Big shake-up of accounting grad preferences flagged

A recent graduate networking event has indicated graduates are shifting their preferences away from traditional favourites such as the big four firms, and are in pursuit of smaller firms or companies where they can have more of an impact.

Speaking to Accountants Daily after a recent Grad Mentor event in Sydney, Intuit senior business development manager Trent McLaren said that one of the key things he noticed at the event was that graduates were keen to learn about opportunities other than working at traditional firms.

“It was really surprising to find that a lot of these grads came in either not knowing what they wanted to step into or what the opportunities were that they could step into,” Mr McLaren said.

“They’ve gone in to do an accounting degree, but they’ve now realised, ‘I don't have to go into an accounting firm. I could actually step into a big private business, or I could step into this technology industry or add-on companies, which are also looking for graduates who can do that sort of work.’”

Mr McLaren said he was surprised that graduates’ perception of where they should start their career had changed.

“Out of the 10 graduates there, about five or six of them mentioned that they didn’t want to start in big four. They wanted to start in a small-to-medium size firm largely because they want to be able to make a difference and not just be a number among the machine,” Mr McLaren said.

“I thought that was quite surprising because recently it was the other way around – they all wanted to start at the big four to get that big experience.”

Mr McLaren said that this lines up with the millennial generation’s way of thinking more broadly.

“A lot of the decision-making [that] was coming from these graduates was largely based on an emotional feeling about wanting to feel included and part of something much bigger, and being able to make a big change and a difference,” he said.

“That aligns pretty heavily with how the millennial generation likes to think. They want to be involved in something. They want to make a difference. They don’t want to just be there to be there; they want to be there for a purpose.”

 

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