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Can you share your experience on how you determine what type of accounting you want to focus on?

Today while conversing with my school adviser, she asked me what type of accounting I wanted to focus on. It was until that moment that I learned that accounting has three focus: taxation, auditing, and financing. I did a lot of research over the past few days because she wanted me to get back to her about my potential choice. I am wondering how accountants usually determine and their focus and hope to hear about your experience with the process. #career-counseling #career-path #attorney

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Ken’s Answer

Hi Esther!

You are asking about a very diverse and important career area! Here is a site that will help you to learn more:

Here are sites of professional accounting organizations that represent various applications of accounting. It could be helpful to locate local chapters of these organizations that would allow you to learn more by mixing and mingling. They are very open to student inquiries and participation:

Best of luck! Please keep me informed. I would like to follow your progress!

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Kelcie’s Answer

Hi Esther,

That's a great question! I took several paths to figure out that the best fit for me was in audit. It really comes down to internships, internships, internships! While in college, I had three different internships - one with a private company (in private financial accounting), one in auditing with PwC, and one in tax with PwC. Based on my experiences, I was able to make an informed decision. The first decision to make is public versus private accounting. Public accounting involves working for an accounting firm, whereas private accounting involves working internally for a company. If you choose public accounting, firms have a number of routes and specializations that you can take. And if you make the wrong choice initially in public accounting, it's very easy to switch lines of service in most firms (e.g., tax to audit).

The easiest way to figure out private versus public is an internship in both. Personally, I would not recommend waiting until after college to start your job search. In today's environment, public accounting firms start recruiting efforts at the freshman/sophomore level at most schools. This gives you lots of opportunities to get exposure (including internships) to public accounting if you get involved early. Your university should also have resources to help you find opportunities for private internships.

Finally, one other thing that I would like to point out is that audit requires a strong combination of financial accounting and audit; thus, these two are not mutually exclusive so the choice isn't necessarily one or the other.

Good luck with your decision and don't worry if you aren't sure - nothing is ever that permanent!

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Ann’s Answer

Esther, I really think the only decision you need to make while in school is do you want to go into taxation or not. If you do, that will require you to take more tax related coursed in college. There are many different career paths in accounting, and you can't really decide where you will end up until you start working in them. I would suggest you take course work to prepare yourself for the CPA exam, and then wait and see what kind of job you can find after college. I personally started out in internal audit, and discovered I did not like auditing. I've done various types of accounting in small companies and a large corpoation since then. But there's so many areas in accounting, you just have to keep trying until you discover what you like.