as from helping with recruiting at PwC, I offer the following suggestions:

1) Do well in school. Having a high GPA (3.5+) shows potential employers that you have the academic aptitude to add value to their firm.

2) Get involved! It's not enough to have a stellar GPA. Get involved with organizations that interest you on campus, and hold leadership position(s) in these organizations. Employers don't necessarily care about the quantity of extracurricular activities, but rather the quality. In our jobs, it is crucial to be able to balance multiple things at once - having a high GPA and holding leadership in activities show employers that you're able to prioritize and multitask.

3) Network, network, network. I cannot stress this point enough. Employers probably won't offer you an internship after your freshman year, but you could always try to do a job shadow in your early college career. I would recommend going to career fair as a freshman/sophomore to give you practice in speaking to employers, but also to help build relationships with people at firms that interest you.

For instance, my freshman year, prior to even declaring myself as an accounting major, I had the opportunity to meet with a partner at PwC. Over the years, we maintained a relationship, so that by senior year when I applied for a full-time job, he knew who I was and what I achieved throughout College. I truly do feel that network which started my freshman year made a difference.

4) Research the internship program. Prior to career fair and the various interview rounds, make sure you research the firm and the position you seek. By doing your research, you can ask meaningful questions and help set yourself apart from your peers.

5) Participate in a mock interview/go to a resume critique. To gain constructive feedback in how to improve your professional interaction skills, I strongly suggest signing up for a mock interview. Also, resume critiques will help you strengthen your resume and highlight the points that will matter to recruiters. Note that accounting firms conduct mock interviews and resume critiques - these opportunities could serve as another great way to network!

Good luck in your quest for an internship! It's a competitive and rigorous process, but the steps above should help make you a stronger candidate.

Internships & First Job, Public Accounting

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Q: What was the hardest part about getting your education?

That is a great question! The hardest thing about successfully completing undergraduate, graduate and the CPA exam was finding the time to devote to my studies. I believe that one should always strive for academic perfection even if ultimately it can’t be achieved.

In my undergraduate program I was on a full basketball scholarship which meant prioritizing my time was essential. I had to endure long practices, late night study sessions, a hectic travel schedule which required me to take exams earlier than the rest of my classmates, and constantly utilize all my professors office hours because I was a dual major.

In my graduate program time management became even more important because I started working full-time and training to make a professional sports team. Graduate school was intense and required a level of commitment quite different from anything I had ever experienced. I traveled for basketball tryouts, played in semi-pro leagues, worked as a temporary consultant and performed my graduate assistant duties at school for two-years. Upon graduation I joined PricewaterhouseCoopers, studied for the CPA exam, and played professional basketball.

Education in and of itself is a powerful tool. Always create the necessary time to learn as much as possible so that you can constructively impact our global society in ways people have never imagined.

Colleges & Classes

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