Big 4 or Bust!

74307a The goal of nearly every student is to get a job relevant to their field of study. For many in accounting, the best possible outcome is to land a position with one of the Big 4 accounting firms. Previously the Big 8, the Big 4 is comprised of Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers (Pwc), Ernst & Young (EY), and KPMG. The decision to go with either tax or audit (or something else) within those firms is another story. As can be expected at the top accounting program in the country, a vast majority of Texas MPAs take jobs with one of those firms. Considering that these four firms take the top spots in Businessweek’s “Best Places to Launch a Career” ranking, it’s no wonder so many students are eager to accept their offers of employment. However, one of the many selling points that brought me to Austin is this list of employers who recruit MPAs at McCombs School of Business. To focus on only four companies from this list is to sell yourself short in my opinion.

Not only are there plenty of top-rate companies besides the Big 4 that actively recruit at UT, even within the Big 4 there are opportunities that are not widely available. For example, each of the Big 4 recruited Texas MPAs for positions in their Advisory practices (labeled differently depending on the firm). I do not have full access to each firm’s recruitment practices, but I do know that these positions are not typically recruited for directly from universities. Further, it is my understanding that the Big 4 only targets a handful of schools for these practice areas. So, not only does attending the Texas MPA program practically make you a shoe-in for a position at the Big 4, but also it puts you in the running for positions not typically available to new graduates.

Beyond the Big 4 are options such as consulting, industry, and even investment banking. All the major consulting firms and plenty of middle market and boutique firms recruit at the McCombs School of Business and many are looking for MPAs. Plenty of Fortune 500 companies also actively recruit MPAs for various accounting and finance positions, including some of the highly sought-after financial management development programs. On top of that, a few MPAs have able to land positions with investment banks, from the bulge bracket banks to boutiques (although they likely had previously done summer internships).


Yet another alternative for MPAs is the slew of mid-market accounting firms and specialty firms that recruit here. These firms provide a great alternative to the Big 4 in that you can get a high quality work experience and a great brand name on your resume. While you may not be working on Fortune 500 clients every day, the benefits to working at one of these firms include a better work-life balance and a broader range of exposure to different areas of accounting. On top of that, you won’t be just another worker bee at a mid-market (or even smaller firm) and you will have a chance to really make an impact and forge your own career path.

The moral of the story is that students at many schools are recruited by the Big 4 tax and audit groups, but few schools have the options that The University of Texas does. Also, even though the Big 4 recruit at many schools, it seems like they would hire every last one of us here if they could.

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