Importance of a Big 4 Career Fair

It wasn’t until my junior year in college that I began to understand the importance of going to a Big 4 career fair. I would constantly receive emails from my university’s career center regarding them, but I found myself moving them into the trash folder. After nearly two years of dodging these emails, I finally realized that my professors and colleagues were right. So, I decided that it was time to buckle down and prepare myself for my future.

Did I know what I was getting myself into? Of course not. But I knew that with the proper steps and right guidance, I would be able to make the most out of my first career fair. It was time to take action but I know one thing for sure: preparation is key.

Research the Big 4 Before You Go

One great piece of advice that I received from my accounting professor was to first do research on the companies that will be in attendance. So, to maximize the effectiveness/efficiency of your research, you should:

  • Review the list of all the companies that will be represented
  • Pick out the companies that you are most interested in. Within those, pick out your top 3
  • Jot down anything you see fit as a reference point for conversation. You can write down information about the CEO, an office location or HQ, the name of a managing partner, etc.

Recruiters love to see that you are interested in their company and that you’ve done some homework on them. A little research can go a long way.

Big 4 Career Fair: Know What You Are Getting Yourself Into

So the big day is here! You’re wearing professional clothes and you arrive at the scene while noticing that there are hundreds of students dressed like you. Also, the lines of people at the Big 4 firms will more than likely be longer than the other ones in the room, but do not let this discourage or overwhelm you.

Editors note: One of Big4Bound’s writers/CPA highly recommends being one of the first people admitted into the career fair entrance. She was able to speak with Big 4 firms while there were no lines, and she was able to have longer conversations, which facilitated her ability to make better connections. Further, she landed an interview (and an internship) from this career fair!

Some find it easier talk with a smaller company on their list first in order to ease and relax their nerves. Then, once you feel comfortable, you can work your way towards the companies that were top 3 on your list.

When speaking with the recruiter(s), remember to always:

  • Smile
  • Ask questions
  • Be yourself

If you come across as likable, curious, and professional, you will already be a step ahead of many of your peers.

Give the Recruiter Something to Remember

You just had a great conversation with the recruiter. You smiled, asked a few thoughtful questions, and weren’t too robotic or jumpy. You made it through the hard part, but before you wrap things up, there are 3 crucial things you should do before you walk away from the recruiter:

  • Hand them your accounting resume so they know how to contact you
  • Ask what they normally like to see on the online application for the position in which you are interested
  • Give a nice, firm handshake and put their business card somewhere that you will not misplace it

It’s also important that you give the recruiter something to remember you by. Each recruiter probably talked to 100+ people over the course of the career fair, so the more memorable you can make yourself, the better. For example, you could bring up something like a vacation or winter/summer plans so that you can make reference to it in your follow up email.

Your follow up email can be along the lines of the following:

“Hi John Doe,

It was nice chatting with you earlier today at UMD’s career fair! Thank you for your time and explaining xyz to me. I hope that you have a wonderful time with your family in the Dominican Republic this winter break and I look forward speaking with you soon.”

This helps them put a face to a name and will work in your favor as they discuss potential candidates with hiring managers and HR.

Broaden Your Focus and Be Open

Although you may have a list of the companies from a specific industry that you for sure want to visit, it is okay to broaden your focus and be open to other opportunities. Even if you know you want to go work for a Big 4 firm, take some time to speak with recruiters from other companies. As a Big 4 auditor/tax practitioner/consultant, you need to know about a wide range of industries and companies, and should be taking advantage of every opportunity to learn more. By exploring other companies, you will also practice building rapport and relationships in professional settings, which is a critical skill in any Big 4 position.

Go Crush the Big 4 Career Fair

If you’ve made it this far, you’re basically a career fair Jedi. So, big 4 firms will have no choice but to bring you in for an interview.

What did we miss? Do you have any more tips and tricks you’d like us to share? Leave a comment and let us know.

Editor’s note: Simbiat authored this article, and she has decided to join EY.