October 18, 2018

Flying

Will a Fear of Flying Be a Problem for a Future Big 4 Auditor?

Happy MOANday, people. I received the following email last week and wanted to share my response with all of you. Please comment below if you are or have ever been in a similar situation, and detail how your respective firm responded.

I have a question that I can’t seem to have answered anywhere. I just finished my sophomore year a prestigious university in the northeast and am considered working at Big 4 for a few years for the resume stamp so I could transfer for better pay/work-life balance. One thing that interests me is how much traveling is required in the audit department if you work in a big city like NYC…are most of the client sites local or will a lot of flying be involved. The reason I ask is because I have an intense fear of flying and I am wondering if this will be a deal breaker. I would be more than happy to DRIVE anywhere or take Amtrak but I seriously do not want to fly. Would working for Big 4 in NYC, Boston, Chicago, etc give me the flexibility that I seek in terms of flying, or should I be considering another career? Thanks for your time!


The easy answer: Talk to the recruiters that visit campus. I don’t know how hard you’ve looked for an answer but the recruiters are campus know (or should know) their firm’s HR policies well enough to answer the question.

The must-give-Caleb-400-words-of-content answer: Generally speaking, intensive travel is generally affiliated with large corporations with resources in several states or countries; more times than not these businesses are headquartered in the larger cities you mentioned. For example: it is entirely possible to work on a large multinational corporation based in New York City that has factories in several states. Depending on the scope of the audit and the resources of firm, staff auditors occasionally have to travel to the remote sites and perform fieldwork. Most auditors welcome the travel as “part of the job” and enjoy a change in working environment (even if the environment is a chemical plant in Arizona). But because of your legitimate fear, this is obviously not something you’re interested in. I wouldn’t worry, and here’s why:

The advantage to working in a larger office is that the Scheduling team can better accommodate your request not to be assigned to engagements where air travel would be required. However, that’s not to say that should your office location be a smaller office (say, Pittsburgh), your request would be met with a “too bad for you” response. It is in the best interest of the firm to handle needs like yours in a professional manner.

My advice to you is to be discreet but upfront and honest with the firm you choose to worth with. Discuss the need to be on local clients, and remember – the vast majority clients in larger cities are accessible by mass transit or car. I have no doubt that you will have a successful career in public, even if you are there for the “résumé stamp.”