I am rough around the edges...

Well recruiting season for the big 4 has now officially come to an end with an unfavourable outcome for me. From my interviews, i had one that i felt went exceptionally well with my preferred big 4. After all was said and done, i got a rejection letter instead of an offer, realistically it made me feel like utter crap. I think i needed something like this to happen to me in order to feel the wrath of rejection. No matter what people may say, it’s still somewhat personal after 3 rounds of interviews. (at least for a noob in interviewing) Back on topic, after the rejection, i e-mailed one of the managers that interviewed me (the one i hit it off with really well as we had many common interests). His response was really informative and exposed my weaknesses, which i was somewhat aware of, but never took seriously. He told me that i am rough around the edges, and need to polish up my professionalism. Now, i am getting mixed messages, my currently employer (i am finishing my degree part time as i got picked up by a F500 out of school before i was done) just promoted me not too long ago with a raise and just sent me to Boston (our corporate head office) where i met the CEO and CFO of the company (i’ve been with the company for 5 months). A lot of the events that have taken place over the 5 months were based on my personality and luck. I feel that i can be quite professional when i need to be, for the interview, i was being myself and treated the people i was being interviewed by as friends, rather than clients. I feel that being too professional makes one come off fake, especially when you are trying to get to know them in an interview setting (that’s how i feel about it anyway). What i need to know, what is a more proper way to conduct myself and not be rough around the edges. I realize my lack of work experience is playing a factor here, but what qualities are present in a young and inexperience person in terms of professionalism. I am very direct in my communication, i don’t throw in fluff and i keep everything to the point. It’s been my downfall in some occasions, but for the most part it has worked in my advantage. Thoughts on what to do?

Working in professional services firms often requires people to deal with ambiguous situtations. These situtations need to be dealt with delicately and with tact. It hurts to be overly direct. Do you have a Russian accent? If so you may consider working on minimizing it. You don’t want to sound too ethnic… Sometimes people will confuse that for being “rough around the edges”. Firms often prefer to hire people with pedigree (ie. not immigrants) because they perceive them to be less rough around the edges. If I were you I would try to dress better (if that is a contributing factor in being perceived as rough around the edges) and be more tactful in interviews. If you have an accent or ethnic name, I would change it.

I moved to North America before i was a teenager, 12 years now to be exact. Most of the time people can’t tell i have an accent, unless they talk to me for some time, some don’t pick it up. I dress well, all my suits are custom tailored for my body, i don’t buy off the rack stuff (not that there is anything wrong with that). I don’t think it has anything to do with my look, i am clean cut/fit/well dressed/ and am fairly confident in my ability to speak and stress a point/explain myself. Your points could be valid though…

Dante’s suggestions might be kind of “overwhelming” if I may say, but he’s got a point. Where are you from Alexandrov ? I know being rough around the edges is actually something recruiter look for around here, as we have more of a party culture than the rest of North America. I guess it depends on the city and mostly of the guy you’re facing. Sorry to put it blunty, but most accountants are dry and dull people to start, so if you came off as a brother instead of a colleague, it might have sent a negative vibe to the manager. Good luck

Alayle, i fit in to what you are saying. I am more of an athlete type, i play sports, i did martial arts for quite some time when i was in my teens at fairly competitive level, i also played for one of the best soccer teams in Toronto (city league), etc. I like to party it up when time calls for it, i will definitely do a kegger here and there…i also love cars, i love taking my motorcycle to the track, blah blah. I don’t fit into the ‘accountant’ profile at all, neither does my personality, but considering this is the stepping stone i need to achieve future goals, i put myself through four years of torture, to say the least anyway. Now i get this rejection and i question whether or not i should continue. I’ve always wanted to be a cop, after that rejection i was pretty close to applying, lol. I will give it one more try next year, but i most definitely need to get this worked out. I am Russian.

Make a move to Montreal and you’ll be set for life : ) For serious, I worked at a Big4 last year and definitely do not fit in the accountant profile either. I got the internship through a contest held at school which I won with two friends of mine, and while we all enjoyed our time there, only one of us is going for his CA as of right now (me not being the one).

What are you doing now that you’ve left the firm? I know i won’t fit in the conventional stereotype, i hate golf, i’d rather do track days on my bike than putt around the green. I feel that personality wise i can get along with just about anyone despiet not being a complete nerd, and in the firm’s defence i will admit that i met quite a lot of pretty cool people that have similar interests to mine. That’s part of the reason why i wanted to be part of this particular firm. I want to pursue the CA and stay with the firm. My goal is to work in advisory as I want to work on improving performance and enhancing management and controls and realizing value in the business. Things like that are of interest to me. I don’t speak french though, so Mtl isn’t a viable option for me.

See this thread for what Im up to (starting tomorow) : http://www.analystforum.com/phorums/read.php?1,616588 Being a CA in Canada is very valuable so don’t let this first drymouth experience stir you away from your ambitions. I might do night classes to complete my CA as well a couple of years down the road as I see the potential in my career path. By the way, I worked with accountants ranging from summer staffer all the way to Managing Director and lots of them couldn’t speak French to save their lives. Take it for what it’s worth.

I read that thread before actually, congrats as i know how competitive and difficult these finance jobs are to land in Canada. What are your particular interests that made you get into the field? Can’t you do “similar” work if you work your way through the big 4 and specialize?

The job is in Equity Research thus the main reason for leaving the Big4. I graduated with a Finance major and really wanted to get Front Office exposure of the markets here in Canada. I tried going for an IB gig in Toronto (they flew me in this summer) but it didn’t work out in the end, so here I am. No regrets, the new position sounds promising !

The question is why you want to be a CA so badly? You say you don’t fit the model whatsoever and hated the materil in school. So your bascially doing it to just get “CA” on your name, this is most likely what was seen to the interviewers, the big4 like to be “100%” sold on a person. While rejection is tough, I don’t know why you think its the end of the world for you? You sound agressive, hardworking, determined and have clinet experience. So who says you need the “CA” letters behind your name. The CA is so overvalued in my opinon these days its a joke. I worked in a F100 Corp Finance divison with managers who were at the big4 and finally moved to F100 side. My manager on the other hand did his degree in Polisci, went into a “financial role” at a small company right away, and worked his way up. He landed a Senior Manager role before CA laterals do, and hes way ahead on the path to Sr VP position. He just got moved to the NYC offices, for his strong performance. Then there was the people at my company who started out in GE/PnG style corp finance traineee management roles. These people I would say get way better exit opps after their 2-5 year program and “enjoy the work they do”, instead of those who hate being a CA-student and cant wait for the day to leave. I have a friend in school who went to PwC, even though he wanted Ibanking/ER. Only because he was scared of the competition. So hes on a 5 year plan to get his CA/CFA move to the M&A of PwC then move into banking. This path makes no sense to me whatsoever. Also you say want to work in Advisory. “want to work on improving performance and enhancing management and controls and realizing value in the business”. That is way broad dude. “Realizing Value”. A finance manager in a F100 realizes value way more on a daily basis than a CA. A strategic planning analyst. Or an economic consultant who works for a firm. “enhancing controls”. You said you hated accounting in school, now you want to study more accounting?

what percentage of people doing their CA actually get into Big 4. I have met 3 acquaintances who work for Big 4, PWC and EY, all of whom are doing their CA. They didn’t seem that different to me. But they did look a little bookish.

Last year it was 27% at my school, which was not the norm. Averages about 15-25% usually. i.e. these are stats for people who land an articling position. Alot of people miss out totally.

adehbone, i like your post and your direct and scrutinizing nature :slight_smile: Whoever studies accounting and tells you that they like it, they are more likely than not, lying to your face and feeding you sh!t, the other .00001% actually like it (they have other issues to deal with if they like it). I see accounting as the language of business. I believe that it provides for a solid foundation if you are enter the field of business. Ideally one day i want to run my own thing, but that’s so far away and uncertain that i don’t think about it. Accounting seemed like a huge challenge for a guy like me, not fitting the stereotype, being a risk taker, etc i thought this would be a great challenge to take on and possibly get great value out of it. My interests lie in how successful business operate, how can possibly get such information? The best and the most comprehensive route is accounting, especially the CA route because of the auditing perspective. I don’t “hate” accounting, but i most definitely didn’t enjoy my entire undergrad as some of it was really really dry and it really tested my patience to sit through it all and solve problem after problem until i finally got the gist of the material. I wouldn’t mind studying more accounting as i’d be focusing on a more theoretical aspect at later stages of your study, rather than technical (which i don’t enjoy at all). I know there are other routes, but with the CA i am also buying insurance, i will have employment for life so to speak. While i want to pursue my interests, i also want to make sure i will have money to put food on my table and live. Hope that explains it.

Well a lot of the positions I named will get you that insurance as well. Did you apply to all the smaller firms, the BDO/Mintz/GT/Pkf Hill/etc…If you made so far in big4 interviewing I would find it hard to beleive no other firm wanted to take you on. How are you finding your current role? Is it more reporting or more stratplaning/forecasting?

My current role is very technical, however because of the recent unexpected turnover it’s given me the chance to be in a more managing/mingling role while being part of the decision making process. We recently hired 2 people, which are both older than me with more experience, however they look to me for help (for now anyway). I enjoy it as i learn with them as i am still fairly inexperienced, however this has made me take more initiative and has exposed me to more difficult situations, which I quite frankly enjoy a lot. I my job is about 50% reporting, 10% forecasting, and 40% a mix issue resolution in SAP (ERP system). A lot of the technical comes with trying to fix errors for the other two i work with as this system is quite challenging to learn in my opinion, and it’s hard to use. I didn’t apply to any other firms, just the big 4. I am thinking of doing my CMA as my current experience will qualify for it, but i am holding out as i have almost all courses for the CA completed and would prefer to gain the cream of the crop designation since i am half way there.

The best accountants love their jobs. My dad was one of the top accountants, and I’ll never understand how he loved it so much–so dang boring, but he just adored it. If you don’t love it, you’ll just be a mediocre schlub.

There are different accountants, and many different routes that can be taken. Throw me in tax, and i love it. It requires creativity, thinking outside the box, i find it very interesting and i can most definitely show for it with all my extra curricular work. I also like the managerial side of accounting, case study problems, again, thinking outside the box, using past knowledge and whatever else you can leverge to come up with the best fitted solutions. Preparing financial statements and accounting for variances (which is what i do now) isn’t part of accounting i enjoy.

Alexandrov, I would rec looking at RSM McGladrey, it’s a large firm with a very good work/life balance, and they are expanding rapidly. On another note, I don’t think being Russian equates to being rough around the edges. My gf is Latvian and got a good job as an investment banking analyst.

alex…is it not possible to get into a Big 4 after being rejected though? why don’t you wait a few months and try again?