Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

10+ Years in Corporate and trying to become a CPA

I'm in an odd Catch-22 in my journey to become a CPA. At this point in my career, becoming a CPA is more about fulfilling a life goal than career or salary prospects. I got the exam in the bag, but my career thus far seems to scare off every CPA firm I apply to. Here's my story, in brief.

In 2005, I got my MBA from a good school the B4 offices recruit from.  I was President of my BAP chapter but after interviewing at EY & several regionals, the only job I was able to land was a tax season internship at a small CPA firm.  My friends from BAP who landed B4 jobs told me later that the biggest strikes against me were being 24 and pursuing an MBA (not an MSA). 

Straight after graduation I follwed my fiancee to DC.  I landed an Accounting Clerk job at Treasury, got very quicky promoted to Analyst, then got poached by McKinsey & Co as a Senior Accountant to help start their FedGov practice.  I spent a few more years in government and NGOs as a freelancer helping with Audit Support and worked one busy season at a one-man CPA shop.  I applied to sit for the exam in DC, but they kept telling me I needed a set of classes I didn't have on my transcript.

A bookkeeping gig as a favor to a friend in NYC ended up blowing up into a CFO role of a FinTech startup that was raking in $10s of millions a year.  I cashed out at its peak few months after Hurricane Sandy, helped out with another smaller startup and without taking another class, was deemed eligible to sit for the exam in NY.

Fast forward to now. I've got all four sections passed (thank you Peter and Timmy), but after a year of trying, there isn't a single CPA firm that will take me on.  The CPA firms I worked for no longer exist. That said, I have a decent network, and still manage to land a lunch or a breakfast with (non-Partners) in mid-market firms every now and then.  No matter how well I click with these folks, no matter how much they really want to help me out, it seems that every warm lead or interview usually ends up with a token "not a good fit" e-mail from an HR droid and a, "they didn't know what to do with you, sorry!" e-mail from the contact.

Yes, I know I'm not a "good fit." I've been in the position where I've had to supervise a more experienced colleague and it can get really awkward. But what's the alternative? 

After failing at the 2014 recruiting season with only two sections done, I took a low-stress job as an interim Senior Accountant at an NGO.  The two CPAs I work under in this Accounting Department are really supportive, and are keeping me on until I give up and accept an offer here or find a job with a CPA firm.

The only bites I get from shooting resumes into the CL hole are from those recruiting for Startup CFO, Controller and Senior Accountant positions I'm not interested in.

It's December, I'm probably not getting anything for the 2016 busy season and I'm doing what I should have done last year: Asking you all for your advice.

Latest Accounting Jobs--Apply Now:

Have something to add to this story? Give us a shout by email, Twitter, or text/call the tipline at 202-505-8885. As always, all tips are anonymous.

Comments are closed.

Related articles

cryptocurrency consulting accounting job

Should Cryptocurrency Consulting Be the Next Phase in Your Accounting Career?

Think the hype over cryptocurrency has reached its fever pitch? Think again—the crypto craze has only just begun. Businesses are increasingly viewing cryptocurrency as a viable investment. New tokens are gaining steam, and Bitcoin, the OG crypto cash, continues to trade at a frenzied pace. More than 200,000 Bitcoin transactions occur every day, and investors like […]

Mastering Data Analytics Can Make You a More Valuable Accountant

What can you do to make yourself more valuable to your organization? If you’re an accountant or if you work on a corporate finance team, becoming a master in data analysis is a big step forward. But why? And what does data analytics have to do with accounting? Accountants use data analytics to help businesses […]