Chance of getting into Big 4

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  • #3304673 Reply

    Hello, I am a rising senior for this upcoming Fall semester at my college and I have already passed 3 of my exams. (FAR, AUD, and BEC) I am currently studying for my last REG exam, which I am very hopeful to get it done by this month. I wanted to ask you guys what are my chances of getting into Big 4 at an entry level with 3 exams passed. I wasn’t a great student at my college, with a GPA of 3.2 and I don’t really have great number of internship experiences in my resume… The only experience that I have is working at a small accounting firm this summer. I was hoping to get an honest opinions on whether I even have a chance of getting into Big 4.

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  • #3304960 Reply

    Best of luck. From personal experience i feel like theres minimal possibility of getting into a big four for an entry level role unless you apply while youre still in college. but thats my personal experience after having passed all four with two years experience. i would just say apply your A off until they're forced to acknowledge your exam success and nail the interview.

    good luck

    AUD - 81
    BEC - 83
    FAR - 81
    REG - 85
    #3305089 Reply

    It highly depends the city you are located in, in NYC, competition are high and there are always top people who's willing to work for almost free just to get in.

    If you are applying through college it's usually much easier. I will say, be creative and standout on your resume. Read their website and see what kind of services / industry your local Big 4 serve. Having one solid accounting experience will help, while other non-accounting experience will also gain you points.

    Accounting experience – focus on AR, AP, Bookkeeping, Audit, Tax, etc.

    Non-accounting experience + Volunteer – Focus specifically on now you understand the process & function of this industry, and also demonstrated that you can handle responsibility. For example, restaurant, knows how to use point of sales system, knows what salary and W-2 looks like, know how food are being delivered to the restaurant, know how to take inventory count, etc. Sales – knows how to handle cash, inventory system, knows customer service relationship, knows how management works, what's priority, etc. Skills that are not necessary “pure accounting” but will help when you audit / tax / bookkeeping your client by chance in that industry.

    I think most Big 4 people like people that can think outside of the box, try to put yourself in the same level as them and basically say “hi, this is how I can help you solve problem, hire me”.

    The rest is just luck – sometimes it can be as simple as the 3 people in front of you all rejected the offer. (It happens? When you don't give me a good enough salary.)

    NY - CPA

    New York - NYC
    Passed CPA Exam (11/2014)
    In search for a position in NYC that will fulfills the license requirement.

    #3305705 Reply

    I feel like I was in a very similar boat as you and from my experience, the Big 4 are highly selective if they are not recruiting straight from college/university/5th year Master's program. It looks like you are on your way to a CPA so here is my 2 cents:
    Note: I am assuming you are going into audit

    – Have you considered attending a Master's program to fulfill the 5th year requirement? The Big 4 usually recruit from there and you will have a head-start from the other candidates who will most likely not finished any exam parts yet.
    – Pass the last exam and get it over with. You will feel better and employers will like candidates with all 4 sections passed.
    – Don't be discouraged to work for a smaller or mid-size firm. You will gain experience and you may like mid-firms after all. However, and this is a big however, if you are still trying to get into Big4 after working at a mid-firm, try to get into industries that are not ‘highly regulated.' For example, employee benefit plan audits, low-income housing audits, etc. are not usually good experience if you want to jump into Big4. Big4 do not usually engage in those ‘easier' audits and so you have to try to get into harder audits like corporate, construction, financial institutions, etc.
    – Lastly, when you interview with the Big4, be confident and show great enthusiasm.
    – Don't worry too much about your GPA. They may ask about it as to why it is was low and be honest and explain that your grades are part of a past where you didn't take life seriously, but now you do.

    I was a senior associate at a mid-level firm and I was recently invited to a Big4 firm as a senior associate 1. I was making around 82.5k and I took a pay cut to 81k to work at the Big4, but I always wanted to work at the Big4 and so I gladly accepted the cut. I remember when I finished the 3rd round of interviews and they gave me the contract to sign, I thanked God like crazy! Hope this helps!

    "...wash me, and I will be whiter than snow."
    #3305912 Reply

    Big 4 is quite competitive, and like all larger public accounting firms, they love to recruit students while still in school a year in advance.

    Having three CPA exams under your belt is certainly in your advantage. It puts you well ahead of the curve. They also seek out high GPAs, activities, and a nicely detailed resume. The career center can help you with the resume, but I strongly believe you have a a chance of getting into any large firm you apply/interview at.

    Parthamis Prime

    AUD - 73, 75... and done.


    BEC - 78

    REG - 81

    #3305915 Reply

    I started in a Big 8 firm right out of MBA program. And just for the record–this was decades ago–I realized I'd made a mistake the first week. The job sucked. I spent the next two years looking for something better. I'm not going to identify the firm because the problem was mine: I wasn't a good fit. (The firm had some really good people.)

    HOWEVER, I respectfully suggest you confirm you really want to go big firm before you spend too much grinding your teeth or wringing your hands. You can make great money and have more interesting work in a small firms. Er, you do need to be careful about the firm you select.

    Good luck!

    I don't really remember my CPA exam scores. I've been a CPA for decades... I run a four CPA firm in Redmond WA. I'm the author of a bunch of books about small business accounting including QuickBooks for Dummies and Quicken for Dummies.
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