This study examines why non-accounting graduates return to school to pursue a degree and career in accounting (“converts”). Understanding why converts gave accounting a chance the second time around informs the profession and academia on how to more effectively identify and recruit high-quality students with diverse skills and backgrounds into accounting. We interview 16 converts and survey 100 accounting graduates. We identify the factors influencing converts’ accounting choice and contrast them with those influencing their first-degree choice and with those of traditional accounting graduates. Results show converts first need to “discover” accounting, then pursue it based on practical considerations such as job characteristics and earnings potential rather than passion for the topic, which is more salient for traditional graduates. This study demonstrates that converts are a unique source of talent as they already possess many of the skills highly valued by the accounting profession and which traditional graduates often lack.

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