By: Supreet Kesar
On September 27, 2012, Zicklin’s Graduate Accounting Society planned to hold a mid-size accounting firm panel. However, at the last minute, ZGAS decided to morph the panel into a mini-career fair. The representatives and recruiters were as pleased as the students by this turn of events. Students had the opportunity to ask questions one on one, and to personally connect with employees of the various firms. In attendance were Grassi & Co., J.H. Cohn, EisnerAmper, Friedman, WeiserMazars, O’Connor Davies, Margolin Winer & Evens, and Crowe Horwath. Each firm had its own focuses and strengths, however, they all had several factors in common: representatives from each firm described their professional experiences as highly personal, with major flexibility, and shorter hours during busy seasons. Many expressed that this was in contrast to employment at the Big 4, and this was precisely why they chose to work for mid-size firms.
The first room I stopped into held Grassi & Co. This firm brought many current employees to speak with students, as well as recruiter Diane Messemer. Ms. Messemer and her team explained the opportunities available through Grassi. The firm prefers to hire students as interns prior to fulltime employment, and currently have this internship position posted on Zicklin’s CareerLink. Employees described a very positive working environment where they were comfortable asking questions. Their primary clients include construction projects, financial services, and non-profits. Offices are located in Manhattan, as well as Long Island.
Next, I spoke with Paul Jhung, a manager at J.H. Cohn. Mr. Jhung emphasized, once again, that there is a lot of experience to be gained from mid-size firms. For example, at J.H. Cohn, auditors can also take on advisory clients if their schedules permit. This would allow the auditor to gain different types of experience within a CPA firm, which is very valuable. In addition, J.H. Cohn is a firm that encourages employees to approach management whenever they have questions or comments on issues; they take pride in their firm’s open culture. Mr. Jhung also mentioned that a winter internship is available with J.H. Cohn, and that this is a great way to get started with the firm.
WeiserMazars is a mid-size firm with a real estate focus, although they do work in various other industries as well. Representative Andrew Atkins explained that the firm has four local offices, and are hiring for positions that start in fall of 2013. They currently have three positions posted on Zicklin’s CareerLink, including one internship opportunity. WeiserMazars stresses the importance of teamwork, and strives to create a positive learning environment while providing the best possible service to clients.
In the next room, Margolin Winer & Evens had two available representatives. Melissa Ben Yehuda explained that MWE is headquartered in Long Island with an office in Manhattan as well. Positions with MWE begin in December 2013; the firm’s goal is to give graduates the opportunity to pursue their CPA certification immediately after graduation, and prior to the start of the position. This can be preferable because it alleviates pressure on the candidate, making it so that the new hire doesn’t have to balance CPA courses with long hours at work. Recruiter Jo-Ann Rey also spoke about the fact that MWE is one of the few firms that gives new auditors the opportunity to work in tax as well. When an auditor has down time, they are often given tax work, which really helps to expand horizons for employees.
Friedman LLP shared a room with MWE, and they are hiring for three of their New Jersey locations, as well as one in Manhattan, and one on Long Island. This entry level position has a start date of November 2013, again, giving students ample opportunity to get a head start on their CPA exams. Recruiter Jacqueline Tomczak, a current graduate student at Baruch College, highlighted the fact that a career at Friedman offers a great work/life balance.
Next, I took the opportunity to speak with recruiter Brett Settles at O’Connor Davies. He was glad to share the various reasons he enjoys working with his firm, which has a focus on the non-profit industry. Mr. Settles mentioned that O’Connor Davies has a strong community feel, and everyone is the firm has a chance to be heard. The firm has an ‘open door policy’, where questions and conversation are always welcomed by higher-ups, and all employees are encouraged to take advantage of this. Mr. Settles also made an interesting point about O’Connor Davies: he explained that they are careful about mergers and acquisitions, because although they are interested in growing and moving forward, they never want to compromise their corporate culture as it is.
Crowe Horwath is one of the larger mid-size firms, with offices in thirteen states and an international presence. The firm’s representative, Leslie Tseng, highlighted that the firm has visibility “all the way from the bottom, up.” This is another type of strength that seems to be prevalent in mid-size firms, and something that any employee can appreciate. Crowe Horwath currently has several job opportunities posted on Baruch’s CareerLink.
Finally, I was able to speak with CPA Frank Hsu at EisnerAmper. Mr. Hsu discussed his transition from being a student at Baruch to an entry level employee. He described it as very smooth, because the firm was laid-back, social, and willing to teach. EisnerAmper also places a focus on their charity work, involving employees in services for children, animals, and the elderly. In addition, Mr. Hsu a mentioned that EisnerAmper recently made an acquisition in California, clearly illustrating that the firm is constantly growing and evolving. Despite these changes, they are able to maintain the professional atmosphere that employees have come to appreciate. Lastly, Mr. Hsu elaborated on the fact that EisnerAmper offers a high level of flexibility, and new hires are able to tailor their professional experience to their needs.
The mini-career fair was an excellent opportunity to learn more about firms that were previously only described on websites. Across the board, representatives were very pleased with their experiences at these mid-sized firms, and each one had a slightly different reason as to why. Students were able to take full advantage of making connections, and building personal rapports with reps. I look forward to future events organized by ZGAS, and highly recommend attendance for all graduate students.