Story 1: Insight into a “Big Four” Internship

by Austin Miller

Recruitment – Downtown Santa Barbara

‘Meet the Firms,’ put on by UCSB marked my first contact with any accounting firms. I walked into a beautiful downtown Santa Barbara Hotel proud to be wearing the first suit I had bought since my Bar Mitzvah. Fifty accounting firms with 50 booths filled the banquette room. The Big 4 (KPMG, Deloitte, PwC, E &Y) took up the majority of the space staggered in each of the 4 corners of the room. The day started with Deloitte and ended with my 10 resumes submitted.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when you are talking to a recruiter: 1. know where you want to work 2.what practice you want to be in and 3. why you want to be an intern in that practice (Audit, Tax, or Advisory). If you don’t know what practice you want to be in ask some friends or your accounting professor, and see what interests you. After these formal questions, continue the conversation confidently, tell your story, and enjoy yourself. Finish off the conversation with a simple trade – your resume for the recruiter’s business card.

Recruiting continues with a résumé and cover letter submission. After the paper round, on-campus interviewing ensues. Usually the interview questions are not very technical, more so recruiters are looking for a good fit. They want you to fit the company culture. If and when you pass through the first interview, you’ll visit the office for a superday – 4 hours filled with Partner interviews and networking lunches. Hopefully, you’ll get the offer(s) and decide where you would like to start your career.

Choosing the Right Firm

I went through the recruitment process and ended up receiving offers from KPMG and Deloitte. The recruiters definitely influenced my thought process, as both were extremely welcoming and nice. I decided to go with KPMG when the Firm offered me a rotation in both Audit and Advisory. Auditing essentially results in the Firm putting its stamp of approval on a company’s financial statements. Advisory, and specifically Transaction Services, consists on consulting with companies in merger and acquisition deals. Because I didn’t know what practice I wanted to eventually go into, the rotation was extremely attractive to me. Try not to over think your decision, all of these Firm’s offer great foundational skills to almost every industry you could think of. Trust your gut and go with your instincts whether your decision is based off of the people or professional opportunities within the Firm.

Training – Orlando Florida

The KPMG experience started in Orlando – five days of training at the Hilton near Downtown Disney. The short week was filled with training sessions, networking opportunities, and free time for socializing after hours. The training incorporated Microsoft Excel sessions and technical Audit, Tax, and Advisory breakouts. One training session had me as a computerized simulation Associate at the office as if I was playing a professional version of the Sims. The training was detail oriented, with 1,200 college students from all different schools in the US. We were all eager to learn, network, and have some fun with each other come nightfall.

KPMG – Los Angeles

After training, my next 8 weeks ranged from 40-60 hours of work. I was lucky to have been flown to Seattle for a client and got to spend a week there working, and also going out at night with my co-workers (interns can have fun too). I was given legitimate work, not photocopying and coffee runs, performing merger tests using Microsoft Excel. I also developed financial statement analysis skills by performing Income Statement and Balance Sheet analytics. The technical skills I learned at KPMG provide me with a strong foundation for any type of accounting or finance sector job – and any accounting firm should do the same for you.

Recruitment Round 2 – Downtown Santa Barbara

Now that you know what’s coming, enjoy wearing your finest suit and networking when you meet the firms. Follow your instincts and pursue what interests you, not just what others say is good for you. Good luck and get that job!

If you feel that you have had a similar experience, any good tips, or questions, feel free to comment and spur a conversation.



  1. You are one of the lucky ones in today’s economic climate. Sounds like you will have a solid future. Attitude is a great plus when interviewing if everyone has about the same skill level. Choosing the right field is so important today as you could be looking for work on the East Coast while others are being wined and dined in Silicon Valley.

  2. Being an accountant, these are good tips if you are looking for a job and going big 4 gives you an experience that will carry over as your career progresses. It has opened doors for a lot of people into a lot of avenues.

  3. This is great advice not only for handling Meet the Firms with confidence and poise but also for demonstrating competency and assurance in any personal or professional setting. The author clearly has a grasp of effective social interaction and these techniques, if practiced well, could lead one to many successes.

    KPMG has chosen a stellar employee and his advice will be sure to lead him on the path to greatness.

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