So you’ve done it, you’ve gone and bagged yourself a place at one of the big 4. Whether that be an internship, a work placement or a place on the graduate scheme, there are many unknowns and apprehensions that you may be feeling. So, what can you expect as a new graduate in the big 4?
Given the number of recruits that the big 4 take on each hiring season, it is very likely that you’ll form part of a larger intake which you will progress through the firm with. Generally speaking, the larger the office that you are joining, the larger the incoming cohort. Personally, I found that your intake soon become friends, and some of them really good friends. You will be spending a lot of time with this group of people in the coming years, and in my opinion this element of being surrounded by like-minded colleagues is one of the most enjoyable parts of the job.
Introduction and training in big 4 graduate scheme
In the first week of joining, most groups of new recruits are welcomed to the firm with glamorous welcome events and talks by senior members of the firm. I also remember one of the Partners of the office I was joining explaining how lucky we were to by in the 3% of successful applicants to the firm. More than likely there will also be plenty of drinks available, which makes getting to know your new colleagues that bit easier!
The next stage is the distribution of your tech. When I joined (a few years ago now) I was given a backpack containing a laptop and various other cables and IT related bits. Trust me, you will be getting well acquainted with that laptop over the coming years. You will also be given a work phone, which I’d say is definitely a perk of the job.
The first few weeks in big 4 graduate scheme
The first few weeks will seem like a whirlwind. You are constantly busy with various events and training, and will also be introduced to college (assuming you are joining the audit practice).
I had a week of classroom based audit training to begin with, which, to be honest was rather dull, other than the free lunch that is. The best part of the training is the chance to further get to know your fellow new recruits, which definitely made the training more enjoyable.
If you are joining the audit or tax department in the UK, you will also be going to college in your first few weeks. From memory, I took my first two ACA exams around 5 weeks after joining, so the college process is quite intense. Weeks 2 to 5 were spent predominantly in a college classroom, which is basically like going back to school, desperately studying for the first two exams (I will write a further post on this).
The work itself will only really get going after the first two exams are out of the way. In my case, this was around 6 weeks after joining the firm. This will always quite an exciting time, watching your calendar being filled with various different audits and teams to work on, only to realise you were being sent to some industrial estate in Stoke which did not have WIFI…