Why getting into Big 4 Firms is hard for students from small schools.

The Big 4 Accounting firms are very structured in their recruiting endeavors. They have relationships with schools that enables their whole campus recruiting process.

These schools are called Target Schools.


Target Schools have a lot going for them because like I said, there’s already a strong existing relationship. This ultimately means there’s a large alumni network within the firms.

The same way people tend to migrate towards family or a community of like-minded people, it makes sense that an employee would recruit someone from their school.

Ultimately, the firms reserve positions for students from these target schools, and by the time a student from a non-target school, get around to apply, the positions are already filled.


But it’s not all bad news.

The firms do have some presence in smaller schools. They attend student meetings where possible, and can recruit that way too, all be it on a relatively small scale.

Therefore, for the many students at these schools, there’s still a way for you to get noticed.

  1. LinkedIn – Try to connect with Campus Recruiters on there. Not all of them will accept your request, but try nonetheless. If you’re not sure what to do after you connect with them, this post will help a ton.
  2. Attend your Student Organization meetings – An alumni who’s currently employed at a firm can sometimes have the mandate to actively recruit students. So if one is attending a meeting, you’d be potentially missing out if you’re not there too.
  3. Find and connect with these same Alumni on LinkedIn, they can be a resource if you play your cards right. Read this post for more on that point.

Did you notice how all my tips involve people?

Ultimately, people not the firm, are the ones making these decisions, and if you probe hard enough, you can get noticed.

Check out and subscribe to our new YouTube page for helpful CPA Exam tips.