In our interaction with college students and young professionals looking to get their CPA license as well as accounting experience, many dream of working in big cities around the nation. While Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles are popular destinations, many covet being in New York--otherwise known as the Big Apple. Because many of these cities are surrounded with plenty of night life, intimate social spaces, are associated with success and allure, it has many people questioning: What can I do to work in New York (and other big cities)?
You may especially be asking this question since recruiting at college campuses is beginning to kick into full gear. At Meet the Firms and career fair events on campus, this is your chance to secure a position with a firm to obtain accounting experience and kick off your career. Here's a message one of our future CPA Exam candidates sent us regarding this topic.
"Hello. I went to a Roger CPA Review presentation on campus a little while ago and I thought you gave some really great advice. If you could, I’d really appreciate any advice you might have on how to get an accounting internship out of town. I feel like I haven’t done that much because I’m only 21 and would love to see what it’s like to get out of Florida and try going to New York for an internship to see if I would like to stay there. I’m a little scared to tell recruiters this because I know they want interns to stay in their local office. In addition, I don't have any relatives outside of Florida either. Overall, I would really appreciate any advice on how I could convince recruiters to give me a chance in New York even though I have no connections there."
Whether you're looking to work out of town for a chance of scenery or simply want to see how you would fare in a big city, here are some words of advice to help you get to where you want to go.
First things first. Be honest about wanting to work in another state.
Most recruiters are responsible for their territory and filling positions in their state. While recruiters do care about their firm as a whole, they have to take care of business on their end first. So, it doesn’t really benefit a Texas recruiter if they help someone get a job in New Hampshire. It’s just not relevant for their compensation, promotion, boss, etc. They were hired to fulfill a quota in their local office and territory, and that's what they're going to do. You don't want to waste each other's time if you don't see yourself working and living where you currently are.
On the flip side, some recruiters may be more than happy to connect you to other recruiters from the location you're looking for or may be willing to give you more guidance if you're just honest with them from the get go. Therefore, don't lie about wanting to work in the local office simply to get an in. Recruiters will appreciate your honesty and are more inclined to help you out, especially if you really sell your reasoning for wanting to get a position out of town.
Work in a local office for a while and then request to transfer.
If you're not in a rush to immediately leave town once you graduate, we suggest accepting a full-time offer in a local firm and working there for a while before putting in a request to transfer--which happens all the time. If you don’t have an offer, you’re just another email recommendation to get lost in a swampy inbox. But if you already have an offer, transfers never get turned down at a larger firm.
Once you’ve received an offer, it’s clear they like you in the local office. The New York office will give that a ton of weight. You’re almost guaranteed the job. However, it's important to note that, once again, you should sell your reasoning for wanting to go out of state other than, “I want to”. It’s much more likely to go through and people won’t be as upset, feeling like you snowballed them the whole time.
This is also a great way to see if getting out of town is what you really want. You may find that you enjoy working at a local office, or you may not. But it's worth it to give it a shot to see what your heart truly desires instead of making impromptu decisions.
Our last recommendation is to go directly to the firms in the city (or cities) you're looking to work in.
Put together a list of 15-20 accounting firms and get started with this method of reaching out to them via email or even a phone call. See if you can get a few interviews lined up and then plan a week long trip to the city to meet with them and get a feel for what their offices are like. This is a great way to not only get a taste of your potential work environment and living location, but will also give you the ability to go to multiple cities for you to find the one that best fits your personality and lifestyle.
Although this method may be slightly more difficult if firms want to get you in for an interview quickly, it nonetheless serves as a good alternative so that you make an informed decision based on experience rather than spontaneity.