Graduated in 2017 with a major in Electronic Production & Design. Principal instrument: drums.
Position: Audit Associate at PWC, one of the “Big Four” accounting firms. Sam is on a six-person team which does audits of firms and funds in the financial industry.
Overview: Sam’s father worked in finance, and he was always interested in it. While at Berklee he was in a band that was seriously trying to make it, but it was feeling more like a job and less fun. Thinking about the very uncertain prospects of a music career, by the time he was finishing Berklee he decided to pursue a career in accounting. He took a year off, living at home and working while taking the GMAT and applying to grad school. He got into his top choice, Northeastern University’s dual degree MS in Accounting / MBA program, which appealed to him as it was a good feeder into working for a Big Four accounting firm. Sam started in June, 2018.
As was standard, halfway through the program is a 3-month internship, where you typically then expect to be hired upon graduation. Sam asked to intern for PWC in New York, both because he was interested in finance and because he wanted to live in New York and enjoy the music scene. Sam did the internship and, after he graduated in August, 2019, was hired into his current position.
You can see Sam’s LinkedIn profile here.
Choice Quotes: “Working as an accounting gives you a financial background, which is useful in a lot of ways beyond your accounting career. It’s good to be aware of how transactions flow, how businesses are run. It’s a career that’s really fungible: you can translate it into small business knowledge, you can start your own company or CPA firm. Accounting is recession-proof. All those contribute to a profession that’s constantly challenging you and rewarding you.”
“At a place like PWC you are exposed to some of the most complex firms and institutions out there. The learning curve is really intense. But with that exposure you get an amazing amount of experience. As the years progress you can see how much you’ve grown as a financial professional. You’re always exposed to new financial challenges. For example, there are new financial instruments. You’re never bored. “
“PWC has an up or out model–every few years you’re either promoted or they let you go. The work is extremely demanding and intense workload. There’s high turnover. That also means your chances for growth are high if you stay. But leaving isn’t as hard as it sounds, as a lot of people see experience at a Big Four as a great learning opportunity. Just having a Big Four on your resume is a great thing to have in your career.”
“In order to get into Berklee, you have a prepare a lot. To do music well, you have to be focused, good under pressure. If something goes wrong you have to figure out on the fly how to make it better. My industry is very client-focused and it involves the same skills. A lot of my meetings with clients–you have to be ready and prepared to present your piece and have to be ready to handle whatever their response may be.”
“If you’re on the fence between music/non-music, as I was, it’s probably going to feel disheartening knowing your passion for music may not turn into a good career. It’s OK and normal to feel this way. Just consider that I know so many in creative fields who are just as jaded as any office/factory worker. Once it’s a job it’s no different. It’s totally OK to say ‘I went to Berklee and I became a financial analyst, a chemical engineer, etc.”
Anyone considering this path (Big Four) definitely needs to consider that it takes its toll definitely. All the steps to get the degree, get licensed, the long hours. It’s not for the faint of heart. That said, if you can swing it, you can grind through the exams, the CPA exams, etc., it’s definitely worth it! You’re setting yourself up for a really good future if you go down this road. “
“The big tip for accountants is to get as many of your CPA exams done before you start working. It’s really hard to study 2-3 hours/night for these extremely-rigorous exams on top of the slog of working. Unfortunately I didn’t start studying until I started working. I took some breaks and sabbaticals to get through the exams.”
See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.