Lindsey S. talks with us about her PwC internship experience in the Risk Assurance practice. She hit the ground running as a Freshman and devoted herself to networking and getting her foot in the door with a Big 4 firm. It takes dedication, commitment, and the ability to get outside of your comfort zone, but Lindsey lays out an achievable blueprint for anyone looking to land a Big Four internship or job.

James: Why did you want to go into the Big Four originally?

Lindsey: So, I guess I’ll just start from the beginning.

James: Good of a place as any!

Lindsey: I’m majoring in Accounting and Information Systems, so freshman year I became pretty immersed in the business school.  In my classes, everyone always talked about the Big Four, how they hire the most accounting majors, and how all accounting majors want to work with the Big Four, etc…

After hearing my classmates hype the Big Four so much, I did some research into what the Big Four actually do, what they are, and why everyone wanted to work there so badly. Then I started to also get involved in extracurricular activities, so whenever there was an opportunity to go on office visits or to networking events, I would sign up. I wanted to talk to the firms and understand who they are, what they do, what’s their culture, why people want to work here, who are they looking for… I was also interested in opportunities to work abroad.

During freshman year I was selected to PwC’s externship program – Elevate. It was a day-long event at the PwC office, and I just got along well with the recruiter, with the associates, with the managers and everyone just seemed so down to earth and fun.

And then sophomore year, I studied abroad but I still kept in contact with my recruiter whom I met my freshman year.

Landing a PwC internship

James: Did that help you when it came time to apply for an internship?

Lindsey: Definitely. I did three rounds of interviews for my internship with PwC. They were all through Google Hang Out and they were all behavioral questions. In the second semester of my sophomore year, I got a notification from the recruiter that I made it to the final round. It ended up not really being an interview, it was just a short chat and they congratulated me on getting an internship offer.

James: Wow – nice surprise there. Did you interview with any other Big Four firms besides PwC?

Lindsey:  Yea, all of them actually. The way I saw it, was even if I didn’t get an offer, I learned this is how they conduct interviews. I learned about the person I talked to and I made a new connection.

James: What line of service were you interviewing for?

Lindsey: Audit / Assurance. At that time, I heard mixed reviews about assurance. It has really long work hours and a “lot of checkboxes” type of work.  At the same time, I had really good friends who loved assurance and the people they worked with. So I ended up accepting, and I finished my internship with PwC Assurance Practice and I really liked the office. Everyone there was very welcoming and enjoyable to be around. I really enjoyed the people I worked with. It just felt really comfortable and homey, I didn’t have to be stiff and uptight all day.

What’s a Big Four internship like, anyway?

James: What kind of work were you doing during your internship?

Lindsey: I ended up joining the Risk Assurance team, so what we do is mostly assist the core assurance teams. A lot of the work I was doing was mainly IT controls testing, so testing samples, talking to clients, and having them walk us through how they keep their information secure. What are some of the controls that they have in place, in regard to user logins, hiring people, accessing a certain database… stuff like that.

Other things I did were rolling and updating our information and some of the auto reports that we had. So those were some of the main tasks that I was assigned to.

James: What was your favorite part of the internship?

Lindsey: Definitely the learning opportunities and the bonding experiences. They really make the interns feel like they are part of the team. I was on seven teams, so I was basically working with a different team every three days. I got to know a lot of people in the office quickly, and anytime I had a question, I would ping them and a second later they would respond and be like “Oh, let me show you how to do this.” It was just a very close-knit environment and I was never afraid to ask someone for help.

Everyone I met would always be willing to take their time out of their day. Even though they have deadlines, they would still want to help me with my assignments and show me how to do things, and explain why they do it a certain way.

I really enjoyed the learning aspect of it and just how honest and how willing they are to help.

Advice for landing a Big Four internship

James:  Any advice to students looking for Big Four internships?

Lindsey:  The first step you should take is to get out of your comfort zone and go to networking events. I think it’s all about who you know and how well you can communicate. Most Big Four jobs are client-facing. You have to get your face out there and talk to the recruiters so they know who you are and why you’re there.

Really – go out and network. Even if you have a project that’s due, go to the recruiting events (and learn to manage time better!). Go talk to recruiters and anyone who’s there. Everyone who’s there is willing to share their opinions and they want to talk to you. That’s why they’re there. So, try to take advantage of that and get to know them better.