It’s summer time and summer time in the big 4 means internships. We wanted to provide good solid advice for those trying to seal up an offer. We’ve compiled all our knowledge and refined it down to our best advice below. The advice below should help you in your quest to obtain a big 4 offer.
How to have a successful big 4 internship
1. Play nice at national training
The first part of internships is usually training. Most big 4 firms have large national training before and after you start your internship.
Make sure that you place nice with your fellow interns. You can’t view the other interns as your rivals or competition. If you have a bad reputation among your peers, you are more likely to have a bad reputation around the office. This is true in internships and in business in general.
2. Introduce yourself to everyone in your group
To increase your chances at obtaining an offer, you need to make sure you get to know everyone in your group. Don’t be afraid of people — they are just accountants. Accountants are weird, but they don’t usually bite.
The more people you get to know the more people that might give you work. The more work you get the more chargeable you are, and the higher utilization you have the better your review looks.
Getting to know more people will also increase your chances of having people say good things about you doing intern review period.
3. Understand your group
Every group in every big 4 accounting firm is different. Try to understand what matters to your group and who is important in your group. Try to understand what metrics matter in your group.
Some groups use tons of excel and love excel wizards. Some groups love people that will do dirty grunt work. Some groups only care about utilization in which case you need to make sure you have plenty of codes to bang.
You should also try to do good work for as many people in the group as possible. This will make sure that your review goes seamlessly. If you work for a tough person, see if you can find work with an associate or senior associate who is more pleasant. Doing work for someone tough for the whole internship might be futile if you can’t please them.
4. Try to brown nose your recruiters and HR
As an intern, the people that have the most say over your offer letter are HR and the recruiting team. Yes, partners do have a say but they are busy people and often don’t get too involved with intern offers.
The people you really want to impress are recruiters and HR. Recruiters can also help you get into a cool group if you impress and brown nose them. HR can help you get work if you are nice to them.
5. Ask for work frequently but not too frequently
You should ask for work frequently if you do not have any work. Big 4 accounting firms often over recruit for internships. This means that many interns are left without much to do. Another reason interns don’t get work is because people are busy and don’t want to take time to teach someone that has no experience.
Don’t take this personally — it’s just how the world works. Just because someone rejects you one time doesn’t mean they will not give you work the whole internship. You should check in with people in your group at least once a week to let them know you are around and looking for work. You do not want to check in too often though because people will think you are incompetent if you consistently have no work.
6. Be willing to accept any work that comes to you
I’ve given some terrible work to interns over the years, but I also received some terrible work as an intern. There is a good chance that you’ll be responsible for some work that involves a lot of copying or data entry. Unfortunately as a big 4 staff person you aren’t tasked with saving the world or creating the next Uber. Therefore, in order to seal the offer letter from one of the big 4 accounting firms, you will have to show willingness to work on anything. The interns that turn down work are often viewed as stubborn and privileged. People don’t want to work with them and sometimes they don’t receive offers. Increase your chances of receiving an offer by being flexible around what you are willing to work on .
7. Don’t play phone games
This is one of my greatest pet peeves with interns. I understand smart phones are awesome and Pokemon go is all the rage, but your cubicle or open workspace is not the place to catch up on these activities. Use your lunch break or off hours to catch up with your mom and play phone games instead of work hours. This is seen as extremely unprofessional and can be the difference between you and other interns.
8. Take notes at every meeting
Go old school when you attend meetings. Take notes with a pen and pad. This will impress the partners and senior managers/directors at your firm. Many of the interns I deal with think that they are the king of the castle because recruiters have spoiled them, so they don’t think they have to do anything in meetings. They think their roles in the meetings are to chill out and relax. WRONG.
You are lucky to be attending any meetings as an intern. Act like its a privilege and bring a notepad and a pen. Start out every meeting by writing the date and attendees. Even if there isn’t much discussed at the meeting always have your pen ready to write something so you seem diligent.
You need to do great work as an intern to make sure people feel comfortable giving you an offer. Sometimes that’s not the only thing that will get you an offer though. Follow our advice above and you will be well on your way to having a successful big 4 internship and obtaining an offer.