Students

How Does an Overachiever Stand Out From Other Overachievers During Big 4 Recruiting Season?

Ed. note: Got a question for Dan Braddock or anyone else on the GC advice team? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll get to your query in due time.

Dear Going Concern,

I am currently a sophomore in college and am interested in a Big 4 internship (Chicago) for the summer of 2012. This means that I will be
involved in the heavy recruiting season this coming fall. I have a 4.0 GPA, am on my way to becoming Executive VP of Beta Alpha Psi, am a member of the Accounting Club, and have done some volunteer work. Any tips on how to stand out from the sea of other students just like me? Should I do anything else before recruiting season besides networking? Any advice would be appreciatedver

Big 4 Lover,

Glad to see that GC has some young people in the audience. Take what you read here with a grain of salt and shot of tequila – adulthood makes people cranky, not just public accounting.

Be cognizant of the fact that there are two versions of you that every recruiter sees: the version of you on paper and the version of you in real life. Either version can make or break your candidacy. Let’s break it down:

You on paper: At first read, the “résumé” you describe seems just fine – you’re maintaining strong grades while being involved in extracurricular activities outside of the classroom, even holding a leadership position. I wonder if your “volunteer experience” was only due to the Beta Alpha Psi volunteer requirement or if you do it on your own; either way, this is minor and I’m nitpicking for the sake of nitpicking. Any Big 4 recruiter will have your résumé sitting in their “yes” pile going into the fall recruiting season.

However, your résumé is strong on the “I am just trying to land an internship at a Big 4 firm.” What are your interests outside the realm of debits and credits? Unless you are a living, breathing calculator, I’d like to think that you have hobbies other than what is described above (this is assuming you did not leave any experiences out when describing your background above). I encourage you to diversify your experiences in college – not just for the sake of your résumé but for the sanity as well. VP of the Wiffle Ball Club? Great. Part of the campus sewing circle? Fantastic. Genuine, non-accounting extracurriculars will not only enrich your life but they’ll be great conversation starters when you begin meeting with recruiters and Big 4 professionals on campus.

You in real life: As you mentioned, you’ll be in the thick of the recruiting process this fall. Being that you’re only a sophomore (and probably on the 5 year track due to Illinois requiring 150 credits for the CPA), you’ll be interviewing for the “leadership” programs at the Big 4. These lead to internships which lead to job offers which lead to high-fives and back slaps for everyone. Here’s what you need to do when you meet the firms:

Do not regurgitate your resume – let your strong résumé speak for itself. No one likes a bragger, not even your mother.

Do not be too transparent – 99.99997% of Beta Alpha Psi members join the society because it looks good on a résumé. DO NOT TELL THE RECRUITER THAT. Unless you want to come across as an internship-chasing fool, then by all means go ahead and say so.

Do not suck up – There is a subtle difference between saying, “I’m only a sophomore, but I have heard positive things about your firm from my professors and older classmates and I’m hoping to learn more,” and “OMFG your company is so cool!!!”

Be yourself – you are more than accounting. The best people you’ll ever work with in the industry will also be much, much more than debits and credits.

Does Interning Count as Experience Towards a CPA?

Today’s CPA exam question has little to do with the actual CPA exam and more to do with your career thereafter, or before if you’re already working in indentured servitude public before taking the exam.

From the mailbag:

Hi Adrienne,

I’ve been trying to look this up, but I keep ending up with vague responses. Can you get your “accounting hours” or whatever work related experience needed for a CPA license (1-2 yrs) before you pass the exam? Do summer internships count (say you interned on an audit)? Which states make you get audit work experience as opposed to states that just ask for accounting experience?

Thanks.
A bit confused.

For future reference, you guys can really help me out here by letting me know what state you are in (or applying for licensure in) as all states are different. Generally speaking “experience” is defined as work performed under the supervision of a licensed CPA in that jurisdiction. Even if you are unsure of which state you will be applying to, a general idea is helpful for my purposes.

You should be able to get your experience before, during or after taking the CPA exam. In some states, you have a limited amount of time to actually complete the requirements once you have passed, in others you will have to take some CPE to “refresh” passing scores after quite some time has passed (5 years).

States like Oregon, Virginia, Georgia and Kentucky will accept general experience in lieu of direct accounting work, meaning you can work in corporate finance and still get your experience requirements met.

States like Colorado and Oregon will accept work performed under the supervision of a Chartered Accountant as well. Colorado will also waive the work experience requirement completely if you meet certain additional educational experience requirements (150 units), check with the Board for exact details on this. Illinois and Massachusetts may also allow you a license without actual work experience. In Mass, you can receive a non-reporting license if you do not meet the 1 year of overall experience and 1000 hours of attest experience, meaning you can do everything but issue reports on financial statements.

States like Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Montana, and Nebraska will give you a CPA certificate instead of an actual CPA license if you have passed the exam, meaning you can put it on your résumé but will not actually be able to practice as a licensed CPA in that state until you meet the additional work experience requirements.

Currently, California does not require audit hours and you can always add them later if you decide you want to perform audits in the state.

Your best bet is to cough up $10 to access NASBA’s Accountancy Licensing Library to search through the different requirements based on which you might meet. You don’t have to know where to look, just plug in what you have (or expect you will have by the time you are ready to apply for licensure) and figure out which state would work best.

Hope that helps!

How Should a Ex-Big 4 Intern Explain That He Snubbed a Full Time Offer?

Welcome to the Animal-Kingdom-to-Win-in-the-Preakness-edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a former Big 4 intern who turned down a full time offer wants to know how best to explain this snub to his new prospective employers without dragging his old firm through the mud.

Need help with a busy season break-up? Dealing with some crazies at your job? Do you feel ignored for your effohref=”mailto:advice@goingconcern.com”>advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll help you get some attention (or, at the very least, create a diversion).

Back to the Big 4 snub:

Hello,

I interned at a Big 4 tax recently and got a full time offer. My internship experience consisted of little work aside from fighting boredom and trying to find work. I was very disappointed with my experience, and to an extent, felt cheated. I was not expecting much as an intern, but I was expecting to learn at least a few things. Long story short, against the advice of people who say they have my best interest in mind, I turned down the offer.

I have a bad habit of not using my rear view mirrors when I drive, so I am not seeking advice as to whether I should beg for my offer back. My question relates to how I should approach recruiting in the future. Rule #1 is not to speak poorly of a past employer. Not sure how to get around that. Advice? Also, would saying that I was not happy with my internship hurt future opportunities due to the fact that it seems that few people full time seem to be happy (proven flight risk)? Should I leave this experience off my resume? My mother always told me honesty is the best answer, but then again she has been telling me I am special for the last 22 years of my life. Depends how one defines special perhaps.

Anyhoo, I am confident that I will land interviews in the coming season and I have connections with many firms who had extended me internship offers. I am just unsure how to go about explaining this little snag in a beneficial and professional way.

Thanks for any help.

Dear Momma’s Boy,

This is the first instance that I can recall hearing about an intern turning down a full time offer without another one in place. Your confidence in your decision is impressive but we can’t help but think that you had a slightly itchy trigger finger. But as you said, we’re not looking back. Onward!

You are correct that you should not speak poorly of your previous employer. Slamming your former firm for asking you to spend all day at the copy machine will make you sound petty, unprofessional and any prospects will immediately wonder how you’re talking trash about them once you’re out of their presence. Rather than get all mysterio about the experience, you should listen to your mother and be honest about it. But don’t focus entirely on the negative aspects of the internship; there has to be something you took away from it. Once you’ve described something positive (no matter how petty), you can explain why you turned the internship down. Just be careful to not make the situation personal. “It wasn’t a good fit” or “It wasn’t what I expected” is a far better than saying, “I was bored” or “I was smarter than everyone else” OR “I should be running that firm.” Keep it constructive and thought-provoking in when discussing it. Also, I would not leave the experience off your résumé simply because that misrepresents you. Best to go with honesty all the way.

So just keep your ego in check; did you turn a prestigious firm? Yes. Why? It was a decision made based a variety of factors and it wasn’t an easy one to make (even though it might have been). You’ll come off as contemplative and your integrity will be intact. Those aren’t bad qualities to have.

Tax Intern Wants the Lowdown on Opportunities After a Stint in Big 4

Welcome to everyone-whip-out-those-birth-certificates edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a Big 4 tax intern is thinking about life after public accounting, just in case, you know, he hates it. Are there real options out there or will it be a choice between being a Big 4 partner and opening a H&R Block in a strip mall?

Looking for career advice from a complete stranger who may mock you in the process? Is a co-worker questioning your intelligence? Thinking about taking your talents to an archrival? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll help you with your Benedict Arnold impression.

Back in tax:

I’ve accepted an offer for an internship in tax this summer with a Big 4 firm, because I’ve always preferred tax to audit as far as a career within the firm. However, I am starting to have concerns over my potential career outside the firm should I decide that I hate public accounting. Unless I were to make partner, it is likely that I will have to look elsewhere to continue my career.

What are the career options outside the firm for someone working in tax at the manager/senior manager level? What can I do to make myself a more attractive candidate? Should I try to get into a specialty tax group? Would my career in tax give me the skills to open my own CPA firm down the road?

I apologize if these questions have been answered, I’ve spent the better part of two days trying to get answers to some of these questions. Feel free to direct me to the answer if this is the case.

Dear Tax Intern who seems to be getting ahead of themselves,

You’re having career concerns and you haven’t even been shown your cubicle? That makes me think that you might also be stressing over the Mayan calendar but since you mention making partner, I suspect you’re not that crazy (or this crazy).

Anyhoo, I’ve got good news – there are plenty of opportunities for you both inside and outside your Big 4 firm. Hopefully you’ll get exposure to various groups within your tax practice during your internship and that will get you thinking about what aspects of tax you enjoy best. If you like compliance – wow, are you in for a treat. You’ll probably start out there but at some point you may be able to jump into state and local (aka SALT), an international tax group or M&A. There are lots of options, which is why tax is such a great career path. Personally, I feel a speciality group can be great experience but you may limit yourself for opportunities outside the firm. That said, there is something to be said for being considered an “expert.”

As far as opportunities after your career in Big 4, you’ll be able to take any expertise you’ve obtained to clients in their own tax department. Remember GE’s department is the best tax law firm known to man and other corporations strive for similar tax savvy; you could fit in nicely. Similarly, if you’re confident you can go out on your own and start a tax boutique firm, you might be able to provide specialized services for a fraction of the cost of other firms. You’ll probably need a couple of colleagues to take the risk with you and some capital wouldn’t hurt but it could pay off in spades in the long-term.

Any tax mavens with some years behind them are invited to share their experiences. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to mocking birthers.

Ernst & Young Advisory Intern Wants to Get an Idea of What the Overtime Gravy Train Will Be Like

From the mailbag:

I will be a full time Advisory intern at Ernst and Young in Manhattan this coming summer. The duration of the internship is 7 weeks starting mid June. We just received a raise in our salary which has me thinking about compensation.

As you know, interns receive overtime which can contribute significant weight to overall pay. After researching the internet and the GC archives, I have not been able to find a clear answer regarding what I can expect for overtime hours. I know this varies by firm, workload, work groups etc but can you estimate an average of overtime hours per week? If any?

Right you are, grasshopper – it will depend on various factors you mentioned as well the clients you are assigned to, and what kind of expectations your superiors have (maybe that’s what you mean by work groups?). ANYWAY. In all likelihood, you’ll see some overtime hours which will probably result in some nice paychecks this summer but don’t be surprised if managers are staying on top of the hours you’re working. The Big 4 and other accounting firms aren’t quite as loose with the wallet as they used to be so I’d guess your hours will top out somewhere in the 50s on a weekly basis. That puts you in the range of 10 to 15 hours of OT a week (20+ only for those who work for lunatics). If your senior isn’t a headcase then you can expect 40-50 hours a week.

If you fancy yourself a intern hour handicapper, throw some numbers out there. And, interns, when things get rolling, get back to us with your numbers.

PwC Interns to Enjoy the Magic of Disney This Summer

Twenty-four hundred lucky boys and girls will descend on Orlando, Florida to traipse around Disney World in “living classrooms” which sounds a little strange if they’re going to somehow incorporate assurance, advisory and tax services. No one wants to see Minnie Mouse in pantsuit, do they?

“This is a high energy, unforgettable experience that helps prepare interns for their full-time career,” said Paula Loop, US and Global Talent Leader, PwC. “We emphasize the importance of individual contributions to the entire team and how the skills taught at each phase help them advance through the challenges.” Presumably, part of this experience will include persuasion skills that will convince the interns’ best and brightest friends (mostly those interested in tax) who are currently planning to intern with KPMG to defect to PwC at a moment’s notice. [PwC]

Future Ernst & Young Intern Wants to Know How to Land on a Prestigious Engagement

Welcome to the slightly-less-mad-Friday edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a future E&Y intern only wants to work on the sexiest tech clients that the House of Turley has to offer. How can one ensure that he/she lands only on the clients worth bragging to their peers? Let’s find out!

Caught in a busy season love-triangle (audit-cleaning crew-admin)? Not sure if your auditor is being honest with you? Upset over a rival’s shady moves? Email us at advice@goingconcern.comDear Going Concern,

I am a future 2011 Assurance Intern for EY. Do you suggest emailing my contacts in the firm regarding preferences as to industry and clients? They know from my interviews that I prefer tech clients, but is it wise to go into greater detail? I don’t want to seem entitled, but I also don’t want to get stuck on some crappy client because everyone else voiced their preferences and got spots at Apple, Google, Facebook, etc. Suggestions on how to voice such opinions would be welcome also.

– Future Staff 1


Dear FS1,

I like it when someone knows exactly what they want but I feel that you need some perspective. Let me start by answering your question directly. I don’t see anything wrong with voicing your interests in the clients you mentioned to your contacts at E&Y, especially if those contacts work on those engagements. If none of the people that you met during the recruiting process serve those clients, attempt to get in touch with someone via the contacts you did make. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease” or “the hooker won’t land the john in the Mercedes across the street if they don’t yell at him” certainly applies here.

Now for that perspective I mentioned – Apple, Google, Facebook are all sexy names and are obviously prestigious clients but let me be clear, these engagements’ allure is extremely deceiving. When I was a resident in the House of Klynveld, I worked on one of the most prestigious private equity clients the firm had. I landed a spot on this team because this is exactly what I wanted at the time, I spoke up and with some luck, I got what I asked for. It was great experience and I worked with a lot of talented people but the majority of the time, I wouldn’t say it was a pleasant experience. The hours were long, there were lots of political games and it was a GIANT rumor mill. Now if you think you can thrive in such an environment, then I say go for it but in my experience it wears on most people. I would expect the teams you mentioned would be a similar experience.

However, as an intern, I’d expect that you’ll be mostly on the fringes of most of the negative aspects of working on such a team because the firm wants you to think it’s a great place to work and managers and partners on those clients want you to think it’s a great engagement. And because you want a full-time job someday, you’re going to do your best to impress the wrinkled pants off these people. If you accomplish that feat, they will want you back on their team. The problem is that once you’re on that team, it may be very difficult to get off that team when you discover that it is Hell on Earth. Now maybe you’ll get mentored by one of those I’m-working-my-ass-off-for-very-little-gratitude-because-I-want-to-get-ahead-in-this-firm types and you’ll really like it. But if that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, then learn as much about the team while you are an intern to determine if you want to work on it or a similar client in the future. Talk to the A2s and SA1s (sorry A1s, you’re still clueless) to get their perspective but make sure it’s the people that will level with you about what life is really like on that engagement. HINT: If you get a rah-rah speech about the “experience on such a great client” you’re not getting an honest take.

So make your client desires known to get a taste of the life on a sexy client but once you land there, be sure to take a look around to see what life (or a pathetic version of it) will be really like if you’re still there in the future. Good luck.

Is Turning Down a Big 4 Internship a Mistake?

Welcome to the Cairo-is-burning edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a midtier intern-to-be is having second thoughts about their decision to turn down an offer from a Big 4 firm. Was the move a mistake? Can they go back, begging, crawling on hands and knees for a second chance?

Need solid, yet snarky career advice? Concerned that your advances on a co-worker might be rejected with footwear? Suddenly in need of a talent agent? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll help you find your very own Ari Gold.

Meanwhile, back on campus:

I accepted an audit internship offer awhile back with a midtier firm for next winter. In doing so, I turned down an offer from one of the Big 4 for the same period. Now, I’m wondering if I’ve really given enough thought to the Big 4 route.

I am aware that my life will be non-existent outside of work no matter where I go, but the exit ops with the Big 4 seem worth it. I’m wondering if it would be advisable to contact the recruiter I previously worked with and see if I could interview again, this time for a summer internship. Would this make me seem too indecisive, or should I at least try for it? If not, could I still ask him to keep me in mind for full time positions?

Sincerely,

Confused and soon to be abused

Dear Confused and soon to be Abused,

You didn’t really give me a lot to go on (we do however, appreciate the brevity) but we’ll make something out of this.

In general, I think your first instinct is always best and it sounds like you might be second-guessing your decision. You chose the firm you chose for a reason, didn’t you? You probably had reasons for not choosing the Big 4 firm, right? Did the “exit ops” occur to you only after the decision had been made and all your previous considerations were deemed inconsequential? I’m doubtful.

As for contacting the Big 4 recruiter, I don’t see any problem but take the angle that the decision you made was extremely difficult, you want to have various experiences to make the best choice for your long-term career and you’d be interested to know if summer internships will be offered. If you play the “I made a mistake, please, please, please give me a second chance” angle, you’ll come off desperate and wishy-washy. As for the full-time possibility, most of those positions will be offered to their interns, so it will be tough to sneak in once you’re ready to go full-time and you haven’t interned with that firm.

Keep in mind – just because you’re interning with a particular firm, that doesn’t mean you’ll be with the firm your entire public accounting career. Many people bounce around to various firms for one reason or another and your experience will be valuable no matter where you work. So, feel free inquire about the Big 4 firm’s summer internship but don’t give up on your mid-tier possibility. Good luck.

Intern Concerned About the Quasi-Exodus at His Firm

Welcome to the first (maybe second, depending on your CPA overlord) busy season hump day edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, an intern 2.0 is concerned that everyone he knew from year one has disappeared. Has the exodus reached Old Testament levels? Were they abducted by aliens? Or can we chalk this up to a serial killer of CPAs?

Need survival tips for your first busy season? Are you an auditor getting a flood of requests for tax advice? Are you a tax pro suffering from nightmares of killer tax forms chasing you around a maze of cubicles? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll provide some snappy comebacks or a good therapist.

Back to intern 2.0:

Hi Caleb,

I started my 2nd internship recently, with a national firm, and I quickly noticed that everyone I worked with last year has left the firm.

By everyone, I mean all 5 of my seniors and another staff member. Is this common? At this rate I shouldn’t even bother learning people’s names, as I’ll work with them once and never see them again.

Thanks,
Concerned intern

Dear Concerned Intern,

Truth be told, this mass disappearance of your superiors can only mean one thing – they found out you were coming back for your second tour and concluded that they would rather take their chances with the job market than spend another waking minute with your amateur ass.

Okay that’s probably not true at all but depending on the size of your office, six people could be a lot or a little. Offices like New York, Chicago, L.A., San Fran, Silicon Valley can lose six people in one day and no one bats a green eyeshade. If you’re in Kansas City or Memphis, six people could be the staff from an entire line of business and that can cause some managers and partners to have a nervous breakdown. So generally, there should be a inverse correlation between your concern about colleagues disappearing and the size of your office. But to put into an even broader context, you shouldn’t worry about people leaving PERIOD. Why, you ask? Cries of “It’s going to mean more work for me!” or “Busy season will suck even worse!” are common but people need to realize – this is the nature of the beast. People get burned out or laid off OR find a great job in-house somewhere OR suffer death by bindering (akin to stoning).

In other words, this is the business, kid. People leave. You’ll meet them, you’ll work with them, you may hate or love them but eventually most people jet. It’s just a matter of when and how.

Aspiring Big 4 Intern Needs Questions to Impress Pants Off Interviewers

We’ll kick things off a little early today as a young inquisitor has to prep for a big interview today.

Have a question about your career? Wondering if you should go back to your old firm after they dropped you like a sack of spuds? Concerned that the hours you’re working may cause you to blackmail your lover? Stop! Email us at advice@goingconcern.com before you do anything so we can put your problem before the masses prior to you doing something stupid.

Back to our interviewing intern:

What would you say could be a stomping question for these Big 4 kids? Got the internship interview Monday! I think I need/want one of those.


We had no idea what “stomping” meant, so we asked for a clarification:

I’m looking for a thought provoking question regarding the industry or the big 4 in particular. I would like an astute question to ask.

Okay, then. You want to smart, up-to-speed on the world around you, without coming off insincere or patronizing. We can help.

Despite your curiosity, you must avoid questions about money, hours you’ll be working, drug tests, hooking up with superiors and so on and so forth at all costs. We realize the temptation to inquire about the frequency of happy hours and what the hottie ratio is but please refrain from broaching these subjects.

Now, then. It’s extremely important that you ask questions that are specific to the firm with whom you’re interviewing. There are tons of thought-provoking questions out there but if you really want to grab someone by their pin-striped ass and get them to look impressed, it will help for you to devise a question that is specific to that firm, as well as the local business environment of the office’s city that you’ll be living in.

This could require some research on your part. For example, find out if there are some local charities that the firm partners with regularly and inquire about what activities employees participate in (this is where the sincerity helps) and if there are any events scheduled during your internship. This will demonstrate your desire to participate in extra-curricular activities and your interest in giving back to the community.

Another example is to be familiar with some of the major players in the business environment in your city. If you brush up on the local business news and ask a relevant question to a recent event, your interviewers will recognize that you’re cognizant of the business environment and that you’re interested to see what the angle is from the firm’s perspective.

And posing the question to the appropriate person is important. Asking the second-year associate that’s greeting you at the interview about the potential in the venture capital space probably isn’t be as effective as asking a manager or partner the same question. Also, be careful with wonky technical questions. Sure, it may help you look smart but it could also backfire if the question comes off manufactured and awkward.

Bottom line – your questions need to be sincere and detailed. It will show your interviewer that you’re genuinely interested in their firm (and not thinking about the next firm you’re meeting) and also that you took the time to prepare. Oh, and smile for crissakes. It will make your question sound far more pleasant.

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.

Ernst & Young Striving for Fewer “Cookie Cutter” Engagement Teams

E&Y’s annual intern conference invaded Orlando yesterday and the ‘Berg had Director of Campus Recruiting, Dan Black on to discuss Gen Y and why they are pre-tay, pret-tay, pret-tay important to the future of the firm.


Despite their technology savviness, it appears that Gen Y is still relying on rock-paper-scissors as a key decision-making tool. Apparently, darts and jigsaw puzzles are important too.

Oh, and the time you put in as a line cook at Applebees’s in college really doesn’t translate into anything useful so don’t be too concerned about that.

Fulltime Offer Watch ’10: Big 4 Class of 2011

Now that it’s officially August, that means a few things:

1) Everyone around starts bitching how summer is almost over

2) The tax compliance folks take a field trip to the nearest Radio Shack to stock up on their batteries for the two and a half month stretch and

3) This year’s interns starting getting their offers for fulltime employment.


This of course means that your coffee jockeys and Xerox operators will start stressing over everything that they’ve ever done this summer and whether it’s good enough to be blessed with the honor and privilege to attain fulltime Big 4 employment.

So if you veterans out there have been doing your job, you’ve shaped some fine, young, booze-drenched minds into someone that is going to your new associate next fall. If you feel like giving them some credit below. And interns, if you’ve gotten some good news (official or otherwise) jump for joy below and share your experiences – the good, the bad, the truly mortifying (extra bonus points here).

UPDATE: Straight out of the rumor mill, we’ve heard that some E&Y interns have already found out that they won’t be partying with Mickey & the Gang:

There was a round of interns who were let go on Friday. They were told to come in to the office and terminated, offers not given. Saves the expense of sending them down to Disney (the interns that remain leave this Wednesday). There were at least 3 let go in NY.

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? Volunteermatch.org 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

If You Were Expecting a Nice Breezy Internship with Plante & Moran, You’re Going to Be Disappointed

This is serious P&M interns. You probably thought this little summer jaunt at P&M would be just an easy way to get some overtime hours and blow all your money on booze. Well. Actually, it might be you’ll also be expected to walk in on Monday and pull your weight.

Coffee jockeys? No. Xerox duty? Of course but it will be only the important documents. But scavenger hunts? Forget it. The only scavenger hunt you’ll be going is for material misstatements.

Annually, more than 100 students experience a three to four month paid internship. The latest round of students will begin their internships on June 14 in Michigan, Ohio and Illinois firm offices. On the agenda? An Intern Summit, which is a two-day, off-site meeting focused mainly on team-building and community service projects. At the end, interns give a formal presentation on their reflections and lessons learned from the experience.
[…]
“As an assurance intern, I was given the opportunity to go into the field and perform real audit work, not just sit behind a desk or get people their coffee,” said Staci Tobe, a former Plante & Moran intern and Michigan University student. “I also appreciated the firm’s open door policy. I never expected to be able to walk into a partner’s office and seek advice, but Plante & Moran encouraged it.”

Presentations on team building! Real audit work! Getting a partner’s advice! Oh, and no short sleeves because you’ll be expected to roll them up and bare arms aren’t acceptable.

Let’s Welcome the KPMG Interns with…

…kind words from John Veihmeyer? Obviously! Bagels with schmear? This isn’t 2007. Happy hours where the booze flows like wine? TBD.


The Klynveld interns started this week (an official Tweet from the KPMG Go says there’s over 1,000 coffee go-fers this summer) and we hear they’re starting out with some stimulating training for a couple of days before they head to national training which we hear will be at a HoJo in Fargo, ND. Cutbacks, you know.

We know some of you KPMG vets will be asked to mentor these blades of grass and we’re a little curious about what the guidance has been re: coffee, lunches, booze etc. since TPTB are still squeeze all the hairs out Lincoln’s beard but still want you to convince the hot and/or smart interns that KPMG is the place they want to be.

Anyhoo, we’ll try and bestow some wisdom on this year’s crop with some key thing to remember:

1. Get things started off right and start kissing the new managers’ asses.

2. Business casual does not consist of sweat pants.

3. If we send you on a scavenger hunt, try not to make it obvious.

4. Showing up with booze on your breath isn’t allowed until you’re well into your first year as full time employee.

5. We’re out of ideas… help them out.

PwC Interns Have Invaded Grand Central Station

If they ask, try to resist giving them bogus directions.

Public Accounting Casting Call – Summer Intern Edition!

Summer interns are en route to an office near you; either already on board or on their way this week, sporting their early summer tans. Just in time for the work load to shrivel up to next to nothing and summer hours to be instituted – gotta love the timing! But nonetheless summer intern season is a wonderful time of year, and I want to make sure GC helps celebrate the summer.

Today’s post is a cry for help on two different levels (has my job really come to the point of groveling?). Here’s the scoop:


Summer Interns

What’s the concept?: The main drive behind this blog is to provide insider information on the public accounting industry to those who work in the trenches every day. What better way to do that than by listening to you, the summer intern? Your senior manager might ignore you all summer, but we won’t.

What we’re looking for: Summer interns at public accounting firms (Big 4, mid-size, anyone is welcome) to contribute short, bi-weekly write-ups about your summer experiences. We’re not looking for firm bashing information or juicy details about co-ed hookups but hey, if you have dirt, we’re always here to listen. Write-ups should touch on your experiences, both firm related on your respective engagement teams.

How to get involved: Email me here and include the following information:
Name:
Firm and Location:
Dates of internship:
Best email to contact you on:
*See my note below about confidentiality

Advice for Summer Interns

What’s the concept?: I’m in the process of putting together a “guide” for summer interns. What do they need to know before starting at your firm? What industries should they avoid or gravitate towards? How should they handle being snagged into a drunken conversation with a partner about his three kids and pending soccer tournament? Most of you here have not only worked with/ hated on interns before, but you were one at one point in your career as well.

What we’re looking for: Share your advice or your stories of interns past. The dirt. Everything. From serious career advice to informal tongue-in-cheek statements, nothing is off limits.

How to get involved: Email me feedback and include your firm’s name and office location. Feel free to leave stories below in the comments.

*Please note: As a member of the public accounting industry myself I understand the importance of confidentiality when it comes to something like this project, and I understand the concern that I might release names either publicly or to the respective firms. Simply put, I will never do such a thing. The success of this website rises and falls with the trust of our readers. No one would ever take action to hurt our relationship with you, the readers. Please have faith in us as I ask for your participation. Any feedback or comments are assumed to be private.

That said, I look forward to your feedback. Cheers and Happy Moanday.

Former Deloitte Intern Not So Good at Gambling on Corporate Card, Lying About It

In blatant-misuse-of-the-corporate-credit-card news, a former Deloitte “trainee/student” (let’s assume an intern, shall we?) has admitted to racking up over £8,800 in gambling debt on his Deloitte issued credit card.


Umar Qureshi, using his Deloitte laptop no less, managed to lose the money in just a couple of months, October and November of 2008. At that point, Qureshi, rather than admit to being a horrendous gambler, lied about the charges, telling Deloitte that they were fraudulent. Depending on when this particular lie took place, he only managed to keep a straight face, at the most, for two months, as Deloitte terminated his contract in January of ’09.

Which is understandable. Gambling can be nerve-racking on its own but losing your ass on the Corporate Card has got to be a real pant-crapper. This makes for the second Big 4 degenerate loser to make headlines this year in the UK. Back in February, a ex-KPMGer really was rolling, slamming over £25,000 on his expense report.

Accountancy Age reports that the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (“ICAEW”), “ordered that the defendant cease to be a provisional member and be ineligible for re-registration for six months, and that he be severely reprimanded.” As we mentioned in the KPMG case, we’re not sure what a “reprimand” entails but a weeklong diversity training with Barry Salzberg could be a possibility.

Luckily, for Qureshi a relative was kind enough to pay the debt owed to Deloitte, who must have really wanted the money back. It’s just principle.

Former Deloitte student admits £8k bill from online gambling [Accountancy Age]

Busy Season Interns: Don’t Waste Their Time

Continuing with the busy season theme, let’s touch on everyone’s favorite coffee jockeys, the interns. This isn’t prime season for interns at accounting firms but we know there are a few lucky (?) teams out there that have an extra set of hands on deck.

Getting serious for two, this time of year, everyone is under pressure to get things done and if you happen to have an intern on your team, they either make your job infinitely easier or they are the bane of your existence. If you fall into the latter category, why is this the case?

It’s pretty easy for you to conclude that the blade of grass tapping you on the shoulder every ten minutes is the person at fault but a lot of times, interns get thrown into bad situations where they end up working for seniors or managers that are so swamped (or helpless) that they can only think about their own workload while there’s a 21 year old that needs something to do (besides looking through menus and making copies).


Since accounting firms put so much effort into recruiting the next wave you’d think that this enthusiasm would spread to teams like the Plague. Unfortch, there are many that see interns as an annoyance during this time of year because, “I have so much work to do and I don’t have time to handhold interns” and we think that’s bullshit.

We’re not saying that there aren’t bad interns out there. And we’re not saying you’re not busy. We know better. But if you gave that intern something meaningful to do instead of whining about how busy you are, they might make your life a speck (or a few) easier.

And interns need hand holding because they’re interns. Don’t forget that up until this point, they’ve been wearing sweats 24/7 and that you used to be just like them. Experienced team members should take this time to utilize them in a meaningful way and not as gofers. If you’re one of those teams that needs a gofer, at least squeeze some meaningful work somewhere so they can learn something and they probably won’t mind the gofering as much.

Yeah, it might take some effort on your part but it’s definitely worth your time to mentor these future associates. If you give them some challenging work now and show them a little bit of appreciation for their efforts, they’ll run through walls for you later.

Tweets and Pokes: How the Big 4 Is Recruiting the Next Crop of Accountants

BelushiCollege_CPA.jpgNo one here is arguing that there is a vast disparity between the intern program experience and the stark reality of working in public accounting. What’s bothersome, however, is the smoke and mirrors that the firms use to convince recruits that their careers should start in one location over another. This begins and ends with spending exorbitant amounts of time and money on campus, growing multi-yeardressing up public accounting as one’s best bet if you want to work globally.

It has come to the point where the firms’ online presence is two-faced. One side of the proverbial coin shows the straight-laced, information-packed websites that industry and employees see. Flip it over and you’ll encounter extensive and oftentimes flashy sites targeting tomorrow’s crop of new hires:

Deloitte
E&Y
KPMG (warning – mute your speakers)
PwC

Accounting never looked so sexy.


Many of these sites are taking advantage of the technology that students use, which makes sense. E&Y spent thousands on creating a presence on Facebook, one that would show advertisements to a select target of majors. KPMG chose to go the YouTube route, primarily to promote its Global Internship Program. PwC’s campus-focused site has its own “.tv” brand. And of course, Twitter.

All of these methods of communication and established online web presences are fine and dandy, albeit expensive to maintain (marketing teams are dedicated at each firm solely for campus recruiting needs). However, what about the relationships with the students? Recruiters target students as freshman, four to five years prior to any chance of return on investment. Honors programs are sponsored by firms; same goes for professor salaries. Every Big 4 hosts their version of a “leadership summit” – these generally take place one or two years prior to being eligible for an internship. These multi-day summits occur under the sun and are attended by the respective firm’s national leadership. Trust falls and scavenger hunts in sunny Florida. Or Arizona. Or California. Every year. At every firm.

By the way, that bonus you were expecting? Sorry, can’t find the money in the piggybank.
In defense of the Big 4’s marketing gurus; their work is paying off. BusinessWeek’s 2009 ranking of “best” internships has the Big 4 in the top five: Deloitte is #1; KPMG, #2; E&Y, #3, PWC #5. This translates to the same firms taking the top four spots in BusinessWeek’s ’09 rankings of best places to launch a career. This comes as a no-brainer when you consider the vast majority of new hires were former interns. The Kool-aid has been known to have long-term effects.
But the questions remain – is the multi-million dollar recruiting campaigns run by each Big 4 firm worth it? Are these rankings worth the time of students and the decisions they need to make? And what happens after your career has been launched? What’s the next step?

Daniel Braddock, your friendly Human Resources Professional could very well be considered the hypothetical love child of Suze Orman and Toby Flenderson. Following his varsity jacket wearing college days, he entered the consumer markets as an auditor for a Big 4 firm in New York City. He spent three brisk years as an auditor before taking the reins of stirring the HR kool-aid. He currently resides in Manhattan. Daily routines include coffee breakfasts and scotch dinners. You can follow him on Twitter @DWBraddock.

Interns – Where Are They Now That They Could Be Useful?

Thumbnail image for intern-where-is-my-report.jpgEditor’s note: This is the latest post from Daniel Braddock, your friendly Human Resources Professional. He could very well be considered a hypothetical love child of Suze Orman and Toby Flenderson. Following his varsity jacket wearing college days, he entered the consumer markets as an auditor for a Big 4 firm in New York City. He spent three brisk years as an auditor before taking the reins of stirring the HR kool-aid. He currently resides in Manhattan. Daily routines include coffee breakfasts and scotch dinners. You can follow him on Twitter @DWBraddock.
You might agree with the sentiment that now would be a fantastic time to have an extra set of hands ticking and tying through the night. Where are those lovable interns when you could actually put them to good use?
I’ll tell you where they are. They’re sitting in class or – depending when this is published – already at the bar for Tuesday’s dollar beer night. They’re getting their McStudy on, prepping for what promises to be one of the best summer internships in the job market today.
As Francine McKenna mentioned, the Big 4’s intern programs are regarded as some of the strongest. Why? It’s certainly not because the programs offer rigorous, reality-driven experiences. The bulk of interns experience your firms during the summer months; nothing like busy season. Many of you were interns yourselves, spending 8-12 weeks basking in the attractive glow of the 10-year partner track and abundance of work/life initiatives.


The fundamental purpose of an internship was – for a long time – a simple machine: offer students the ability to “test” a career in public accounting while providing H.R. with a fulltime hire “pre-screening” process. Programs have elaborated to the points of gross extreme (more about this on Thursday), but the general principle remains.
This is why I disagree with Francine’s comment that, “hiring more interns instead has big pitfalls, for both the employee and the firm.” Personally, I’d rather my firm hire its entire new fulltime class from the previous intern pool, and why the hell not? As light and fluffy as the experience is, the internship program can weed out the few incompetents that snuck through partner interviews. Of course, that’s assuming management gives half a damn and spends more than 1.7 seconds completing the H.R. performance reviews for each intern.
The root of the problem is that the “best” internship programs have lost touch with the core values of the past. Ten years ago interns were local students working part-time in order to save money for a car payment or next semester’s books. The experience was elementary but worthy nonetheless. Now, the current state of the Big 4’s programs are a product of keeping up with the Joneses. Summer months set the competitive stage for training sessions, mentorships, ball games and beers. Stir in a high paying salary (with the possibility for overtime!) and H.R. wonders where the Millennial Generation’s sense of entitlement originates. The Kool-aid is spiked with the fruits of privilege.
Don’t expect things to change anytime soon.

Be Nice to the Interns

Thumbnail image for intern-where-is-my-report.jpgWord on the street is that the winter interns have arrived at KPMG which makes us think they’re out in force all over the country.
If you’ve got a new intern at your beck and call, tell them how much you appreciate them in the comments and then send them the link (telling them in person isn’t necessary).
If you’re a new intern, tell us how things are going. Is your SA sending sexually explicit emails to strangers from your computer yet? Is it everything BusinessWeek says it would be or are you getting the taste of busy season already?
Whatever your thoughts, do share and try to stay under control at the welcome happy hour.
Earlier:
Love Me, Love Me…Say That You Love Me…Critiquing The Positive Intern Hiring Trend

Accounting Firms Plan to Offer Less Internships in 2010

intern-where-is-my-report.jpgBack again for round two of the latest Big 4 domination of a BusinessWeek list.
The entire list with company profiles is now available but we’ve pulled some of the more interesting items for your enjoyment, after the jump.


Intern hiring planned for 2010 and interns hired for 2009:
• Deloitte: NA; 2,233
• KPMG: 1,700; 1,745
• Ernst & Young: 1,800; 1,971
• PwC: 2,175; 2,278
• Grant Thornton: 328; 388
&bull RSM McGladrey: 225; 330
Average Total Pay:
• Deloitte: $10,000
• KPMG: $10,900
• Ernst & Young: $9,585
• PwC: $9,848
• Grant Thornton: $11,716
&bull RSM McGladrey: NA – Average hourly wage was $21.33
Interns who received full-time offers:
• Deloitte: 73%
• KPMG: 90%
• Ernst & Young: 92%
• PwC: 89%
• Grant Thornton: 60%
&bull RSM McGladrey: 62%
Interns with offers who accepted:
• Deloitte: 82%
• KPMG: 93%
• Ernst & Young: 92%
• PwC: 93%
• Grant Thornton: 56%
&bull RSM McGladrey: 88%
We don’t know who’s responsible for auditing these numbers so take them for what they are. That being said, if they are indeed kosh, what is up with Grant Thornton’s numbers? With the exception of the average total pay, not too impressive, even when compared to the firm that sponsors Natalie Gulbis.
To add insult to injury, BW uses this picture which some people will be quick to point out is no longer part of GT’s Global Six campaign. Maybe the claim that the GT interns don’t get coffee is bunk?
For the Big 4, it looks like there will be fewer internships available in 2010, which reflects the slimmer hiring budget that has been discussed here. The good news is that unless you do something like arrange an awards ceremony that includes “Most Likely to be the Office Whore” using a work email, you’ll probably get a full-time offer. Discuss the stats and outlook for the menu/coffee gophers in the comments.
Earlier: Deloitte Tops BusinessWeek’s ‘Best Places to Intern’ List, KPMG Gets the Silver

Better Learn to Like that Intern

intern-where-is-my-report.jpgTime to give a little love to everyone’s favorite prank victims, the interns. The word on the street is that this year’s dinner delivery specialists at the major firms will serve as the major pipeline for next year’s fulltime hires.
According to our source, next year’s budgets for much of the audit, tax and advisory service lines for the Big 4 will be met if all of this year’s interns accept their offers. And unless they’ve all suffered serious brain injuries, we’re guessing they’ll be accepting those offers.
More, after the jump


What hell does this mean? Well, in years past, the firms have had large budgets to go back to campus and hire additional new staff in addition to the offers that they made to the crop of interns from the previous year. And just like merit and bonus pools, the hiring budgets have shrunk to the point of the absolute bare minimum. Why? Because no one is jumping from the sinking ship like in years past.
So for you interns out there, it sounds like if you’ve got an internship you better learn to love that firm because if you decide it sucks, finding a fulltime gig at another Big 4 firm will be next to impossible.

E&Y SoCal Intern Offers: Don’t Spend it All in One Place

It may still be a little early for the citizens of Arnie, especially if you’ve got the Friday morning cocktail flu, but whatevs. We got word that E&Y audit interns have gotten their offers nationwide and Whale’s Vagina San Diego and L.A. are both getting $50k, no bonus. If you got a Masters, you’re getting $52k, no bonus (seems worth it now, eh?). No word on tax or advisory, so if you know these, fill us in.
Last year’s lucky little Ernies got a bonus so at the very least, that makes for a smidge of animosity. For all the love we’ve been giving Ern we haven’t got a lot of specifics on the actual details. Discuss in the comments or drop us the numbers at tips@goingconcern.com

Ernst & Young Interns Receiving Offers Today?

Guest 6 @ 1:03 informs us that interns may be returning from their little rendezvous with their international counterparts to find out if they made the cut of those receiving full time offers. This is clearly a matter of “win or lose, we still booze”.
So whether you’re a proud new E&Y’er or you dreams of being a CPA-rock star have been blown to smithereens, let us know the details. If you’ve got the scoop on salaries and numbers discuss in the comments or send us tips to tips@goingconcern.com

Lock up the Booze, E&Y Interns in Orlando

We just picked up one of the few Tweets that has made it through today:
Picture 4.jpg
This type of event will likely lead to many things including international hookups, late night skinny dipping (and probably urinating) in the pool, and widespread drunkenness of epic proportions.
If you’re down in Orlando this weekend for this three day extravaganza, send us your stories of debauchery to tips@goingconcern.com. According to the website, the festivities are at Disney World, so don’t embarass your firm yourself and try to keep the nudity out of the view of children.
International Intern Leadership Conference [EY.com]

Grant Thornton Interns Don’t Get Coffee, Thankyouverymuch

inerncoffee.jpgLast week we asked for some perspective on the chicanery and lovable idiocy of your interns. Today we learn that about a Grant Thornton intern who “verifies that clients’ accounting records are accurate and sits in on important meetings.”
That’s right, interns are verifying accounting records and going to important meetings. Probably the type of meetings where they get to take notes on internal control procedures while the experienced associates can barely keep from strangling themselves with a network cable.
Yet, life remains unfair for the interns, “Interns who talked to RedEye said they are gaining experience to prepare them for the workforce, but increased intern responsibilities typically don’t come with increased pay or perks or even more respect.”
After going to those important meetings, interns still aren’t feeling respected people. No increased pay. No perks. How can this be? Haven’t they done enough? They tried to earn your respect by making the copies that you asked for and getting totally bombed at firm events. They didn’t mean to ask so many questions about the copier. They’re just new, so they want to make sure they don’t screw anything up.
What else can they do? Shine your shoes? Fill your car up with gas? Buy your lunch (they’re probably making more than associates on a per hour basis anyway)? The summer internship season is winding down so make sure you’re letting them know (and us) how they can go that extra mile to get that full-time offer.
Chicago interns move up corporate ladder [Redeye]

Guess What My Intern Did?

intern-where-is-my-report.jpgA commenter read our minds with regard to talking about interns, God bless ’em.
So today, in the spirit of the intern-season, we’re launching the first edition of “Guess What My Intern Did?” because sometimes they can do stupid things and we want to hear about it.
Examples could possibly include: any kind of shameless, awkward sexual advances on superiors; asking he/she to get a copy of an email from the asshole CFO; showing up to work hung over smelling like Ken Lewis; You get the idea.