If you’re looking to break into the Big 4, one great way to do so is to attend the summer conferences held by the firms.
Networking Opportunities: You have near-exclusive access to recruiters and key employees for an elongated period.
Explore Firms: See if the culture at a particular firm is right for you. Do you like the employees that you meet? Can you picture yourself working in the office you visit?
Get Hired: A lot of people who attend summer conferences get offers for co-op positions or full-time roles.
-Deloitte: Deloitte National Leadership Conference 2017 (Toronto)
-EY: #EYHeadStart (Toronto)
-EY Emerging Leaders Program (Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver; Deadline April 2, 2017)
-KPMG: KPMG Executive Look 2017 (Toronto; Deadline April 2, 2017)
-PwC: PwC Talent Academy (Toronto)
There are workshops, team-building activities, meet-and-greets, scavenger hunts, and lot of other fun things!
Perfect! Conference deadlines (and event dates) vary across the country – so do some research and get applying!
Didn't Get Accepted? Don't Worry!
Several of the large accounting firms also host office visits throughout the summer, in anticipation of the craziness of September recruiting season. Ask your university career centre for more details.
-Neal, yconic Student Ambassador
1. Co-op/Internship Programs
Experience is important. That’s why attending a business school with a co-op/internship program (or solid connections with employers) is important. The more experience you can build before graduation can make a huge difference.
2. Professional Designations
Thinking of doing your CPA or CHRL? It’s important to attend a business school which offers you the courses you need to fulfill the education requirements for your chosen professional designation.
3. International Accreditations
AACSB and EQUIS are two of the most prestigious accreditations. Why are these important? If you apply for jobs/internships abroad, companies can do a quick search to see if your school meets international standards. Few people in Germany have probably heard of Brock University, but I was able to land an internship there because Brock’s business school is AACSB accredited.
Also, you can leverage networking opportunities that come from being accredited. For example, the top 10% of students at AACSB-accredited schools are invited into an honour society called Beta Gamma Sigma which has an inductees-only job board, leadership events, and discounts.
4. Recruiting Targets
If you have a list of target firms, check to see where they recruit from. As an accounting graduate, I can attest to the fact that the Big 4 focus on certain institutions – make sure you don’t end up at a university where they have a small on-campus presence.
Are there any other things students overlook when selecting a business school? Comment below!
I had the chance to ask one of my Senior Managers a few questions. Working at EY has provided her with the opportunity to work in several different countries, travel across the world, and progress to such a high level in a relatively short amount of time.
In your opinion, why is it beneficial for young people to start their careers out at a Big 4 firm?
Working at a Big 4 provides you with a solid foundation and grounding to then progress in the professional world. There are some basics around professional etiquette (such as relationship building, presentations, coaching and mentoring) plus work basics that I still keep today from when I began my career out of university.
Also, there is also the opportunity to meet very talented and smart individuals that want to see you succeed in your career.
Lastly, another pro for working at a Big 4 is the variety and exposure to different clients and industries. There is an opportunity to specialize later on depending on what interests you.
What advice do you have for university students who are looking to join a Big 4 firm?
Network as much as possible both internally and externally and at all levels – get to know your internal team in as many service offerings as possible and get to your clients externally. The breadth and depth of your relationships, if maintained, is invaluable throughout your career. Also, be flexible and open to new assignments and types of work.
What are a few things co-op students or new full-time campus hires should do to be successful at a Big 4 firm?
1) Do what you say you are going to do: lead by example.
2) Network: get to know people at all levels (in the organization and on client-site)
3) Learn as much as possible: there are opportunities around every corner. Be a ‘sponge’ for knowledge
4) ...Lastly, have fun!
Thanks very much!
The only thing I remember from my first-year co-op orientation is the Co-op Director saying “In the future, the majority of you will land jobs through personal connections.” I scoffed the idea off, thinking of the few “connections” I had, and believing I was unworthy of making professional connections.
Call me ignorant, but at the time I thought “connections” meant your dad was an old university friend of RBC’s CEO.
Looking back, the majority of paid employment and club positions that I’ve been offered were due to networking and existing connections. Networking is, in fact, very important for professional development. Here are 3 facts about networking that I’ve picked up:
#1: University = Networking Heaven
Your Career Counsellors (who have the best connections to employers), professors (who have industry contacts), and fellow students (who may get hired before you) all have the potential to help you out somewhere down the line. Leverage them.
#2: What Goes Around Comes Around
If you’re in a position to help an exceptional individual out, do it. Not only does it feel good – you never know what doors they can open for you in the future.
#3: Never Burn Bridges
Have you ever quit a part-time job in a less-than-ideal way, only to realize that after you’ve secured another position, you need your previous employer as a reference? Always say “farewell” on a high note.
Have you gotten ahead in life through networking? Do you have any networking tips? Comment below!
-Neal, yconic Student Ambassador