Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Business Administration: Accounting and University Honors


Business Administration

First Advisor

David Layzell


Accounting -- Study and teaching (Higher), College students -- Recruiting, Portland State University, Community college students -- Oregon -- Transfer




Accounting students who transfer to Portland State University (PSU) from a community college are inherently disadvantaged by the structure and timing of the professional recruiting process. This systemic disadvantage has been worsened in the past few years due to CPA firms filling the hiring pipeline earlier with sophomore students. Firms extend early internship offers to many sophomores who attend Summer Leadership Programs[1] and students who choose to take lower-level courses at community colleges are not naturally made aware of this opportunity until they reach PSU and their window of eligibility has passed. This movement towards earlier recruiting diminishes the number of internship opportunities available when applications are due the fall of junior year. Without an internship or accounting experience these students may struggle to obtain full-time employment offers, particularly at large regional and international public accounting firms. This is because the accounting profession hires primarily previous interns and boasts the highest intern to full time conversion ratio of all professions in a study by LinkedIn (2018). The late September start of the PSU fall term had always given transfers an inadequate amount of time to prepare for these deadlines, as well as the crucial accounting career fair preceding them. All these factors culminate to create a “wicked problem”[2]for transfer students, which has been anecdotally expressed by many and corroborated by the literature on accounting recruitment and cultural capital. PSU is aware of this problem, and the current study evaluates the effectiveness of resources and programs designed to deal with this fundamental problem and proposes strategic recommendations to further close the gap.

[1] Summer Leadership Programs (SLP): Each program is a one- or two-day event held in the summer by each of the larger international and regional accounting firms. A SLP helps sophomore students learn about internship opportunities in advance of the normal intern recruiting cycle and explore career options in public accounting in various practice areas. In addition, students learn about the culture of each CPA firm and network with professionals.

[2] Wicked Problem: A social problem characterized by the interdependency of the variables that birth it; “A problem whose social complexity means that it has no determinable stopping point” (Tonkinwise, 2015).

Persistent Identifier