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September 29, 2023

You Interned At Big 4 And Didn’t Get an Offer, Now What?

Let's face it, your mom is sick of hearing about your career troubles. Stop ruining her Sunday afternoons with your depressing phone calls and email us for advice instead.

Hi, I have a question! I interned with a Big-4 in the summer and didn't get an offer. I was wondering if I could apply to the other Big-4s in the fall, since this is when they recruit heavily. Do you know people who interned at a firm, then worked at another, because they didn't receive an offer?

Can you apply to other Big 4s in the fall? Sure. Will anyone want you? That remains to be seen.

Let's face it, as an offerless former intern, you're damaged goods. A reject. If public accounting were a widget factory, you'd be in the bucket with the rest of the deformed, unwanted widgets that didn't pass quality control.

Any chance you are obsessing over a Big 4 opportunity but are not quite Big 4 material? Now is the time to sit down and have a real talk with yourself about your future. You don't need to be top 1% in your class to fit in at Big 4 but you do need to be a very specific type of individual and maybe that's not you. It could be that the firm you interned with didn't have the room to hire you or the culture just wasn't a good fit for either party but the more likely reason is that you were either a really crappy intern or just not what they were looking for in a new hire. If it's the latter, applying to other Big 4s might be a waste of your time.

Now is the time to take the blinders off and broaden your scope a bit here. Have you considered second-tier? You don't really have the luxury of standing around waiting for the firms to come to you at this point so you'd be wise to get hustling for something, even if that something means McGladrey. It sure beats being unemployed.

Let's talk about that résumé item while we're here. Are you going to be honest about your internship or are you going to pretend like it never happened? Even without a full-time offer, you gained valuable Big 4 experience. Now, if you screwed up during your internship (you know if you did) and that's why they didn't offer you a job, perhaps there is a way for you to paint that in a slightly better light. Note: painting it in a better light and straight up lying are two different things. You want to stick with the truth, even if it's a slightly distorted version of it. Be honest – not too honest – and don't be tempted not to mention the internship at all as that's where you get into sketchy territory.

Remember that everyone knows everyone else so if you do fudge the truth, you might get found out.

So, back to the question at hand. Yes you can (and probably should) apply to the other Big 4s in fall (as in any day now…) but you should also be networking your pathetic little butt off and not simply playing Call of Duty until the firms start banging your door down. If your classmates got offers, they might get a referral bonus for hooking you up with the firm so ask around and see if anyone will help you get your foot in the door. Failing that, you can always go the recruiter route but let's try to exhaust your other options first.

In all seriousness, you're probably not a total loser and as long as you can figure out how to talk up your internship instead of focusing on the fact that you weren't extended an offer, you should do just fine. Be open to opportunities other than Big 4 and hustle, hustle, hustle.

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