Kara Miles: Assurance intern at PwC (Resume)
Kara is a Senior at Ohio State majoring in accounting. Kara is involved in Club Field Hockey and President of Phi Gamma Nu Business Fraternity. Learn from Kara how to get interviews with all Big 4 accounting firms and separate yourself in the process.
Pablo: [00:00:00] Kara,
thanks for joining us. I’ve Cara miles here. She’s a accounting major at Ohio
state university. She’s a current senior, and she is working in the summer with
a PWC in, in the audit sector, uh, during her for her internship. Welcome.
Let’s start things off. Tell me why
PricewaterhouseCoopers. So going through all the interview process, a lot of
what people kind of tell you, and they’ll tell you this all for it.
The big four, that the reason why they chose their specific
company is the people. And I think, again, like as cliche as it sounds, it’s
true. So I did a lot of research on PWC and all of the companies and the work
they do is very similar. Each office kind of differs city to city. But when I
went to Philadelphia to visit all the opposite, I really liked all the people.
I liked the atmosphere. I kind of liked the culture of the
company and I thought that PWC does a lot of great things and has a lot of just
cool initiatives. They have that be well, work, well initiative, a diversity
and inclusion initiative, and just all of their programs and how they focus on
their employees is something that I really appreciated and is a big reason of
why I chose it.
What’s the Whoa workflow. The PWC.
So they have a initiative that they call below work well, and it basically just
tries to promote their employees doing like a work life balance. So giving
people that flexibility of if they need to work from home to kind of work and
still have families or be healthy.
So there’s some teams that they’ll take every five minutes
out of the hour and just do like 10 pushups or go walk around the office, or
just kind of small things to promote more like active lifestyles and more just
healthy work life balances.
No, totally. Cool. So how did you, well, a question I want to ask is, um, you
mentioned previously that these big four companies were always asking, do you
have 150 hours in order to get your CPA?
Can you tell me a little bit more about what that is? What
Yeah. So the CPA is a certified public accountant. It’s an exam. A lot of
people in big bore careers take a lot of big four companies will pay for it. So
they’ll pay for your exam registration and your study materials, which is the
equivalent of like thousands of dollars.
So it’s very worth it and you can’t advance to, I think it’s
a manager level at any of these companies without the CPA certification. And it
basically, you need a 150 credit hours to take this exam so you can do it and
however kind of many years works for you. So for me personally, I came in with
enough credits from high school that transferred.
That I’m doing four years of two semesters and I’ll graduate
with exactly 150 credit, but it’s very common for students in accounting to do
the masters in accounting program, which we’ll do five years or just take five
years. Some of classes. The good news about the 150 credits is you don’t need
like a specific focus in anything.
You just need to have 150 credit so you can take like golf
or beer and wine and it doesn’t matter. It’s the same credits in their eyes.
No, it’s really cool. But it is specific, the internship specific, right? It’s
set up in sectors. How many
sectors are there? Yeah, so a lot of the big four companies, they have three
Advisory. Is there more consulting? So if you want to do
like management consulting, consulting, technology consulting, you’re going to
go into more advisory. And then the other two are more accounting focused. So
that’s. Audit and tax. So advisory is a whole separate like interview process.
I didn’t go through any of that, so I can’t speak on it.
But assurance and tax are relatively the same. So I
specifically applied to the assurance program, which is assurance. Audit and
tax is very similar, but you have to make that distinguish between the two when
So why audit for you specifically? Why was it so interesting or compelling? So
Actually, I had a conversation before I did all of the
recruiting and I was talking with someone who worked at PWC in Philly and he
said, you know, if you want to go, cause I didn’t. He explained all of that to
me and he said, if you want to go working in tax. Tax is great, but tax, you’re
very limited in your scope of who you’re working with.
So if I’m working at tax at PWC, then I would only be
working with the tax groups in the companies that I’m working for and with the
tax managers versus if I’m doing audit, I’m working more with the broad scope
of the company. So auditing, you’re auditing all the financial statements. So
because you’re working with all the financial statements, every different
department is playing a role in that.
So you have a lot more face time with different VPs of the
company and kind of more influential people and just a broader holistic view of
the company. So I was convinced for that, that I would just get more experience
and have a bigger view of what I was doing in certain industries when I was
Perfect. You mentioned that and we were discussing like why, why we think you
are so unique. And you said you had kind of three different areas. One was
your, your club, another one was your visit to South Africa, and of course
your, uh, your minor. Can you explain more of what those word, how you got
involved in those areas?
Yeah. So I tried to going through the recruiting process a bunch, like I
mentioned before, everyone is accounting students. So as an accounting student,
you have to find a way to separate yourself as not just another accounting
student. So for me, I really want to work abroad in the future. I don’t really
know when and if or how.
I’ll figure that out more kind of, I think PWC is a lot of
international opportunities. So I did something I found out through step, which
is something a lot of Ohio state sophomores have access to with their $2,000 I
looked into different like global experiences and stumbled upon Fisher’s
consulting firm, did more research, found out that I could go to Cape town,
South Africa and work in a social enterprise.
Or work for a social enterprise and an incubator. They’re
doing nonprofit work for two weeks, so I applied, ended up getting it and going
to South Africa in may after my sophomore year. Working there for two weeks was
something that I really could talk about in an internship interview because I
had experience working with teams.
It was global experience. There’s a lot of struggles working
globally with different kinds of business relationships and working with
specifically South Africans. They handle business a lot more kind of lax the
days ago. Not lacks a day school, but more relationship to base. So for example,
if I walked into a meeting in South Africa and said, okay, like let’s just get
right down to business, they would not trust me.
You have to build a relationship. So you’ll sit down and
Nick, how’s your family? How’s this going? Or talk about very personal stuff.
And then they’ll start to trust you and do business. So having a unique
experience like that kind of allows me to. Step back and put things into
perspective and understand that, you know, not everyone handles interactions
with people a certain way.
So that was something I used that I thought made me stand
out from. A lot of recruiters always pointed to the Cape town, South Africa, or
like, Oh, tell me about the time you worked in South Africa. Another thing
that. Separated me that I thought was, I’m an analytics minor. So I chose that
purposefully when I did accounting, because I knew that big foreign accounting
played very well with analytics and analytics, right now is a buzz word, but
it’s also kind of more of the future.
So it’s a very hot topic and accounting because it’s
changing a lot of what accountants do, specifically auditors. So what I learned
through just talking to people and going through the recruitment process is
analytics is allowed. Our auditors. To test more and more data than they would
be able to test before.
Because if they tests like a small population, then they can
automatically just roll it out to all of the population and use the analytics
to kind of measure like the comparisons between them. And then the last thing,
I am very involved in business fraternity on campus called PGN and have been
with it since the beginning.
So founding that going from board of 54 I used a lot of my
experiences. Working in a team, both good and bad, and we were actually going
through, when I was doing interviews, we were going through the recruitment
process for PGN, so every week they did one of the common interview questions
like, tell me about a time you struggled in a team.
Tell me about a time this. And I was always like. Oh, well
yesterday I was working in a team and this happened. So it was very relevant
experience because it was always changing and very applicable. But that was
something that I think helped me. Going back to what I was saying before, I got
about South Africa, PWC and a lot of the other big four companies really don’t
Hard skills are like how well they have their GPA cutoff,
and I think it’s a three, two for most places. So it’s still competitive, but
they understand that like everyone has these basic qualifications and they’re
looking more for the soft skills for the team. Someone actually said to me,
yeah, pick a place where you want to.
Spend like 80 hours a week with these people, like you don’t
want them to kind of be duds. So making sure you could actually just carry a
conversation and talk about like a time you could accurately, or not
accurately, but handle a situation and a team and just be a team player or a
team leader and not be that person.
That’s just an individual person. And that was a huge like
emphasis that they put on their recruiting process was very much teamwork.
I think the silver lining there is that we shouldn’t wait until someone pats us
on the back and say, Hey, you should be today. You should be a leader. Just
start that now.
And I think in your example, you actually created this club.
How did you go about creating the club? Cause that’s, it’s not, it’s not an
easy task. So can you tell me, tell me like. How you came about creating it and
then like the trials and tribulations and
so going in. I’m actually not a state student who went to Ohio state, so going
into my freshman year, everyone tells you the same thing, you know, get
involved, get involved, get involved.
And it kind of sounds like a broken record. Yeah. And that’s
true to some extent. Like you have to get involved. But I wasn’t super involved
my freshman year, so I was just in club field hockey. But I knew that. Hey, I
wasn’t involved freshman year, but I can’t keep doing that. Like I need something
to fill my time.
I need something to do. And I liked the idea of business
fraternities. So they have three pillars. They have a social, uh, philanthropy
and a professional pillar to them. So you’re doing work in all three with the
same organization. And I personally really liked that. I thought that was
something I wanted to be a part of and I caught it.
Quite found my home in any of the other ones that existed on
Ohio state’s campus. And flash forward a couple of months, I was talking to
some of my friends who had similar feelings and we joked, you know, like let’s
start a business frat. And after having a more serious conversation later, we
decided we can actually do it.
Like, let’s do it. There’s a need for it. We reached out to,
some of my friends are in PG at different schools and I reached out to their
nationals and. Said, Hey, we’re interested in starting a chapter. They got back
to us and said, Ohio state is at school. We’d love to have a chapter at, put us
in contact with a different Ohio state student who also wanted to start a
So we met up with him and there was four of us at that
point, and we said, you know, we’re going to do this. So that was beginning of
my sophomore year. By the end of school. Fall semester of sophomore year, we
had a class of like 30 people. We initiated at the end of my sophomore year
with 25 I was elected president, and I’ve been president since doing that.
So that’s a lot of teamwork experience, but you don’t have
to, I would say to a lot of people, granted, I did that and that through my
time here, like I was president of two organizations, but they don’t look for
leadership experiences just like a president. They want leadership experience
of just like an actively involved member.
So if your leadership experience is like a social chair or
director of certain committee, that’s okay too. But they don’t want to just see
like active member active member because it’s easy to be an active member of
some clubs, but they want to see that you’re actually kind of getting involved
and taking initiative to start something.
Yeah. If you could actually quantify your success and I think that that goes
above and beyond then being an active man or just yet just being a member. And
I think that’s huge. And kudo in definitely. Kudos. You, you also mentioned how
you actually recruited. So let’s, I’d love to help out these these students
like, so, cause they’re always like, well, we have to be official organization,
At first you weren’t a Fisher organization, so what did you
do? How did you market your club? To go from four to three.
So you have to be a student organization for two semesters on campus before you
can apply to be official organization. But there’s a lot of ways to a go around
Fisher and like their organizations.
If you talk to, one of the things we did was we actually
talked to Lorraine Penniman, who was the head of Yulia, and she put us in this
weekend, Shaun bombs under university announcements. So a lot of it is just marketing.
We put all kinds of. We targeted like group MES of social sororities and
fraternities because it was easy for us to put people in there.
We reached out to honors and scholars members and put it in
their newsletters. And what we did was just use our connections to put it in as
many newsletters as we could. And then from there, a lot of people brought
friends. So if one person heard about, they’re like, Hey, come check this out
with me. And then we would have like three more people come with them.
So I think our initial like interest meeting, we had 60
people thought we were very trans. Apparent about the fact that like this is
new, this will be a lot of work. And I think that’s a deterrent for some
people, which is fine. Like everyone has their certain thing they want to
belong to and it doesn’t matter what it is as long as it’s something.
So find what you’re passionate about, find what you’re okay
to spend your time doing. And if you find that, then just go for it.
No, absolutely. Let’s switch. Focus into the actual interview process. So what
does that, what does that look like with big four traditionally?
So you have four each big four they start, I think the very first event I went
to was like August 20 something.
It was the first week of school. By the time I got my offer
and accepted it, I think it was around October 18th so from that entire. Dan, I
was just doing interviews, but they start off off tabling on the Fisher
courtyard, so every big four has a day that they’ll table, and I don’t know
what they are off the top of my head, but it’s on handshake and you can find
out and say Monday was PWC.
They would have a table with just a bunch of PWC people.
Sometimes it’s like free March. I know Eli gave out like comfort colors,
t-shirts, and they were a huge hit, but they have just a bunch of people there
and I would just walk up and I’d be like, hi, my name’s Kara. Like. I’m really
interested in PWC.
Can you tell me more about X? And I would just pick a different
topic every time. So can you tell me about what you do? Can you tell me about
how you like the company? Can you tell me about, a lot of times it was just
like basic kind of get to know you questions, like where are you from? What’s
your major while you graduate?
In four years with 150 or like 1 million graduate. That’s a
big question. It comes up a lot and then just kind of general conversation
about what I was doing in classes. The good news about Ohio state is they bring
in a lot of like former Ohio state kids so you can bond over classes and what
they’ve taken, but just getting to kind of ask.
For lack of a better word, your stupid questions to all the
people that are just like associates and they’re not the ones interviewing you.
It’s very informal and that’s all the tabling that they have on the Fisher
courtyard. From there, they have applications on handshake that you apply to,
and every one I think had like three applications, so they’d have the
application on handshake, the application on their general website, and like a
special, like Ohio state, like student.
Distinguisher cause Ohio state is considered a feeder school
for a lot of big floor, which I didn’t know, but I found that out. So from
there you applied and then after you applied, you found out if you got a first
round interview or not. If you did, that was on campus and like the girl lock
rooms, but then there was a pre-interview night before that.
So if your interview was on a Wednesday, your pre-interview
night was Thursday or Tuesday night. Each company did the pre-interview nights
a little differently. So my year rented out the top of the shoe and they had
everyone up there for just drinks or not drinks, like just drinks and snacks
And everyone just talked about, you know, what’s their favorite part of
And then they had stadium tours. There was something to kind
of talk about and do. It’s a lot of people’s first time in the stadium. So that
was a big talking point. Deloitte just had like a ballroom and just rented it
out and just had like apps and you got to meet your actual interviewers. So
they told you your interviewers names before Deloitte.
And then I actually talked with my interviewers at the
pre-interview night, so I got to know them before PWC had a pre-interview
night. That gave a lot of information about their company. So about their be
well work well initiatives about their five professional development like you
on the exact wording of them, that’s fine.
But they talked about about their company and then KPMG did
it, that beat ups Buffalo wild wings and it was very casual. It was like eat
wings, just talk. So it gives you a chance to get out your pre-interview
nerves. Ask your last minute if you want to call them stupid questions that you
don’t want to ask in an interview.
And overall like just calm yourself. And then they did first
round interviews. After that, they’re all in Columbus regardless of what office
you wanted to choose. Cause you get to preference your offices, you preference
like your one, two, three and then after that you’ll have, if you get a second
round interview, they’ll do a second round of interview via Skype or via like
Google Hangouts with the home office.
So I did with Philadelphia with all of them, and got to.
Skype people, they were all different. So for PWC, it was more informal. At
that point it was just more asking questions, talking about my resume. And then
Deloitte, same thing, KPMG, I don’t remember the second interview. And then was just with a recruiter because they
couldn’t get, they had like technical difficulties with me because of like Ohio
and the timing of everything.
But they’re all very transparent about where you are in the
process and Hey, your interviews this week, you should hear by the end of this
week and you had contacts. As far as the interviews themselves, it’s a lot of
behavioral questions, so it’s a lot of teamwork questions. It’s a lot of, tell
me about a time when also kind of walking through your, my biggest advice that
I give to people, not just going through big four, but anyone is know your
resume inside and out and don’t put anything on your resume that you’re not
Prepared to tell a story about, because it’s very easy for a
recruiter to transparently kind of see through what your bullshit have on your
resume and what you’re not. So if you’re going to play, you know, like dog
Walker volunteer or started something like you better actually have done it and
not lied about it.
Right. And prepare story for it as well as that’s, that’s somewhat compelling
so that it makes sense because everything you have, your university has to have
a reason. It’s a selling point. It’s a talking point. Making sure you’re
prepared in that regard. No, that’s really cool. How did you prepare for the
Like where did you find this information that they were
behavioral questions, et cetera?
So the internet is your best friend. And I did a lot of research. I went on,
there’s big four accounting, like Reddit forums that I went on and did some
research. So they’ll have kind of tips about like, have you heard back?
Or like, have you gotten your first round of interview? And
then also just like questions they ask as well as like glass door. That’s kind
of a common one. You can see reviews. Salaries, salaries, I would say vary. And
you’re not really gonna know them. I didn’t ask about salaries in any of my
interviews and they weren’t very forthcoming about it.
So I think that’s kind of something that you should steer
clear from. Might be not in other interviews, but I know it was never mentioned
in any of mine. And then I just looked up some basic like interview questions.
I did a lot of research on the companies themselves, in their specific company
So, like I mentioned before, I was an analytics minor, so I
always Googled like PWC analytics and found like what they were doing for
analytics. PWC has a digital incubator. My goal was to find stuff that was
going to kind of set me apart. So one of someone’s advice to me doing the
interview process was find something old.
Find a, like a current news story. That’s right. Kind of
like Google, PWC news, and then look for a recent article, like something that
you can show you’re keeping up with the company and then look for something
about the company that you like. So I focused on analytics a lot that I looked
into their analytics software and kind of talked with a lot of people about how
that was changing the audit.
And for me that was . A successful, I think talking point,
because then that can relate back to accounting. They’d see my business
analytics minor and it was all relevant. And I also looked for a lot of work
life balance initiatives so that I took, so I know PWC has there be well work
well, but I did a lot of research on that and ask people, how do you do like a
work life balance when you’re in such a demanding career?
How does the company make up for it? Or I see the company
has this initiative, like, can you tell me more about it? So kind of having
small tidbits, like you don’t need a lot for every company. For each one you’re
going through. And this kind of applies to everything. Find three things that
you can talk about.
So if one comes up naturally in conversation, you still have
two more to talk about and find them specific enough where someone’s not going
to mention it without being prompted, if that makes sense. So if it’s like PWC
big selling point, have something else besides that, because naturally they’re
going to sell it like there’d be well work.
that’s interesting. So you’re digging in deep. In that regard. So what are some
of the things that you would say when you met with these individuals, whether
it be tabling or, or not clearly, you mentioned that you would talk about the
analytics, the work life balance initiative as well. Is there anything else
that you kind of took outside the box a little bit to kind of separate yourself
Kara: [00:19:16] I
would say make it personal. So with a lot of the people you’ll meet have
different recruiting events are associate, but if you’re making it personal to
those people, then I had one girl, her name was Lauren Johnson, and her and I
talked about Deloitte soccer team for like their rec soccer team for like 20
And it was just a conversation about like, she’s like, Oh
yeah, I’m sorry, like I gotta go. I, we have a soccer team and she’s telling me
all about it. And then two people from Deloitte’s, I think Columbus office were
like going to travel to Spain to play soccer. She’s telling me all about like,
Intermural soccer league, which it’s a very, I mean it’s a
big part of her experience there, but it was a very small tidbit that you’d
never be able to find like Googling Deloitte us. So learning about something
like that and then going into interviews later, you’re just talking about funny
things and like making it more personal stories.
So it doesn’t really have to be like. Necessarily about
auditing or about like what you’re doing, but just having like meaningful
connections. And I know like another time when I was interviewing for PWC, my
interviewer’s late, so I was sitting in like the lobby of Greylock with the
greeters and we were talking about fire drills and they were telling me how,
like they had a fire drill at their office.
And it was poorly managed. And they’re like, if everyone,
like if there were to be an actual fire, like PWCs office, like we probably
would all die cause they’re like, they just didn’t do it right. And we were
just talking about like funny times. So like fire alarms have gone off. So I
was telling a story about a fire alarm going off in the, when I lived in the
dorms because I took two steamy of a shower and my interview.
Walked out and she was like, Oh, great story. So then like
right away you kind of have like that personal connection. And we were talking
about that spun in to kind of like intruder drills and workplace drills and
workplace violence. And then she was telling me all about PWC in Dallas had the
employee, do you remember like the
Coffin, Dallas, that shot the African American man in her,
his apartment, because the cop thought it was her apartment. So he was a PWC
employee, and that came up in my interview and she was like, I feel like PWC is
my family, because I like felt the loss of him, even though I didn’t even know
him. But she’s like the whole PWC community felt it.
So having like those random one-off stories for me, I always
tell people like that. Comment from her because that stuck in my mind. And that
was another reason. Like I chose PWC cause she was telling me like, you know,
it’s a whole family even though I didn’t even know this guy in Houston or
Dallas, I don’t remember which Texas city.
But having like those personal conversations, those are the
ones who are going to remember more than like, Oh I get in the office and I do
all the thing. And I do this because a lot of it going back before, like it’s
about the people and the connections and a job’s a job anywhere. But. Creating
the company and like creating yourself as an interesting candidate and a person
is the biggest thing.
Yeah, that’s huge. And it makes you extremely memorable because you can’t
forget the words. People love hearing those stories. You, so you were mixing,
mingling with a lot of these big four big four people, you said your sophomore
year through leadership conferences. Can you tell me more about that?
So I actually didn’t do a leadership conference, but I would suggest it to
people that want to do it.
I wasn’t sure you do the recruiting for that in the spring
semester of your sophomore year. So at that point I still wasn’t sure which
part of like big four, if big four that I wanted to go into. And I always tell
people. The earlier you know, the better because the more you can do, there’s a
lot of freshman year experiences they offer.
So like Deloitte has an alternative spring break. He has a
first year experience. I don’t know if KPMG has anything. And then PWC has a
bunch of just random things that I’m blanking on right now. But then going in
your spring semester, sophomore year, you can apply for leadership conferences.
So if you know that you want an internship after your junior year, I would
suggest applying for a leadership conference because it makes it a little bit
There’s not as many people applying for it. And that
leadership conference, you apply for it your spring semester, sophomore year,
if you were to interview and get it, you would do a two day leadership
conference in the city that you want to work in. So for me, I would have done
it in Philadelphia and you just meet a bunch of other potential candidates.
Do you like games? You get to learn more about the company,
the culture. You get to kind of pick which service line you want to do. And
then at the end of that, that two day conferences, an interview basically for
the internship. So you can walk out of the leadership conference after your
sophomore year with an interview or an internship offer in hand for you summer
Which is whose, but then not only that, I mean as we know when we were freshmen
and sophomore, it’s like we didn’t know what we wanted to do. So going to his
leadership conferences really gives you a clear picture of what the company’s
about. It’s not only them interviewing you, but you interviewing them.
Is it also, is this what you want to do? I think critical.
Just apply, get into it, and then if you do do it, you dislike it. You then
realize, you know, accounting is not for me. Auditing is not for me in that
regard. And they, you can then find another track within those sectors.
Yeah, so we mentioned this before, but I was doing a Deloitte early ID program
for business technology, like consulting, and I ended up just getting matched
with a buddy, had lunch with him a couple times to talk about that.
He was like, Oh, I’ll help you prep for these case
interviews throughout the whole summer and learning about what he did, our kind
of mentee mentor relationship, I realized it wasn’t something I wanted to
pursue. So he put me in contact with someone who was an audit. Who was still at
Deloitte, then I could then talk to, but having those connections like
internally in the company are really nice because it was someone that wasn’t a
recruiter that was vouching for me to someone else.
And also just getting to meet like as many people as
possible to a get the best picture of what the company is for you. Like not
even for kind of like the girl that I talked to, never vouched for me in the
internship process or anything, but she was a very good person to talk to, to
get to learn more about like what the company was like and a picture of what
she was doing on a daily basis or.
One of the questions too, I don’t know if I mentioned this,
I always ask people what their least favorite cart part of the company was.
Because everyone always talks about what their best, like their favorite part
is and like, what’s your least favorite part? Cause no one ever talks about the
bad stuff, but no one’s going to sit there and say, I love my job completely.
There’s nothing I would change. So people would be careful
in what they would say. But it was always interesting to see like what people
hated and what people were real about with, you know, this is not a glamorous
part of the job, but it is.
You can also take a nugget, right? And then you almost utilize it.
Or, you know, what’s really interesting with this company is
that, you know, there might be not so strong in this area, but they’re actually
improving in this specific way because everyone says something that they don’t
like, but they also will back that up with, but you know what? They’re
improving. And that’s the most important thing.
And I think it’s about being honest. And if you knew that
that insider, so somewhat information that everyone gripes about, I think would
be huge. Cause it’s like, Oh my gosh, this person is a perfect fit. So I think
that makes it very interesting. So cool. And I think the big key nugget here is
like start early.
And in finance, this is for you. And then if you do start
early, then the chances of you being a perfect fit are definitely there. So.
Well, Kara, thank you so much for your time. This has been fantastic. I’m so
excited for you. Can’t believe I’m talking to someone. I had four offers from
the big four and good luck this summer with price Waterhouse Coopers.
Have a great one. Bye.