A Foot in the Door at the Big Four

Accounting students turn internships into job offers at the prestigious firms
Emily Nguyen, BSBA '22
Emily Nguyen, BA '22, has completed two internships at KPMG and has a full-time job waiting for her when she finishes her Master of Science in Accounting next year.

It doesn’t matter if it’s Deloitte, EY, PwC, or KPMG: Competition for summer internships at any of the Big Four accounting firms can be fierce. And no wonder: Those internships often lead directly to job offers following graduation.

It’s much easier to get what’s called a “winternship” during the school year. Since most students are in school, there are more openings available. The problem is, it’s a lot more work since students have to juggle classes with what’s basically a full-time job.

But Sawyer Business School Professor Tracey Riley realized winterships were a huge opportunity for Suffolk accounting students.

“Our students can totally shine at any of the Big Four firms,” she says—it’s just that there’s so much competition from all the other Boston-area schools. “I saw the winternships as a way to get Sawyer Business School students in the door.”

Working with the dean’s office, she arranged to have the Business School winternship program offer three credits to any students who secured one, whether at a Big Four firm or any of a number of midsize firms in the Boston area.

No imposters here

Yet for some students—including those who are the first in their families to attend college or who come from groups underrepresented in the accounting industry—another hurdle remained: They weren’t sure they were cut out to work in a Big Four firm.

“Imposter syndrome was a big challenge for many of these students,” Riley says.

So she, along with Professors Melissa Renschler and Andrew Stuart, helped the students overcome their apprehension. They coached the students on how to handle interviews and helped them craft solid résumés. They explained how to dress professionally. Business School alumni talked to the students about what it’s like to work in a firm and how to act in an office setting.

“Most of these students started their college careers during the fully remote days of the pandemic,” says Riley. “For some, their time in the ‘real world’ has been limited.”

For first-generation college student Emily Nguyen, BSBA ’22, those sessions were invaluable. “I wouldn’t be where I am without the help the professors gave us. I know that for a fact,” she says. “They really helped fine tune a lot of the soft skills we needed.”

Nguyen finished her winternship at KPMG in April 2022. She enjoyed it so much she came back to the firm for a summer internship and now has a full-time job at KPMG waiting for her after she finishes her Master of Science in Accounting in spring 2023. KPMG has been so impressed with her that they’re actively reaching out to Suffolk to find more students.

And she’s not alone. Of the 18 students Riley worked with in the first winternship cohort, 15 have received full-time job offers, 12 of them at Big Four firms. That success is what motivates Riley to begin cultivating the next cohort of winternship students, 11 of whom already have their winternships locked in for the new year at the Big Four.

“Now that we’ve got the process in place, it’s a really great dynamic,” she says. “The firms have access to a diverse group of students, and our students get access to incredible career opportunities.”


Greg Gatlin
Office of Public Affairs

Ben Hall
Office of Public Affairs