Big 4 is Paradise

Whenever asked about your future career path as a newly minted college student, you would often tell your family and friends that you wanted to do "something in business". Ok, sure you know it sounds pretty vague, but you've heard many of your well-connected friends claim, "there are endless possibilities with a business degree," so you feel you'll have plenty of time in your 4 years to figure it out.

Plus, you've always been a big proponent of "going with the flow". If all of your well-connected friends are bullish on a business degree, why shouldn't you be? You can't help but feel it's the right first step.

A "Non-Target" Student is Born

Flash forward several intro business courses and student org sign-ups later, you have decided to major in finance. You got this idea after attending a meeting for the feeder program of your non-target's exclusive student investment fund. At this meeting, you were seated in a sea full of t-shirts and brand-name hoodies as you witnessed a select few "student fund managers", donned in Chaps and Polo Ralph Lauren dress suits, stand over you and proclaim their superiority.

Topics of the night ranged from "Career Avenues in Finance" to the fact that Lucas was the only person in his analyst class at FT Partners who didn't attend an Ivy League. "After all," Lucas wisely said, "you can't spell 'non-target' without the word, 'target'." You're still not sure you understand what he meant but you love his energy.

In fact, the moment your dilated pupils locked eye contact with the investment club's 43-line-long list of Wall Street job placements, you couldn't help but whisper to yourself, "I think it's time I get my own suit too." Bank of America. Goldman Sachs. J.P. Morgan. Just think, if you could stamp one of these brands to your resume in bold 10 point Times New Roman font, you will never have to say "something in business" when asked about your career path ever again. Just say "Goldman Sachs" and watch as their eyes turn to marbles.

Before you can say "Capital Asset Pricing Model", you and your friends are spending hours on end monkishly studying the "Breaking into Wall Street" guides so you can "rush" for your school's elite student org. And because you're a big proponent of "going with the flow", you decided to invest in your own $350 Perry Ellis suit. If all the kids in the finance club are rocking suits on a Tuesday afternoon "for an important information session", why shouldn't you?


The day interviews finally come around, you are sweating more through your Perry Ellis suit than Joey Chestnut after he downed a record-breaking 76 hot dogs at Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest back in 2021. When you got asked about a $10 increase in accounts receivable, your nerves got the best of you as you went inaudible, looking up to the ceiling for answers, only to come back down to reality and find that both student fund managers are joyfully crossing your name off in their notebooks. Then, when talking about what EV/EBITDA means, you erroneously pronounced it as "EBIT DEE AYE", to which you elicited the contemptuous response of "actually, it's pronounced 'EBIT DAH' but it's ok. I think we're almost out of time now anyways. Thanks for coming, we'll be in touch soon".

Finally, 287 email inbox refreshes later, you receive your official rejection in writing that you will not be getting a bid for the high finance club, even though both your friends, Chester and Dox, did. You go ballistic as you can't believe they got in over you - especially considering that neither of them could even "walk you through" the elementary difference between "unlevered and levered beta".

"I guess I'm back to being the 'something in business' guy," you lament to yourself as you despairingly calculate the club's acceptance rate only being 10.7%. Who needs them anyways, right?

Career Tip #1: Follow the Crowd

Plagued with the sense that you couldn't break into Wall Street from a non-target school without being in the ultra high finance club, you begin to consider other career paths. Well, at this point you aren't exactly sure what other careers in business even exist besides "investment banking" but you figure it'd be best to attend your college's career fair to find out. So for the first time since you got bushwhacked by the elite student fund managers, you dress up in your sticky pit-stained Perry Ellis suit and head over to the business career fair.

As you enter the event, you notice a myriad of companies all smiling and waving at you to come visit their tables. And as you pass by by each station, you almost feel as if you were Miles Finch walking through Walter Hobbs' office from the movie Elf: you commend a reputation above everyone else in the room. After all, you are a Dean's List finance major at a top #T-67 ranked undergraduate business program in the country. Not too many people can claim a resume like that.

Sensing that you'll have your pick of the litter, you pridefully ignore the plebeians from Northwestern Mutual screaming for your attention, as you keep your head on a swivel in search for a firm that matches your level of prestige.

Yet after a few laps around the fair, you've found it burdensome to identify any eminent company that would have the capacity to "turn eyes to marbles". Honestly, you have no idea which company you should bring your talents to -- but swiftly an electromagnetic circuit rushes through your brain, informing you of your next move: "go with the flow". Without hesitation, you find your legs walking to the station that has the longest line of people waiting in it. It's a firm called "Deloitte". While standing in the 15-person-long-line, you rationalize that, if all of these top #T-67 ranked undergraduate business majors are bullish on "Deloitte", why shouldn't you be?

Even though you don't remember "Deloitte" being mentioned in the high finance club's elite placement list, you can't help but imagine how esteemed a Deloitte title could look on your LinkedIn profile. In fact, the employees at the table spoke very highly of the firm, citing that Deloitte leads the Big 4 in revenue across every single business segment. Better yet, after a brief conversation with the recruiters regarding your resume and formal proof that you're a student, you were offered to setup an interview on-campus for a position next week.

This news comes to you at the same time that your friends, Dox and Chester, have been struggling to land even a first round interview for a single investment bank they applied to. "Probably because I know what unlevered beta is and they don't," you convince yourself, as you schedule your 30 minute chat with "Big D".

Welcome to the Big 4, aka the "Ivy League of Audit/Advisory/Consulting/Tax"

Interviews go exceptionally well with Deloitte. Mid-way throughout your interview, you even found out which division you were being considered for. It's something called "Risk and Financial Advisory". You still aren't exactly sure what the job entails but your interviewers described it as "an opportunity to work alongside leading professionals across diverse industries while building your professional skills in a variety of project experiences." Ok, sure you know it sounds pretty vague, but it still definitely sounds better than your default state of "something in business," you feel. To your own fortune, you receive a call 4 hours later from Deloitte extending you with a job offer.

As HR begins to ramble on the call about the offer details, you are meticulously wired to you MacBook Pro looking up the big questions: "Deloitte acceptance rate." For a brief second, you lose your train of thought when HR repulsively vomits the words "base salary of $70,000" but you come back to your senses when your retinas readjust to your Google search results. That is, Google shows you that out of 500,000 applications per year, Deloitte only hires about 17,000, or 3.5%. A quick comps analysis confirms that 3.5% is indeed lower than Harvard's acceptance rate of 5%. Wow, you guess you really can't spell the word "non-target" without the word "target". Immediately, you interrupt HR saying, "Yes I accept" and end the call. From now on, you get a kick out of telling your peers that you got into Harvard - by the transitive property, that is!

Drinking Deloitte's Kool Aid

Now, for the remainder of your time in college, you bleed Deloitte. Not a single day goes by in which you are not at least (1) repping your matte-black Deloitte hat, (2) rocking your deep navy Deloitte shirt, or (3) carrying your off-white Deloitte coffee mug. You are even in the talks with HR to personally tailor a Deloitte x Patagonia Stonewash Better Sweater. And since you were placed into Deloitte's NYC office (most competitive group), you smugly tell your family and friends back home that you will be working on "Wall Street". This persona transcends to your LinkedIn profile where you post an elaborate narrative detailing the fact you're dumbstruck to join the Risk and Financial Advisory team, referencing each employee by name of course, all while featuring Deloitte's professionally designed "I accepted! Future Deloitterian!" title image.

You've also now contracted an eternal hunger to chaintalk about how Deloitte is leading the Big 4 league tables and you enjoy frequently speaking with your peers who signed with KPMG, PwC, and EY, mainly for the sake of comfort. To your PwC friends, you often laugh together at the folks who settled for EY. To your EY friends, you often laugh together at the folks who settled for KPMG. And to your KPMG friends, you often laugh together at the folks who settled for RSM. Candidly speaking, you have nothing in common with the sorry souls at RSM. The best part, you find however, is that in any of these conversations nobody is laughing down upon you. You go to Harvard, after all.

That is, until you catch up with your friend, Dox, from the student investment club. It turns out Dox was able to secure an offer with J.P. Morgan's investment banking division, thanks to a superhuman Pymetrics score. Hearing the words, "John Pierpont Morgan", your eyes turn to marble. In fear that Dox would have the ability to laugh down upon you, when asked about your job offers you tell him that you're currently deciding between "Goldman IB and Deloitte Risk." - even though your offer with Deloitte has been signed since the day you read "3.5%". Your statement produces a bewildered look in Dox's eyes, as if he's never heard "Goldman IB" and "Deloitte Risk" ever be lumped into the same sentence together in history. Politely, Dox responds with, "Wow, I thought both GS's 'Classic' and 'Financing' IBD groups have been done with recruiting for a few months now. How'd you manage to land that? Also, I thought Deloitte was for accountants?"

Quickly, to support your mendacious flex, you confide to Dox, "I have strings with GS and they gave me 90 days to accept/decline the offer." Seeing a dazed reaction from Dox, you go on to gloatingly recite "Regardless, I think I will be taking Deloitte over GS anyways. Deloitte Advisory punches above its weight and I feel that it's an incredible opportunity to work alongside leading CEOs across the tech industry while building my modeling skills in a variety of transaction experiences". Hearing this, Dox continues to look utterly perplexed as he faintly smiles and asks you again for the name of your job title so he can "look it up later". You leave the conversation sweating, realizing that you came very close to succumbing your prestige to JPM IB (which you checked had a <2% acceptance rate).

The Bigger They Are, the Harder They Fall

The chickens finally come to roost and you're no longer a college student. You are now a full-time Deloitterian. However, when you finally hit the desk and meet your team, you can't help but question whether Deloitte lives up to its 3.5%-prestige-level hype. You seem to endlessly scribble vapid risk and compliance reports for your clients that never seem to read them. You also notice that you are consistently clocking in 60-hour work weeks and just got word that your bonus will be like 8% of base. That's not even enough to pay for Sam Shiah's Wall Street Mastermind course.

Also, you've met the analysts from Audit and Tax and you're convinced they weren't born on Earth, wearing pencils in between their ears talking about how they're looking forward to "busy season" as if they just booked a week-long flight for Coachella. This is precisely when you begin to question whether Deloitte is as competitive to get into as Harvard. After all, you find it odd that not a single one of your colleagues went to an Ivy League.

To test this hypothesis, you use your "ability to quickly and concisely research and collect data from unique places" harvested from your experience at Deloitte to measure the firm's caliber of employees. To your dismay, you find that despite being a "top-rated" firm on LinkedIn, Deloitte's top 3 most popular alumni bases are Penn State, Maryland, and George Non-Target Mason. Wait, you went to one of those schools. Meanwhile, you discover that Goldman Sachs's most common alumni reign from Columbia, NYU, and Cornell. After this realization, you go to bed accepting that no amount of blue-sky fiction can support your belief that Deloitte rivals Harvard/Goldman Virtual Insights Series/Google.

Steve from Audit Just Peaked

As time goes on, you can't help but feel like an underpaid clog in a corporate machine, with the phrase, "something in business" being the most accurate way to describe your line of work. You've realized that many of your Big 4 peers have expressed their desire to jump ship, in search for a life-raft into the career of investment banking. Their reasons for fleeing into IB range from higher pay and better work to "being able to finally say 'Piper Sandler' and watch as my friends' eyes turn to marbles".

However ambitious your team may be, many of your comrades can't help but fear that breaking into IB may be a futile cause. In fact, typing in "Non-Target -> Big 4 -> IB" into their Google search bars has yielded some truly unfavorable results from the omniscient career wizards of WSO and "Mergers and Inquisitions". Results like "it cannot be done", "impossible", and "a snowball's chance in hell" have plagued their confidence of being "IB-imminent". Yet despite the online hate, your peer, Steve from Audit, voices something aloud to your team that you'll never forget. Bravely, from the top of his cubicle, Steve beckons from wall to wall,

"Listen, guys I've spent the last 3 years religiously reading WSO forums and Reddit about this topic. The way I see it, there are only two types of people who will tell you that you can't break into banking: (1) those who are afraid to try and (2) those who are afraid you will 'break in'. Now, I'm not saying that 'breaking in' is everything but wanting to 'break in' is. For it is better to try and fail than to spend the rest of your days in the Big 4 wondering what would've happened if you had tried"

In the matter of seconds after hearing Steve's war-cry, everyone in your floor's building, including the MD's and Partners, appear ready to vehemently march down to 200 West St and demand an interview with Goldman TMT. And given that you've always been a big proponent of "going with the flow", you, too, decide to build up the mental gymnastics required to make the courageous switch to IB. "It doesn't matter that I'll probably be placed as a 1st year analyst even though I have 4 years of experience," you reckon, "if all of my Big 4 brethren are bullish on investment banking at the age of 26 and changing their LinkedIn's to 'ex-Deloitte', why shouldn't I be?"

Comments (61)

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A

If we can get a "Shiti Bank is paradise", I'll venmo this man $100

Ib-man, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I second this.

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  • Intern in IB - Cov

I feel like such a nerd for reading this but this shit is incredible

  • 68
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov

Not even enough to pay for Sam Shiah's WSMM course 💀

  • 20
kkaaii, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Damn, that description of a non-target's elite investment club info session is so vivid it reminds me of my exact same experience… those pretentious, insecure juniors having the time of their lives asserting their dominance over freshmen by bragging about their Goldman IB internship for the next summer and telling anyone can do it even from this school if they join their club and network hard

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov

So glad I went to a target. That sounds miserable.  

  • 6
adm98, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It is. Can confirm as a non-target kid.

  • 2
  • Teller in Non-profit


  • 2
MfckngChimp, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You're too good to be doing this for free.

  • 5
  • Teller in Non-profit

Writing shit for free is paradise

  • 6
jengajengo, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Bull or bear that is the question

  • 4
  • Prospect in RE - Comm

"I still can't believe that he knows who I am" calm down natalie, its a balding MD in his late 50s, not the fucking president

  • 8
biscuitsandgravery, what's your opinion? Comment below:

After all," Lucas wisely said, you can't spell 'non-target' without the word, 'target'. You're still not sure you understand what he meant but you love his energy.

my fking sides mate 

  • 8
Prestige Hunter, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Master of Prospects

Hearing the words, "John Pierpont Morgan", your eyes turn to marble.

@MasterOfProspects These three words emanate pure and utter prestige

  • 2
Master of Prospects, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Sorry to hear about Thad from IU Kelley signing with Pierpont. Fingers crossed he gets placed in ECM.

Twisting your mind and smashing your dreams
  • 2
  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A

oh yes VC is paradise is gonna be very funny especially what's happening over in VC world right now.  Lots of people found out to be swimming naked.

  • 3
  • Teller in Non-profit

What do VC investing and divorce have in common?

You could lose half your equity overnight.

  • 4
  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov

Need analyst to associate is paradise 

  • 3
IncomingIBDreject, what's your opinion? Comment below:

These are supposed to be satirical. Emirates first class is provably actually paradise. 


  • Analyst 2 in Consulting

MBB is paradise for your next one please

  • 3
shyguy88, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This thread is my life. And after a few years in Big 4 valuation, you realize you can "value anything" while the guys in IB slave away working on pitchbooks. Poor saps. 

  • 4
SpaceWalker, what's your opinion? Comment below:

"GS virtual insight series/Google." You definitely are too good to do this for free

  • 4
  • Prospect in PropTrad

do one for the investment banking duffle and patagonia vest 

  • 2
Illusive Paradigm, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I've got an EY guy at my firm as a first year analyst, three years out of college.

  • 1
EnronCorpDev, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Had to stop lurking to comment on these posts. Truly exceptional posting. Please do "Commercial Real Estate is Paradise". Ime, this is where most of the title-obsessed, aspiring-to-Wall-Street midwits (whom you so deftly parody) I knew in high school and college (non-target) ended up. Would also love to see "NFL [MLB or NBA] Front Office is Paradise" since that's the modal dream job of this same type.

  • 1
Steve0z0, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Big 4 = U small as fk cog in the machine. Sucks but true path to meaningless misery

  • 1
BigKayDaddy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

What a masterpiece! True on so many levels!

  • 1
randomdude17, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Incoming Dipshit, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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ThenTechnician, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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