On Wednesday February 28th, the Zicklin Graduate Accounting Society (ZGAS), the Zicklin Graduate Tax Society (ZGTS), and Beta Alpha Psi (BAP) invited current graduate students to a candid round-table discussion about recruiting. The event consisted of both current Zicklin graduate students who have accepted internship and full-time offers from top accounting, and other students who are still in the job search. The former acted as mentors to provide career advice for the latter mentees, who were interested in learning more about the recruiting process.
After signing in on Thursday as a mentee, I was assigned to table four with mentor Joanna Sze and a second mentee. Joanna Sze is a second- semester MBA in Accountancy candidate at Zicklin. We started with brief introductions. Joanna informed us that she was currently working as a product controller at RBC (Royal Bank of Canada), and that she had accepted an offer from Grant Thornton for a summer internship during 2013. The first question we asked was where and how Joanna had applied to GT. She said that she applied to many job postings on Zicklin Career Link and through on-campus recruiting. She believed it was best not to limit oneself to these services, but to go on an expanded job search and apply to positions through the employers’ company websites as well. When asked to whom she reached out for advice and how useful was the networking activities at Baruch, Joanna believed she made the mistake of not attending enough recruiting events during her first semester. She recommended that all students attend the recruiting events on campus because many of her classmates found them to be a great way to meet professionals. By making oneself known to the recruiters, a student will be able to develop a professional network more effectively.
The next question we asked Joanna was about her interview at Grant Thornton. She went through two rounds of interviews at the firm: the first was on campus with a manager, and the second one took place at the firm. Joanna was surprised that the first interview was solely a conversation between the interviewer and herself. In the interview, the GT manager asked Joanna about her personal interests, experience in school, and current job. Joanna believes that students should prepare for the first-round interview by “knowing” themselves. In this way, she urged job candidates to review areas such as resume, reasons for leaving a previous job, going back to school, and specific interests in the firm and position applied for. The second interview took place at Grant Thornton, and her interviewers were a senior manager and a Human Resources specialist. Most of the questions asked were behavioral questions regarding her personality and work ethic. Here, again, she pointed out that the key is to know yourself and be yourself; interviewers are trying to get to know the job candidate; therefore, it’s important to be prepared with examples of prior performance that exhibit positive characteristics, such as stories from previous employment and academic experience.
After the completion of the mentoring session with Joanna, I joined in on an ongoing session between Ariana Huang and her mentee Hao Li. Ariana is an MS in Taxation student who has received a full-time offer from Ernst & Young, and is expecting to graduate this summer. Similar to Joanna’s experience with GT, Ariana also had two rounds of interviews with E & Y. During her first interview on campus, Ariana emphasized that she was interested in E & Y because of the firm’s culture, teamwork and career development opportunities. Ariana noted that during the second interview, every single item on her resume was open for scrutiny. She suggested that everyone take the time to schedule a resume review with an advisor at the Graduate Career Management Center (GCMC).
Finally, Ariana closed with things she did the day before each round of interviews. As Joanna emphasized, Ariana advised a job candidate to know your resume like “the back of your hand”, know your strengths and weaknesses, have a good night’s sleep the night before an interview, and always remember to breathe. You’d be surprised how effective that last one can be.