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First off, Happy New Year.

Thought I'd start off with a book recommendation..."Ahead of the Curve: Two years at Harvard Business School" by Philip Delves Broughton. The book is about his two years at HBS - the classes, the HBS culture and the stress that comes along with it. It's a good read, and although there are many pages you can skip, it's worth looking at just to understand the makeup of the HBS classes and the class culture and dynamic. For those of you considering an MBA, check this out.


Anonymous said…
Thanks for the blog. You post some really interesting stuff. I have a question for you, if you don't mind helping me out. I am a senior working on my BSBA with dual concentrations in economics and accounting. Do you think getting my Masters in Accounting right after I graduate is worth it? Is there any real payoff? Thanks for any advice.
notfordisplay said…
Thanks for the compliment.
I'm guessing that the BSBA is a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. The only reason people get a masters in accounting is to get the required credits to sit for the CPA exam and be certified as a CPA, at least in the US. If the credits from your BSBA are good enough to be certified, then a masters is definitely not worth it. If you need an extra 30 credits or so, then instead of just taking extra bachelor's degree classes, you might as well do a Masters' in accounting instead. So essentially, what it boils down to amongst the accounting firms, and even other accounting jobs for that matter, is your certification, regardless of whether you have a masters degree. Hope this helps.
Anonymous said…
So this is an unrelated post and if you can offer any advice I would love it. What can you tell me about the different possible tracks a person would take at the Big 4 in regards to tax vs. audit? Is there a difference in career progression among the two specialties? How about career potential? Workload? I know this is busy season, so thank you for your input.
Anonymous said…
That is the book that made me dropout of Notre Dame grad school. Went through recruiting season and could see how much the managers hated thier life. Started reading the book, got to the last chapter, didn't finish the last chapter, threw the book in the trash, decided public accounting wasn't for me, packed my bags and headed back to the sunshine state. Where do I work now? Public accounting. God has a funny sense of humor. I must have been pretty bad in a past life!

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career progression

"What can you tell me about the different possible tracks a person would take at the Big 4 in regards to tax vs. audit? Is there a difference in career progression among the two specialties? How about career potential? Workload?"

Loaded question. In terms of career potential, they're both pretty potent. Audit leads you to controller/accounting manager/ VP - accounting positions at companies if you choose to quit. Tax can lead to tax manager positions at various companies/ help them minimize taxes and exploit tax loopholes. It's a pretty important position in many companies...I'm not an expert on tax careers though, so you might want to ask somebody in a tax related position.
In terms of career progression, it's the same as audit...start off as a staff associate...move to senior..manager..snr mgr..partner.
In terms of workload, my friends in the tax department seem to work two busy the fall and in the spring. So I think they work more than i…


As a big four employee, lately, I've been hearing a lot about "boomerang" employees. Those who, for some reason or another, decide that leaving work when the sun is still out is not for them and alas, return back to the firm. Yes, the grass is not always greener on the other side, however, is this trending upward or about the same as it always has been? I think, also, that the firms really do a good job in highlighting those that do choose to return to make it appear more common than reality. Can you please speak about how you've seen the trend of "boomerangs" amongst the big 4? 

Good question. A boomerang, as the commenter pointed, is one who quits a big 4 Firm and then decides to return (or boomerang) back to the Firm after getting a taste of work life in the non-public accounting world.
I have seen a few return this past summer, but didn't really notice a trend until you mentioned it. It's definitely been higher than past years, but not enough to s…

auditing vs consulting

I was wondering if you could break down the career opportunities in auditing and consulting (in a big 4). I know that consulting pays more in a big 4 and has more interesting work, but it seems that auditing has extremely good exit opportunities (Financial controller, CFO etc). Any thoughts on which is better in the long run?

Well there's different consulting services offered by public accounting companies - the most popular being IT consulting and risk consulting. There are also other consulting services offered, but these two hire the most. Do they pay more? Yes, but not by much. Not enough for you to say: Shoot, the $$ is a huge reason for me to move over. Is the work more interesting than audit? Yes. You're actually looking over a company's processes and telling them what to do instead of what not to do (audit). Everyone I know who's made the switch likes it waay better than audit.
In the long run though, choosing audit vs consulting really depends on what you want t…