The “Big Four” Experience: How Would You Describe Your Internship?

Marquis Pullen
Marquis Pullen

In a few weeks, Wake Forest University will host its annual, spring “Meet the Firms” event. Current accounting undergraduates and incoming Master in Accountancy students will have the chance to meet with firm representatives to learn more about the opportunities that exist at the “Big Four”, national, and regional public accounting firms. This event kicks off the process of securing an internship and laying the foundations for a potential career in public accounting.

While dozens of Wake Forest students will seek internship opportunities for the upcoming winter internship cycle, an equal amount of students have recently completed their internships and are now eagerly anticipating a few late spring and early summer dates at Prometric testing centers; the CPA exam is upon us!

For those who recently completed the winter internship experience, how would you describe your internship? I will attempt to answer this question by answering a few others.

1) Which firm did you intern with and in what location did you intern?

I interned with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in the Charlotte, North Carolina Office. I worked within the tax line of service; in particular, the Financial Services Tax Group.

2) Why PricewaterhouseCoopers?

As a graduate accounting student at Wake Forest University, I am pursuing a dual concentration in Tax Consulting and Financial Transaction Services. This past fall, I actively pursued internship opportunities that would provide a practical professional development experience as it relates to the taxation of financial services organizations.

After attending office hours with campus recruiters, career panel discussions comprised of firm professionals, and both informal and formal office visit sessions, I was convinced that PwC would provide me with the experience that I was looking for.

3) What did you like most about your internship experience?

The aspect of the internship experience that I liked the most was having the opportunity to work on client projects. During the recruiting process, one of my interviewers confirmed that interns are treated as if they are first-year associates and that was consistent with my internship experience.

I also liked the collaborative nature of the work. Accounting projects for large clients require thoroughly executed teaming in which those with the most experience coaches those trying to learn the ropes.

4) What type of projects did you work on during your internship?

After attending a comprehensive tax training session in Georgia, I returned to Charlotte and joined a tax specialist team. The team was tasked with providing the assurance team with assistance on the audit of the income tax footnote disclosures of a large, publicly traded commercial bank.

I found the income tax provision work interesting. It was an opportunity to practically apply, in an integrated way, some of the concepts that were covered in my Audit and Corporate Taxation classes in the fall semester.

During the final third of my internship experience, I worked on a tax compliance project for an asset management client focused on private equity investments. This portion of the internship experience was a rigorous, primer on partnership taxation with a specific focus on the computation of entity-level net taxable income and the allocation of income to the investors of the partnerships.

There were also non-client service, internship enrichment experiences. I collaborated with my tax intern colleagues to plan and oversee a trivia competition for PwC professionals within the tax line of service. Additionally, the tax interns aligned themselves with PwC’s vision to increase youth financial literacy and education. We taught courses on investments and savings to a group of fifth graders at Crown Point Elementary School in Charlotte, North Carolina.

5) What advice do you have for those beginning the process for next year?

Good luck! Know what you are looking for in a firm (make a list), research the firms, do office visits, and select the opportunity that arises that is most in alignment with those qualities and characteristics that made your list. Have fun. Learn a lot. Grow professionally!

Marquis J. Pullen is a 2012 graduate of Princeton University, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Marquis is currently enrolled in the Master of Science in Accountancy Program ’15 at the Wake Forest University School of Business, where he is pursuing a dual concentration in Tax Consulting and Financial Transaction Services. Links to Marquis’ writings about business, law, and accounting can be accessed at: