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Winter vs Summer Big 4 Internships (Deloitte, KPMG, EY, & PwC)


If you are trying to decide between a summer or winter internship with a big 4 (KPMG, Deloitte, Pwc, or E&Y) or public accounting firm, there are a few things you need to consider. Honestly it doesn’t make a big difference between the two time periods, because you’ll most likely get an offer as long as you have a good attitude and don’t screw everything up. We don’t expect a lot from interns, and I don’t mean that in a negative way, but there is a big learning curve and we don’t really invest a ton of time into development because you’ll only be there for a few months. There is still a lot of training of course, but generally interns aren’t given really tough tasks that would require serious thought. So do your best and you’ll be fine.

What are the differences between a summer and winter internship?

The biggest distinction between the two periods of time is that in the summer, there is really not a huge demand for interns. Most of the work for audit and tax is around the winter, though there are exceptions. The winter interns (January-March) will be the busiest and will have more than the summer interns due to the client workload. We work crazy hours during busy season, and usually (hopefully) it gets to a more normal schedule in the summer, where we are planning the year end audits and doing quarterly reviews. For audit are plenty of clients that have a 6/30/12 “year end” (instead of 12/31/12, which is what makes us make us busy January-March) which will keep you busy, and tax has several reporting deadlines approaching and special tasks they will be working on.

Winter wins

Ok so you will be busier in the winter – what does that mean. Put simply – it means you could get a ton of overtime (hours over 40). Big 4 Interns get paid $20-$30 an hour with the intention of matching the full time salary of a first year, assuming a 40 hour week. Except they frequently work 60 or more hours a week during busy season and end up making more than the managers during this time. For this reason alone, I think it is worth doing a winter internship rather than a summer. On the other hand they may only work you 40 hours a week, so there is that to consider.

Another reason I think winter is better than summer is that since you will usually be working longer, you will naturally get more experience. I’ve seen it and also heard from other seniors that those who have done a winter internship compared with a summer internship start off as a 1st year pick up things quicker and are better at their jobs. In addition to working longer, you may actually add some value to the engagement and pitch in and perform some actual testwork. I frequently see summer interns working on things that are not time sensitive like rolling forward documents.** I don’t say this to discourage summer interns like they aren’t helpful, because that isn’t the case, it’s just that when we’re busy we utilize the interns more. If you are a summer intern and you are on a busy client, you will have the same experience.

What are the downsides?

The downside to working a winter big 4 internship is that you will have to take a semester off from school. I think this tradeoff is well worth it. Yeah, you could finish a semester earlier, but college isn’t the worst thing ever to stick around in. If you are deciding between no internship and a winter internship, absolutely take the winter internship, even if it means an extra semester.

* A 60 hour workweek would probably look like M-Th 9am to 10pm, and Friday probably leave at 6. I haven’t seen interns work weekends before but it is possible. This is assuming the team has a “working” lunch and dinner, by (interns) bringing in food so the audit/tax fest can go uninterrupted.

** “Rolling forward” documents and files mean that you take the testwork or memos ect, and update it for the current year so that we don’t have to “re-invent” the wheel and we can leverage our testwork from the prior year. Usually things haven’t changed from year to year and all that is needed is updating the dates and names on the workpaper. Do use caution here because situations will change, so read through whatever you’re rolling forward and try and pick up on if anything has changed.

Deloitte, KPMG, EY, PwC Interview questions

20 Responses to “Winter vs Summer Big 4 Internships (Deloitte, KPMG, EY, & PwC)”

  1. Joey Falato says:

    Do you know if it is easier or harder to get a winter internship than a summer internship

  2. Big 4 Bound says:

    Winter is probably easier, due to the fact that we have more work to be done as well as less candidates who are willing to take a semester off.

  3. Raghav Gupta says:

    If I’m starting first-year in uni. What is the criteria and how hard is it to get a summer/winter internship at the Big Four?

    • James says:

      Hi Raghav – congrats on starting at UNI.

      Both summer and winter internships at Big 4 firms are competitive. Beyond looking through big4bound.com and going through each firm’s website, I would focus on the following (assuming you are a freshman):

      1. GPA – there is usually a cut-off (varies by school) so make sure you focus on keeping your GPA as high as possible.
      2. Internships / work experience – even as a freshman, you can articulate how skills learned from part time / summer jobs would apply to a Big 4 internship.
      3. Join and take on a LEADERSHIP role in business clubs / groups… I did a quick search and found some good ones here: http://uni.edu/majors/accounting. Make sure you are not just someone who sits in the back and never speaks up or participates – try to take an active role and contribute to the group. This goes for any other group / club you join.
      4. Network – go to career fairs, Big-4 hosted events, etc… and come prepared with 3-5 questions to ask each recruiter. They should be firm specific for bonus points (e.g. you could ask a PwC Advisory recruiter how things have changed since their acquisition on Booz / Stragety&).

      Feel free to shoot us a note at big4boundsite@gmail.com if you have any other questions / comments. Thanks and best of luck to you!

  4. ANKIT AGARWAL says:

    When will the application process starts for getting an internship at big 4 for this coming winter and what is the process of applying it into ?

  5. how can I apply for internship in big 4. please let me know ASAP.

  6. Ha Nguyen says:

    How long does E&Y usually take to respond to the winter internship application?

    • James says:

      Usually no more than ~2 weeks. If you haven’t heard by then you can politely follow up with your recruiter. Good luck!

      • Ha Nguyen says:

        Thank you very much for your response. I applied for the winter internship at E&Y Singapore from Australia. I guess I will try sending an email to their career team then.

  7. Gizelle says:

    Hello! Just finding out how many words is necessary to answer the questions asked in the application process? Eg. Explain a time when you had to solve…Thanks! 🙂

  8. Jyoti says:

    Hey ! I am from chandigarh. I need to know the application process for this winter application at big 4 ?

  9. Jyoti says:

    Hey ! I am from chandigarh. I need to know the application process for this winter internship at big 4 ?

  10. Irene soila says:

    Hey! am a student in Kenya doing Bachelor in B.A Specializing in finance in a university called Kenya Methodist University
    how can i work with the BIG FOUR COMPANIES HERE IN KENYA?

  11. mercy uzoaga says:

    Hey, am studying in Cameroon, accounting to be precise, level 200,but in Nigeria currently how do I get to intern with the big4 this summer pls reply asap

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