Accounting Internships: A Primer on Medium and Smaller Tier Firms

You may learn about “the big 4” as part of the internship process but it’s important to note that there are many other firms to explore. Similar to “the big 4,” an internship at a medium or smaller-tier firm can be like a long, intense job interview that results in a long-term offer. But…to land the internship, you have to break into the application process.

Because there are many more medium to smaller tier firms, there are many more potential points of entry for an accounting student to explore. Accounting Today puts out a great Top 100 list each year (I’ve made it filterable) and they also summarize firms by region.What’s beyond the big 4? Let’s look at #5-10.

One way to think about the Top 100 list and medium to smaller CPA firms is: once you take the big 4 out of the equation, you’re left with 96 other firms to consider. What’s more, many of these firms are located in the NY/NJ area. So keep your chin up if you’ve not broken through the big-4 fall application process; if anything, keep pushing ahead and learn about other firms. For starters, check out the size and scope of firms #5-10:

5. RSM – 86 U.S. offices, 10K+ employees, $2.4B in U.S. revenues
6. Grant Thornton – U.S. offices, 8K employees, $1.9B in U.S. revenues
7. BDO USA – 65 U.S. offices, 7K employees, $1.5B in U.S. revenues
8. CLA – 120 U.S. offices, 6K employees, $1.1B in U.S. revenues
9. Crowe – 37 U.S. offices, 4K employees, $958 million in U.S. revenues
10. CBIZ and MHM – 91 U.S. offices, 4K employees, $811 million in U.S. revenues.

These are still “really big” if not “big 4.” Check out the full list in my visualization of Accounting Today’s Top 100 CPA firms of 2020 here.

You can target firms headquartered in the tristate area specifically. Filtering the 96 firms further down by “US Headquarters = NJ,” we can see the following firms: Withum (Princeton), Sax (Clifton and Parsippany), and Wiss & Co (Florham Park).

Regional Firms (Mid-Atlantic i.e. NJ, NY, PA)

Finally, Accounting Today also compiles a “Regional Leaders” list and I visualized the top 41 regional firms in NJ, NY, and PA. You can see that full list here.

Wrapping up

For any company you learn explore, check out their career information targeted at students or young professionals. You will likely see their expectations around the 150 credit requirement, GPA, CPA exam, and more. Also, explore the service offerings they are seeking to provide clients, from audit and tax to advisory services in particular industries.

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