- Do you want to do Articleship at Big 4 Accounting firms? You’re not alone. This is a dream of every aspiring Chartered Accountant.
- But ‘HOW’ can you find an internship opportunity at a big accounting firm? How does it feel working in a Big 4?
- In today’s article, Bhavya Parekh, a qualified Chartered Accountant from ICAI is sharing his learning experiences at Deloitte, a Big 4 accounting firm. He’ll guide on the interview process as well.
- So let’s get started.
How Did I Get an Opportunity In a Big 4 Accounting Firm?
To be a Chartered Accountant from ICAI, one needs to clear 3 levels of exams:
- CPT: First level. You have to give this exam if you register for the CA course before graduating. I registered for CPT after class 12.
- IPCC: Second level exam. This consists of 2 groups – Group 1 & 2.
- CA Final: Last level of CA exam and has again 2 group – Group 1 & 2.
- 3 years of articles training: This starts after you clear IPCC, either both groups or anyone of them.
On clearing my CA IPCC exams (2nd level CA exam) in May 2013, I started searching for a firm for my articles.
I got selected in a mid-sized accounting firm with a profile in Taxation. I was happy but I wanted to get into a Big 4 Accounting firm.
Just as when my mid-size firm training started, I got selected in Audit in a Big 4 and took a transfer. People insisted that I should stay in the Tax profile but I wanted to into a Big 4 accounting firm.
A Glimpse of my first week at Deloitte as an Article Assistant
I still remember my first day at Deloitte so clearly as if it was yesterday. It was 16th Sept’13.
The first day we had our induction. Honestly all day long, I felt very uncomfortable being around my fellow joinees. I began to doubt my decision of moving from a mid-size firm to a Big 4 because my fellow joinees were very reserved and quiet, like serious kinds.
Not to show that I am very cool or an extrovert, but I like talking and meeting new people.
On the second day, short training was conducted. And on the third day, we got our laptops. Trust me I was the happiest on that day because I got a brand new laptop!
E-Learning on the fourth day. Here we were divided into groups. All new article trainees started E-learning (mandatory before starting the on-field job).
In those 4 days, I actually got to know the new articles and realized that they are all so much fun with such interesting personalities. Those four days were absolute fun. We used to have interesting conversations (and amazing snacks) near the coffee machine and in the cafeteria.
“What Lessons I Learned in my first week?”
- Never judge anyone without knowing them. That will only affect your mood.
- Be open to meeting new people.
Allocated to a Client’s Place Far Away from My Residence
After the E-learning, they allocated us into different teams. It was so much of excitement. I personally wanted a client which would not include much travelling however, most of the clients were far away from my place and I had no choice but to take it up!
Again, I had the same thought – ‘Yaar itna kaise travel karunga (Oh God, how will I travel so much!)’ but as I started working with that team I loved and enjoyed their company. At the end of 2 months, I had such an amazing rapport with them that I did not mind traveling even 4 hours a day to reach my client’s place.
“What Lessons I Learned in the first 3 months?”
- You should not cry over things which actually do not matter.
- If you do so, it creates negativity and disappointment for himself.
My Transfer from One team to Another
It was just January (I joined in Sept so approx 5 months since I joined) and there was a team shift (due to internal admin reasons). Now, I had to work with a new team and that was one of the most disappointing moments for me.
Then came another shock – I had to travel out of the city for my audit. I was pursuing my graduation from a college in Mumbai and regular college attendance was mandatory (if attendance not met then one would be kicked out, literally!). And to be honest, I loved my college and try my best not to miss much.
However, since it was my first outstation audit I went ahead without making an issue of things. The manager in charge of this audit was very tough in comparison to my previous manager. I used to literally cry as I did not want to work with him. There were times where I would debate with my manager on how important is college attendance etc.
Once the audit was completed and returned to Mumbai, I did everything possible to get back to my previous team…but nothing worked as my new team kept retaining me.
During those tough days, I had one of my immediate seniors who was very supportive and also helped me to come out of my anger and frustration. He helped me a lot in controlling my temper at the workplace and I am very thankful to him.
Weeks and months passed by with this new team. I kept going on outstation audits with my team.
When it came to college I had low attendance but used to balance it by attending every lecture once I got back from my audits. I was not happy as I was losing my precious college life.
Fast forward to August ’14. My birthday was just approaching and they asked me to travel on an outstation audit. This time I went totally crazy and lost my patience. I felt they did it on purpose.
I went to the Director and told him that I want a transfer to another firm as this was getting too much. I told the various issues I was facing and how they sent me for outstation audits even on my birthday!
My Director actually sat me down and mentored me. After that, he left the decision to me if I wanted to continue or no (for cases like leaving the firm, having issues with the team etc. one can approach the Director directly).
Two of my besties (I am really fortunate to have them) when they got to know about this, came home to speak to me and sat me down and told me that I was taking the wrong decision. I pondered over it the whole day and realized they were correct.
On Monday, I told my Director that I would continue my work articleship with them only.
Luckily people treated me really well and they didn’t send me for any outstation audit until I completed my graduation.
Gradually during the 2nd and 3rd years of internship, a level of understanding developed between my manager and me. In case of my anxiety and worries, I had my supportive senior who always took care of me.
“What Lessons I Learned in my first year as an article assistant?”
- Taking decisions in a haste for small things without openly speaking to the concerned person can be wrong at times.
- SPEAK UP
- Also, after this, I felt that my team would always have a negative impression of me. As we always hear that once our image spoilt in a corporate organization it is difficult to get it back. But this is only a myth! On the contrary, my team did not judge me even once, they all supported me instead.
- Don’t be judgmental before knowing people.
- Do Not generalize behaviors.
- Be open-minded about different people as each and every person is unique in his/her responses.
Everything You Need to Know About Study Leaves at Deloitte!
For my CA Final exams, I wanted a decent 5-6 months of leave as my sister was also getting married around the same time. I was told that more than 4 months of leave is an impossible task.
My manager said – The more study leaves you take the more are the chances of failure.
At that point in time, I had a very negative approach to my team. I had almost decided to delay my attempt by six months as I did not want to lose the tag of a 1st attempt Chartered Accountant. I felt that it was impossible for me to crack the exams and enjoy my sister’s wedding in 4 months’ time (practically 3.5 months – 15 days wedding preparations). However, fortunately, my family and friends motivated me and told me that all would be great.
During those four months, I enjoyed the wedding and also started my rigorous preparations and gave the CA Final exams.
On 18th July 2016 (The result day) when I saw those words PASS on my laptop screen I jumped with joy and madness. That day after getting information about my friends’ results I somehow felt that those who took 6-7-8 months study leave eventually did not clear.
Later on, when I had a word with them, they all said the same thing – We wasted so many months of leave / we studied hard but got demotivated at the end of the long study leave. On that day I realized my manager’s statement – The more study leaves you take the more are the chances that one won’t crack the exams.
I really thanked him from within though I personally did not tell him.
#Lessons I learned: Sometimes some guidance from seniors may not sound logical or in favor of you but always give their advice a thought. Not because they are always right but they have experiences of being wrong.
Self Learning Is the Key
During my articles, my team never spoon-fed me. Whenever I faced an issue while working or could not understand a particular thing, I was always asked to go through and read bare acts/literature to find answers to my queries and then discuss with them.
I used to feel that if they knew the answers why couldn’t they just tell and get it done.
Lessons I learned:
- Things that come your way or the experiences you go through always have a reason to it, maybe it’s the patience you need to develop to understand and reap the benefits in the future.
- Now I understand due that training, today when I am working in a profile (i.e. Financial Accounting Advisory) where my USP is my interpretation skills I thank my team a lot.
- They actually have always helped me and shaped me in a better way.
Articles Interview Tips In Big 4 Firms
Apart from my learnings, I would also like to share a few insights on articles interviews in Big 4’s / Mid-size firms. There are generally 2 rounds of interviews i.e. HR and Technical round:
- HR round is generally a basic question and answer round where they ask questions like: Where do you see yourself after x no. of years, what is your vision/goals, why did you choose Chartered Accountancy as your career, why you want to do your articleship in this firm etc.
- One must make sure he has done enough background research about the firm where he /she is appearing for an interview.
- Here they test our technical knowledge.
- While appearing for articleship interviews you need to be clear on concepts studied in IPCC /Inter CA level.
- Interview Dressing for boys should include decent formals including a tie.
This is all that I learned in the 3 years of my articles. Looking back today I feel this was the best part of my career as it taught me great life lessons which I would have never ever learned had I chosen my comfort zone.
BONUS: Articleship Tips From Successful Chartered Accountants
“You’re LUCKY to face tough issues like office politics/ rude bosses/super strict seniors! I call them LUCKY as these experiences will prepare you for a better tomorrow! When faced with such situations, stay calm and discuss with seniors and HR first.” Articleship Tips to Perform Well at Your Accounting Firm
“I cleared the exams in my first attempt but missed out on rank and got rejected from a Big 4 when applying for articleship. I did not know why was I rejected. It felt like nothing in life could be more devastating than not having secured a ‘prestigious’ articleship.
I was sad and upset but I decided – To become my own hero and I did so – I did my articleship from a mid-size firm in Kolkata.” Read My Journey To Self Confidence, From Kolkata To US
“Never simply accept things as they are. Always be assertive and curious. The quality of being curious helped me learn something new every day. Never complain about things – It will make things more difficult for you.”
Now It’s Your Turn…
Do you want to share your CA articleship experience? Or do you want to tell your articleship experience in small firms or big 4 accounting firms?
Just drop your views in the comment section below.
You can reach him on Linkedin – CA Bhavya Parekh