Burnout is real. And in the wake of the pandemic, in one way or another, most of us have felt it. Even before the pandemic, I saw young accountants make a common mistake: assuming they are burned out with public accounting as a profession, when the truth is their current firm just isn’t the right fit.
Public accounting is a truly special field with so much to offer, but the culture can be very different from firm to firm. If you’re thinking of leaving public accounting for a job in the private sector, it’s important not to lump all public accounting firms together and to be realistic about the pros and cons of working in both public and private.
Many accountants set a goal of landing a job at one of the Big 4 accounting firms: Deloitte, PwC, KPMG or Ernst & Young. These firms carry obvious name recognition and prestige.
But the Big 4 environment is not the right fit for everyone. While some thrive in this environment, others are eventually worn down by the pace and long hours. They can feel undervalued or invisible, and they get burned out.
What is important to remember is that all public accounting firms are not the same. There are many great regional and local CPA firms that can provide excellent career opportunities in an environment that is more conducive to long-term happiness and success. In many cases, a lateral move to a smaller public accounting firm (which could still be quite large) can be the answer.