My Journey as a Chartered Accountant Intern in a Big 4:
“On clearing my 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,” says Bhavya Parekh from Mumbai.
Bhavya is a qualified Chartered Accountant (CA) from Mumbai, India. He is currently working in Deloitte, Mumbai.
“Just 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.
I still remember the date 16th Sept’13 – On my 1st day when I went to the office, I began to doubt my decision of moving from a mid-size firm to a Big 4 as those who joined with me appeared to be very reserved and quiet, like the serious kinds.
Honestly all through the day, I felt very uncomfortable being around them.
The 1st day we had our induction, on the 2nd a little training. On the 3rd day, we got our laptops.
Trust me I was the happiest on that day because I got a brand new laptop and not a used one!
On the 4th 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 is where I actually got to know the new articles and realized that they are all so much fun with such interesting personalities. Those 4 days was 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 client far away from my residence
After the E-learning, we were then allocated into different teams. It was so much of excitement. I personally wanted a client which would not include much traveling. However, most of the clients which 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 (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.
My transfer to another team
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 where college attendance is mandatory (like we had to attend regularly and if attendance not met then one would be kicked out). 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 1st 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 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.
Dealing with situations and coming out wiser
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).
Related Article: My articleship experience with KPMG and Interview Tips
My 2 besties (I am really fortunate to get them) when they got to know about this, that weekend they just rushed to my home to speak to me and to my parents as well. They sat me down and told me I was taking a wrong decision in a haste. 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 till I completed my graduation.
- Taking decisions in a haste for small things without openly speaking to the concerned person can be wrong at times.
- SO SPEAK UP
- Also, after this scene, 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.
My 2nd and 3rd of Articleship
Gradually during the 2nd /3rd year of my articleship, 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.
Study Leave in Big 4
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 towards my team. I had almost decided to delay my attempt 6 months as I did not want to lose the tag of 1stattempt CA.
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.
My Study Leave
During those 4 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 inside however openly I could not share with him my reason of thanks.
- 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.
Related article: Big 4’s have a good Intern Policy so study leave is easy to get
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 always used to feel that if they have the answers on hand then why can’t just close the topic.
- 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 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.
Interviews in Big 4/ Mid Size Firms
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,” he concluded.
You can reach him at email@example.comfirstname.lastname@example.org. He is also active on Linkedin – CA Bhavya Parekh