Freaking out

Recruiting Season: It’s Decision Time; Dealing with Radio Silence; Stalling That Eager Firm

Welcome to the latest Recruiting Season Q&A. This is where we answer several questions from anxious accounting students. Remember, you won't know if your question is stupid unless you ask. Email your query to advice@goingconcern.com with "Recruiting Season Question" in the subject line. Just a reminder – we're compiling the starting salaries for new associates […]

Freaked Out Recruit Needs Fashion Tips for PwC Leaderhip Program

Ed. note: Have a question for the career advice brain trust? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com.

Subject: Career Emergency

Well, not really. I’m just freaking out.

I have an office visit with PwC tomorrow. I’m doing a leadership program with them in two weeks. From what I’ve read online, office visits consist of interviews; however, the recruiter said dress for tomorrow is “business casual.” Can I really show up to an interview in khakis? I’m worried as small as wearing the wrong thing could ruin a potential internship offer. Gotta love the superficiality of public accounting. So do I rock a suit despite the recruiter saying busineisk underdressing for an interview?

Thanks in advance,
Freaked out junior

Dear Freaked Out,

No reason to panic, that’s what GC is here for. Since Caleb’s work attire is best suited for the pool these days (aka his “working office”) he asked that I respond to your message.

First off, congratulations on earning a spot in PwC’s two week leadership program. You are correct that there will be interviews at one point during the program, but you should also be viewing the entire two weeks as an interview. You will be evaluated throughout the period – how you interact with your peers; how you involve yourself in the group discussions; how you interview during the formal interview portion. The PwC recruiters will not only be making their own observations but they will also be soliciting feedback from the younger staff professionals who volunteer throughout the weeks. Be cognizant of the fact that every PwC professional you speak to could influence whether or not you receive an offer for the following summer.

Now – back to fashion. Unless you heard specifically from someone at the firm that interviews will be on the first day, you needn’t worry about suiting up tomorrow. They (the recruiters) want you to succeed, so they will tell you in advance about when the interviews will be. That said, it is always wise to make a positive impression on the first day. Below are a few tips on making sure you’re on spot for the first day:

Business casual: There is business casual and then there is public accounting business casual. The latter involves a wrinkled blue Oxford dress shirt and a pair of semi-pressed khakis. Sure, this counts as business casual, but…why? Do yourself a favor and avoid mimicking the Best Buy uniform on your first day.

My advice: If the recruiter said no suit, then don’t wear one (step 1 to receiving an offer is following directions). But it’s possible to have your business casual lean towards business professional without crossing the line. Go with either A) a suit (matching jacket and pants) or B) blue blazer with either grey or olive dress pants or khakis and then match with a pressed button down shirt. Avoid the plain white shirt if you can, as these are best paired with ties and you’re leaving yours at home for the day. The shirt you wear should work well with and without the jacket. These outfit options give you the ability to quickly “dress down” by leaving the jacket on the back of your chair during informal ice breakers but also allow you to quickly formalize yourself on the off-chance you’re meeting with a partner.

Additional tidbits:

• Brown/black – brown shoes and belts generally match with khaki better than black, but wear what you have and what you like. Also, make sure your shoes are polished.
• Suit/blazer jackets – double check to make sure the pockets and vents are open. Any string keeping a pocket closed is left over from production and is meant to be removed; it will come out rather easily. Also, remove the suit’s brand name tag from the sleeve if you haven’t already – only you should know your suit is Hugo Boss or JoS. A. Bank.
• Check the weather – if there’s a probability for rain, bring an umbrella. Don’t chance getting stuck in a summer storm.
• White socks: Just…don’t.

Any other advice from the peanut gallery? Share them in the comments.

CPA Candidate, Who Hasn’t Taken a Single Exam, Is Already Freaking Out

Side note: I’ve never seen anyone use double periods in a sentence like this..So it goes without saying that the following has been edited and please, don’t do that on BEC. Here’s a tip: if you are looking for more written communication practice, try it on lazy, F-bomb-obsessed bloggers or even in emails to your mom. That’s all the AICPA is looking for; you don’t even have to be correct, just on topic. They make up 15% of your BEC score so get in the habit of pretending like random communications are being graded by a machine. It’s an undervalued commodity in your professional lubmission from the mailbag was close to correct (a beginning, a middle and an end, somewhat on topic) but needed a little work to be aesthetically pleasing to the CPA exam robots. Working on our emails would be a good supplement to whatever CPA review materials you bought, and I don’t say that to be mean.

Adrienne,

I am just about to begin the grueling process of the CPA exam..

I have been debating whether to take BEC or FAR first before starting work in July. Because I have more time to study now than I will for future tests I want to take the hardest one first. For me I feel like this will be BEC because this seems like it has the most new material and I did pretty well in Intermediate accounting. However it sounds like no matter how much studying some people do, they just can’t get prepared for BEC because it has recently changed. Should I just play it safe and use all this time I have to get prepared for FAR or should I take a shot at BEC?

Also, my firm only supplies me with Gleim self study books. Have people done alright on BEC with just these? How should I supplement these?

Sincerely,

Already freaking out

First, stop freaking out. You haven’t even started yet. Start and then let me know if you are still freaking out. You might like it. Get words like “grueling” out of your head now but you’re more than welcome to pull it out later if your experience proves to be exactly that. Until then, try to stay neutral on how much of pain the next 6 months – 2+ years of your life will be.

Second, we’ve discussed CPA review plenty, you can check the CPAnet forums for comments from actual review students who are taking whatever you bought or are looking at buying and any combination thereof. My experience has been that BEC is pretty hit or miss and that no review course covers it in as thorough detail as FAR, AUD or REG. That doesn’t mean they don’t do that section well, it just means I tend to hear the most complaints across the board regarding various review courses’ inability to truly cover BEC.

Don’t blame that on the new exam; that complaint goes back several years. It isn’t fair to compare the last version of computerized testing (CBT 2004 – 2010) to this one (CBT-e) as they are different exams, it’s too early to judge whether review courses and candidates promptly catch up to the new material, along with the AICPA. They have been clear about this being an improving work in progress for 2011, therefore it would be equally unfair to make a call at this time. Don’t say everything is “because of the change” as if you’re a Boy Scout with a flashlight under your face trying to scare everyone around the campfire. Was it this bad when the exam went from paper and pencil to blips on a screen and digital fingerprints?

Third, don’t get high on study drugs while studying for BEC or you might really be freaking out.

I always tell candidates to start with the section that will be hardest for you as that’s when your 18 month timeframe begins so your plan sounds good. If you bomb a section a few times, the clock isn’t ticking. Of course, this also leads to procrastination if you continuously bomb, which is an entirely different problem. Not to make you freak out.

Accounting Has Finally Broken into the Hitler Meme

Since the Times ran a story on this cultural trend in fall of 2008, and the following video was posted in December ’09, you might say that accountants are again, late to the party but whatevs. And of course it’s an IFRS spin.


While somewhat humorous, it’s still based on a Canadian company and there’s no mention of Sir David Tweedie, which we think is an unforgivable oversight. That being said, it is encouraging that there is at least one Downfall remake out there that encompasses accounting. Personally, we’d like to see some of the following topics addressed using the clip:

• Patrick Byrne getting the news that Overstock has to restate their financial statements, again.

• Tim Flynn learning that the KPMG Salt Lake City office actually accepted the Overstock audit engagement.

• Stephen Chipman receiving word that Grant Thornton was fired from the Koss engagement because VP Sue Sachdeva made off with $31 million and it was discovered by American Express.

• Barry Salzberg finding out that Deloitte only ranked 70th in the Fortune 100 (behind E&Y and P&M) after being #1 on the BusinessWeek list.

We’re sure there are other possibilities. We encourage you to get to work on this ASAP.