U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Economics
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
 
Old 08-21-2007, 09:51 AM
 
Location: Marshall-Shadeland, Pittsburgh, PA
31,724 posts, read 72,486,186 times
Reputation: 17587

Advertisements

Good morning my fellow friends on City-Data!

As a current student entering my third-year at King's College in Pennsylvania as an accounting major, I was just wondering if any accountants lurking around this forum would be inclined to impart some wisdown onto a fledgling upcoming CPA. Considering my true passion in life is real estate---not accounting---I was hoping that having a background in accounting would be a bonus for me as I consider opening up my own real estate brokerage in the upcoming years. Would I be correct in that assessment?

I've heard nothing but horror stories about accountants being industrious individuals who work twelve hours per day six days per week and only earn $25,000 salaries to show for it. Is this truly the case, or are some CPAs just bitter? I'm personally not the "money-hungry" type. As long as I have enough money to afford a Mini Cooper and an apartment, I'm a happy camper.

I already have a firm in mind (Parente-Randolph) that I'd like to pursue for an internship. Since they are the largest regional accounting firm here in Scranton, PA, I was then hoping to have this internship (whether it be paid or unpaid) materialize into a permanent, full-time position. In your professional experiences working at your firms, what percentage of interns, on average, have permanent positions offered to them? I consider myself to be a very conscientious employee who has received an "Employee of the Month" award on multiple occasions (which would probably bode well with my references), but I know that the job market might be tight for accountants. I've heard that many of the openings created by rising demands stemming from the Sarbanes-Oxley Act are now being filled, yet I won't be in possession of my Bachelor's Degree until 2009. Do you think I'll have difficulty securing employment two years from now, or do you think the demand for accountants will stay rather steady for the next several years? I'd be willing to commute into New Jersey or New York for employment if it was required of me, so a one-way 90-minute commute wouldn't faze me.

Also, when you were interviewing for your first position or first internship, what were some of the questions a recruiter or prospective employer asked of you? Do you feel as if they put more of an emphasis on GPA (Mine is about 3.6) or on campus-related activities (I'm not very active on campus since I work nearly full-time). Would you recommend that I reduce my hours to become more active in clubs and volunteer work, or do you believe that maintaining a relatively-high GPA while working so many hours would impress an employer?

Finally, would you recommend that I immediately pursue a Master's Degree and hold off on obtaining a full-time position, or would many firms partially-reimburse me for tuition if I gained employment with them while attending classes on the side towards my Master's? Two friends of mine and I were planning to share an apartment in Philadelphia and attend graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania (if I could get accepted into Wharton's very selective program). I'm almost positive that Parente-Randolph, my desired employer, has a branch in Philadelphia, so it might be an option for me to intern in the Wilkes-Barre or Scranton areas soon and then transfer to their Philadelphia branch to pursue further education and to obtain my CPA.

Any and all advice that you knowledgeable CPAs out there could provide to me would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance,
Paul

Last edited by SteelCityRising; 08-21-2007 at 09:54 AM.. Reason: Typo
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 08-21-2007, 10:45 AM
 
Location: Sacramento
13,968 posts, read 25,447,536 times
Reputation: 6864
Many employers pay partial fees for advanced degrees. My experiences were too long ago to be relevant to you, but my kid picked up an accounting degree and works in real estate.

The degree has significant value if you intend to go independent over the long term, especially if you get involved in brokering commercial real estate transactions. I would say get into the business upon graduation, and then get a masters while working.

Others would have to discuss how to prepare, but the above advice probably would give you an optimal starting point.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-22-2007, 10:58 AM
 
Location: New England
786 posts, read 1,042,855 times
Reputation: 553
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScrantonWilkesBarre View Post
Good morning my fellow friends on City-Data!

As a current student entering my third-year at King's College in Pennsylvania as an accounting major, I was just wondering if any accountants lurking around this forum would be inclined to impart some wisdown onto a fledgling upcoming CPA. Considering my true passion in life is real estate---not accounting---I was hoping that having a background in accounting would be a bonus for me as I consider opening up my own real estate brokerage in the upcoming years. Would I be correct in that assessment?
Sure... accounting has lots of applications, and it would certainly never hurt. That said, if you're working as a real estate broker, I would be careful about offering any tax advice as part of that business. What would probably be more helpful to you, specifically, is tax knowledge... you would then be able to identify potential issues for your real estate clients to follow-up with their accountants. Plus, the accounting is always a good fall-back type of skill for when the real estate market craps out. And, i suspect, you're too young to remember what it was like when that happened in the late '80s and early '90s.



Quote:
Originally Posted by ScrantonWilkesBarre View Post
I've heard nothing but horror stories about accountants being industrious individuals who work twelve hours per day six days per week and only earn $25,000 salaries to show for it. Is this truly the case, or are some CPAs just bitter? I'm personally not the "money-hungry" type. As long as I have enough money to afford a Mini Cooper and an apartment, I'm a happy camper.
Many professions require a certain amount of dues paying, as it were, to gain entry into the field. Of course, there are firms out there that may peddle "quality of life" to attract candidates, but you need to understand the accounting business is seasonal by nature. Whether you're doing financial statement audits or tax returns... those tend be highly seasonal by nature and firms do not staff to meet peak demands for time. This means everyone has to suck it up and put in OT to meet those peak demands. Alternatively, you could be working in a consulting type of accounting area... those tend to be not so seasonal in nature, but do tend to be event-driven... you could have a hard time keeping busy one week, then a client comes in with something that needs immediate and substantial attention and you could be going flat-out to meet some deadline for him. Either way, the field tends to require a fair amount of overtime from everyone at certain times.

But that's no different from other professions. Ask any doctor what his hours were like during residency. Or some lawyer what his hours were like those first few years. And I wouldn't have any delusions about real estate brokerage, either. If you're the new guy in the office, I wouldn't count on getting handed many big-ticket properties to sell... those will go to the more experienced people. Low guy on the totem pole probably gets to sell all the crap 'til he proves himself. That could mean lots of long hours for not much $$ in return, too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ScrantonWilkesBarre View Post
I already have a firm in mind (Parente-Randolph) that I'd like to pursue for an internship. Since they are the largest regional accounting firm here in Scranton, PA, I was then hoping to have this internship (whether it be paid or unpaid) materialize into a permanent, full-time position. In your professional experiences working at your firms, what percentage of interns, on average, have permanent positions offered to them?
When I was a big-4 firm, we hired lots of interns to meet those peak demands I talked about earlier. We would routinely make job offers to the best ones. That means the BEST ones. Not the good ones.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ScrantonWilkesBarre View Post
I consider myself to be a very conscientious employee who has received an "Employee of the Month" award on multiple occasions (which would probably bode well with my references), but I know that the job market might be tight for accountants. I've heard that many of the openings created by rising demands stemming from the Sarbanes-Oxley Act are now being filled, yet I won't be in possession of my Bachelor's Degree until 2009. Do you think I'll have difficulty securing employment two years from now, or do you think the demand for accountants will stay rather steady for the next several years?
I've been in the field, now, for over 25 years. There is always some demand. What is most variable is the supply that's competing for those available jobs. When the economy is humming along like it was in the mid-'80s and in the late '90s, you'll have people calling you up out of the blue to hire you away to some other job. But when the economy is tanking, firms fold up, businesses fold up, and there can be lots of very experienced accountants hitting the pavement all competing for a smaller number of jobs. This happened in a big way when Arthur Anderson folded up. All of a sudden, there were lots of highly qualified, highly competent people looking for jobs... if you were competing against them, it was going to be tough. A similar thing happened in the early '90s when Laventhol & Horwath folded up. They were a national firm, not big-8, big-6, or big 4, but big enough to affect local job markets in pretty much every major metropolitan area in the US.

But if you're looking to go into real estate brokerage... again... take off the rose-colored glasses. When the real estate market slows down, that ain't going to be any picnic, either.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ScrantonWilkesBarre View Post
Also, when you were interviewing for your first position or first internship, what were some of the questions a recruiter or prospective employer asked of you? Do you feel as if they put more of an emphasis on GPA (Mine is about 3.6) or on campus-related activities (I'm not very active on campus since I work nearly full-time). Would you recommend that I reduce my hours to become more active in clubs and volunteer work, or do you believe that maintaining a relatively-high GPA while working so many hours would impress an employer?
I cannot remember what I was asked back that far. But I have done some hiring in my day, though. For an entry-level CPA, I am most concerned about how industrious the person is.... how willing are they to take charge of a job, roll up their sleeves, put on their thinking cap, dig in, and get the friggin' job done. Very often, GPA is a good indicator of this. Frankly, I really don't give a crap about what kind of other activiites you did while in college. Don't kid yourself, kid... that GPA is important. I think it's human nature to want to reduce any particular problem to the simplest common denominator. When evaluating college recruits, the GPA is a pretty darned simple common denominator. And, at least when I was in your spot, the big firms wouldn't even talk to anyone that didn't have at least a 3.5 GPA.

So look at it this way... as a kid looking to break into the field... you're going to want a high GPA to get you in the door. The higher the GPA, the more attractive you will be, and the more options you will have. After you're in the door, forget about that GPA. After you're hired, you cannot be a primadonna. After you're hired, you're going to be evaluated, especially that first year, on how hard you work. If you're a clock-watcher, you're probably going to have problems. If you're willing to suck it up and make significant personal sacrifice (at times), you're probaby going to do fairly well. Especially if you've got some smarts to go along with that industriousness. But don't think for a second that being the smartest mofo they ever hired is going to impress anyone if you don't pull your weight when the crap hits the fan. Got it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ScrantonWilkesBarre View Post
Finally, would you recommend that I immediately pursue a Master's Degree and hold off on obtaining a full-time position, or would many firms partially-reimburse me for tuition if I gained employment with them while attending classes on the side towards my Master's? Two friends of mine and I were planning to share an apartment in Philadelphia and attend graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania (if I could get accepted into Wharton's very selective program). I'm almost positive that Parente-Randolph, my desired employer, has a branch in Philadelphia, so it might be an option for me to intern in the Wilkes-Barre or Scranton areas soon and then transfer to their Philadelphia branch to pursue further education and to obtain my CPA.
My attitude towards graduate degrees in the business field, is they're worth more once you have some work experience behind you. Many LARGE firms - national or international - have tuition reimbursement programs. You just have to take your master's degree in an area that will help the firm. You could be up against another obstacle, though, if you're going with a local or regional firm. They may have varying levels of sympathy when it comes to time demands made by that graduate program. Generally, though, if they are paying for it, they tend to see it as an investment and tend to be more accommodating when it comes to allowing your work schedule to conform to the school demands. If you're paying for it yourself, though, and especially if working for a smaller employer, they may not even care about that graduate degree... they may just see it as another (unwelcome) demand on your time that takes away from the time you have to work for them.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-22-2007, 12:17 PM
 
18 posts, read 101,664 times
Reputation: 43
As for starting salary of $25k, it really depends on where you're working. But the first couple of years, whether you're interning or working part-time in your field of study, are always tough pay-wise. After completing your undergrad studies, things look begin to look up. It works out better if you have some relevant experience by the time you graduate and are ready to work full-time. In NY or NJ, starting salary for an accounting clerk is somewhere around $30k, and b/w $40k - $55k for a staff accountant.

I never found public accounting appealing, but that's just my opinion. I always found corporate/management accounting more exciting. I know that 60 hour work weeks are the norm during tax season in public accounting. As for your graduate studies, it definitely makes you more marketable but you are the only one that can determine if the benefits outweigh the cost, especially if it's not going to be a reimbursed expense. I'm currently earning my Masters, but not requesting reimbursement from my employer, since that would bind me for another year.

If you're going to be an accountant, do think about getting your license. That's probably going to be more beneficial in your career than graduate studies.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-22-2007, 06:41 PM
 
Location: Marshall-Shadeland, Pittsburgh, PA
31,724 posts, read 72,486,186 times
Reputation: 17587
I'd like to express my deepest gratitude to all three of you for taking the time to reply to all of my inquiries! I truly do appreciate it very much!

I can handle 35-hour work weeks now while usually handling 18-credit semester courseloads, so the prospect of a 60-hour work week doesn't even faze me. I'm used to not having much of a social life (my friends are mostly online ones), but I haven't become so introverted that I can't be a "team player" (which I know is a big asset in the corporate world). I'm hopefully destined to become a "big fish in a little pond," as I aspire to become a corporate standout in a small city as opposed to being "just another face in the crowd" in a larger place like NYC, Philly, DC, etc.

I'm actually planning to reduce my hours at work this semester so I can make a better effort to become involved in campus-related activities. I'm entering my Junior year at college, yet I haven't been to a single party, don't belong to a single club, and don't have the time to volunteer as much as I'd like. I'm now in a more financially-secure position than I was when I first enrolled in college, so I now have the luxury of cutting back my hours accordingly. I've often been told that the college years are the "best years of your life," yet I haven't seen evidence of this thus far, which is why I'm going to try to make more friends and reach out to the community more this year.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Economics

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 04:02 AM.

© 2005-2022, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Contact Us - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37 - Top