Skip to main content

training week

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

Comments

Anonymous said…
That is too funny. Nowadays, they just send you to the Q Center in "Chicago" (really St. Charles) for a couple of days. I just started working for a firm. Not the Big 4 but just right below. I do have to admit that training was the best time I've had so far sadly enough. The saddest part was coming back from training and finding out so many of your colleagues whom you just met were laid off. It was not the "experience" I signed up for...
itauditsecurity said…
Thanks for another interesting topic.

No big 4 here. Our group uses contractors, so we have to train them fast. We basically walk through the audit manual, discuss the critical points in more detail, and then do some actual audit reports.

Even during training, the contractors have to show they add value.

Then we put the audits on the projector one by one and explain how the audit does or does not meet standards, why, and how to fix it.

With contractors, they are more experienced, but they also think they know everything, and they have a hard time following instructions.
itauditsecurity said…
Can you put the search widget on your blog? Sometimes I'm looking for an older post and it sure would make it easier. Thanks!
notfordisplay said…
Just added. Hope this helps
Anonymous said…
WOW!!! You got it right on. I just went through training at big 4 for a week, out of town. Every night, extravagant meals, drinking, hung over mornings, completely unproductive during the day (coffee becomes our best friend).
Some things you will pick up and are useful (Depending on the teacher); but 90% of time is a waste. Even the trainers say it! Great suggestions too. Don't make an ass of yourself, but definitely have fun and don't be a loner!
Anonymous said…
You say that auditing drains you of your youth and exuberance. Why do you stay? Obviously, you are decent at your job, otherwise you would have been coached out by now. I have been following your blog since it started and I just got an offer from a Big 4.
Kel said…
It's so weird to me that in recent years some of the Big4 have spent even more money to send staff1's to training in foreign countries like Greece, where I imagine the possibilities for extracurricular fun are even more diverse ;)
Kevin H said…
Those lavish trips are long gone. Since the downturn of the economy, the trainings have been regionalized.
Joe said…
I nice insight into what auditor training consists of at one of the 'Big 4'.
Lynn Chase said…
My brother is looking into auditing and is needing some advice. While going through training, do you have any recommendations that helped you get to wear you are now? He's never done this before, so he is willing to try anything to help him get ahead start! http://goldsrd.com

Popular posts from this blog

career progression

"What can you tell me about the different possible tracks a person would take at the Big 4 in regards to tax vs. audit? Is there a difference in career progression among the two specialties? How about career potential? Workload?"

Loaded question. In terms of career potential, they're both pretty potent. Audit leads you to controller/accounting manager/ VP - accounting positions at companies if you choose to quit. Tax can lead to tax manager positions at various companies/firms..to help them minimize taxes and exploit tax loopholes. It's a pretty important position in many companies...I'm not an expert on tax careers though, so you might want to ask somebody in a tax related position.
In terms of career progression, it's the same as audit...start off as a staff associate...move to senior..manager..snr mgr..partner.
In terms of workload, my friends in the tax department seem to work two busy seasons...in the fall and in the spring. So I think they work more than i…

Boomerangs

As a big four employee, lately, I've been hearing a lot about "boomerang" employees. Those who, for some reason or another, decide that leaving work when the sun is still out is not for them and alas, return back to the firm. Yes, the grass is not always greener on the other side, however, is this trending upward or about the same as it always has been? I think, also, that the firms really do a good job in highlighting those that do choose to return to make it appear more common than reality. Can you please speak about how you've seen the trend of "boomerangs" amongst the big 4? 

Good question. A boomerang, as the commenter pointed, is one who quits a big 4 Firm and then decides to return (or boomerang) back to the Firm after getting a taste of work life in the non-public accounting world.
I have seen a few return this past summer, but didn't really notice a trend until you mentioned it. It's definitely been higher than past years, but not enough to s…

auditing vs consulting

I was wondering if you could break down the career opportunities in auditing and consulting (in a big 4). I know that consulting pays more in a big 4 and has more interesting work, but it seems that auditing has extremely good exit opportunities (Financial controller, CFO etc). Any thoughts on which is better in the long run?

Well there's different consulting services offered by public accounting companies - the most popular being IT consulting and risk consulting. There are also other consulting services offered, but these two hire the most. Do they pay more? Yes, but not by much. Not enough for you to say: Shoot, the $$ is a huge reason for me to move over. Is the work more interesting than audit? Yes. You're actually looking over a company's processes and telling them what to do instead of what not to do (audit). Everyone I know who's made the switch likes it waay better than audit.
In the long run though, choosing audit vs consulting really depends on what you want t…