10 Questions To Ask Yourself During Your Big 4 Summer Internship


From the mailbag:

Hi Andrew,

As I’m going into a Big 4 summer internship, my question would be what skills would you recommend polishing up on (if any) before the internship begins? (IE Microsoft Excel, specific area of accounting to study, etc…). Basically, what should I be working on in my down time leading up to it so I’ll be ahead of the game?

As an aside, I want to thank you for what you do. Every time I’ve had a question, you’ve always responded with terrific enthusiasm and have provided wonderful insights. I’m sure these qualities have played a part in your success.

Thanks again,

Brandon Lutz

The ole summer interns!

Exciting time for those of you just kickstarting your career. That being said, my internship was an incredibly overwhelming time, especially the first week of training!

I had never…

Worked in an office

Been trusted with a corporate credit card

Worn business casual every day

Been trusted with a laptop

Have to show up on time every morning and work 8-6

Been “out drinking” with work buddies

Traveled on the company dime

And all that happened in just the first week!

There are really two categories that I think about when answering this question: hard skills, and soft skills.

Hard Skills

The good news is that accounting firms (especially the Big 4) expect you to know basically nothing. They hope you know the basic terminology (journal entries, trial balance, income statement, balance sheet).

While they won’t expect it, brushing up on your excel skills will make you stand out as an intern.

Soft Skills

This is MUCH more important. As an intern, they are evaluating you every single day. But they aren’t concerned with what you know. They are more concerned with how you handle challenges and how you interact with others.

  1. Are you showing up on time?
  2. Are you willing to do busy work (scanning, copying, getting dinners,etc.)
  3. Do you know the appropriate time for humor and the time to be serious?
  4. Do they feel comfortable sending you alone with the clients?
  5. Are you dressed appropriately?
  6. Are you approaching tasks with curiosity and enthusiasm, or complaints?
  7. Do you give off an air of entitlement, or do you know you have to work for success?
  8. Are you coachable? Do you take feedback well?
  9. Do you make the same mistakes over and over again? Or learn from your mistakes?
  10. How do you handle social events and drinking alcohol?

These are the questions you should be asking yourself at the end of each day/week.

And it’s important to remember they are watching you every moment, of every day. And they do talk.

But they want you to succeed. They are there to help you. They have already invested time, energy, effort, and money into your success. Don’t let them down!

Relevant articles to check out: