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Going Concern’s Adventures in Consulting Series: Part 2 – WTF Should I Do Now?

“I lie every second of the day. My whole life is a sham.” – George Costanza

Make sure to catch up on part 1 of this series if you haven’t already because we are diving right into each of these poor bastards’ unique, yet perhaps, all too familiar situations and you need to keep up.  Let’s take a quick recap just for giggles.  Recall our four friends:

  • The Rising Senior / Accounting Major who received a Big 4 offer, but hated her job
  • The Rising Senior / Finance Major who received a mid-tier investment bank analyst offer and is skeptical
  • The 1st Year – Big 4 Auditor who is miserable and broke, among other things
  • The Rising Senior / Accounting-Finance Double who completed an internship at a publicly traded consulting firm

One of our friends doesn’t quite jibe with the others, huh? 

Right off the bat we need to set aside our first-year auditor friend.  It is critical to recognize, in the 3-day-music-festival that is college, our first-year auditor friend has already exited the concert grounds, torn up their ticket and is ineligible for re-entry1.  Sorry friend.  We’ll get to your situation soon enough.  First we need to ensure those are currently in school don’t leave without thinking everything through, leading us to…

Option 12: The 5th year.  The final hoorah in what will be the last time in at least ten years3 you’ll get to enjoy yourself.  Each of our three friends has great options, if they so choose, one of which being that they can opt for a 5th year, perhaps leading to one of the following degrees/certifications upon conclusion:

  • CPA
  • Masters in Accounting
  • 2nd Major
  • CFA Level 1
  • Any combination of the above

While I’ll be the first to recognize there is a myriad of complex, time sensitive decisions4 that need to be made, essentially, simultaneously to Option 1, I am a staunch supporter of the full-time 5th year.  

I did not take a 5th year.  Rather, I jumped head first into the consulting world only to be asked coerced, well over a year down the road, to get my CPA knocked out5.  It was this experience – the combination of working 12 hour days, taking intermediate accounting exams, and later sections of the CPA, all while working full-time, that made me forever regret the decision to forgo a 5th year – and instead start working; only to be roped back into the academic world, while working.  Avoid this situation like it is the plague.  It was a truly miserable existence, where the worst of both student-lifestyle and consultant-lifestyle were inextricably intertwined, for a period of no shorter than 2 years.  If you are saying to yourself, “I can always go back to finish my CPA” – just do it now.  Get it done yesterday.  Please.  I am begging you.

What also needs to be recognized here is the near unanimous vote of the 5th year being the “best-time-ever” by anyone I knew who opted for one and that they were able to accomplish in one year what took close to three while working full time / school-CPA part time.  

Everyone is different and financial situations are going to often dictate the decisions, such as these, that we make, however, I am unwavering in my position which is: get it done (whatever it is you want) during your 5th year.

Option 2, thankfully, applicable to all of our friends, is coming up in a few days.  In the meantime, let’s hope that miserable first-year auditor isn’t broke, miserable and studying for the CPA at the same time.

1 Okay, maybe you can get back in if you try –- really, really hard –- but it’s not worth it, and infinitely easier just to stay at the show
2 Available only for current students
3 Maybe 20, or 30 even
4 Most importantly, “what do I do if I have a job offer?” and “who is going to pay for this?”
5 Which first required taking all those fun accounting classes I didn’t take in college because I fucking hate accounting