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Are Small Accounting Firm Summer Programs Worth It?

Have your colleagues quit taking you seriously? Are you a serial mismatcher of shoes and socks? Wondering if moving back in with your parents is a good idea? Email us your questions and we'll try to get to them before Labor Day.

I'm currently set to attend a two-day summer program at a smaller office of a firm that is, "among the top 25."
My question is what in the hell do I have ahead of me? Both in general, and specifically for a smaller firm at a smaller office. These programs sound so vague and superficial, does it even look good to participate in one? Do you at least think the free T-shirt will be nice?
Yeesh. "[A] two-day summer program at a smaller office" at a top 25 firm doesn't exactly scream, "bagels, shmear, made-to-order omlettes, with a Bloody Mary bar" does it?
As for what to expect, if this is a firm that you're not already familiar with, you can expect a lot of, "Hi, nice to meet you," and "This is what's great about our firm." They'll trot out a lot of the eager younger staff to give you an idea of what working there is like and even let you meet a partner or two so you feel like you actually met someone important. There may be some silly games and part of it may be a field trip. At best, some tolerable glad-handing and posturing. At worst, TWO DAYS OF AGONY.
However, it is not – NOT! – a colossal waste of time for you to attend this snooze fest that probably will have Lenders and Folgers for breakfast. Why? Because, when it comes to preparing for your career, participating in something is always better than participating in nothing. We know nothing about the area of the country where you live, but judging by your lack of enthusiasm, there must be some first or second tier firms in your area that you'd much rather be courted by. Think about it this way – would these firms, whose attention you covet, be impressed with your participation in a summer program where you can describe some experiences you had that will benefit you in some way, shape, or form? Or will they see this on your résumé and think, "Jesus. Why didn't you just get out the Slip 'n Slide?"  Unless you're speaking with an extraordinarily shallow person, they'll be interested in what the program was like, who you met, etc. etc. and will recognize that you are serious about your career and that you're choosy candidate who is looking for the best firm for you.
So while you may think this could be the worst two days of your summer, A) it won't be because you're doing something that is career oriented; B) you might meet some cool people who will prove useful in the future and C) while this sounds impossible – YOU MIGHT LIKE THE FIRM. Keep an open mind.
And the t-shirt will be adequate for the gym and eventually become a dust rag. Good luck.