Before becoming a DJ/Music Producer and a YouTuber, I used to work at the Big 4 Public Accounting Firms. Like any job out there, there’s a lot I wish I knew before working at the Big 4. There’s a lot of pros…and a lot of cons. In this post I’m going to give you a behind the scenes look of what it’s like to work at the Big 4 and all the aspects that come with it.
1. Very Monotonous
I still remember my first day ever – I came in super excited, and saw a stack of papers on my desk. They told me, “See those numbers on the first piece of paper? We’re pretty sure it adds up to this number over here, but we have to make sure. Add up all the numbers, make sure it equals that number, and then put a checkmark.”
After doing that, I asked what was next. “Um…the rest of the pile.” For the first 8 hours, I literally added up numbers and double checked it equaled another number.
What frustrated me, especially on this first day, is that every recruiter told me “it wasn’t just crunching numbers,” when that’s exactly what it was. While it does get more interesting, the truth is, the work is incredibly monotonous.
2. Completely Different from School
Depending on who you are, this could be a good or bad thing. For me, I didn’t like the work on the job at all, and preferred what I learned in school. Other people are the exact opposite – so it really depends on who you are.
While you need to know financial reporting, managerial accounting, and more, the work you do at the Big 4 is vastly different. Now if you’re working internally at a company this is a different story, but for the Big 4, you’re going to be doing things completely different.
3. It’s AMAZING on a Resume
Even though my life has taken a completely different turn from Accounting, I still get contacted to this day with job offers – even though I didn’t work at the Big 4 for that long. I still get bombarded with emails, messages, LinkedIn requests, and more, all asking if I’d ever consider going back into Accounting.
Although there are some negative parts about this post, never forget that it really is one of the best careers to have on your resume.
4. It’s NOT “Just 9-5”
When I was talking to recruiters in college, they all said the same thing: “Busy season is horrible, no question there. But the rest of the year is only 9-5.” And I thought…you know what, that’s not that bad.
What they said couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Depending on what type of client you get, it can be a lot more than 9-5. For example, one of my friends was on a funds client where he had year ends at the end of every month. This meant that he had a busy season 8 months out of the year.
Another one of my friends was put on a client for 4 months, in the summer, where he worked 7 days a week (you read that right). Monday – Friday was 10-12 hours a day, Saturday and Sunday was only 9-5.
While this is unfortunate, the worst part is that no matter how hard you work, you still get paid the exact same amount as someone else. My friend who worked 7 days a week for 4 months got paid the same as another friend who worked 9-5 Monday-Friday. It’s a part of the Big 4.
5. Every Firm is the Same
I’ve heard some people tell me that they really wanted to work at Deloitte because “it’s the best out of the 4.” Or E&Y. Or PWC. Or KPMG.
The truth is, they are all good on a resume and are really in the same category. The main difference between them is the people – you’ll quickly notice how different the people are from firm to firm.
I remember hearing stories that “X firm is the stuck up one, but Y firm is the cool one.” Or that the people are way better at this one than that one. It really depends on location too – in some cities, it’s one way, in others, it’s completely different.
6. You DON’T Have to get your CPA
Probably one of the biggest myths out there is that you “have” to get your CPA while at the Big 4. Here’s the honest truth: You don’t. In the Accounting bubble, it seems like everyone has their CPA, but the truth is, you’ll be surprised how many people in business don’t really care about a CPA.
Don’t get me wrong: It’s always better for you have a CPA than not, but it isn’t necessary.
The #1 reason why all the firms want you to get it, and give you such high bonuses, is because they can charge more from the clients. Instead of billing them $100/hour for your services, they can bill $200/hour.
Statistically speaking, roughly 1/3 of Accountants actually have their CPA – which is extremely shocking if you’re inside of this Accounting/Big 4 bubble.
7. Incredible Stepping Stone
Although there has been a lot negative aspects I’ve given you, the truth is, it’s an unbelievable stepping stone. Even though I’m DJ and Entrepreneur now, I still don’t regret working at the Big 4, as I always have job opportunities just in case something goes horribly wrong.
I have friends who worked at the Big 4 for a decent period of time, then left to get incredible jobs that really have set them up for the future. As difficult as it may be at points, if you really hustle and stick it out, it can be an amazing career choice – even if you decide to switch gears and become an Electronic Music Producer.