By Jonathan Sinaw
On September 12th, the Zicklin Graduate Accounting Society welcomed Grant Thornton to Baruch, giving students the opportunity to meet with managers, recruiters and interns from the firm. Katie Crona, Grant Thornton’s University Recruiter, opened the session by announcing an exciting twist to the firm’s information session: this info session would be “speed networking, not to be confused with speed dating.” The 120 students in attendance were situated at 15 round tables, and a professional from GT would spend seven minutes at each table before rotating to the next team of students. Students and professionals spoke extensively with each another, and students had the chance to ask questions about the firm.
I was assigned to Table #1 and, together with seven other students, I met with eight GT professionals throughout the night. The first professional with whom we met was Eugenie Hu, a Baruch alumna who began her career this past June in Grant Thornton’s Business Advisory Services practice. She provided insights about her experience during the recruiting process, which was highly relevant for everyone at the table. Eugenie recommended that students prepare for interviews by reading the newspaper so that they can become familiar with current events. When asked what makes GT stand out from the other firms, Eugenie explained that Grant Thornton caters to the middle market, and its employees get to both work with a variety of clients and have a great deal of flexibility while building their careers.
Our group then met Sotaro Misawa, an audit manager at GT who specializes in Commercial Services. Sotaro was able to share his past experience working for three different-sized accounting firms, including one of the Big 4, a small regional firm with 100 employees, and now Grant Thornton. He enjoys working at GT because the firm has the resources of a big firm, but is also small enough for colleagues to get to know one another. When a new employee starts at GT, he/she is assigned a coach and a buddy. A coach is usually a manager, while a buddy is an employee who started at the firm one year earlier. The buddy gives a new hire the opportunity to ask more questions and get acquainted with Grant Thornton and their co-workers.
After the round-table discussions, students and GT professionals were free to get some refreshments and mingle. Katie Crona gave some pointers on the qualities that have helped new recruits succeed at the firm. Since schedules can sometimes call for last minute travel, flexibility and a positive attitude are important for employees to have. Being able to work well with other people is another quality that helps GT employees succeed. People who tend to really enjoy their jobs also often are the ones who are willing to put in the extra time and effort to build strong relationships with members of their engagement team. Ms. Crona’s advice to aspiring students is to be patient, continue to learn, and do things outside of one’s comfort zone.
Overall, the Grant Thornton Round Table was a complete success. Meeting enthusiastic professionals helped to give all students in attendance an insider’s view of the company culture that can be more difficult to assess from a company’s website. Make sure to keep an eye out for other Grant Thornton events and important recruiting dates scheduled at Baruch.
By Cheng Lu
On September 11, 2013, the Zicklin Graduate Accounting Society (ZGAS) held a Mid-size Accounting Round-Table Event. Students had the opportunity to ask questions one-on-one, and to personally connect with employees of the various firms. Firms in attendance were Baker Tilly, BDO, Cohn Reznick, Crowe Horwath, Friedman, McGladrey, MBAF, Mitchell & Titus, ParenteBeard, WeiserMazars, and UHY. More than 150 students met with professionals of all levels, engaged in conversations about the firms, discussed career opportunities, and received career advice.
MS in Accounting student Simon Lin had a chance to speak with Emilio Escandon, a principal in the Tax and Accounting Department at MBAF. During their conversation, Simon asked Mr. Escandon, “How do you maintain client satisfaction while emphasizing professional integrity and work ethics?” Emilio led Simon through the typical process of a client engagement, “First, you write an engagement letter to the client, in which the client confirms the truthfulness of submitted documents by signing. Then, you do your best during the engagement, and inform the client of the end result. Both the CPA and client need to sign the completed tax return. In the end, you inform your client of the results by projecting what it’s going to look like for next year. Clients pay quarterly estimated tax payments. This way, the surprise is reduced to a minimum when its time to file next year's tax return.” Mr. Escandon emphasized the need for professionals to educate their clients.
MS in Accounting student Elva Chen also had a chance to speak with Mr. Escandon and with Sandra Eisele, another principal in MBAF’s Tax and Accounting Department. During their session, Mr. Escandon and Ms. Eisele discussed the possibility of transferring from audit to tax, and vice versa, which could be appealing to students who want to try both. When questioned about MBAF's internships, they said internships provide opportunities to learn more about their firm and to gain knowledge about what it would be like to work in either tax or audit. Mr. Escandon and Ms. Eisele emphasized the need for communication skills in both tax and audit. Elva summarized briefly about what the two principals said: “A company can provide you with technical skills through training…but an individual must exhibit strong soft skills to be successful.”
During my round-table session, I sat at McGladrey's table and spoke with Betsy Majersky, an Assurance Supervisor. Betsy spoke about busy seasons and emphasized the need for teamwork and communication skills to be successful. She said it’s important to remember that, as a team player, it is important to notify your team if you are falling behind or unable to meet certain deadlines due to obstacles; this way, team members can help to make sure a project is completed successfully and McGladrey's clients are satisfied. Ms. Majersky discussed extensively how the firm’s clients are its first priority: “It has always been all about understanding our clients – their business, their aspirations, their challenges. By understanding our clients, we are able to provide them with fresh insights and tailored expertise to help them succeed.”
Matthew O’Leary, an accountant at Baker Tilly’s Business Fraud & Investigative Services unit, said his firm was also glad to participate in this event: “It gave us an opportunity to meet with some interesting students, and provided us with an opportunity to introduce Baker Tilly to the NYC area.” He felt that the students with whom he met were prepared and excited to learn about his firm. Although he enjoyed meeting multiple graduate students during the event, Mr. O’Leary also only wished that the rotations in the event had each been a little longer to allow for lengthier conversations between students and professionals. Baker Tilly is looking forward to recruiting top talent at Baruch College in the coming years. The firm believes that, in addition to boasting a talented, diverse student body, Baruch similarly shares and endorses Baker Tilly’s chief values of integrity, passion, and stewardship.
Other professionals had different perspectives on the Mid-Size Accounting Round Table event. Michael J. Moss, another principal at MBAF’s Tax and Accounting Department, noticed that many students were focused on recruiting questions, and believed students attending the session should focus on evaluating and learning about the dynamics particular to a mid-sized firm. He enjoyed the opportunity to speak with the students, and noted that MBAF, “as a mid-size firm, provides associates/interns with the opportunity to develop as individuals and professionals in all areas.”
This event was a great opportunity to have face time with firm professionals. Students and professionals were able to connect on a more casual level and learn about the firms, their people, and current opportunities. Many professionals on Wednesday enjoyed speaking with students in the more casual setting of the event. Thanks again to all the students and firms that participated!
Hello ZGAS Members,