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BDO USA Internship Program


Vault’s Verdict

BDO USA is ideally looking for ambitious, motivated candidates with strong communication skills and an eagerness to learn. The firm runs a valuable internship program for students, exposing interns to real tax preparation experience and extensive learning opportunities. BDO also provides its full-time staff with many learning opportunities, including an excellent mentoring program, clear promotion paths, the ability to advance quickly, and the ability to forge their own career path.

While busy season means long hours, BDO provides many workplace initiatives and benefits to ensure its staff maintain a healthy work/life balance. The firm has a supportive culture, it provides flex time and remote work options, PTO is generous, and senior staff and principals are respectful of staff’s outside personal commitments. Meanwhile, benefits are very generous, and compensation is competitive, though some insiders say that salaries are below market rate and could be higher.

BDO places a significant emphasis and diversity, equity, and inclusion, and has a fairly diverse workforce. Insiders say the firm strongly supports women’s inclusion, has an active LGBTQ+ group, and hosts various activities and information sessions so staff can learn more about different cultures. As for the firm’s business outlook, employee morale is strong, the firm’s leadership is transparent and has the confidence of staff, and BDO has a solid strategy in place to continue to grow and thrive.


Hiring Process

“Excellent HR team that is highly enthusiastic for recruiting talented individuals at all levels. The ideal candidate is motivated to succeed, eager to learn, and a great communicator.”

“The interview process (at staff level) starts with the recruiter’s review of the potential candidate, and if they determine the candidate’s initial qualification, most candidates are then interviewed by two people, one at the staff level and one at manager or above. This method allows the candidate to learn about the firm from different levels and allows the firm to evaluate the candidate from different perspectives. After this interview, the interviewers connect with the recruiter and collectively decide if the candidate is qualified for the position. Typically, for new staff, the firm looks for people who are willing and able to learn and are enthusiastic about contributing to the firm. We expect a basic knowledge in accounting and software usage (much more so if applying at a higher level) and prioritize candidates with good communication skills, a strong sense of responsibility for their work, and the diligence and critical thinking ability to improve with training. At the end of the day, the firm is seeking people who can provide good quality work with guidance and can work well with others.”

“Interview process was pretty informal. I received immediate feedback. The firm is seeking individuals who are willing to work hard and to learn. Work ethic and the willingness to learn is a must. Individuals will have accounting degrees, which gives them a foundation. But they must be able to build on that foundation.”

“The overall recruitment process effectively identifies individuals who can make valuable contributions to the company’s objectives. The preferred candidate should demonstrate a genuine interest in upholding the company’s values and ideally embody them in their daily life. Ideal individuals are ambitious, motivated, and possess a strong desire to continuously learn and share knowledge.”

Interview Questions

“What was a time you had a challenging team assignment where there was discord in the team? How was it handled and what was the result? I noticed you mentioned XYZ on your resume. Can you elaborate on your experience? What are the most important things you are looking for in your next/first job? What have been your best subjects and why? What have been your most difficult and why?”

“Describe a time when you were given constructive feedback. What was the feedback and how did you address it? Describe a situation where you had to juggle multiple priorities and deadlines. Describe a team that you were on that worked well together. What characteristics did it have that caused it to perform highly?”

“What are your short-term and long-term goals? What areas of public accounting are you most interested in (tax/advisory/assurance)? What were your undergraduate and graduate degrees and GPA in each? What industries (manufacturing and distribution, healthcare, technology, etc.) interest you most?”

“From your past/current work/school/personal experiences, what skills have you learned that you can apply to your job/career at our firm? Describe how you resolved a conflict or potential conflict situation. How do you handle situation(s) when you are running behind on getting something done by a promised deadline?

Internship Experience Comments

“There was a lot to learn in a short amount of time, but it ultimately prepared me for my full-time role. It allowed me to interact with clients across different industries and different coworkers throughout my local office and firm.”

“I really enjoyed the challenge of the subjects handed to me and the complex audit areas that I was being guided through. I worked as a virtual intern for quite a while, and the virtual aspect (being away from the office) was definitely the most challenging part of the experience.”

“I felt as though I was an actual member of the team as an intern. The internship included real tax preparation experience, and I was treated as though I were a full-time team member with full visibility and responsibilities but with additional support. The internship was my first experience in tax, and I was well trained to complete my duties. The people and the culture were fantastic.”

“The BDO employees I encountered in my internship were beyond helpful and were awesome teachers. I learned a lot in my internship that I am still applying to my work today. The internship was very flexible, allowing me to be hybrid and decide when to work from the office based on my personal schedule. There were not many negative aspects to my internship, but the learning curve over the first few weeks was steep.”

Career Development

“The best aspect of the overall career development opportunities is the implementation of career advisors. Having a career advisor that I can reach out to as frequently or infrequently as I want is a huge benefit that has helped me in my career development so far.”

“The firm recognizes that its most valuable asset is its people. Management has created an atmosphere that makes it clear they are invested in everyone’s individual career development. Whatever path you choose is the path that all levels of management will work to help you to achieve. This starts at the staff level and does not end with Principal. Even Principals have the ability to move into senior leadership or national leadership should they desire to do so. The firm recognizes that promoting from within is a fantastic growth, overall morale, and retention strategy.”

“The best aspect is that promotions and raises are predictable, as they come once a year at the same time. You receive tons of feedback on your performance through the year, so you know if you will be promoted or not. There are so many opportunities to learn and grow. The worst aspect would be how rigid they can be. For example, you do the work of the next level up (you are an associate and do the work of a senior) for an entire busy season before actually getting the pay and promotion. It is a long time to be in that role without the formal title. This is probably fairly common in public accounting but worth mentioning.”

“There is a clear path for career development, and there are many opportunities for those who seek to advance. Every person has a career advisor who helps them set goals and guides them through a reasonable path to achieve their career objectives. People are able to advance rapidly if they can show that they are qualified for the increased responsibilities, but those who want to take their time are also empowered to continue in a career path that they are comfortable pursuing. A downside could be that mid-year promotions tend to be a little more difficult to achieve, but the firm is very understanding when a deserving individual comes along and will make accommodations as needed.”

Quality of Life

“The best aspect of the overall quality of life is the culture of my firm. It is one I have personally seen persist throughout the pandemic and the mandatory office closures that followed. Even today, in an age of hybrid working schedules, the importance of maintaining the firm’s culture and sense of community is clearly seen in the actions of upper management.”

“The best aspect is having flex time. If I have a doctor’s appointment or even if I want to go to a concert, I can leave work early knowing that my firm is okay with it as long as I make up the hours another day. The worst part is tax season requires strenuous hours.”

“In public accounting, there is only so much you can do with quality of life. That’s the reality. However, even though I work for a large, national firm, the firm is committed to formalizing flex for individuals who need it, using day-to-day flex for others, and ensuring that everyone is using their vacation time, which, by the way, is very generous. As an added benefit, we are also closed between Christmas and New Year’s, so no one has to use their PTO for that, it is simply given. During busy season, our firm does demand more time from our workforce. However, I do not believe that it is unreasonable, especially given the size of the firm. I think the required billable hours are more than fair and can comfortably be worked during Monday through Friday if an employee wishes to have their weekends off for personal reasons. My own managing principal and leadership work very hard to ensure that work is evenly spread among engagement teams and that no one person is taking on more than another at their same level. Quality of life and flexibility is a priority at my firm. They walk the talk!”

“The principals and management are supportive of me prioritizing my family’s schedule, and I am home for dinner on time every night. They also empower me to contribute to my community through company-sponsored service events. I also feel encouraged to disconnect fully from work when I am on PTO.”

Salary and Benefits

“Flexibility and the ability to work remotely are vital to me personally, and my firm allows its employees to do this. I would struggle a lot personally if I were not able to do this, so I find that I work harder and am extremely loyal to my firm as a result. As long as they will have me, I will continue to work hard for my organization. I believe I am compensated fairly, although I do not have a basis for comparison admittedly, but I receive annual raises and a bonus. My firm also recently became an ESOP, which is unheard of in public accounting. I am really excited about this and motivated to help my firm succeed as I will now get a chance to receive some of the benefits! Finally, being a principal has never appealed to me, and my firm supports my decision to remain at the director level. I have chosen to focus more on my family and actually doing the audit work than on business development, and they support that. They do not have an ‘up or out’ policy and that is very special in this industry.”

“I really appreciate the hybrid work, and ESOP was added in 2023, which is a great employee benefit for all of our employees. Associate through manager is paid competitively compared to other large firms. However, there is a vast difference in pay from senior manager through principal when compared to other firms, as BDO has not kept up with these levels.”

“Salary is lower compared to the market, while benefits are the best part of BDO. ESOP is brand new and is a long-term benefit, so it is yet to be seen how beneficial of a perk it is. Parental leave policy is great at 12 weeks. Remote/hybrid work arrangements and flexible hours are probably the benefits in my opinion. There are a lot of work events with free food and beverages, which is great as well. Company also provides a decent 401(k) matching policy.”

“Competitive salary and ample amount of PTO and holidays but hard to use with work schedule. Lots of resources are available through benefits. Would like a gym/lifestyle or health reimbursement.”

Wellness Efforts

“My office is very supportive of these efforts, including counseling, exercise, and reminders to stop work every 30 minutes to an hour to stand up and stretch. The firm has excellent medical benefits through United Healthcare that also has wellness initiatives to assist their members, including an annual health assessment.”

“We have a holiday for reflecting and recharging to support wellness and a FLEX initiative that supports finding work/life balance in how, when, and where people work to provide the most efficient outcome for themselves and their teams to allow for flexibility in the workplace and reduce burnout. A formal FLEX program allows people to change their working schedule or reduce their hours as needed, so they can work with the firm to support the lifestyle they want to maintain while still delivering on their employee responsibilities. Our office building also hosts weekly yoga sessions and provides a gym on site.”

“BDO has brought in counseling services to help address stress and burn out. We also have a health and wellness committee that is actively working to help the firm support the staff in promoting ways to achieve a healthier lifestyle, especially during busy seasons.”

“We have access to Total Brain and a masseuse comes to my office once during busy season. But I think this is something that the firm could improve on by supporting wellness efforts a bit more, such as having an allowance to use how each individual chooses.”

Diversity, Philanthropy, and Green Initiatives

“BDO has openly embraced diversity and ESG policies. When I commenced my career, it was obvious the profession was dominated by white male leaders. Now, I am extremely satisfied to see the evolution to diverse employee and leadership groups. BDO still needs improvement in these areas, as do its peers, but the change has made the accounting profession a more fulfilling and better place.”

“My firm is made up of an incredibly diverse workforce. We strongly support women’s inclusion, have an LGBTQ+ group, and are always having activities and information sessions to learn more about different cultures. My firm has made it clear that we want the best and brightest and people who are a great fit. Nothing else matters.”

“I feel as though our firm really tries and gives everyone an opportunity, and there are a lot of groups that are created to support the diversity of the firm. For philanthropic efforts, the firm matches employee donations made throughout the year, which is quite generous.”

“There is a diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative that includes national groups with members across all offices like Multicultural Alliance (race/ethnicity/culture), Women's Inclusion (gender), FLEX (generally work-life balance for individual lifestyles, for example: parenting, education/CPA, disability, wellness, hobbies, etc.), and Pride Alliance (LGBTQ+). There is a national group, BDO Counts, devoted to philanthropy in the forms of fundraising/volunteering/community involvement, and beyond the above-mentioned groups, there are online communities for different groups (parents, veterans, etc.) and each office is also encouraged to create local groups that may be relevant to them. Recruiting efforts do have initiatives to provide opportunities in increasing diversity.”

Business Outlook

“The firm is on solid footing, and the recent ESOP plan involved extensive research into the firm’s trajectory before providing this additional benefit to its employees that helped raise morale and should help increase employee retention. I’ve heard of several instances where employees wanted to try something new and left the firm only to return after discovering that the alternatives were not as good as at this firm. Overall, the firm inspires confidence in its performance for the future.”

“We recently won several new contracts, which extend for one or more years. I feel that employee morale is high, and we have good retention. There is always more competition, especially as technology gives our clients more options, but our leadership seems poised to find ways to continue to grow.”

“Our firm leadership is always thinking ahead and planning. They also think of their employees, keeping them engaged with the firm’s mission and goals. They do what they can NOT to lay people off when the economy goes down a bit. That is really appreciated by employees here.”

“The best aspect is BDO’s Strategic Plan, CLIMB, which aims to enable professionals, clients, and communities to thrive together. The strategy, guided by BDO values, inspires employees to work hard and grow with the company. The responsibility of growing the business is felt through multiple levels of the firm—everyone is included in the charge and receives the benefits.”


330 North Wabash Avenue
Suite 3200
Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: (312) 856-9100

Firm Stats

Employer Type: Private Partnership
CEO: Wayne Berson
2024 Employees (All Locations): 12,000

Major Office Locations


Major Departments & Practices

Audit and Assurance
BDO Digital
Sustainability and ESG