Can I Switch Accounting Firms After I Accept My Internship Offer?

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Many of you are receiving offers as fall recruiting is in the final weeks. Many of you got offers. Haven’t received an offer from an accounting firm, check this out.

If you received internship offers and if you did, you should relax. About 90% of people who start an internship receive a full-time offer. But, just because you received an offer doesn’t mean you have to take the position. While I know you may feel guilty, there is nothing wrong about it.

Think about it this way, in 2008/09 a strong majority of the firms were rescinding offers they’d given to candidates because of the economy. If they’re allowed to have a reason to back out, you are too. I’ve been thinking about the topic as a number of friends and Bean Counter fans have asked me this exact questions.

Here are 4 reasons why you should switch to another firm even if you’ve accepted an offer. There are more, but these fill the major categories.

Note: Yes, even if you’ve accepted an offer, you can still go to another firm. I’m not advocating you take this lightly and it’s in your best interest not to change offers if you can bear it. All of the contracts I’ve seen are “at-will” agreements which means you or the employer can end the agreement anytime you want and give the customary 2 weeks notice.

Be advised, you may have to return any advances or bonuses you received as well as CPA review materials and the retail price of those courses, so be careful and make sure you read all your agreements in detail.

1)     You didn’t “fit in” with the people

I can’t promise you that everyone at any other company will be nicer to you than your co-workers this busy season. But, if you have reason to believe things will be different make the jump.

Here’s a scenario: a friend of The Bean Counter accepted her offer with a Big 4 firm but really struggled relating to most of her peers. She felt things were too, “clicky”.

2)     You want different clients/departments

When I was going through recruiting, I know I didn’t want to work on any government clients. When I asked the firms what type of client base they had, if they even mentioned government, it was a mark against them in my book. Now, I knew before I started, but what if you don’t know until you’re in the job!

If you realize you don’t like healthcare or investment management or anything else, that is a totally valid reason to switch to another firm.

3)     You want to move to a new city

A good friend of mine received an offer with her company and during her grad school and CPA review “time-off”, her husband was accepted to grad school in a city that the company had no office in. Luckily she had a great GPA, and now a top 10 firm internship under her belt. Within a few weeks she had a locked down offer at a new firm in her city of choice.

No hard feelings, sometimes life just works out that way.

4)     You’re pursuing a new career

Many of my colleagues have dreams that are outside of a future in public accounting. A common reason people back out on their full time offer it to pursue a law degree. They want their CPA to work in tax law, or other types of financial litigation, but have chosen a different path. This is a completely valid reason to leave. If the company decides to go in a different direction and close the department where you work, there wont always be a job for you. It’s the same if you chose to take your professional career somewhere else.

In terms of making the final communication to the firm/company, I would recommend talking with upper management first. Calling HR can be seen as a copout and typically the people from the business want to try and talk you out of your decision before involving HR. Make sure it’s a phone call, cancelling your offer via email just isn’t the way you want to end the relationship when you’re the one calling it quits. Think about your girlfriend, would you send her a digital note to end things?

After the call, think it over one last time, even if it’s just to respect their wishes for wanting you to consider all options. Then a day or two later, send an email to the person you spoke to, then a separate email to HR noting that you won’t be joining the company!


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  • Traitor

    I did it. Ultimately everyone was pretty understanding and wished me well. Have to do what makes you happy.