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I’m a minority. Not a religious/racial/ethic minority, but a minority on this website. I do not work in public accounting (gasp).

Here’s a little background on me. In undergrad I had two public accounting internships in a regional accounting firm’s audit department. Ultimately, after graduation, in May 2010, I got a job as an accountant for a manufacturing company. At the time, Michigan did not allow for people who were not in public accounting to obtain the experience requirement for the CPA, so I felt my goal was unattainable. Instead, I pursued my MBA at a part-time MBA program, which I felt would better suit my chosen career goals. Two years later I was nearing graduation, still loving my career and my company, and looking for my next big goal. I revisited the idea of obtaining my CPA exam, and discovered that Michigan changed the experience requirements, and my position would qualify.

I thought I would really struggle studying for the CPA exam, since I had never worked for a CPA firm. I know my MBA helped since it solidified some topics covered in undergrad. Also, with 2 years work experience under my belt, I was able to tie some of the topics covered in my review class and how they relate to what I do on a daily basis.

You don’t know what you don’t know. Since I was in public accounting for so short of a time (9 months total as an intern!) I’m not sure if it would have really behooved me when taking the exam.
So my question is, for non-public accounting people, do you feel we are at a disadvantage? What have you done to compensate for being a "minority"?


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Comment by Niusha H on February 23, 2014 at 10:43pm

Agree with Rob and Charlene.  Roger (from the course I'm using) says the CPA exam is a test of discipline, not IQ.  I think the accounting experience you do have will help you and what you don't have, won't hurt you.  You can do this!  Good luck!

Comment by Rob @ Pederson CPA Review on February 23, 2014 at 5:05pm

Madison - I have worked both in public accounting and in industry over the course of the last 16 years.  There are advantages those in industry have over those in public and vice versa.  

In industry, you often get more experience with many of the topics in BEC than you get in public. In addition, there are certain topics you may get deeper in while you work in industry.  

For example, I've had roles in industry that focused on leases, derivatives, business combinations, and revenue recognition, so I got a lot deeper experience in those areas in industry than I did in public.

So, your experience will likely benefit you in unique ways, and there are quite literally, thousands of people who pass the CPA exam each year who do not have public accounting experience.

Charlene is a classic example - no public experience, but she is killing the exam.  Best of luck and let me know if I can help.


Comment by Charlene L. Main on February 18, 2014 at 6:15pm

Hey there fellow Michigander! I too have never worked in a CPA firm, and presently work in manufacturing. So far  I have taken and passed 3 of the exams (2013)  and plan to take the last in April. So, no I do not believe that not working in a classic CPA firm environment is a disadvantage. Good luck!

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