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Engineering What do engineering and science majors do in audit companies?

  1. May 11, 2012 #1


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    lately i was browsing the list of companies that will come to my university in the upcoming careers fairs. There are a few of these fairs targeting engineering and science students. Names of audit companies keep popping up on these lists (KPMG, Deloitte, PwC etc).

    I'm really curious about what engineering and science majors actually work on in these companies considering most of us have little or no background in finance.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 11, 2012 #2


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    First of all, firms such as KPMG and Deloitte have expanded their businesses beyond just audit work, to encompass more general management consulting; for example, I have a friend who works at Deloitte, and she specializes in consulting for the health care sector (we used to work together at the IT department at one of the largest teaching hospitals in Canada).

    As far as what engineering and science majors do there, it may be best to speak to representatives there at the career fair, but from what I understand, quite a few are involved in IT work or data mining/analytics (i.e. statistical analysis of large data). There may be other areas of business which I'm not familiar with.
  4. May 15, 2012 #3
    They do business consulting, and providing "solutions."

    1) Physics majors end up doing a lot of business consulting. You write lots of equations using spreadsheets. The formula are usually dead simple.

    2) CS and EE majors do lots of computer programming. If you are a Fortune 500 company, and want to do something like modernize your order system, a lot of these business consulting companies will do "one stop shopping." They'll figure out what computer systems you need, and if you need computer programs, they'll buy and write them for you.
  5. May 16, 2012 #4
    It's essentially like high-profile outsourcing. Although the jobs all by themselves are not that high-profile (and might I add - tend to be rather boring if you have been doing stuff like highly corellated Fermion systems...).

    Especially with big projects you will find that there are different consulting firms working on different parts of the project. The advantage for the company hiring those firms is that it a) doesn't have to actually employ anyone itself, and b) that due to having different consulting firms you don't get too dependent on one.

    Funny remark: technically, audit companies are required to separate their consulting and audit activities (due to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act). It seems though, that in practice this separation is not as pronounced as one would want it to be.

    EDIT: Just to add: you usually earn really good money (in Europe the starting salary, including bonus, is somewhere around the Eur 70,000 mark for a PhD). But after having seen what a consulting company does look like on the inside, I am going to think twice if I really really really want to work in (financial) consulting. Well, it's nice to have this backup option if everything else does not work out the way I would like it to....
  6. May 16, 2012 #5
    People who know applied (engineering) mathematics can find work in all sorts of places. For instance, I know someone who specialized in finite elements and is now employed in the stock market business, solving PDEs about stock trends ;)
  7. May 16, 2012 #6
    I wonder how long this trend is still going to continue.

    Personally, I feel like hitting jackpot if I find some job which is paying well, provides interesting work and is _not_ related to the financial industry.
  8. May 16, 2012 #7
    Reminds me of the infamous student triangle: there is sleep, good grades and social life. You can have at most 2, but never 3 of them...!

    I chose academia, which is missing the paying well part :biggrin:

    Considering the economy will most likely burst to pieces in a few years though, probably not too long.
  9. May 16, 2012 #8
    It's not like I need to have a 6-figure income. Not at all. I'd be perfectly content with having a reasonable incoming allowing me to raise my kids (in Europe that is; I am not counting on being able to dish out half a million in $$ to pay for university).

    And yeah, I am not sure if trying to get a job in finance is a good idea at the moment. I expect that in the not-too-far future the financial sector is going to shrink considerably.
  10. May 16, 2012 #9
    Just curious, but are these types of roles more for graduates of undergrad physics programs, or for PhD's? I had heard of some of these companies hiring PhD's...
  11. May 16, 2012 #10
    The firm I did an internship for preferably hired PhDs (I'd say that easily over 50% of the people they hired held a PhD). The work the job involved, however, could easily be done by someone who 'only' just finished undergrad and had some exposure to programming.

    When talking about consulting and, to some extent, audit firms, you have to be aware that they essentially are selling brains. That is why you will see those firms preferably hiring PhDs and people coming from big-name schools, because those buzzwords are easier to sell...
  12. May 18, 2012 #11
    Interesting...so do companies like PWC/KPMG hire Phd's right out of school, or only with additional experience? I have to ask, because I'm graduating at the end of 2012, and had not thought too much about this, although I had heard of places like Mckinsey/BCG hiring physics people.
  13. May 18, 2012 #12
    I can only talk about Germany, but my impression here was that they do hire PhDs "right out of school". Those companies are pretty much all over graduate student fairs.

    Also, I believe that companies like McKinsey/BCG and PWC/KPMG hire a very similar kind of people.
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