The Financial Accounting Standards Board Postgraduate Technical Assistant Program
Michael Kramer (BS ’03, MAS ’04)
During my fifth-year of the Bachelor/Master program at Illinois, I learned about the FASB Postgraduate
Technical Assistant (PTA) Program through one of my classes. Initially I wasn’t sure that I was interested,
as I had already accepted an offer to work in audit for a Big-Four accounting firm. After learning about the
PTA program, however, I figured that there would be no harm in applying. A few weeks later, I was
extended an opportunity to and did visit the FASB’s office in Connecticut. I was surprised by how
enthusiastic the staff was and how interesting the PTA assignments would be. When I was offered the
position, I readily accepted. I had no problem deferring the employment offer I had already accepted.
Since I started in June, the experience has exceeded my high expectations. I have been given lots of
responsibility, and I’ve been presented with terrific opportunities. My first six months at the board were
spent working on the Equity-Based Compensation project that will require companies to expense stock
option compensation. This project is controversial and it has been a great learning experience. I have had a
chance to work with FASB staff in Washington and put together information that was presented to
members of Congress. We’ve worked with prominent academics and economists to refine our option
valuation methodology. I’ve also been able to closely interact with the members of the Board. Despite their
acclaim and achievements, they always are very friendly and accessible. In addition, I’ve had a chance to
interact with top staff from the SEC, PCAOB, AICPA, IASB, the major accounting firms, and many
financial executives from the world’s largest companies. Our work resulted in the release of FASB
Statement No. 123 (revised 2004), Share Based Payment, in December. After the release of Statement
123(R), I took on a wide variety of assignments. I worked on the Derivatives Implementation Group, the
Fair Value Option project, the Emerging Issues Task Force, the Statement 123(R) Implementation Group,
and several FASB staff positions. At the FASB, I have learned about a broad array of issues and have been
exposed to the entire standards-setting process. These experiences will serve me well no matter where the
future takes me in the field of accounting or finance.
One very positive aspect of the PTA program is that there are so many post-program options, once one is in
the program. Because of the nature of the organization, there are always people coming and going, which
has created an outstanding network for departing PTA’s. There always is a high demand for professionals
with experience at the FASB. PTAs often go on to work in accounting policy and transaction services at
major accounting firms and investment banks, but there are many options available. After interviewing
extensively, I have recently accepted a position as a Senior Associate at a Big-Four firm in Chicago. I will
be working for a small group within Transaction Services dealing with advanced accounting and
transaction structuring issues.
PTAs come from many schools around the country (including a few Big Ten rivals), and many of them
were nervous about moving to Connecticut. Most PTAs live in Norwalk or Stamford, and they all have
been pleasantly surprised by the area. There is a lot to do nearby, and it is less than an hour from New York
City. About half of the PTAs end up staying in the area and taking jobs in New York and Connecticut.
Although we are often presented with terrific opportunities in New York City, it was easy to find the same
opportunities in Chicago with the help of a network of former PTAs.
I highly recommend this opportunity to all graduate students in the Department of Accountancy. Working
at the FASB has been a wonderful experience and an unrivaled step to the next higher levels within the
For more information, visit the FASB website: http://www.fasb.org/careers/ptas.shtml
Feel free to contact me with any questions at email@example.com or (203) 956-5273. For more information
about applying to the program, contact Cindy Wood at firstname.lastname@example.org or (217) 333-4572.