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Analysis: The Business-Social Pitfalls of The Summer Pool Party

Now that we’re officially in the dead of summer, there is ample opportunity for your team or firm to have barbecues, happy hours on the patio and if you’re really lucky, a pool party. Barbecues and happy hours are fairly simple events to master. Don’t eat too much; don’t drink too much. Overindulging in either will no doubt lead to some sort of embarrassing scenario that brands you a pig or a souse. particularly flattering.

The pool party on the other hand, presents a different dilemma entirely. Of course that will still be refreshments served and you should do your best to not wolf down hot dogs like Joey Chestnut or shotgunning beers. This will only lead to cramps in the deep end of the pool and perhaps an accidental drowning. Again, these are mortifying situations that should be avoided.

One problem that you may run into is that your gracious host may have children that are of an age where clothes are considered optional. A recent investigation has found this is acceptable depending on the child’s age, so try not to pull a Larry David later back at the office after you get an eyeful.

The second issue of importance is that of the swimming suit. On the one hand, it’s silly to pass up an opportunity to enjoy a swimming pool on a hot summer afternoon, so you best bring it if the opportunity presents itself. For those of you tempted to pull the “I can’t swim” card, I have a suggestion: LEARN. FAST. Nobody likes a party pooper and your story of nearly drowning in four inches of water in the backyard pool as a child isn’t fooling anyone.

As for the suit itself, herein lies the biggest challenge. For gents, it’s simple – stick with board shorts. You may have legs like a god but if you strut around this fiesta by a pool in Speedo you will be mocked (most likely behind your back) and rightfully so. Similarly, if you’ve reached the age where you’re comfortable with your body despite how the rest of the universe feels, this is downright offensive. People are eating for crying out loud.

The situation for the ladies, as is typical, it’s more complicated. On the one hand, bikinis haven’t considered been risqué since that crusty old partner was in short pants. However there still is contingent of society that frowns on the two-piece. From The Careerist:

One woman partner at an Am Law 100 firm in New York thinks it’s a no-win situation for most women: “I don’t think anything good comes from parading in a bathing suit in front of one’s colleagues, and certainly would question the wisdom of wearing a bikini in a business social context–no matter how young or fit one may be.” But if you must wear a swimsuit, she says, she’d opt for “a modest racing suit and a cover-up right to the water’s edge.”

Lawyers, like accountants, are a conservative lot so you could easily replace “Am Law 100” with “Big 4” and you’d have the perspective of a stuffy New York CPA. Thankfully, our friends in the west are not so prudish:

An entertainment lawyer in L.A. thinks it’s silly to be so self-conscious: “If I was 29 and had a rocking bod, I wouldn’t hesitate [about wearing a revealing suit]!” She doubts that looking “too good” is ever a career killer. “I think it depends on how you look in a bathing suit,” she says. “If you look good, go for it; if not, cover up.”

So how’s that for some honesty? It’s already been established that men in the accounting profession are pigs so there’s very little to lose if ladies decide to rock the bikini. The guys are judging you regardless. Why? Because they’re assholes. Accordingly, I stand firmly with our entertainment lawyer. Know your body and suit up accordingly.

You may have differing opinions on the matter which you’re invited to discuss them below and do share any pool party anecdotes that strike you as appropriate.

Big 4 Summer Intern Open Thread

Let me just say first off that this will not be an exclusive thread to the Big 4, I simply have to appease my SEO fanatic co-workers. That means if you’re interning at Grant Thornton, BDO, McGladrey, Moss Adams, Rothstein Kass, it doesn’t matter, don’t be afraid to jump in with questions or comments or respond to any of the regular commenters out there (“GT Partner” is a treat).

Anyway, it’s not technically summer but DWB encouraged me to drop an open thread on you all so that A) interns can share their skyrocketing anxiety and B) the veterans can bestow some of their wisdom upon these coffee gophers so that they don’t get in the way too much. Since I saw my fair share of interns pass through my time inside the House of Klynveld, I’ll jump in first.

For starters new interns, you need dress nice. If you show up in baggy Dockers without a belt and a Nike golf shirt and scuffed-up shoes – I hate you already. And unless you can do back flips (as it relates to your work) and buy me coffee once a week, my mind is made up about you already. For the ladies, since the dress code is a little more subjective for you, all I ask is you not show up in your pajamas. That said, your female superiors will be eyeing your attire much closer and they will be judging the shit out of you. And if they’re really offended by your fashion forwardness, they aren’t above tattling on you. Believe me, I’ve seen it happen.

As for work – find it. Sometimes you may have to act busy by reading god-awful training manuals or diversity literature or something else that makes you want to bathe with a toaster but FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR MEDIOCRE BIG 4 CAREER, I suggest you don’t look bored. I don’t care if you have to grovel to the lowliest A1 on your team, if you’re not working (or at least appear to be working), someone will notice and that doesn’t bode well for your chances at fulltime offer.

Finally, make some friends. Can you carry on a conversation that doesn’t revolve around your Beta Alpha Psi chapter or the bitch of an Intermediate mid-term you had? Excellent, you’ll be fine. Someone will like you. If you like talking about those things, I strongly suggest you find a hobby fast. The Mets are driving you crazy? Great, talk about that. You just saw the Arctic Monkeys in concert? Wonderful, music is rad. Outdoorsy type? Talk about some camping trips. You’re into Brazilian Jujitsu? Okay but don’t show off your injuries. That’s just gross.

Bottom line: be yourself. Unless yourself sucks. In which case, email the career advice brain trust and we’ll turn this around. Now if you’ll excuse me, some of us don’t have interns and I have to fetch my own coffee.

Four Ways Accountants Can Battle the Slow Summer Days

Good afternoon and Happy Thursday, people. For the sake of your sanity I decided not to write about LeBron James and his impending decision*. Today I wanted to focus on something that is plaguing all of us right now – the summer months.

What the devil are you talking about, Daniel?

You heard me, my accounting cohorts. The summer months are traditionally a down time for most public accounting professionals due to the accounting cycle combined with the influx of extra hands on deck (i.e. peppy interns). The lack of significant workloads during July and August can be enough to drive even the most motivated accountant to the breaking point of boredom.

Here are a few tips to get you through the days ahead once you reach the max weekly usage on Pandora:

Five before 5 – Things never feels slower than when there seems to be nothing to accomplish through the course of the day. Avoid the “I did nothing for 8 hours” by setting out a list of five things to accomplish during the day, trivial or not. List items can include everything from contacting your scheduler or manager about the fall client schedule or rolling forward workpapers in preparation for the 2010 year end. Creating the list the night before will also help set the tone for your morning routine.

Volunteer – The effects that volunteering has on one’s mind and well being are well documented. In short – it’s good for you. Check in with your local HR rep or watch out for the monthly emails about volunteer opportunities. Want to look outside of your firm? is a wonderful resource.

Mentor an intern – See that bright-eyed and bushy-tailed intern in the cubicle passing time by reading through 10K’s on the SEC website? Do their internship experience a favor and walk them through one of your clients’ workpapers. Carving out time in your day to explain the steps and processes documented in your work will help them better understand what they can expect in the future. Anything you can do to expand their exposure beyond cas rec’s is an accomplishment; and trust me, they’ll remember and appreciate the fact that you took the time to explain the process.

Get out of the office – If nothing else cash in a chunk of your vacation days and take a week off. Even if you don’t travel, use the time to catch up your personal life. Read a book, sleep for 16 hours, I don’t care. Just get away from the office and turn off your Monday-Friday mindset.

*That said, I hope he comes to New York

Dog Days: How Are Accounting Firms Helping You Enjoy Summer?

A fellow Big 4 expat once told us that Tuesday was the worst day of the week. The logic was essentially that Tuesday was no man’s land – you weren’t catching up on your weekend with your co-workers like on a Monday, Friday is an eternity away and plus Tuesday has no feel.

And since the summer months tend to be slower, the days can drag.

With that in mind, a current Big 4 soldier wanted to find out what firms were doing to help pass some of the hours either through internal initiatives or on individual teams. She was kind enough to share with us her team’s Friday ritual:

Every Friday we head out early to get manicures. Just wanted to know how/if other teams or firms were letting people blow off some steam this summer.

For the gents that aren’t so in touch with their delicate sensibilities, this probably sounds awful. Regardless, it beats the hell out of being the office, yeah? And spending over half of your day on Deloitte’s Fantasy Football doesn’t qualify as a substitute.

You may remember that KPMG is letting the troops don their best denim – baggy, skinny, nut huggers – whatever and they also shipped out some sweet flesh that Klynveldians may have burned on over Memorial Day.

So whether your summer consists of extra-casual dress, afternoons at the $5.99 buffet strip club or double-duty on your office’s landscaping, discuss how your firm is helping you enjoy (or not) months 6 through 8.