One of the toughest questions facing college students today is not "Can I find a job?" Instead, it's "When I graduate, what is the right place to start my career?" The consensus opinion in the industry is that a start in Public Accounting is the best place to get broad-based exposure to a multitude of companies.
Public Accounting, especially if you begin your career in the audit arena, provides you with a chance to work with a different company, on average, every two to three weeks. In the span of just two years, accountants are exposed to the operations of over 35 companies.
This kind of exposure can give you the opportunity to learn about the detailed workings of many corporations. Some will be efficiently run enterprises, while others will be wildly disorganized. Some will be profitable, but others will be unprofitable. Some will possess a strong management team, but some will be hampered by a weak one. It's all valuable experience.
As an auditor, you will be analyzing the compliance of companies with policies and procedures, as well as being provided a substantive look at each company's books. You will also be expected to come up with ideas to improve the operation of the company.
You can leverage this experience to become a valuable resource or consultant for future clients and companies. If you wish to make the move to private industry after a couple years in Public Accounting, the knowledge and value you will bring to that company will help that company grow, while also serving to promote your own career.
In Public Accounting, you will face challenges not only to your accounting practices and your knowledge of theory, but also in areas not typically related to accounting, such as writing skills, presentation and client relations skills.
These challenges will help you grow into future positions of leadership and management within an organization as well as develop your interpersonal skills. Since only 2% of accountants who start in Public Accounting actually make partner in a public accounting firm, these skills gained in the public arena will prove invaluable when you make the leap, along with 98% of the industry's other accountants, to the world of private industry.