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Recruiting Season: Crossing State Lines; Starting Salary Disappointment; Choosing an Industry

Welcome to this week's roundup of baffled buckaroos. Each week we'll try to save some hapless accounting students from embarrassing themselves somewhere along recruiting trail. Have a question about recruiting season? Email us at [email protected] with "Recruiting Season Questions" in the subject line.

We'll kick things off with a follow-up from last week when "Pissed Off Intern" didn't want to refer some lesser beings to his firm. We had asked our PO'ed Intern a follow-up question as to motive and we received this response:
I specifically do not want to refer certain other students for a couple of reasons.  While they may be very intelligent and nice people, their soft skills are sub-par.  They do not interact well with others, and they lack confidence. I do not mean to come off as cocky.  However, I worry that my reputation will be discredited if I refer someone that I know is likely to be awkward in the interview process. 
Sub-par soft skills? Don't interact well with others? Lack confidence? Awkward? YOU'VE JUST DESCRIBED 90% OF YOUR FUTURE CO-WORKERS. As I recall, you had one particularly pesky friend while the others left you alone. As one commenter last week pointed out, when you forward this go-getter's information on to your firm's recruiter, it would be very easy to for you to offer a quick assessment of this person. "Capable but smells funny." Maybe it's "crazy smart, but is afraid of his own shadow." This way you do a solid for your frenemy and make the recruiter's job a little easier.
"Lost out west":
I am a student who attends a large state school, and I will be applying for internships for next summer. I really want to end up working in a neighboring state, so getting an internship there next summer would be ideal. However, I run into the problem of getting there. Our school recruiting is not exactly the best. Every year we get a few local firms a few regional firms and one Big 4 that is the only presence in the state. My big question comes to – how do I get over state lines?  I know that it is possible to talk to firms who do [on campus recruiting] and let them know that I am interested in other offices. How would I go about doing this and being successful? Or is it better to try to contact the other offices directly? Finally, how do I get noticed by larger regional firms and Big 4 who do not attend any recruiting events here? Would the best bet be to find the email of the recruiter at my desired offices and form a relationship? 
This is a tall order LoW. You're right that speaking to the firm that does recruit on your campus is your best shot. Try not to be too eager to get away from the Big 4 firm that is in your state, but definitely make your wishes known and the campus recruiter will either connect you to the appropriate people or (s)he will cross you off the list quickly. Either way, you'll have closure.
As for the out-of-state firms, you should be able to find your desired offices' campus recruiters with Google magic. Contact them directly and tell them how you'd be besty-iest bestest employee ever. It's a long-shot but if you want this to happen, you have to make an impression on the recruiter because (s)he is going to have plenty of in-state, low maintenance recruits that aren't coming from hours away that will probably foot the bill just fine. 
"Already underpaid":
I'm writing as a recently graduated gopher who just received their offer letter a few days ago. I was in a specialty group in the Chicago office at Pdubs and all 11 interns in this group received our letters "late" for some mysterious reason compared to our audit and advisory colleagues in the same market. I got mine extra late due to an IT issue, but simply asked the other interns what the contents of the letter were when they received them as I assumed the same position would offer the same starting salary. Most of them were disappointed that we were on par with all of the other interns when everything was said and done, but upon opening my own letter several days later, I was surprised to find my offered salary was even lower than that! Only by 1.5k but that's still about 2-3% which is equal to some signing bonuses that I've heard…My school's career services and my personal friends have advised me to "negotiate" to receive an equal rate, but I'm just hoping it's a big mistake. To add extra detail, I received high performance reviews, and am pursuing the same degrees and have the same gpa's in both of them as the other interns. How should I go about asking in a "professional" manner, why my offer is lower than everyone else's? Obviously I cannot just say "I saw theirs. What gives?" Furthermore, would it be bad to refuse on principle if they come up with some BS reason?

If by "bad" you mean "excruciatingly stupid" then the answer is "FUCK and YES." I'm sorry that you and your fellow "specialty group" interns were disappointed by your starting salaries but the sooner you realize that life is going to be chock-filled with disappointments, the better off you'll be. Now, I have no earthly idea why your salary was a measly $1.5k less than your peers. But if YOU MUST KNOW, then simply say, "I understand that most of the starting salaries in my group were approximately 3% higher than mine. Is there a specific reason for that?" It may turn out to be a big mistake or it could because your dodgy eye is terribly distracting and that warranted the 3% fine. But seriously, please do me the favor of crunching the numbers and then telling me if the extra ~$90 a month is worth "refus[ing] on principle." 

"Connected Guy":

I am a junior accounting major that applied for an internship at PwC. I am fortunate to have somebody on the inside that pushed my resume to the top, which is yielding me an on campus interview next Tuesday. However, I don't know, as a junior, who won't have finished his 150 hours until 2015, if I am interviewing for a full summer internship, or just one of those leadership conference things.
Here's an idea – ask your "somebody on the inside."
"Decision Time":
I have secured a spot within the Big 4 and now I have been asked to select which industry I would like to work in (Financial Services, Retail, Energy, Government, etc.). I have completed an internship with the firm but I didn't gain enough insight on how much influence selecting an industry can have on one's career. What difference, in the long run, does choosing one industry over another? For example, is it as simple as those who work on retail end up being accountants for a retail company in the private sector? And those who work on financial services end up being accounts for a financial services company in the private sector? Also, how is one supposed to pick without having the experience to know what is right for them?

The difference, in the long run, could be a number of things. For example, the money in financial services is immensely better than in government. And yes, your accounting knowledge and skill set will develop with the industry you choose; that will lend itself to similar types of clients and careers outside public accounting. Think about it – would you go to work for a non-profit after 5-6 years serving energy clients? Probably not.

If your handlers are insisting that you select one group, think back to the clients that you worked on during your internship. Did you like the work? Did you like the team? Did you like the client? These are all important considerations when selecting an industry. If you hated it, then your decision is easy. If you loved it, then your decision is easy, too. If you aren't sure, then try something new. You can always use your contacts to go back to the first industry. It's always best to keep your options open, so ideally, you would get a taste of a few before you before eventually settle on one.

"Am I Doomed?":

I got a C+ in Intermediate 1 AND Intermediate 2, a C in Cost, and a withdraw from Adv. Acc.  That’s right, I withdrew from Advanced.  Not because I was going to fail, I would have gotten at least a C, but the most I would have gotten is probably a B, and I needed at least an A- to get my MAJOR GPA above a 3.0.  So I withdrew to take a finance class as my elective instead and managed an A.  I could argue that the C+’s and the C were the result of taking those classes over the summer, but making excuses won’t help me now.  I managed to make it into my school’s Master of Accounting program solely because one or more of my professors went to bat for me and told my department chair basically that I was smarter than my grades indicated and that I could succeed in the Macc program.  I know there is no way I’m getting into the Big 4.  What I need to know is whether I even have a chance at a career in public accounting, or should I just cut my losses now, drop the Macc program and start looking for team leader openings at Target?

If you managed to convince a professor to convince another professor that you're not a complete idiot, you'll manage to convince someone to give you a public accounting job.

Good luck, everyone.