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Big 4 Reject Feeling Too Rejected to Network Contemplates His Next Steps

Note: the following email sent in to our advice box is really long and really tedious. Instead of editing it, I will include a TL;DR at the end so we can all pile on and school this fool without subjecting ourselves to actually reading the entire thing. You're welcome. Oh, and if you are a lost little sheep looking for a light to shine down on your path, you can either pray or reach out to Going Concern and hope that we treat you with the respect you barely deserve.


Here is my situation, I’m in a 5 year accounting program (4 BBA + 1 MS) and during my junior year I applied for an internship at all of the Big 4’s. Unsurprisingly, I was rejected to all of them since the only thing I had on my resume was 1 internship experience doing governmental audit. I've also done no networking. During my senior year (this year) I applied again. This time I had 2 internships and a leadership position. However, I was rejected again. Again I've done no networking. The reason I never networked was because my school, in NYC, is composed of 80% accounting majors. Whenever I attend any of the networking events the room is filled with 50+ students and at the end everyone surrounds the recruiters. I'm able to introduce myself to a recruiter and talk for a bit before she meets the next person, nothing substantial. I’m not socially awkward, but I’m also not the type that can stand out in 50+ students. I’m just your average Joe. So I never really bothered networking. Another reason why I’m being rejected may be because I have a low GPA of 3.3.

So my question is, should I apply for the third time next year (Full time)?

Here are some things I plan on doing:
– This time I plan on actively networking by looking for smaller events with the Big 4 (If possible) while also trying harder to stand out at the bigger events
– I can also work on my elevator pitch, and improve my networking ability
– If I do well with my Masters, I can use my masters GPA on my resume
– Third times the charm?

Or should I not even bother? In the back of my head I'm thinking, If I was already rejected twice, why would they hire me the third time.

Should I accept a FT position at a large local accounting firm? Or should I go for my Masters and take another shot at recruiting season?


Two-time rejectee

TL;DR: "I'm trying to get a Big 4 gig but since I just stand around at recruiting events and don't talk to anyone and only have a 3.3 GPA to my credit, Big 4 doesn't want me and I expect you all to pat me on the head like I've been all my life and tell me I am special and totally deserve an amazing Big 4 opportunity even though I won't actually go hit the pavement looking for one. Fix my life for me, thanks."

Alright listen, there's no nice way to put this so I'm not even going to try (because that's what they pay me for): you're doing this all wrong. What makes you think you deserve a Big 4 opportunity when your college track record is mediocre at best and you won't even put your own neck on the line to hustle up an opportunity? Did you really think all you had to do was show up to Intermediate Accounting and the Big 4 would be banging down your door for the chance to hire you? Puh-leaze, kiddo, welcome to the real world.

You're full of excuses: recruiting events are too cramped, networking is hard, your GPA isn't stellar, blah blah blah. Guess what? 50+ competitors vying for a recruiter's attention isn't really that bad so I'm going to read this to mean you are letting that scare you away from the real work it will take to land the gig you want.

Going for your Master's at this point isn't going to do you any good if you aren't prepared to spend that last year brushing up on your communication skills and learning to put yourself out there as the kind of person these firms want to hire. Period. I'm also willing to bet you actually are a bit more socially awkward than you'd care to let on as you're so worried about those 50 other accounting students in the room you'd actually let them scare you off, which is why the social butterflies hounding recruiters already have offers in hand and you're emailing us begging for help.

I think your next steps are clearer than you'd like to admit. You recognize that not networking has hurt you. You also recognize that your less-than-award-winning GPA – while not bad – also means you'll have to work a little bit harder. Public accounting is made up of 95% Average Joes (and Janes) so again, you're just making excuses. Who do you think the firms want? AVERAGE JOES that will show up, do the work, collect a check and go home. Grow a pair and get out there or shut your mouth and take that Top 20 firm gig you're destined for.

As much as I disagree with the "everyone is special" parenting that ruined most of Gen Y, it is true that we're all special. Your job from here (note: no one else's, just yours) is to figure out what it is about you that sets you apart from those 50+ students swarming the recruiters in the room. If it isn't your GPA, maybe it's your fetish for ASCs or desire to learn IFRS inside and out or, failing that, ability to work 16 hour days without collapsing. Hell, maybe it's your ability to send a good email after the fact. We aren't life coaches, we can't teach you how to embrace your own good and promote yourself but we can gently shove you in that direction so that you start thinking about what exactly sets you apart from the rest of the Average Joes piling in for the same job opportunities.

Bottom line: get off your ass and stop playing around. If you turn this ship around and learn to promote yourself without coming off as a douche, the opportunity is there. If you don't, there's always the strip mall tax CPA's office. It's up to you, kid.