Someone on r/accounting posted this over the weekend and I thought it worth sharing because […]
By now we are well-aware of the growing dissatisfaction among client-facing grunts at public accounting […]
I am a Big 4 alum and I spent many years in the audit profession […]
Becker CPA Review wants you to master virtual recruiting and interviews, here’s how you do […]
As we all know, firms of all sizes spend a lot of time and effort […]
We Actually Learned (and Debunked) a Couple Things After Reading This Interview with Ernst & Young’s Director of Campus Recruiting
Dan Black is Ernst & Young's Director of Campus Recruiting and yesterday, Forbes gave him the […]
Call me crazy but this feels more like an email from a curious recruiter researching the competition than a junior trying to find out what other firms are up to. But hey, that’s just paranoid ole me.
If you have a question for our crack team of snark distributors, feel free to get in touch.
I’m a young, aspiring CPA entering my junior year of undergrad. As a new target age group of recruiting, I recently attended a leadership conference with one of the Big 4. Sadly, I only applied for one such event, only to meet other students my age attending multiple events held by different firms. In an effort to always compare firms, I was wondering if you could open this up for discussion. Who had the lamest activities? Who had the most people? Which company threw it together at the last minute and had no clue what they were doing?
Thanks so much,
Bi(g 4) curious
Just wondering, did you try to talk to any of these “students your age” about the multiple events they were heading to? What did they have to say?
Why do you care? If you are interested in a particular firm, have you tried searching their tag on this website to see who gets the most “hoo-rah!” staff on here telling other firms’ employees how much they suck? I’m not 100% sure what it is you’re trying to glean from hearing about the recruiting events that you didn’t sign up for but let me save you a whole bunch of research: all recruiting events are pretty much the same. A bunch of awkward people stand around telling bad stories, sometimes crappy snacks are served, every now and then there are cocktails and at the end of it, some people come out of it with a job. End. These events have been going on for thousands of years (well, OK, maybe only the last several decades) and they’ve all pretty much ended the same.
But hey, let’s just say you are for real and just curious how other events went down… have you considered senior year? You have plenty of time to figure out what everyone else is doing.
That said, if anyone has some great stories to share (I’m talking drunk recruiters, moron accounting students making fools of themselves, hot chicks getting hit on by sleazy managers… whatever you kids got), by all means, please let us know.
I’ve been out of the numbers game for awhile now but for the life of me, I can’t figure out just how many people Ernst & Young will be hiring off campus for this year. Or is it last year? The firm put out a press release yesterday that states that it “will hire approximately 5,000 students from campuses across the US in the 2010-2011 academic year.” That’s all fine and good but it’s different from the report in CNN back in March that we told you about that said “It’s looking to hire 7,000 employees from college campuses — 4,500 full-time and 2,500 interns […] in 2011.”
That report also stated that “campus recruits are up 20%,” but yesterday’s press release said “campus hiring [increased] 25 percent from last year.”
All told, E&Y and the rest of the Big 4 are hiring lots of people but the numbers don’t quite add up. The nice folks at E&Y are trying to help me out, so I’ll report back when I’ve got some answers.
UPDATE: I’ve been informed by an E&Y spokesperson that “numbers referenced in the release are for the US, whereas the numbers cited in the Fortune article are for the Americas.” To clarify, the “Americas” includes the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Central America, South America, Bermuda, the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands and the Caribbean.
[via Ernst & Young]
In today’s edition of “let me figure out your life for you and push the CPA exam down your throat”, our little would-be Big4er writes in wondering:
I’m trying to figure out some options to get to a Big 4 firm. I interned at a regional firm in Los Angeles this past summer and realized that I want to be at a Big4 firm instead. I have been through the on-campus recruiting process this quarter and unfortunately I did not receive any offers after going through PwC’s second round interviews. I did receive an offer from a regional firm in the San Francisco area. Though, my ultimate goal is to end up at a Big 4 firm.
I will be graduating in March 2011 and was planning on begin studying for my CPA exam. I hop by October or at least a majority of the exam. Do you guys recommend I study for my CPA and go through the recruiting process again next year or continue my education and get a Masters in Accounting and go through the recruiting process after that?
I love when you kids have a plan, or rather when you have a goal in mind and come banging on our door asking how to get there.
Anyway, as always, I am inclined to recommend getting the CPA exam out of the way before anything simply because it’s easier to do now before you’re bogged down with commitment (OK, mostly a really time-consuming Big 4 gig). However I’m a little sketchy on your actual timeline since you say you are graduating in March and plan to be done by October; does that mean you’re planning on taking two parts per testing window after you apply and are approved to sit for the exam?
Assuming you are applying in California (you mentioned LA), might I recommend you take the exam shortcut now while you still can? Here’s the deal: submit your application to the state board now while you don’t qualify, pay your $100, wait 8 – 10 weeks for a rejection letter and then apply again in March right after your degree posts to your transcripts so you can be approved to sit in just 1 – 2 short weeks. That way you cut down on the waiting time while you’d still be waiting anyway, can jump right into taking your exams and can get in April/May, July/August and October/November instead of trying to cram in four parts in two testing windows.
Keep in mind that tackling the CPA exam before going to the Big 4 – or any firm for that matter – can sometimes work against you. If you really stand out as a public accounting rockstar and have already passed the entire exam they might assume (usually correctly) that you’re simply trying to get your foot in the door for your two years of experience. So be careful with the overachieving there, it might be wise to get through two parts or perhaps just get started on the exam without actually blowing through all of it before you go knocking on PwC’s door again.
Unless you absolutely want a Masters in Accounting, keep in mind it isn’t necessary to have one in California and you can just as easily pick up 30 extra units in just about anything to meet the 150 requirement. I usually discourage California CPAs from taking that route unless they absolutely have to so if it isn’t something that you really want, don’t do it just to do it. You can always get a Masters later when you’re more settled in the profession, know what you want to be when you grow up, have finished the CPA exam and have made a dent in your undergrad student loans (always a good idea before you take on any more debt).
The only issue with blowing off a Masters now is that you will obviously have a harder time getting the Big 4’s attention after you graduate so I would say plan to get started on the CPA exam as quickly as possible and put on your best game face next time the Big 4 come sniffing around at your school while you can. Hopefully that lands you something for the fall, giving you a chance to complete the exam before your start date, at which time you can try out Big 4 life and then maybe get back to us on how that’s working out.
Hope that helps and good luck!
Ed. note: I’ve been called to an emergency meeting in an undisclosed location, so here’s a guest post from your friendly human resources professional, DWB.
Caleb interrupted my weekly Wednesday tradition with the following reader submitted question:
I am an undergraduate at a pretty big school and recently decided I want a job when I graduate so I switched my major from History to Economics with the intent on minoring in Accounting (it is too late for me to officially major in Business Economics but I plan on taking all the relevant classes anyway).
I am entering my junior year this fall but right now, my accounting academic career puts me with about a freshman level of re my belt.
Normally, next summer would be the internship phase of a student’s life but I’m wondering if I should put off graduation by a quarter and/or go to grad school so that I might also push off my internship applying to a different summer when I have more than GC-provided gossip to offer a firm.
If I do this, are there Big 4 or mid-tier firms who would look at me for summer leadership programs (and other sophomore-oriented recruiting) or have I missed the boat on that?
I’d appreciate anything you have to say on the matter — snarky or otherwise.
Dear History Buff,
You wanted a job, so you decided to major in Economics. That statement is so conflicting I can’t tell whether it induced my headache or I simply need a third cup of coffee. The reason I say this is because I see my fair share of 3.95 GPA Econ majors from “pretty big” schools every day, and they’re desperate for work. Your accounting minor is a start but like you pointed out, it’s lacking in worthy experience. Your consideration of internships/grad school demonstrates that you’re looking beyond the remaining cup on the beer pong table and thinking about your future. Kudos.
I’m going to assume you’re considering a career in public accounting, because why else would you be on GC in the first place? You’re certainly not here for the chicks (“Chicks, man.”). If I am wrong on this assumption, follow up with me and we’ll discuss.
So, assuming the above, I suggest a few things:
1) Start talking to recruiters: They should be all over campus by this point in the semester. Make it known to them that you are pursuing a Masters in Accounting following your undergraduate degree. Ask questions about leadership programs and internships. Remember, the general timeline for Big 4 programs is leadership program two summers before graduation (for you – summer ’11); internship the summer before graduation (summer ’12).
2) Make it easy for the recruiters: Want to make a recruiter’s day easier and better position yourself in their pool of candidates? List all of your ongoing and anticipated education on your résumé, like this:
“Pretty Big School” – Anywhere, USA
• Masters in Accounting – XYZ School of Business Anticipated Graduation: May 2013
• Will be CPA eligible upon graduation
• Bachelor of Science – ABC School of Economics Anticipated Graduation: May 2012
• Economics major, Accounting minor Overall GPA: X.Y | Major GPA X.Y
Formatting your résumé in this fashion provides the reader with answers to key questions – what is this candidate majoring in; when are they done with their education and ready to work; what is their CPA eligibility.
3) Follow up: Your educational path is not the road heavily traveled by most students with dreams of Big 4. Keep yourself in the conversation with recruiters by occasionally updating them through your process. Tell them when your GPA improves after a strong semester, when you get into grad school, etc. Don’t expect a response right away but rest easy knowing that they’re updating their records. Sharing this information can be done formally over email or informally during a conversation with a recruiter while they’re on campus.
4) Talk to Career Services: Be sure you’re taking the right classes to become CPA eligible in the state where you want to be licensed. Nothing worse than taking a counselor’s word on Ballroom Dance 201 counting toward the 150 credit requirement.
Go forth…and one more piece of advice if you’re following college football: Stanford over Oregon this weekend. Do it.
Accounting News Roundup: Doubt Over Taxes Reaching Fever Pitch; E&Y to Hire 6k Off Campus in FY11; Honest Answers on Tax Policy in an Election Year | 09.24.10
‘Consumers Are Paralyzed’ Over Tax Doubt [WSJ]
“Congress halted plans to pass a major tax bill before the November elections, leaving taxpayers and financial advisers unsure of how to plan for the future.
One of three scenarios face Congress when it returns from the election recess: It will extend all of the Bush tax cuts of 2001, which expire this year; it will hammer out a new law, perhaps using some of President Barack Obama’s budget proposals; or lawmakers will let the cuts expire, which would mean higher rates for all taxpayers.
Meantime, ‘consumers are paralyzed,’ said Dean Barber, a planner who heads the Barber Financial Group near Kansas City. ‘They have money to spend but they aren’t going to until they know where the tax burden will lie next year.’
The problem extends to business as well. ‘There are 29 million private businesses in this country, and they interact with our members,’ said Barry Melancon, head of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. ‘Universally we are hearing that businesses are paralyzed by lack of capital and uncertainty over taxes.’ “
SEC Hiring for Multiple Offices [FINS]
“The SEC is hiring qualified talent for both its Division of Enforcement and its Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE). The agency is looking for candidates with experience in risk management, operations and accounting and other specialties.
In testimony given yesterday at a Senate Banking Committee hearing, Robert Khuzami, director of the Division of Enforcement and Carlo di Florio, director of OCIE, spoke to their respective units’ hiring needs.”
Ernst & Young Previews New Campus Recruitment and Social Media Strategies [PR Newswire]
E&Y is hiring 6,000 campus recruits – both interns and new associates – this fiscal year. That’s an increase over last year’s numbers (although the press release doesn’t say by how much). The firm also states that 60% of its workforce will be Gen Y by the end of 2011.
Tax Policy in an Election Year [Tax Updated Blog]
Joe Kristan answers questions that politicians won’t.
Comtech Telecommunications Does the Right Thing by Fixing Errors in Latest Report [White Collar Fraud]
Sam is sending an autographed “WANTED” poster of his cousin “Crazy” Eddie as an “attaboy” for Comtech CEO Fred Kornberg for “[taking] the high road and corrected its errors without attacking a critic.” That “critic” being Sam, who reported on Comtech’s erroneous EBITDA calculation last July.
Whether this type of nostalgic temptation works for the other company execs that are on Sam’s radar remains to be seen.
Pastors to challenge IRS by endorsing candidates [AP]
One hundred men and women of the cloth will be endorsing political candidates from their pulpits this Sunday. If the IRS is doing its job, agents should be kicking down doors at many of God’s homes on Monday.