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# Big4 auditor with CPA interested in MBA

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Big4 auditor with CPA interested in MBA [#permalink]  22 May 2011, 18:41
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currently I'm an auditor at a Big4 in a major city. i've only been there for a year, but i'm already thinking about what i should do next with my career because I do not want to do this forever. i know the best Bschools typically want you to have a good 5 yrs of work exp before you start, but i was wondering how they view applicants with only 2 yrs work exp (2 when applying, 3 by the time i start). i have good leadership experience from college (president of student govt and cultural organization), but barely any during my first year at Big4.

also, how are auditors viewed in general by the top bschools? i know ibankers and consultants prob have the edge over us but how is auditing work experience and having the CPA license viewed? thanks in advance and sorry if this is the wrong forum to post this, im new to this site and this is my first time posting.
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Re: Big4 auditor with CPA interested in MBA [#permalink]  26 May 2011, 07:54
I was a big 4 auditor for four years and have worked at a startup for the past year. You definitely want to at least make senior before you apply. I haven't applied yet, but my friends from big 4 who went on to b-school say employers generally like former big 4 guys. I think the accounting skills apply pretty well to i-banking. I think consultants would look at us favorably too because we're used to a tough job where we work a lot and (depending on your clients) have to travel all the time. We are also good for consulting because we've worked in similar teams and we have to deal with clients who hate us about 10 times a day. I'm not even joking when I say this; all these things should be looked upon favorably by employers.

If you are looking to get into PE, VC, or hedge funds, then you are definitely fighting a gigantic uphill battle, but for other professions I think being a former big 4 auditor is a good thing.

As for business schools, I've seen lots of instances where big 4 auditors have gotten into top 10 schools. You are right that i-bankers and consultants have an edge, but that doesn't mean you won't have a strong chance with your application, provided you do well on the GMAT and have a good GPA and extracurriculars. Business schools want people from diverse work backgrounds, so they will take a percentage of accountants. Even though big 4 auditing is very tedious and involves lots of mindless work, you can basically craft a story that makes you sound way, way better than that.
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Re: Big4 auditor with CPA interested in MBA [#permalink]  29 Jun 2011, 12:02
Possible but an uphill battle for top 10. My route...

I applied to HSW/MIT and only got into Wharton/MIT with better than average stats and really good recs/essays, ended up not choosing either. My thoughts on the H/S rejections were I had the stats and the story but not the pedigree (small liberal arts college and local CPA firm-> Big4 Audit). Had I rocked an 800 and a 4.0 it still would have been a toss up. Ended up going to the evening program at Chicago as I'm more in it for the education and not a huge career switch. In hindsight I would have only considered H/S over Chicago, so it worked out in the end. I would say for Big4 spend a year as a senior and then apply the leadership experience of your first year of senioring jobs as an essay tool (3 years at app time). You're stats have to be great for top 10, eg 3.7 GPA/750 GMAT to overcome the pedigree handicap as I assume you also have a State School undergrad but it's possible, you just really need a story and not a BS one that says your passion was to be a Banker.

I have a few Big4 people in my classes (full-time included) but most did something after Big4 or are outside the US where the firms are more into higher value service lines and hence have more prestige. In college everyone thought working at PWC was the end-all, but for Bschool that's near the bottom of the food chain, and audit sits even at the bottom of this perception. Some would recommend going into a TS service line after two years to position yourself better for B-school recruiting later on (and hence make you a better looking admissions candidate).

A 15-30 ranked school is usually a good bet for a Big 4 person as to get in a firm you already had pretty good stats, so make sure you line up the recs and get the scores/craft your story so you have a shot at breaking into a top 7. Or do a unique long-term overseas non-profit stint/ be a woman/ or a non-white/indian/asian ethnicity. At least you have time on your side for the former.
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Re: Big4 auditor with CPA interested in MBA [#permalink]  04 Jul 2011, 03:34
big4sucks wrote:
currently I'm an auditor at a Big4 in a major city. i've only been there for a year, but i'm already thinking about what i should do next with my career because I do not want to do this forever. i know the best Bschools typically want you to have a good 5 yrs of work exp before you start, but i was wondering how they view applicants with only 2 yrs work exp (2 when applying, 3 by the time i start). i have good leadership experience from college (president of student govt and cultural organization), but barely any during my first year at Big4.

also, how are auditors viewed in general by the top bschools? i know ibankers and consultants prob have the edge over us but how is auditing work experience and having the CPA license viewed? thanks in advance and sorry if this is the wrong forum to post this, im new to this site and this is my first time posting.

I will answer you sincerelly (since I was an auditor as well) - this is a very big problem to address challenges, describe your path with B4 experience, however it is doable. If

Any case you should use admission consultants.
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Re: Big4 auditor with CPA interested in MBA [#permalink]  05 Jul 2011, 04:03
Boothie2013 wrote:
Possible but an uphill battle for top 10. My route...

I applied to HSW/MIT and only got into Wharton/MIT with better than average stats and really good recs/essays, ended up not choosing either. My thoughts on the H/S rejections were I had the stats and the story but not the pedigree (small liberal arts college and local CPA firm-> Big4 Audit). Had I rocked an 800 and a 4.0 it still would have been a toss up. Ended up going to the evening program at Chicago as I'm more in it for the education and not a huge career switch. In hindsight I would have only considered H/S over Chicago, so it worked out in the end. I would say for Big4 spend a year as a senior and then apply the leadership experience of your first year of senioring jobs as an essay tool (3 years at app time). You're stats have to be great for top 10, eg 3.7 GPA/750 GMAT to overcome the pedigree handicap as I assume you also have a State School undergrad but it's possible, you just really need a story and not a BS one that says your passion was to be a Banker.

I have a few Big4 people in my classes (full-time included) but most did something after Big4 or are outside the US where the firms are more into higher value service lines and hence have more prestige. In college everyone thought working at PWC was the end-all, but for Bschool that's near the bottom of the food chain, and audit sits even at the bottom of this perception. Some would recommend going into a TS service line after two years to position yourself better for B-school recruiting later on (and hence make you a better looking admissions candidate).

A 15-30 ranked school is usually a good bet for a Big 4 person as to get in a firm you already had pretty good stats, so make sure you line up the recs and get the scores/craft your story so you have a shot at breaking into a top 7. Or do a unique long-term overseas non-profit stint/ be a woman/ or a non-white/indian/asian ethnicity. At least you have time on your side for the former.

Are you saying that a small liberal arts college and a local CPA firm is BETTER than Big 4 audit experience??

I only ask because I am coming from a regional CPA firm..haha.
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Re: Big4 auditor with CPA interested in MBA [#permalink]  05 Jul 2011, 11:43
MU2011CPA wrote:
Boothie2013 wrote:
Possible but an uphill battle for top 10. My route...

I applied to HSW/MIT and only got into Wharton/MIT with better than average stats and really good recs/essays, ended up not choosing either. My thoughts on the H/S rejections were I had the stats and the story but not the pedigree (small liberal arts college and local CPA firm-> Big4 Audit). Had I rocked an 800 and a 4.0 it still would have been a toss up. Ended up going to the evening program at Chicago as I'm more in it for the education and not a huge career switch. In hindsight I would have only considered H/S over Chicago, so it worked out in the end. I would say for Big4 spend a year as a senior and then apply the leadership experience of your first year of senioring jobs as an essay tool (3 years at app time). You're stats have to be great for top 10, eg 3.7 GPA/750 GMAT to overcome the pedigree handicap as I assume you also have a State School undergrad but it's possible, you just really need a story and not a BS one that says your passion was to be a Banker.

I have a few Big4 people in my classes (full-time included) but most did something after Big4 or are outside the US where the firms are more into higher value service lines and hence have more prestige. In college everyone thought working at PWC was the end-all, but for Bschool that's near the bottom of the food chain, and audit sits even at the bottom of this perception. Some would recommend going into a TS service line after two years to position yourself better for B-school recruiting later on (and hence make you a better looking admissions candidate).

A 15-30 ranked school is usually a good bet for a Big 4 person as to get in a firm you already had pretty good stats, so make sure you line up the recs and get the scores/craft your story so you have a shot at breaking into a top 7. Or do a unique long-term overseas non-profit stint/ be a woman/ or a non-white/indian/asian ethnicity. At least you have time on your side for the former.

Are you saying that a small liberal arts college and a local CPA firm is BETTER than Big 4 audit experience??

I only ask because I am coming from a regional CPA firm..haha.

No. This is more of a handicap. To clarify I came from a small liberal arts college to a local CPA firm and then to a Big 4 (I think that statement was unclear). Had I not had the short duration at a Big4 firm on my resume I would have an even further handicap. The switch to a Big4 (and some classes at a well ranked state school after undergrad) likely helped my chances to a great degree.

The fact of the matter is that M-7 programs are looking at your application not just for admission but for how well you will be recruited once your done. If your background won't get the recruiters for the Bulge Brackets and MBB's perking up it means that you become a liability on post-graduation employement stats, and since the "pedigree" fields are the highest paying these are the first types of jobs Elite programs want to position a recruiting class for (higher salaries, accelerated career trajectory, etc).

Undergrad accounting majors are told that the Big4 are the end all be all of employers, and the fact of the matter is that for post-M-7 MBA employers experience in MBB consulting or I-Banking is primarily what the high paying industries are looking for at the M-7 schools. Once you get into to 20-30 ranked MBA's you have F500's trying to recruit people for finance and controller positions, area's where Big4 experienced is valued.

I would add to this that part of the reason that top Part-time MBA's are less pedigree oriented is due to less of a recruiting mindset when it comes to looking at applicants. Most of them are planning to stay in the same job or maybe not go thru recruiting or go to F500 companies and thus having Mckinsey on your resume versus KPMG isn't as big of a deal to get in the door.

Don't get me wrong, working at a Big4 is a great job relative to the rest of the world, but at a top school the peer group you are compared to is from the best of the business world. Big4 audit adds little to no value to society and while you could argue that MBB consulting or I-banking adds little as well, they at least get paid more to add the value free stuff. I'm not saying don't try but adjust your expectations and effort accordingly.
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Re: Big4 auditor with CPA interested in MBA [#permalink]  09 Jul 2011, 08:39
im guessing evening programs are easier to get into than full-time programs but is there a disadvantage to being in the part-time program when it comes to recruiting? will the MBB's view a candidate differently if they see that their a part time student rather than a full-time one?

also, is it possible to switch from part-time to full-time? i know this is possible at law schools where you can enter as a part-time student but can switch over to full-time by just taking classes during the summer after ur first year. i was just wondering if this was possible for MBA programs as well.
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Re: Big4 auditor with CPA interested in MBA [#permalink]  11 Jul 2011, 10:03
big4sucks wrote:
im guessing evening programs are easier to get into than full-time programs but is there a disadvantage to being in the part-time program when it comes to recruiting? will the MBB's view a candidate differently if they see that their a part time student rather than a full-time one?

also, is it possible to switch from part-time to full-time? i know this is possible at law schools where you can enter as a part-time student but can switch over to full-time by just taking classes during the summer after ur first year. i was just wondering if this was possible for MBA programs as well.

Evening program- yes it's easier, although it's not a shoe in. You need the numbers (for example at Chicago there are still plenty of 700 GMAT people who get rejected if they lack good WE or GPA's). As for recruiting it may or may not be a handicap depending on the position you are recruiting for. For MBB it is a huge handicap. Yes every year 5 or 10 PT people form Booth make it to MBB but they are anomolies, and usually from a Consulting background already. You can do an internship in the PT program, but have to get it on your own. For MBB to get an internship out of the PT program I don't really know if you could. You don't have access to the same meet and greets and everything. I have one of those "friends" who got one, but seriously don't go PT if you want to make a career switch to MBB. While you "might" be able to do it you would be much better served by a lower ranked (10-15 program) than by a PT MBA (and on that level I would say Booth and Northwestern are the only PT programs that would even give you a slim shot). For F500 roles I actually don't see a handicap, at least at Booth from the students I know. If you want to work at a Dow or a GE it might be more difficult from PT but for the vast majority of F500 roles being recruited at Booth I've seen that most Part-timers get offers at the same rate as full-timers. For BB front office roles and MBB this is not the case. They have very structured recruiting systems, and as such if you don't take the traditional path (FT M-7 MBA, Internship, offer) then you are trying to be the anomoly which doesn't usually bode well for the party involved.

MBB's may or may not view PT vs FT candidates differently come 2nd year OCR if both had say a F500 internship, but this is only true on a basic level. Recruiting events are huge. they are a major part of why you go to a top business school. If you are PT you are limited to the use of these events and as such you are handicaped. From the conversations I've had, once you get a first round interview for MBB PT vs. FT doesn't matter, it all comes down to your cases and how you leverage your experience. The trick is whether you get the interview, which as a FT student you have an advantage (can usually get more bids for interview spots, have spent a year going to the casual meet and greets/dinners). For a firm like McKinsey who normally gives a bunch of first round interviews this might not be a big deal, for the rest you are fighting an uphill battle. Remember if you don't meet the 3.5 threshold and the 700ish GMAT score that firms use as a screener this stuff doesn't even matter. At Booth most PT's have these stats, at a UCLA or UCB type school the PT program median likely puts most of these guys out of the running.

I think it used to be possible to switch to FT at Chicago, that door was closed 5 or so years back. You could take all FT classes down at the Hyde Park campus, but cannot switch into the programs. From my knowledge of Northwestern the same is true for them, but I don't go there so cannot ensure this is 100% correct.

As to MBB my summary would be this: It's possible if you fit the stats, but don't count on it. If you want to make a career switch go FT, PT is not set up to make these goals happen and just because it sometimes does doesn't mean this is the norm.
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Re: Big4 auditor with CPA interested in MBA [#permalink]  15 Sep 2012, 10:06
Bump

I'm in a similar situation but I'm in tax (federal tax compliance) instead of audit. I too have an uphill battle, probably a larger one given my profile (see my ask admissions post for stats).
I think tax accounting is interesting, however,i don't see myself doing all the legal beagle stuff.
Realistically, my post-MBA goal would be to get into a F500 finance role/corp strategy in the Detroit area (strange I know but happy wife = happy life)

What would be the best option for F500?
PT MBA from Ross Pros: Better Brand/Rank, Save $$because I can still work Cons: Harder to get a job as a PT student during recruiting Or FT MBA from Broad = Pros: FT looked upon better during recruiting, better MBA experience Cons: Lost income and tuition$$, Lower ranked school

Thanks!
Re: Big4 auditor with CPA interested in MBA   [#permalink] 15 Sep 2012, 10:06
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