Modern Recruiting Techniques - Early Hire Opportunities
Darwin L. King
Jonathan F. Bertoline
Christopher B. Fehl
Jerrod J. Whelan
The Changing Face of the Recruiting Process
The recruiting process has changed significantly in the
last few years. Big Five accounting firms, in particular, are recruiting
top students earlier in their college years. Students who enroll in a
five-year MBA/Accounting program are often approached during the summer
following their senior year and are being offered a variety of options
that allow the firms an opportunity to evaluate them. These options include
full summer internships, one-week leadership conferences, and mentor programs.
Each of these techniques are being used by accounting firms to locate
and hire top graduates.
This article reviews the experiences of three five year
accounting students who were offered a full time position with a Big Five
accounting firm prior to their last year of study. In prior years, the
fall semester of the student's final year was filled with interviews and
related social events, which required a significant amount of time. These
three students were able to concentrate on their MBA studies during this
final year of coursework with the knowledge that they had a signed contract
for future employment.
The purpose of this article is to alert students with
a good academic background of accounting firms desire to "lock in" students
at an earlier date by using a variety of new recruiting techniques. For
students who are good at planning ahead, these opportunities may eliminate
much of the stress associated with the normal fall semester interviewing
season. They can begin their last fall semester with a relaxed attitude
resulting from the knowledge that they have located a full time position.
Three Student Examples
In order to better understand these new recruiting techniques,
three students graduating with their MBA degrees in the five year accounting
program at St. Bonaventure University in May 1999 provided their story
of how they found full time employment. Each of these stories is somewhat
different but each student benefited from early planning in the recruitment
process. Jon Bertoline, Chris Fehl, and Jerrod Whelan each found full
time employment with a Big Five accounting firm prior to the fall semester
of their fifth year. This fact provided each of them with an exceptionally
positive mental attitude as their final year began in August 1998.
Jon Bertoline planned to utilize a summer internship
for two reasons. First, in his words, the internship is a "sneak preview
of a yet to be released movie". He hoped to discover first hand if he
really liked public accounting and had chosen the right field of study.
Also, he would be able to review the "personality" of the firm where he
interned. Jon's summer internship with KPMG was exceptionally beneficial.
He felt that he benefited from the experience in a number of ways.
First, Jon worked with a great variety of people ranging
from staff accountants to partners. He paid special attention to "how
people conducted themselves". He also paid special attention to how auditors
interact with company management. The subtle relationships developed with
clients were extremely interesting to Jon. He was also exposed to KPMG's
computer system through the use of a laptop provided to him during the
internship. He was fortunate enough to work on such large clients as Reader's
Digest, Union Carbide, and Perrier. This allowed him to better understand
the importance of dealing with company management on a daily basis. In
Jon's words, "I came away from the internship with some valuable real
life experiences that books could never teach me".
The summer internship provided Jon with a job offer
prior to the conclusion of the internship period. He received a week of
training similar to what a first year hire would experience prior to beginning
his internship. His internship concluded with a trip to Walt Disney World
with other interns from across the country. During this trip, the firm
continued to "promote itself and encourage interns to sign their employment
contracts". The internship experience, training session, and final recreational
trip combined to convince Jon to accept the position with KPMG.
Chris Fehl, a roommate of Jon's, also benefited from
the early recruitment process. Chris contacted the Deloitte & Touche
headquarters in New York City with the hopes of getting an internship
during the summer of 1998. He interviewed at the Parsippany, New Jersey
office and was informed of a new type of internship. This program was
termed the Student Leadership Conference. It involved an intensive four-day
retreat to Scottsdale, Arizona at D&T's training facility.
This program was designed to allow the firm to "sell
itself" to the students and vice versa. In Chris' words, "It allowed me
to meet partners and recruiters and taught me the value of communication
skills". He felt that D&T used a different approach to recruiting
than many other firms. Chris felt that the firm catered to him which allowed
him to be comfortable and bring out his best qualities. A month after
the conference, Deloitte & Touche invited him to a participant reunion
in New York City at the Windows on the World Restaurant located in the
World Trade Center. Chris was presented with a job offer at the evening's
program, which again showed each student how important they were to the
The third student, Jerrod Whelan, had a somewhat similar
experience as Chris. Jerrod was looking for an internship position with
a Big 5 accounting firm for the summer following his senior year. He learned
of an internship program offered by Deloitte & Touche in New York
City during the Spring 1998 semester. Following an interview with the
firm, Jerrod was offered a choice of three alternatives. These included
a full eight-week internship, a four-day Leadership Conference, and a
mentor program. He selected these options in the order presented above.
In early March 1998, Jerrod was extended an offer to
attend the Leadership Conference. He attended a dinner party following
the offer in New York City, which was a chance for the firm to "evaluate
our social skills and graces". In June, he attended the four-day conference
in Scottsdale. The attendees included 60 students and 30 D&T employees.
Jerrod felt that the conference was designed to "test ones ability to
think on their feet and to evaluate the student's presentation and social
skills". The conference included watching presentations, giving presentations
to partners, and even providing community service in decorating a local
elementary school library.
The conference also included improving computer skills
using software developed by the firm. The intensive conference was "packed
with events and work". The student's day began at 5:30 a.m. and lasted
until 10 p.m. The experience allowed the firm to evaluate the student's
"ability to interact with others". In late July, Jerrod was requested
to attend a dinner party in NYC with Chris and other recruits. Following
the dinner, servers delivered black leather D&T portfolios complete
with a bow on top to each invited student. In a truly "classy" move, the
portfolios included job offers for each student.
A Trend That Will Continue?
It appears that the trend of accounting firms approaching
students earlier in their educational program will continue and even increase
in frequency. This process provides advantages to both the accounting
firms and the students. It allows employers to locate top candidates for
positions opening during the upcoming year. At the same time, students
return to their final year of study knowing that the time consuming process
of job seeking is completed. With many students currently opting for a
five-year accounting program, it is critical for each graduate to investigate
these new recruiting techniques no later than their senior year. Jon,
Chris, and Jerrod serve as excellent examples of the benefits of proper
planning. The trend toward earlier recruiting has certainly benefited
each of them. They hope that their experiences will be of value to other
students seeking employment in the near future.
Darwin King is Assistant Professor of Accounting at St.
Jonathan F. Bertoline, Christopher B. Fehl, and Jerrod J.
Whelan all graduated with their BBA/MBA's from St. Bonaventure University
in May 1999