July 22, 2018

Interships

Anxious Accounting Student Needs Advice for a PwC “Superday”

Ed. note: Have a question for the career advice brain trust? Email us at [email protected].

Caleb,

I’m an avid reader of Going Concern and I was wondering if you could help ease my anxiety on my Superday coming up fairly soon. I’m currently a senior in a master’s program and I am looking for an internship this Winter. I’ve interviewed with all Big 4 and only managed to score a second round with PwC for a Northeast location. I do have a couple back up offers but really want PwC. Do you have any tips or other insights on these superdays? I often read that the majority of people attending superdays get an offer but I don’t wident. Any insights you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Anxious Student

Dear Anxious,

I’ll do my best to give you some honest insight on Superdays, although I don’t know if it will quiet your fears.


Your biggest competition at the Superday will be yourself and your choice to pursue a winter internship (presumably tax?). Everyone knows that the summer internship programs are the bees’ knees: barely 40 hours a week; summer outings; awesome schwag. Winter internships, on the other hand, have been traditionally limited in numbers but extensive in experience. This is changing a bit this year, as firms are looking for a small uptick in winter interns to help offset the turnover in staff. The firms’ practices have higher standards for the students they hire for this time of year because they’ll be doing actual work (relative to the summer class). But should you land one of the spots on the winter intern bench, you’ll be poised to rake in a lot of overtime $$$. So, what do you need to do at the Superday to best position yourself for one of the internship spots? Keep your cool. Keep your confidence.

Be flexible. Winter interns are oftentimes from local universities, since many students balance a light credit schedule while putting in long hours at 300 Madison Avenue (or 345 Park, or…okay you get it). If you’re in this position, oversell your availability to work. Think you’re taking 15 credits? Say your’e taking 12. Available on weekends? You bet! They’re looking to hire workhorses, not show ponies. If you’re taking the semester off, that’s great; make sure the recruiter knows this. Talk about your willingness to work long hours and do “what’s best for the team” even if that means working weekends. The goal is to land an offer, not sound like someone with a grasp on reality. “Work the entire month of February and sleep under my desk?!?! Sign me up!!!”

Now, then. General advice for Superdays:

You’re always being watched. Think that the teambuilding event is trivial? Think again. The recruiters will be watching how you interact with the team members. One comment of “this is the dumbest thing I’ve ever done” will get you dinged. Sit down, shut up, and BE REALLY EXCITED TO PLAY WITH MARKERS.

Careful with the booze. Every firm’s 2nd round interview program is different, but be sure to take it easy if there is booze involved. Take a page out of my BFF Patti Stanger’s book: keep it to two drinks. You’ll loosen up, it’ll taste GREAT after the long day, but you won’t get too loose lipped. Just because the evening’s atmosphere is casual, doesn’t mean the office managing partner should know what you’re getting your boyfriend for Christmas.

Shoot for the middle of the fairway. Every in-office interview program has the same cast of characters. The Funny Guy. The Guy Who Thinks He’s Funny But Isn’t. The Girl Who’s Skirt is Questionably Short. The Guy Who is Wearing His Father’s Suit. The Sit in the Corner Special. The Candidate with Too Much School Pride. The Leader Who Doesn’t Know How to Be a Team Player.

Umm, yeah. Don’t be any of those.

Easy on the cellphones. Silence it, turn it off, and only look at it on breaks. Nothing pisses off an over-the-hill recruiter more than watching a room full of Millennials texting and tweeting over their morning fruit salads.

Good luck.

Is a FASB Internship the Path to Prosperity?

Ed. note: If you’re desperate for career advice from a couple of Big 4 refugees or someone who won’t bother sitting for the CPA Exam, shoot us an email at [email protected]. Thanks for your support of Going Concern.

A reader asks on behalf of a “friend”… right:

GC,
A friend of mine was accepted as one of the FASB interns right out of his master’s program, and was wondering what he can expect regarding salary/perks when he is done with the internship. They choose 12 total people per year. His email would give away his name, so I had to send it.

We are not looking for specific numbers, rather, with your past experience, would you expect firms to offer higher salary and perks osed “elite” position? He merely wants a 2nd year salary and to get his CPA bonus and materials paid for (since he lost these benefits by declining his current offer from one of the Big 4.

Thanks again,
Young and Naive.

First off, Y&N, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out here that we don’t make a habit of publishing email addresses under any circumstances, so in the future, your “friend” is welcome to get in touch directly and we will not blab to everyone about “his” business. Then again, with 12 folks entering this “elite” position, it’s not that hard to narrow down the choices and figure out who is who. But who cares?

You mentioned that your “friend” turned down a Big 4 offer (presumably to take this FASB internship) so what are you, er, he thinking is going to happen when the internship is over? All Big 4 firms pay for CPA review, most of the larger firms offer some sort of CPA bonus so he’d be wise to get as much done as he can during the internship so he can knock out that last part just after the ink has dried on his offer letter and get the larger bonus offered.

That said, not sure if you’ve heard but FASB isn’t exactly the elite accounting standard setting body it once was back in the days before mark-to-market. It’s hard to tell you – er, your “friend” – how valuable this internship will be without knowing more about what it entails. If it’s some legitimately elite program that only a handful of accounting students qualify for every year that will teach your “friend” the ins and outs of accounting standard setting under the watchful guise of seasoned pros, perhaps your “friend” will have a little leverage when it comes to negotiating a better payout in public accounting after leaving FASB but I wouldn’t expect to be pulling 6 figures or anything. In fact, I wouldn’t expect much at all beyond the usual salary bump one gets for being a high performing MAcc student with skills beyond binge drinking.

Could this be the Postgraduate Technical Assistant Program, by chance? You don’t have to tell us, lest your “friend” get put on blast, just asking.

Obviously this valuable experience will put your “friend” a step above slackers, and will teach your “friend” all sorts of marketable skills such as time management, prioritization and critical thinking in the scope of accounting, not to mention offer all sorts of networking opportunities should your “friend” decide to stay or return to the realm of policy over public drudge work. In the long run, these skills will probably be worth more (figuratively, not literally in the sense of buckets of cash delivered to this person’s front door just for being such a talented human being) than any imagined huge salary perk your “friend” is expecting for coming into public with this experience.

This experience will get your “friend” into the Big 4 if that is the route “he” wants to take, and “he” may even be able to play “make the firms fight over who gets to have me” but “he” will likely have to put in blood, sweat, tears and – most importantly – time just like the rest of the grunts to make the big money.

Will “he” have a competitive advantage? Yes. Is that worth more money in the big picture of things? Yes. Is your “friend” going to be offered $30k more than his “average” MAcc classmate just because he went through this program? Doubtful. Is his lifetime earning potential slightly more due to the experience, knowledge and connections he will gain through this program? Totally.

Why did you write us to ask this? Just to have people congratulate you – er, your “friend” – for nailing such a “supposed ‘elite’ position?”