What is it like working at a Big Four accounting firm? Katherine Diep ’19 (finance and information systems) has been working for PwC since June 2018, beginning as a summer advance intern in risk assurance and now serving as a risk assurance associate.
Diep discusses her experience as a Mihaylo student, PwC employee and coronavirus-impacted worker, and shares some little-known facts about the accounting field.
How did your expectation of working as an accountant in a Big Four firm compare with the reality?
The reality of working at a Big Four, and at PwC specifically, truly exceeded my expectations. I really do like my job, and I couldn’t imagine starting my career anywhere else. In college, I would always hear horror stories about public accounting: the crazy long hours worked during the busy season, how there was little to no work/life balance, the high turnover and how a career in public accounting was just not sustainable long-term for most people. After recently finishing my first full year at PwC, I can attest to working a lot of hours and having to overcome many work-related challenges. However, I can also say that it’s been a good time so far, and I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world. I’ve learned so much, had the greatest opportunities and made the most valuable friendships with my coworkers, who I call my work family. I also have a nice work/life balance, even when we’re at our busiest. Although it can be overwhelming at times, I’m grateful for the overall positive and healthy work environment at PwC, along with having the biggest support system, people who have rooted for me since my first day at the firm.
How well do you feel Cal State Fullerton and Mihaylo College prepared you to do well in your career?
Everything I experienced at Cal State Fullerton and Mihaylo College gave me the foundation to thrive in my career, including all of the academic courses I’ve taken and the extracurricular organizations that I joined. My biggest advice to students would be to take advantage of everything that CSUF has to offer. You get out what you put in, so get involved on campus as much as you can – though a lot of that is virtual now – and utilize all of the resources available.
During the pandemic, you have been working from home, as many people have. What has this been like and how has it impacted your job?
Given the circumstances with the pandemic, I’m very grateful to have a job and still be able to work during these uncertain times. It was difficult for me to adjust to a fully remote workday at first, but my engagement teams did an excellent job figuring out ways for us to still communicate and work together effectively. Now, I love the flexibility of working from home and feel that it has created an even greater work/life balance. For example, I like having mid-morning or afternoon workouts, and it’s nice that I can take time out of my day to keep up with my physical and mental health, then jump back online to finish my tasks/assignments afterwards. The OC Risk Assurance team as a whole also plans a ton of virtual events, and we all still keep in touch and catch up with one another while we’re apart, which I really appreciate. It makes me miss them a little less (lol)!
What is one surprising aspect of the accounting field that students in this field should know about?
When starting their careers in this field, students should be prepared to learn the most they’ve ever learned. Having a positive attitude and open mind is so important as is never being afraid to ask questions if something isn’t clear. Your seniors and above are there to teach and guide you, and they will do whatever it takes to help you become successful.
What is one “fun fact” about yourself?
A fun fact about myself is that I love weightlifting. I started back in September 2019 and have been hooked ever since. I love how challenging it is and how strong it makes me feel. It keeps me sane during the craziest of times!