Leadership conferences offer future career advantages


Lehigh has a long-standing relationship with the Big Four accounting firms — Ernst & Young, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers —  and many graduates go on to work for one of these companies.

Students begin their relationships with the Big Four starting their sophomore year, when they apply for and attend the companies’ leadership conferences.

A student does not have to be an accounting major to participate in a leadership conference. Generally, the Big Four will hire across the business school — students from the Business Information Systems program, supply chain majors and finance majors. They also look for students in both the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The programs usually are geared toward sophomores who are likely to acquire an internship with one of the accounting firms.

Madison Uram, ’18, chose to apply because she thought it would be a good opportunity to get ahead.

She applied to a leadership conference with both Ernst & Young and Deloitte, and said she hopes to work for them in the future.

The leadership conferences are highly competitive. Recruiters will come to Lehigh to interview students for these programs but also to pre-identify people they would like to possibly hire in the future.

Depending on the company, anywhere from 65-90 students will apply for the opportunity to join a Big Four company at their leadership conference.

Cindy Phuong, ’18, said she is interested in financial consulting, and by applying to a leadership program, she will be one step closer to an interview for an internship during the summer after her junior year.

She applied to all four of the Big Four and has received acceptances from KPMG and Ernst & Young.

Phuong said the interview process is different for each company and offers are sent out about two to three weeks after the interview.

“For people who want to work at the Big Four, attend all the networking that they have and get to know recruiters because they can help you in the long run,” Phuong said.

Rich Freed, the associate director of Career Services, said conferences are typically three to four days long. They consist of leadership development workshops, networking activities and hands-on teamwork activities. Students also have time to get to know one another, as well as company employees.

Freed said that companies may fly students to a resort location, such as Orlando, Florida, to spend time at local attractions as part of the leadership conference experience.

One of the most beneficial elements of the these events is it allows students to learn more about the company, its people and its culture. Freed said this is so the individuals can make informed decision later when they are thinking about career opportunities.

“(These conferences) typically do lead to internships, and sometimes full-time jobs,” Freed said. “Other firms like to see this on a résumé as well because it also helps them to identify a high-potential candidate.”

Freed said Career Services encourages Lehigh students to apply for these leadership conferences.

“These events are great opportunities for students to learn more about their chosen profession, to network within a specific employer, and to learn more about a specific company,” Freed said. “We would highly recommend students participate in programs that allow for such exposure.”

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