This study, undertaken at an Australian university, investigates undergraduate accounting students' conceptions of accounting work and discusses the relevance of such conceptions for the work readiness of graduates. Findings based on a phenomenographic investigation show variations in students' awareness of the functional and human aspects of accounting work. This awareness ranges from seeing accounting work as being predominantly technical and routine to a keen awareness of the more complex aspects of contemporary accounting work including its ethical aspects. We argue that these findings suggest the need for new kinds of curriculum resources to develop students' conceptions of accounting work to better align them with the needs of professional practice today. It is argued that students will benefit from critically reflecting on their future professional roles in light of the profession's core values and societal obligations, especially in what are widely seen as challenging times for the accounting profession.