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  • Accounting/Finance


    It's a whole new ballgame.

    Once upon a time, the industry was dominated by a group of firms called the Big Eight. Their main business focus was auditing public companies. Relative to other industries, accounting was a nice, steady industry, with modest but predictable profits. Accounting firms had a reputation for humility, discretion, and high ethics.

    Today, thanks to industry consolidation and the collapse of Arthur Andersen due to the misdeeds of its accountants working on Enron's books, the Big Eight has become the Big Four: Deloitte & Touche; Ernst & Young; KPMG; and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

    As a result of the scandals, the accounting industry is refocusing on ethics. There is also an increased focus on hiring accountants with real-world business experience in addition to formal accounting education.

    A note: Big Four public accounting firms-which focus on auditing clients' financial statements but also include non-audit lines of business such as actuarial work (risk analysis and management), tax consulting, human resources management, and merger and acquisition advice-are not the only career option for accountants. Many accountants work for mid-tier public accounting firms, such as Grant Thornton or Moss Adams, or for smaller firms; for government entities; or for corporations' in-house accounting or internal-audit departments. Many others go into business for themselves.  InternZoo makes an effort to list positions at every tier level for those wishing to enter the accounting world and gain some valuable experience.

    Career Overview

    It's a good time to be looking for a job as an accountant. After contracting during the business slowdown of the early 2000s, hiring is now on the rise.  In fact, job growth in the accounting sector is set to grow more quickly than the national average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

    Far and away, the most positions available in public accounting are in audit, with tax coming in second. The need for forensic accountants-specialized accountants who focus on digging into clients' balance sheets to look for red flags-is growing as the industry and its clients look to rebuild their reputation. Demand for in-house corporate accounting and finance employees is expected to grow, as well. 

    What You'll Do

     The cornerstone of an accountant's work is making sure money is coming in and going out in an appropriate manner, taxes are paid on time, and public filings are done properly. In addition to this, however, accountants who deal with businesses, either as part of a CPA firm or in-house accounting department, are also an important part of the management team. In order to help the company make key decisions about growth, accountants are often expected to be able to analyze budgets to determine whether they're reasonable; provide investment and financial planning to help fatten the company's bottom line; advise about financial information technology options, such as accounting and inventory tracking software; and provide limited legal services, on such topics as stock filings, business registrations and the like.  While it may seem that the accountant's job is to think only inside the box, this does not hold true when it comes to offering financial services and advice.  InternZoo recognizes this potential and seeks to include positions that not only represent the ‘typical' accountant but also positions that require ‘out-of-the-box' thinking.

     


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