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Benefits of Public and Private Experience

As long as the debate has waged regarding Coke vs. Pepsi, so too have opinions over which experience is more beneficial: public or private accounting. To add my voice to the dialog, I decided to reach out to a few of the dozens of finance professionals I have placed over the last six months and get their views. Take a look at how accountants see value in experience with both public and private firms.

The following are the top five benefits of public and private accounting firm positions:

Private Accounting Benefits

  1. Opportunities for Every Level: Private firms have positions open for new graduates through senior leaders. This makes private accounting a good choice throughout your career.
  2. Emerging Industry Opportunities: Bio-tech, energy, and healthcare are all emerging industries – all with accounting positions currently available. Joining a public firm in these sectors lets you be part of the cutting-edge of business.
  3. High Demand: Private organizations have both an ongoing and growing need for accounting professionals. And, if you have public experience you will be in even higher demand.
  4. Work/Life Balance: Accounting positions in private organizations do not have the long hours associated with public accounting. This allows for finance professionals to enjoy work/life balance.
  5. Industry Focus and Expertise: By working for a private organization you have the chance to dig-in to one industry and gain deep knowledge and expertise.

Public Accounting Benefits

  1. International Opportunities: Experience working outside of the U.S. makes you more marketable and public accounting firms offer this – sometimes right from your first assignment.
  2. Autonomy: Public accounting firms give professionals the chance to dig-in and work at client locations with little supervision. This allows you to spread your wings and learn new skills quickly.
  3. Travel Opportunities and Perks: Public accounting firms give professionals the chance to travel around the globe, sometimes to exotic places you might not see on your own. Also the accommodations are often top notch.
  4. Compensation: Public firms ask more and pay more. In addition, most have performance based bonus programs that reward top performers.
  5. Broad-based Experience: Public firms provide experience in a variety of industries, providing you with exposure to a wide range of topics.

As shown by professionals working in the field, it’s clear that there are great opportunities in both public and private accounting.