• Career Center

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

    By | August 23, 2012

    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.

    • The Fraud Square

      Smaller firm: “Big 4 was not the right business culture for me.”

      Industry: “Public accounting was not my calling in the accounting world.”

      • Robert Palmer


    • Guest

      You can always try to get in to a national firm like Grant Thornton or a smaller local firm like KPMG.

      • Jhgjh

        lmao. Well played sir, well played.

      • ThunderHorse

         #CLOL (Cube Laugh out Loud)

    • JR

      Just apply to a Big 4 in a different city and have some reason why you need to be there. Or try a different firm and a different service line.

      • PwCASSociate

        This is not a bad idea at all.

        • $19577774

          It’s a clever idea, but JR is ignoring the fact that the OP got rejected by his Big 4 firm for a reason. So the OP might be able to trick a different Big 4 firm into giving him an offer in a different city, but the OP may end up getting fired after a couple of months for the same reason that caused him not to get a job following his internship.

          The OP obviously knows the truth of what happened and didn’t provide full disclosure in his e-mail above. There could be a lot of reasons why the OP didn’t get an offer, and it may very well be that the Big 4 isn’t a good fit for him. Maybe he has bad personal hygene? Maybe his likes to grab his female co-workers’ asses? Maybe he lacks common sense or the ability to conduct himself professionally? The possibilities are endless.

      • Guest

        That is an extremely clever idea

      • Guest

        except that your name is in a recruiting database, showing that you did NOT get an offer

        • GuestERNIE

           Tell me some more.

        • Guest

          Is said database shared among all big 3.5 firms? Or does each firm have their own said database? If each firm maintains their own said db, then all OP has to do is apply at the other firms – not the one in which he/she interned.

          • LOL @ “all big 3.5 firms” – well played, sir or madam.

            • Josh_Him

              which one is .5? KPMG? haha come on guys low blow.. right on the nuts!

    • BobLoblaw

      This kid needs some tough love. If you didn’t get an offer, you somehow fucked up. All of the Big 4 are cranking away trying to fill their pipelines, so if they gave you an internship, they intended to hire you full time.  If you didn’t get an offer you either (a) had a bad attitude, (b) were very bad at your job, which for an intern, I’d put at about the same level as learning to wipe your ass, or (c) you pissed someone off. Regardless of which one it was, you do not want anyone to find out because I can tell you having done recruiting for 10+ years that not getting an offer after your internship is an absolute deal killer. So if someone asks, you say “I didn’t get a chance to meet with your firm before my internship and I think you hold better opportunities” or some bullshit like that. Once you let the cat out of the bag, you might as well move on to the next firm. 

      Alternatively, you can completely throw in the towel and go work at KPMG.

      • Guest

         B4V already hated you, just wait until he finds out that you used to be a recruiter!

        • BobLoblaw

          internal recruiting as a client serving person not recruiting firm recruiting. However, its always fun to see B4V blow his top.

          • $19577774

            I used to help with recruiting when I was at my Big 4 firm as well. Guest is clearly a dipshit. Bob, I enjoyed reading your post above and I found it to be among the most insightful on this thread so far. And I agree with all your points. Well done.

            • BobLoblaw

              People are going to think we’re in collusion here, but as I’ve said before, I agree with a good portion of your comments. Excellent response to JR. And thanks to you for your comments

            • Guessed

              Collusion?  No.  Assuming a 69 position?  Yep, you must be.

            • BobLoblaw

              You’re right, B4V and I are totally the ones that are gay. Not the guy who posts as a 1980s ladies jeans brand

            • Guessed

              Guessed is not a jeans brand.  Guess is a well-known jeans/fashion brand.  You tried, but you failed.

            • $19577774

              And the fact that you know that is not the least bit gay.

            • Guessed

              They make men’s jeans, too, dumbass.

      • AC/GC

        Exactly. Interns are coddled and very little is expected from them. As a senior, I know I’m going to re-do all of your work and tell you “Good job! Thanks for your help this summer!” after working extra time each day that you’re with me. If you didn’t get an offer, then your reviewer couldn’t even cover up your incompetence with props for being a nice person.

        • Successful at another firm

          Ok. I got rejected by PwC. My WPs apparently sucked.

          But I was bounced around by 3 seniors (no one had responsibility over me). No one gave me feedback on my WPers. Zero. None. I asked, I even begged. None of my work was reviewed until the night before signoff when, shockingly, it was too late to fix all of the mistakes any intern would make.

          I was told throughout that I had an excellent attitude and I got props for working hard, including a string of 90+hr weeks.

          Was I coddled? Was I incompetent?

          • offerless

            How did you go about applying to another firm? I have a similar situation. Great reviews but no offer, I’m just not sure where to start with the other big 4 firms. If I knew the reason I would say, the firm recently lost a HUGE client so it may have been a budget issue or maybe I totally sucked. Either way I’m waiting to hear back from my senior manager. I just want to get started on applying to other firms now that they are recruiting. 

      • kaycen

        son, you don’t understand how the big 4 works. Obviously some areas are looking to hire as much as they can if they are growing, but there are also cases where the firm starts losing clients and has to lay off interns. In this economy, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. I’ve seen it happen in New York with one of the big 4, they cut 60% of their tax intern class, just because they were unable to keep their clients. And i actually know some of these kids, and that they were all able to obtain another big 4 job offer after the internship. Do not be so presumptuous and assume that if a big 4 intern is fired, he probably sucks d*ck.

    • Jhgjh

      In related news, do I accept an offer for a mid size local firm, or send out resumes like crazy and hope one of the Big 4 picks me up? I have already graduated and now studying for the CPA. Recruiting season and decisions suck. :-/

      • Immaterial

        Accept offer for midsize firm, while keeping your eye out for Big 4s. If it doesn’t happen, spend a year or so at the midsize and move up.

        Refer to this article and corresponding comments:

        • Jhgjh

          Chances are big 4 won’t happen. The amount of people applying and the length of the B4 lines at meet the firms is well, too damn high. I think the spend a year or so at midsize firm then GTFO route is better. Thank you sir. 

    • cool story brah

       I hope you weren’t my summer intern that didn’t get an offer.

    • Josh_Him

      Why does everyone on this site screws KPMG every chance they get? I know it’s not Deloitte.. but come on guys!

      • Guest

        McGladrey bashing got old.  The haters needed a new flavor of haterade.

        Don’t worry, they’ll get bored of KPMG eventually, and then they’ll either go back to hating on McGladrey or find someone else to pick on.  Haters gotta Hate.

        • UrinalMint

          Agreed.  I’ve cleaned up any number of messes that the schmucks at DT, PWC, and EY created.  The Big 4 is the same set of idiots, same processes, same software.  Different letters on your business card.

          • BowserfromShaNaNa

            Same shit, different logo. So true.

          • Guest

             You’re dead on.  PwC, Deloitte, EY, and TaxMasters all have the same problems, despite being the most prestigious firms in our industry.

            • Fd

              Taxmasters lol.  I see what you did there sir.  Well played.  Well played.

            • Guessed

              It loses its effect when you point it out, Fd.

    • guest111

      I disagree with GC’s advise. I am currently a top-rated Big Four senior in my group and did not get an offer after a summer internship at another Big Four few years ago. The group that fired me was completely shitty to work with, meaning everyone seemed miserable, there was no one willing to answer my questions, and they handed me projects that SENIORS were working on. In the end, my ratings were sub-par compared to interns in other engagements and consequently did not receive an offer. I just want to let everyone know that shit does happen. If you got an internship, you are probably not retarded.

      After a week of depression, here is what I did in the fall: updated resume, told the truth (said my reviewer was strict and gave lower ratings), and made sure I aced all those networking events and interviews. Once the interviewers saw that I was a normal person (don’t think yourself as a reject) who knew all the materials, they probably figured I just had bad luck. I ended up getting interviews from rest of the Big Four firms and nailed them all. The following summer, I didn’t change myself at all and everyone loved me and I ended up receiving an offer.

      In conclusion, don’t be discouraged by GC’s words. You’ll be fine.

      • Ron Popeil

        Short version: loser who can’t spell “advice” tells you you’ll be totally fine, blames it on the horrible people you worked with and lies. And now look at him, he’s thriving at McGladrey!

        • its cool to poop ur pants

          I just shit myself

        • TedDuncan

          Oh, shut up

        • guest111

          Sorry if my little mistake ticked you off. If you can read a little better you can probably tell that I am not at McGladrey. And I am glad that you are not working for me or above me.

        • Black Pot

          Dear Ron,

          1) You missed a comma between “with” and “and lies.”
          2) “And” is not an appropriate start of a sentance.
          3) Your last comma should be a sentance break or a semi colon.

          • Ron Popeil

            Actually I am morally opposed to the serial comma therefore the lack of comma in my list is allowed. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_comma

            Unless it’s 1800, “And” is a perfectly acceptable way to start a sentence in modern writing. While we’re on the topic, that’s spelled “sentence” and not “sentance” like you chose. Come on, there’s an obvious red squiggly line in Firefox if you fuck this up, get with it.

            I will begrudgingly give you your last point only because I got a 78 on BEC.


            • Vikram Pandit

              Ron, just shut it.

          • $19577774

            I think its hilarious that in your comment bashing this guy for his poor writing, you fucking misspelled the word “sentence”. Bravo!

      • yooooooo

        Haha top rated loser

    • Josh_Him

      If you tried your best and yet failed, don’t worry.. when you least expect it something good will come along. Keep trying and you will be fine.. Big 4 is not the end of the world.  But if you are one of those douchebag over confident interns who pisses of everyone on the engagement team you probably got what you deserve.. I hate douchebags!

    • Guest

      I was a Big 4 intern this summer and literally the only person I heard of not getting an offer is some girl who puked all over the hotel lobby during training

      • giddyup

        You definitely weren’t a PwC  intern because the girl who puked all over the hotel lobby during our training totally got an offer. 

        • SamMichaelFrancis

          And the intern that sleeps with their senior, and subsequently breaks up with them.  Then has to be transferred clients, causing quite a scheduling problem.

          Still got an offer in our office.

    • BeezNeezCPAMBA

      There’s three other possibilities that you didn’t get hired because everybody mostly assumes you’re stupid and your basically a monkey pushing buttons so that’s no big deal.

      1.  Someone didn’t like you for some reason that may of had nothing to do with you or your work ethic. (completely possible in B4)
      2.  You weren’t willing to relocate
      3.  Your co-workers were dicks who you don’t want to work with anyway

      What could be the outcome
      1.  You could get an HR person that actually listens to you
      2.  You could get an HR nitwit whose checking off boxes and basically doesn’t want to bother because you didn’t get hired somewhere else and they’ve got 500 other applicants looking for the same gig

      You should probably just ask why you didn’t get hired and let them know you’re not looking for a BS answer.  If they’re not going to hire, what’s it hurt.

      My advice if you want B4, suck it up, move home, get your CPA, be willing to relocate.  B4 loses 1000s of staff every year and loses 10s of 1000s of chargeable hours because of the bane of the CPA.  They like CPAs as associates because you provide no barriers to their succession planning and makes the managers (in their silly little heads) think they are less responsible for you.

    • I hate interns

      The most likely case is that you screwed up.  Last summer my intern walked in late, left early, skipped client work for “internship presentations” and still got an offer. He sucked and is now a first year.  Unfortunately my review was not harsh enough.

      • I hate them, too

         I was not allowed to give an intern a sub-par rating.  I couldn’t get her to understand how a trial balance should net to zero and sent me several hundred pages of blank scans (the paper was facing the wrong way).  Sure enough, she got an offer..

    • GUEST

      I didn’t get an offer during my spring internship. I was one of the three out of about seven total interns that didn’t an get offer–they were a tough crowd to please. I pissed one of my seniors off. I decided to drive home from the client at 10 pm when my team left rather than drive 30 min back to the office to work on another client till who knows when. At the time, I figured it may come back to bite me, and it did. After my rejection, I sent a “thank you for the opportunity” email to the partner that played a big part in recruiting me. She had no clue that I didn’t get the job, and I worked mostly on her engagements. She ended up hiring me in a different office that she started running. It was a little awkward at first, but I got over it. Looking back on it, I wouldn’t have wanted to work in that office anyway. All the people in that office were/are miserable. They’re overworked and under-appreciated, but that’s public accounting… Anyway, I had a successful career at that firm for three years and then I jumped to another firm.

      You’ll find something. You may not get Big4, but you’ll land a job somewhere. Passing the exam will go a long way.