The other day, an obviously jaded individual wrote a moving post on r/accounting about his or her experience in the meat grinder that is public accounting. I knew as soon as I read it that the post itself was not long for this world, so of course I grabbed screenshots. I’m glad I did, as it was deleted about a day later.
You know what they say, the Internet doesn’t forget. It would be easy to just paste the screenshots and call it a day, but I figured reading the words might be more impactful than simply consuming images as if this is some kind of longform meme or something. So to that end, I’ve transcribed the post. But just to prove it did exist on Reddit at one time and wasn’t just pulled out of my backside in order to stir the pot, here ya go.
Alright, let’s jump in. I’ve kept any spelling errors so don’t come for me on that.
That’s all folks
Well, this is it for me. I’ve officially been chewed up and spit out by the meat grinder that is public accounting. Obviously, this is a COVID related layoff from a big 4 firm. I’m posting this because I can’t think of any way to feel any better about this situation than to share my experience with anyone recruiting with these firms right now. I apologize for how long this is, but there’s a tldr at the bottom.
First, I think it’s important to point out that no one I’ve ever met has been as excited as I was to be in public accounting. I knew what I wanted to do coming out of high school and started recruiting right away, even though everyone told me it was too soon. I met my first B4 firm, not named in the spirit of professionalism contact freshman year of college and continued to recruit with the firm the remaining 4 years. In those 4 years, I received undergraduates in both Accounting and Corporate Finance and my Masters in Accounting. I geared my whole time at school and all my future plans around this job and was ecstatic to be part of the firm.
Now, the actual experience. When I started I was thrown on a team in the middle of interim which had no real interest in training me. I was paired with seniors who were new to the team and also didn’t know what was going on. At my first check-in, every piece of feedback was personal and not about work. I “shouldn’t be trying to make people everyone like me”, “just because your senior told you you could go home and study doesn’t mean you can”, and “it’s annoying when you act all shy” to name a few examples.
As it continued it only got worse. I had an incredibly abusive lead senior who did NOT like me at all. I still do not know what her problem was with me specifically, but that’s beside the point. Every single day was her harassing me, insulting me, condescending to me, and SHAMING ME in front of the entire team over nothing (clarifying something confusing she said, for example, meant announcing to the team that I have hearing problems). All of her mistakes were my fault.
She wasn’t responsible for anything. She would spend all day breathing down my neck then the next morning in the status meeting she would claim she spent most of her day “helping” me because she didn’t do any of her own work. There are examples with varying sevarity, but suffice to say her harrasment was constant, humiliating, unwarranted, and focused on me not the other first years.
I communicated these issues regularly and directly and was ignored for months. At the end of busy season it was obvious to me and everyone else that that team wasn’t where I belonged. So, I spent the next few months bouncing between teams (getting stellar reviews, evidencing the fact it was the team not my performance). Scheduling didn’t help, no one did, I found all the new engagements through my own networking contacts. In the last six weeks I joined a new team that I meshed with perfectly. They were overwhelmingly positive with their feedback and couldn’t wait to have me on for interim and busy season.
Yesterday, I had a zoom meeting with the senior managers and my coach to follow up on being relatively new to the team. They had ZERO negative feedback. They were so positive it made it all worth it, I’d finally found my place. Today, I randomly got a zoom call from a partner. I answered and saw it was him and our talent manager (oh fuck). They informed me that due to COVID I was being let go. I pressed for a reason until he finally got frustrated, all they told me was COVID.
I know for a fact that senior from my first engagement was involved, she’s close to this partner of course. None of my performance was taken into consideration. My numerous, documented complaints and requests for help with this senior were ignored. Because of the situation they stuck me in a scheduling limbo that led to losing my job. They never even told my team so we were all blindsided.
I gave everything to this job. 100+ hour weeks in busy season. I worked the day my aunt died and cried quietly at my desk. Put up with clear abuse from a senior that was ignored. Then I did literally everything in my power to find new engagements while scheduling did nothing to help. And after I finally found MYSELF the right team and got months of good reviews on others they surprise me with a fucking zoom call telling me i’m being laid off. My team didn’t even know. I had to tell everyone it was happening.
So, closing thoughts. To that senior, FUCK YOU. You ruined everything because I started and you just didn’t like me. To scheduling, FUCK YOU. You didn’t do dick to help me find new clients and found every engagement on my own. To the partners who “did their due diligence”, FUCK YOU. Don’t fucking tell me you give a shit about any of us, we’re all just a fucking line item in your goddamn budget.
To anyone thinking about joining big 4, DO NOT. I ignored warnings for years thinking if people were so unhappy they should just leave and stop complaining. Do not ignore this. They will fuck you in the ass then toss you in the dumpster with a checklist of things to complete before they haul you away to the fucking landfill.
Tldr: FUCK BIG 4. I worked myself to death, I worked through deaths in the family, I was ignored, bullied, and thrown away. If you are recruiting, GO SOMEWHERE ELSE. You are nothing to them. You are a number. They will grind you up and spit you out. We’re all just another brick in the fucking wall. Fuck your green dot.
Ohhh … so they did name their firm after all. Well, not like it would be that hard to figure out anyway as not everyone is cutting jobs in the name of Rona.
Here’s to bigger and better wherever you land next, OP.