Thought this question in the comments section was a good one to blog about - " What is training week like as a new associate like at a big 4 firm. I have heard some crazy party stories and was wondering if you could share your experience with us. I have also heard is lame with a bunch of "team building" exercises. I'm especially interested because I start next fall with a NYC big 4 firm in the fall and want to know what to expect."
My training weeks prior to officially starting work were my best weeks at the firm. Sad, isn't it. All downhill from there. We went off-site for an entire week, and that played a huge role in increasing the levels of debauchery. Think about it, a bunch of kids right out of college are put up in a hotel for an entire week, and we don't have to study in the evenings. It's a thing of beauty. If you're 21-23, your energy and tolerance levels are at an all time high. A huge group of us went out every single night, even pulled an all-nighter a couple times. We traveled like packs of wolves to bars, which went from 1-2 billy joel style regulars to 1-2 billy joel style regulars + 30 accountants. Bartenders are scrambling around trying to figure out how to handle that many people on a tuesday night. I got to know my fellow colleagues very well (barely any are left at my firm sadly). Free breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. And thursday nights, man...put it this way, friday mornings in trainings are horrendous. Thursday nights are when people absolutely let loose, a ton of people who haven't gone out mon-wed come out thursday, trainers drop their credit cards down..auditors gone wild.
Oh, and the actual training itself is extremely boring. There are modules here and there that you tend to listen to, but for the most part you just completely zone out, play around with your cellphones and notepads.Gotta love the blackberry. Your first week mostly touches on...well, honestly, i don't remember what they talked about. We did have ice-breakers in the beginning. Independence, audit risks, blah blah blah. You really learn in the field anyway.
They do have team-building activities after trainings if you're off-site - scavenger hunts, casino nights, they're not half bad. You can always skip ones you don't want to attend, even if they make it mandatory. Nobody will find out or care too much anyway as long as you don't advertise it. Attend them if it's your first training week so you get to know your peers. It pays off.
As you move along in your career at the firms though, the level of fun and excitement goes down every single year, and after 4-5 years, you reach a point where you don't feel like attending them anymore. Why? Well, one year of auditing takes years off your life,your energy levels go down as you get older, you end up in serious relationships and so your need to go out every single night has died. All you want to do is relax.
Well, times have changed, and so has training week.
With the recession comes budget cuts. Obviously they look at non revenue generating areas to make the first cuts. And so for some firms, trainings have been kept in-house, i.e. at the office itself. I hate office trainings.You don't really get to know your colleagues that well, lunches are horrendous, you don't really go out with your group every single night since you have other options, except for thursday. So now, I only look at training as a reason to take a break from auditing.
Few things to keep in mind for your first week at training-
a) get to know your peers well, don't be that person who attends training and then goes home every day
b) get to know your trainers well
c) Don't drink too much and make a fool of yourself, first impressions are important. One kid during my first training week showed up to class on wednesday morning at 11:30 (3 hrs late) - unshaven, no shower,hungover, etc. etc..the entire class started applauding, but he got called out by the training folk and was singled out
d) get something to play with during the actual training itself - blackberries, sudoku,crosswords,etc., time will go by much faster during the day