A Big 4 audit vs tax thread, with a (hopefully) unique twist

Art.Vandelay's picture
Rank: Gorilla | 721

I'm an intern this summer with a Big 4 firm in audit. Started the first few days of June. I basically chose audit because of better exit opps (into something perhaps less strictly accounting), team environment, and everyone seemingly hating tax. This was all before I had taken a tax or auditing class. Now I've taken one audit and two tax.

Additional note that is very critical to my thoughts here, I am very strongly attracted to entrepreneurship. My family had a small business growing up, and I'd love to not only be a small business owner myself, but to help other ones. This, along with enjoying my tax classes, have made me strongly consider starting my own accounting/tax practice in the future, a thought that was always merely in the back of my head. I'm not sure if the tax classes will be anything like the work done, but I enjoyed them for what its worth. The thought of working for just myself and family and helping others doing the same is extremely appealing, even though I know first hand it is not without its challenges.

A few weeks into my internship, my thoughts are these: the traveling to clients is quite annoying when living in a big city where traffic and urban living make it extremely annoying and time consuming to drive places, expensive to park, etc. This makes the idea of just going to office (10 min train ride to the office vs 1 hr+ drive to the suburbs) extremely appealing, not to mention not having the hassles of owning a car in a major city. Secondly, I'm not sure if its just summer time slowness or these particular clients, but as far as the team environment goes, its been either me and one other associate/senior or me and two others. Maybe I'm naive for thinking it would be different, but theres not a whole lot of communicating about the work we're doing and more just 2-3 people in a room at the same time.

Now, I know if I do decide to start my own practice, obviously the Tax experience would serve me slightly better. But I also would imagine the type of work is probably very, very dissimilar from F500 companies to small businesses and individuals so I'm not sure exactly how much better Tax would be over audit. But, if I'm only staying for a few years, I'm sure having the B4 audit experience wouldn't exactly be a hindrance and then I'd have more exit opps for a back up plan if I decide against my own practice (although that seems unlikely).

Basically, I'm not sure if I have a precise question or more just thoughts that I'd like feedback on from you more experienced folks, but if I had to pick questions they'd be something like: In my situation, where I'm strongly considering starting my own practice, am I much better served doing B4 Tax instead of Audit? Or are both of them so different from small business tax and accounting that I might as well stick with audit for the back up plan exit opps? I'm a little nervous about the idea of switching to Tax because I know much less about the work environment (such as typical hours, when busy season is, etc), so if anyone had first hand info on that I'd love it. I'd hate to switch to Tax only to have even worse hours than audit does lol. Also, if I do decide to try for this switch, should I do it before/during/after receiving my (presumed) FT offer?

The lack of travel for Tax in this city is a biiiig plus to me, but I'm willing to do what is overall best for my career outlook, which will likely be self employment but could be a more "typical" exit opp. I like to have options because life is unpredictable, but I also like to set a goal and put everything towards it, which makes me want to go full steam ahead into tax and not look back. But again, life is unpredictable.

Thanks for any help guys!