Articleship at big 4 accounting firms is a dream of every aspiring CA student.
But how does one find an internship opportunity at a big accounting firm? What it is working in a Big 4?
In fact: In today’s article, we have Bhavya Parekh, who is a qualified Chartered Accountant from ICAI, shared with us his learning experiences at a big 4 accounting firm. He guides on the interview process as well.
Bhavya is currently working at Deloitte, Mumbai in the Audit Team.
So let’s get started.
How Did I Get an Opportunity in a Big 4 Accounting Firm?
On clearing my CA IPCC exams (2nd level CA exam) in May 2013, I started searching for a firm for my articleship.
I got selected in a mid-sized 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.
A lot of people insisted I stay in the Tax profile but I wanted to into a Big 4 accounting firm.
How was my first day at Deloitte?
I still remember the date 16th Sept’13.
On my first day when I went to the office and began to doubt my decision of moving from a mid-size firm to a Big 4. This is because those who joined with me appeared to be very reserved and quiet, like serious kinds.
Honestly all day long, I felt very uncomfortable being around them.
The first day we had our induction.
On the second day a short training.
And on the third day, we were given our laptops. Trust me I was the happiest on that day because I got a brand new laptop and not a used one!
E-Learning at Big 4
On the fourth day, we were divided into groups and all of us (new article trainees) started our E-learning (mandatory before starting the on-field job).
This went on for 4 days.
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.
- Never judge anyone without knowing them. That will only affect your mood.
- Be open to meeting new people.
Allocated to a Clients Place Far Away from my Residence
After the E-learning, we were then allocated to different teams. It was so much excitement.
I personally wanted a client which would not include much travelling.
However, most of the clients who were being allocated 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.
- One should not cry over things which actually do not matter.
- If one does so, he creates negativity and disappointment for himself.
I was Transferred 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. 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 I never missed even a single day. Even if I missed lectures I would sit and enjoy in the canteen.
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 other manager.
I used to literally cry inside of me 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 complete and we were back in town, I did all sorts of things 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 senior who was very supportive and also helped me to come out of my anger and frustration every time I got into a debate with my manager. He helped me a lot in controlling my temper at the workplace and I am very thankful to him.
Weeks and months went by with this new team. I kept going on outstation audits with this 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 also unhappy as I was losing my precious college life.
Fast forward to August ’14. My birthday was just approaching and I was told that I would have to travel on an outstation audit. This time I went totally crazy and lost my patience. I felt this was being done 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 I was being sent on 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, they rushed home to speak to me and to my parents as well.
They 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 all those people who I was negative about treated me really well and fortunately I was not sent for any outstation audit until I completed my graduation.
- 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 gets 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.
Gradually during the 2nd /3rd year 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.
- Try not to be judgmental before knowing people.
- Not to generalize behaviors.
- Be open-minded about different people as each and every person is unique in his/her responses.
How much of study leave do you get 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 was of the opinion that – The more study leave one takes 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 1stattempt Chartered Accountant.
I was feeling 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 day when the results were declared) when I saw those words PASS in front of 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 leave one takes 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.
- 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 articleship, 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 would always feel that if the knew the answers why couldn’t they just tell and get it done.
- Things which 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 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.
Apart from my learnings, I would also like to share a few insights on articleship 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 you will be asked 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 we are tested on our technical knowledge.
- While appearing for articleship interviews one needs to be clear on concepts studied in IPCC /Inter CA level and that’s all which is expected.
- Interview Dressing for boys should include decent formals including a tie
This is all that I learned in the 3 years of my articleship.
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.
You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.orgemail@example.com. He is also active on Linkedin – CA Bhavya Parekh