Friday, December 8, 2017

How Networking Helped Me Land an Internship

By Zachary McLeod, Student Ambassador for the West Tennessee Chapter

One of my biggest worries going into my junior year was finding an internship. For accountants, having a good internship is important because most internships turn into job offers. Networking helped me land such an opportunity. I recently attended a meeting with Chris Holmes, president and CEO of First Bank. “Meeting new people and networking is the key to success,” he said. That may have been the best advice I was ever given.

In the fall of my junior year, I started looking for an internship in audit. I love being able to travel, meet new people and network. Networking is one of your most valuable assets. It helps you find job opportunities and connect with others. Connections are crucial to getting a job right out of school.

At the time of my internship search, I worked for the University of Tennessee at Martin as a mail clerk. The job enabled me to meet many people at UTM, including everyone at the computer store on campus. My boss at the time told me the store was looking for an accounting student to intern for them. I quickly applied and spoke to the manager to let her know I was interested in the position.

The next week I met with the manager and found out after my interview I was accepted for the internship. It was a great relief off my shoulders. I was lucky enough to find a paid position that also counted as credit hours towards my degrees.

Working at the computer store has greatly increased my skills in accountancy. I complete the income and expense ledger and do justification reports every month. I was previously uncomfortable using Excel, but this internship has increased my knowledge of the software. I will be able to take what I have learned with Excel and other skills and apply it in my future profession. I am very thankful for the opportunity to work for the university and gain such a quality hands-on experience.

My best advice for students pursuing accounting is to constantly stay diligent in your work. Network with as many people as you can. Networking is always something you can continuously improve. Do not be afraid to take that leap. You may apply to a hundred different places, but you only need one to give you a chance.


About Zachary McLeod: Zachary McLeod is from Linden, Tenn. and will graduate with degrees in Finance and Accounting. He is currently completing an accounting internship for the University of Tennessee at Martin.



Monday, November 13, 2017

Professors are a Student’s Greatest Asset



By Margaret Coleman, 2017 TSCPA Student Ambassador for Nashville Chapter

One of the greatest resources students can take advantage of during their time in academia is their professors. Professors have once been in your shoes before and have made it through to the other side. Professors can provide students with the knowledge, opportunities and guidance they need to enter the professional world successfully.

I did not always go to professors as a resource as I do today. As a freshman, I doubt I visited any of my professors’ offices, nor did any know me personally. I wish I had known how willing and able those professors were to help me along the way. Most professors would love for extra time to explain concepts and questions more in depth. Going to your professors’ office hours not only helps with understanding tough concepts, but they will see first-hand the effort you are putting in. Professors not only hold the key to success in your classes, but their knowledge extends to all areas of your intended career path.

Most of the opportunities I have received thus far in my accounting career have come from recommendations from my professors. Professors have gained their position through hard work and dedication, therefore becoming a trusted member of the accounting community. When future employers need a trusted recommendation, they go to professors because they know they can get an honest opinion. Opportunities not only come in the form of career recommendations; professors’ letters of recommendations can open doors in form of scholarship, internships and even ambassador positions like mine.

          Guidance from professors has been most helpful to me. Finding professors you can look up to for guidance is like finding a support team. Choosing a career path is not always easy, so having a support team to lean on and go to for questions is necessary. When you get to know your professors on a personal level, they can give much more personal guidance, not only in what fields may suit me more than others but more personal things as well. I have been able to ask questions such as, “What is the acceptable attire for this event?” to “Do you think I should have answered this interview question differently?”. They have been through the stages of our life we are currently working through and have the best advice to give.

          If students are willing to put in them time, the professors are more than willing and able to assist student in any way they can. I have found this to be true through the knowledge, opportunities and guidance I have received from my professors during my time in school. Professors are there for students. It is up to the students to use them as their greatest assets!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

A Beginners Guide to Success: Steps to Take to Land your Dream Job as a CPA

By Keely Apple, 2017-18 TSCPA Student Ambassador for Upper Cumberland Chapter

Every Accounting student dreams of success. As students, we all have a similar idea of what success looks like for a CPA. Picture this: you are sitting in an office with wall to wall windows overlooking a picturesque city landscape. Sounds familiar, right? At this point, I bet you are wondering, “How do I become that successful?” Achieving success can sometimes seem difficult or overwhelming. How exactly does one achieve success? The process begins with good grades, obtaining an internship and then accepting one of many job offers. It is as easy as that - or is it? I would like to share some tips I have learned throughout my college career to maximize your chances of landing your dream job that will set you apart from the crowd.
               
One of our main concerns as students is a lack of relevant work experience. In order to overcome this obstacle, getting involved may be the solution. Getting involved on campus shows employers that you are not only good at working with others, but it can also aid in behavioral interview questions. Have you ever been in an interview and the interviewer asks, “Name a time when you…?" I think we all have and without relevant work experience or experience working with others, it is a pretty hard question to answer. Getting involved and working with an organization or club can help you with those questions you aren’t sure how to answer. Give an example. Getting involved is my first recommendation to set yourself up for success.
                Second, build a rapport with your professors. This is super important. Not only are they more understanding when you have to miss class for a job fair or interview, but they can also assist you in your job search or make recommendations for you when you are confused. Often times, Accounting majors are confused on whether they should be in tax or audit, industry or public accounting. Your professors have been there, and they have also seen many students walk the same path you have. Utilize this resource. I promise you will not regret it.
                Third, have a positive attitude. Conveying positivity and confidence is a trait that will serve you throughout college, during interviews and throughout your career as a CPA. A positive attitude is infectious. When you portray confidence and happiness, it is as if everyone else cannot help but to do the same. Professors notice students that have a good attitude, and employers want to see what you will be like around people you have just met. An interview is about more than just how you answer the questions, it is about how you present yourself and exude confidence. One thing to remember about confidence is to not confuse confidence with arrogance. While there is a fine line between the two, most people know when they have gone too far. If you are concerned that you may be coming off as arrogant, have someone give you a mock interview, and let you know what they think (make sure this person is someone who is going to be honest; the only way to improve is to receive constructive criticism).
                Above, I have briefly mentioned interviews. Let’s dive deeper into what is expected at an interview. Of course, dress appropriately and have good hygiene, but besides the basics, let’s talk about what is going to set you apart from you peers. Every interviewer is going to ask if you have any questions about the company or position. Performing research prior to the interview with the companies or firms you are most interested in is imperative to have relevant questions.  No one wants the question, “What does your firm do?” Please do not be the person to ask this question. If it is a question that can be answered by their website, chances are they will know you are not prepared. Questions tailored specifically to the position are always appreciated and indicate your true interest in the company. Something you may want to ask yourself is, “If I were conducting the interview, how would someone portray genuine interest in the company?”

                You cannot build a skyscraper without a plan and a solid foundation. Build a solid foundation by presenting yourself adequately on paper, in person and online. Make sure you are up to par in these areas. Go to a resume workshop and have someone review it. Clean up your social media. Consider a professional networking website such as LinkedIn. These are all examples of ways to brand yourself. So, do it. Shoot for the Stars. Be a Success. Land your dream job as a CPA!

Photo Cred: Freimuth, Ian. “Office With a View.” Flickr, Yahoo!, Chicago, 15 Oct. 2012, www.flickr.com/photos/ifmuth/8088547862.