15 answers

How do I get an opportunity to intern in one of the Big Four accounting firms?

Updated Simpsonville, South Carolina

I am currently majoring in Accounting and I will be a Junior next semester (Fall 2019). I am really interested in interning in one of the Big Four (KPMG, YE, PWC, and Deloitte). There are locations near me and I have started applying to two of them, but what do these firms look for in a student? Are there any suggestions, things to look into, or courses I should take that would help me land a spot with them? #accounting #finance #accountant #college #business #bigfour #kpmg #pwc #ernstyoung #deloitte #cpa

15 answers

Denise’s Answer

Updated McLean, Virginia

That is a great idea as our intern programs are very good and you would meet interesting people and learn a lot. All of our interns apply through our campus recruiting program. We work closely with your school and their careers office. Please check with them Good luck. Denise

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An interesting opportunity to make money for everyone. Everything is free and easy. http://www.clixsense.com/?8172285
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I greatly appreciate your time and thank you for all the advice!

Maddie’s Answer

Updated Greensboro, North Carolina

Hi Victoria!

It is great that you are starting to look into internships at a Big 4! Talking to recruiters, staff, partners, etc. who come and recruit at your school are great ways to start during campus recruiting. Talking to staff about the office they work for will not only give you a sense of the culture of the company, but will also put a face with your name and resume. When I help with recruiting, we always go through the candidates we talked to at the end and send a list to the recruiters on who we would like to move forward with in the interview process. I highly recommend emailing anyone you receive business cards from during recruiting events to thank them for their time. It is the little extras like this, that don't take much time, but have a big impact to those who took the time to be there. One thing I wanted to add, is to not get discouraged if you do not receive an internship. Typically, there are fewer spots for interns than there are for full-time positions. Should an internship not work out one year, don't be afraid to try again the next year, either for an internship or a full-time position!

Best,

Maddie

Updated
Wow this is so encouraging! I have applied to a few and I haven't heard anything yet. It's definitely discouraging sometimes, but I will keep trying!

Joseph’s Answer

Hi Victoria,


I am currently working for a Big 4, and I am glad that you are displaying such a high level of interest in interning with the Big 4. I will try to keep this short and sweet, as I probably have too many things to say about the internship process.


  1. One of the most important things that Big 4 recruiters look out for is your Accounting grades. Before they get to you know you this is what you will be judged on. If you have a good reason for your grades not being as high as your classmates, I would practice explaining the situation to recruiters. (For interviews, the best format is STAR which stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Google it!)
  2. Have a good idea of what you want to do in the firm. The classic Lines of Service are Auditing or Tax, but there are so many more services that these companies provide! If you come in with that research already prepared, you will show whoever you're talking to that you've done your homework.
  3. Be ready to show that you are a well-rounded individual. This includes clubs, activities, etc. Just being a bookworm can only get you so far. In our industry we are client facing, so recruiters want to see that you can be personable and relatable especially when you communicate.
  4. Attitude is everything! Coming in and showing that you can be a team player with a good attitude is so important, and I can already tell that you have this. Keep it up!
  5. Keep looking for opportunities to network with Big 4 recruiters through campus events. Practice talking about yourself, and come up with good STARS!

Good Luck!

Joseph recommends the following next steps:

  • Research what roles you would be interested in at Big 4.
  • Attend recruiting events, every single one of them!
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Thank you so much! Just now got invited to one of their networking events! Can't wait! Any advice is welcome

Haley’s Answer

The best way to get in with a Big Four accounting firm is to maintain a strong GPA and network as often as possible. The recruiters will recognize your efforts if they see your face at all the events. Additionally, when going to the recruiting events, have something unique to talk about that makes you stand out. This could be something interesting about yourself or past work experience, or showing that you've done research about a particular firm.

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I really appreciate the advice, thank you!

Chelsea’s Answer

If you go to a business school, you can work with the career department to look for opportunities for internships. PwC, and most other big four firms, have an internal portal whereby you can apply for positions, including internships. A lot of schools also hold career fairs, where big four firms will be present and you can talk to recruiters of those firms about internship opportunities and how to apply.

Chelsea recommends the following next steps:

  • look up career fairs either at your school or nearby and plan to attend
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Thank you! I plan to attend the next career fair.

Bryan’s Answer

Updated Pensacola, Florida

DISCLAIMER: I have never had an internship and I'm not an accountant or an auditor. However, I've always been able to find work when I needed it, and over the years I have worked in computer consulting, I've worked with and socialized with employees from Accenture, PWC, Deloitte, KPMG and many other smaller companies. If I were attempting to get an internship at one of these larger places, I would try several different methods:


1) Use information gathered through a work-related social network (probably LinkedIn but you may know of others) to learn about (first) and establish some communication with (second) people already working there. Use caution as always when contacting strangers, and try to communicate with them in a structured way during usual business hours.


2) Reach out to accountants/auditors or other professionals through businesses in your area to try to establish an indirect connection with someone who is working with one of the firms where you want to get an internship. These folks are probably going to be very busy because smaller businesses have fewer resources, so be respectful of their time. You might even offer to do some short-term volunteer work for them to let them know you are serious if the place seems interesting to you.


3) Find out where the nearest regional office is and walk in the door to find someone who works there and ask them some questions. If you can find someone besides security and they're willing to help you, then that's great, but don't expect too much here. This is just a step you can take to get used to the situation. There may be other visitors if it is a busy office, and you might meet others who are waiting to be let into the building for a meeting. Asking for help or information might generate another contact.


4) Establish connections with employees by attending social or professional events in or near your area. I'd lean more toward the professional events which may turn into social events afterwards, but everyone is different, and my recommended approach may be different from yours.


Some of these things will be easier than others and can be done anywhere using your phone or a laptop like 1) and 2), while others might require more preparation, and I guess the sequence I have shown above is how I'd recommend going about the search. That's because you'll get some practice as you begin this work, and you'll want to get some of that learning out of the way before you get in front of the people who will decide whether or not you'll get an internship. Also, you will get information that will help you learn about the kinds of people you'll meet in steps 3) or 4) and you'll be better prepared when you get those meetings.


One of the things I remember about a college roommate I had who had pledged a business fraternity and who later worked for one of the big-six (back then there were six) was how important phone etiquette and politeness were when arranging or attempting to arrange the many meetings he needed to get into his chosen fraternity. Just as important as the professional tone was the persistence that he showed in the face of a ridiculous number of rejections as he attempted to setup meetings and get someone to sponsor him. This difficult learning process must have played a huge part in his later efforts to become part of the firm where he eventually landed after school.


Keep in mind as you reach out to people that they will probably be more busy on Mondays. They may be out of the office toward the end of the week, and they probably will be tired at the end of the day. Also, you might want to wait until after they have had their morning coffee before you make your introduction or contact them for assistance. By mid-morning on Tuesday, they'll have had enough coffee and hopefully will be in a good enough mood to be open to helping someone new.


Good luck and be careful. Also, keep your eyes open for opportunities along the way to your ultimate goal of a big-4 internship. You might find that you are more comfortable at one of the smaller firms, and if you are just starting out, you will probably also find that you'll get more experience sooner at a small firm if you do choose to go that route. On the other hand you might find that larger organizations suit you best and provide more opportunities for advancing your career. An internship is probably a really good way to find that out.

Bryan recommends the following next steps:

  • Use information gathered through a work-related social network (probably LinkedIn but you may know of others) to learn about (first) and establish some communication with (second) people already working there.
  • Reach out to accountants/auditors or other professionals through businesses in your area to try to establish an indirect connection with someone who is working with one of the firms where you want to get an internship.
  • Find out where the nearest regional office is and walk in the door to find someone who works there and ask them some questions.
  • Establish connections with employees by attending social or professional events in or near your area.
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Thank you for the advice!

Mor’s Answer

Updated

Hi Victoria,

First off, you should commend yourself on taking initiative to applying to two of the big four already, as applying to any position is not always easy. Secondly, I would suggest starting to network and start becoming more active on linkedin. You can search for recruiters of the firms on linkedin and ask them directly what the steps are to applying to an internship program with the firm. Additionally, you should definitely work with your career counselors at your school as they often have relationships with organizations as well. However, to answer your question more directly, every firm looks for a particular set of skills when you apply to a specific position so it is really dependent on what you would like to do in your career. Overall, all firms look for the same traits in a candidate - personable, hardworking, ambitious, solutions oriented. Lastly, you can also reach out to some alumni that went to your school that work at one of the big four and ask them what their path was to success within their organization. I found that this was often the most helpful for me. When I was applying for internships I often reached out to alumni as it was easiest to "break the ice" knowing we had our alma mater in common and we were able to connect.


Best,

Mor

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I will definitely give it a shot and reach out to some alumni!

Miranda’s Answer

Updated Stoneham, Massachusetts

I would suggest utilizing your alumni network that is currently at your University, as well as the career development office. But for me, and I currently work at the Big 4, I applied to the leadership development programs for each of the Big 4 Firms when I was a sophomore, which is definitely the best route in. From there, each firm will offer you an internship at the conclusion of their program, which for me was the summer between my sophomore and junior years, and by the end you will pick from the Big 4, where you want to ultimately work. By being proactive and starting early, you are able to secure an internship before the rest of your peers apply.

Miranda recommends the following next steps:

  • PwC Elevate Program https://www.pwc.com/us/en/careers/entry-level/programs-events/elevate.html
  • EY Emerging Leaders Program https://www.ey.com/us/en/careers/students/your-role-here/students---programs---emerging-leaders-program
  • Deloitte Leadership Program https://jobs2.deloitte.com/us/en/job/DELOA003X252089/Summer-Leadership-Conference-Participant-Summer-2019
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Thank you for taking the time to help out! I greatly appreciate it.

Katie’s Answer

I saw from your comment that you were invited to one of the networking events - I highly recommend attending these! I had an internship in the tax line of service that led to a full-time position and now I attend the networking events to help represent my firm (I currently work for the Big 4.) It's a great opportunity to get to know your potential future colleagues, and to find out more information on the internship opportunities. When you're talking with them, I recommend asking questions and showing them your interests and passions. Good luck!

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Thank you so much! It is such an encouragement to hear from professionals who have been in my shoes. I can't wait to explore accounting and it has definitely become a passion of mine.

Margaret’s Answer

Updated

I currently work for one of the big four accounting firms. Personally, I would say to strive to get into that interview process. They are going to be looking at the courses you have taken in accounting and the grade average you have been able to maintain in these classes. They are also going to be looking for what differentiates you from all the other candidates, so this is something you are going to want to think about during and before the application process. Lastly, have an idea of what you want to do/ be open to trying new things!

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Thank you so much! So far I do not have many accounting courses under my belt (but I have been keeping my grades up), would you say that it might deter some recruiters from considering me?

Samantha’s Answer

Updated Quincy, Massachusetts

A lot of the big 4 firms offer "leadership programs" that are 2-3 days long which is nice stepping stone into an internship offer. I know for PwC its called the "Elevate Program" and after participating in this program I immediately received an internship offer. I would definitely recommend one of the programs. In general, the Big 4 are looking for high performing students who are well-rounded and have a good attitude!

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Awesome! Recently got invited to one of the programs!

Hannah’s Answer

Hi Victoria!

The big four is a great place to start your career and each firm has many opportunities and areas to get involved in. I did an internship with PwC the summer in between my senior year of college and my one-year master's program. But many students who do not do a grad school program choose to apply for their internship for the summer after their junior year. So this is great timing for you! First, I would check with your school's career office to see if they have any relationships with any of the firms, and if there are any upcoming recruiting events at your school such as a job fair or specific accounting events. The best way to get to know the firms and to let them get to know you is to attend these events and have some meaningful conversations with representatives of the firms. Ask them about what they do, and tell them about you! If there are no events that the firms attend at your school, there are always application opportunities on the firm's websites.

For things to do to help with you application, I would recommend getting involved in organizations at school and/or outside of school. Being able to show all of the things you are involved in on your resume shows that you are a well-rounded individual who is motivated to succeed and get involved at the firm!

Dave’s Answer

Work with career services at your school, if applicable. Otherwise please visit pwc.com for career opportunities.

Laurel’s Answer

Updated Brookline, Massachusetts

Many of the big four will come to colleges across the country in order to recruit accounting and business students. I suggest going to career fairs and joining an accounting association or club at your school to see when the firms will be on campus.

I got my internship at PwC from the Elevate Leadership Program offered to sophomores and juniors doing the five year program. This and other leadership programs at other big four firms are great opportunities to see the different cultures at all of the firms.

Cici’s Answer

Updated San Jose, California

Get some leadership experience and internship experience somewhere else before applying for Big 4. All these experiences don’t have to be very “big”, can be with local community or with your school. Once you have these experiences, work on your resume and interview skills will definitely help. I attend many resume workshops when I was back in school, and had various persons gave me advices/suggestions on my resume. As such, I can make my resume to be eye-catching out of thousands other resumes during the career fair. Also practice your interview skills by attending the mock interviews if your school have those. 

Cici recommends the following next steps:

  • get as much experience as you can, can be all kinds of experience
  • work on your resume, make sure your resume captures the best part of your experience and tell exactly who you are
  • practice on your interview skill