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Age in the big 4

"I have spent a few years in corporate and graduated from college 5 years ago. I have passed the FAR section of the CPA exam so far. My question is, what are the chances of me at 30 years old, getting into public accounting? I don't expect to get into the Big4 unless I was a recent graduate but will the public firms still look at my GPA?

This got me thinking about age. At 30, do you really want to get a job where you're going to be taking instructions from 23-29 year olds for your first five years? Can you deal with a busy season where you're going to be the one taking food orders every day? Recent college grads telling you to make copies for them? Easier said than done, no? If i was hiring for the big 4, i'd honestly shy away from people above a certain age for their sake. Don't get me wrong, age discrimination is illegal, and firms do hire older people at times, but I wouldn't recommend it. You might not fit in culture wise also since many of the activities and conversations will be dominated by the recent grad crowd. If I had to have a cutoff age for people joining as an entry-level auditor, i'd say 27-28.
So can you get hired as an entry level staff? Yes. Are they high? No. Will the firms look at your GPA? They will, as a cutoff for you getting an interview. Your work experience isn't as important because auditing is best learned on the job. Your best best would be through referrals, and passing your CPA. You'd want to prep a good answers for one question at the interview -Why now?


ABD said…
It's not ethical or comfortable to try to hide your age, especially if you *seem* 30, but if you can fit in well with your younger peers, that could be a plus.

I know we had some older students in my masters program, and some of them clearly stood out, and just had different concerns in their lives than us younger folks. However, some of the older people fit right in socially, which made them seem younger.

Perhaps what I'm seeing in those people is a willingness to play a younger persons role - especially by not acting like they somehow know better than the rest of us by being older - because all first-year staff will be on basically the same footing, no matter their age.
Anonymous said…
I know this is an old post, but I'm finding this blog so helpful that I've read all the way back to Oct'10!

I'm in a similar situation as this person. I have 8 years work experience, 6 of those in corporate accounting/finance positions. All small (20-100 employees) offices, though 2 of 3 were part of larger public companies.

I've gone back to get my MSA full-time with hopes of passing the CPA exam this summer. I am in crazy recruiting mode right now though and am so torn. I spoke with my long time headhunter, and she thinks that there's little point to having a CPA without public accounting experience.

I have to be honest, the thought of working 60 hours/week scares the crap out of me. And yes, I'll be almost 32 when I start in Sept. and am married so I have a different lifestyle than the 23 year olds. But I am social, funny, and can laugh at my age, so hopefully I'll still be hired.

I just don't think there is any way of me, as an old-timer, getting around an entry-level auditing position. I'd like to jump right to Sr. Accountant in corporate somewhere, but just don't know if it's possible.

Any advice? Am I going to be fired if I am usually the first to leave? Or have doctor's appointments? Or want to have a life with my husband? Realistically, I plan on being at a firm 1-2 years before moving on to corporate. Does this seem possible? Would a smaller firm be any more accomodating than the Big 4?

Any advice you have would be helpful- I'm so lost.

Thank you! Your posts have been such an amazing resource. I wish I had started on this tract at 22, not 31, but what can you do?
notfordisplay said…
It's not worth going into public accounting at your age, trust me. And your headhunter is dead wrong, a CPA is huge. If anything, go for a smaller firm, where the hours are less strenuous, but you still get public accounting experience. Hope this helps.

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