Baruch College often hosts large accounting firms on campus so that students can gain insight into the mind of campus recruiters, and learn how to best prepare for the on-campus recruitment season. On September 12, 2012, Baruch proudly hosted a panel of Big 4 speakers. The Big 4 Panel was an extremely helpful session where leading recruiters/partners from the firms offered up advice to candidates.
The session began with Pricewaterhouse Coopers’ campus recruiter, Ms. Jessica Smith, explaining how best to brand yourself. She emphasized the importance of being ready with a strong elevator pitch in order to set you apart from others, and especially to connect with people via LinkedIn. Ms. Smith also went over the “7-11 Rule”, which suggests that within the first 7 seconds of meeting a person, they form 11 impressions about you. The significance of this is obvious; it means that we all must be very aware of how we are presenting ourselves both physically and intellectually to anyone and everyone. Another bit of advice Ms. Smith provided was to make sure you know how you are perceived by others; oftentimes, we may think we are presenting ourselves one way, whereas outsiders see a completely different façade.
Next, Mr. Glen Benson, an audit partner at KPMG, focused on interviewing techniques. He highlighted the three stages of interviewing: “Preparation”, “Game Day”, and “Post Interview”. Mr. Benson suggests approximately 8-10 hours of practice and effort to properly prepare for interviews. This includes knowing your resume, honing your soft skills, and being ready to tell stories about your past. Interviewers often ask about experiences where you’ve faced adversity, worked in a team, or managed a group. Preparation builds confidence, and this is obvious to someone who is interviewing you. Mr. Benson also stressed that it is important not to sound too rehearsed; it takes time to find the right tone. As for “Game Day”, the key is to be relaxed, and speak to the recruiter about who you really are. Another tip is to ask a unique question at the end of the interview; for example, a question relating to broad topics such as the global role accountants play. Finally, the central aspect of “Post Interview” is to self-assess. Always be aware of how you have presented yourself, and how you can continue to improve for future interviews.
Third, Ernst & Young’s Joe Maturando discussed the transition from being a student to working fulltime in a busy firm. The most essential point he made was that in an entry level position, you “will be making a lot of first impressions.” When students start out at these firms, they are introduced to a new lifestyle, and new kinds of people. This should be handled with care; always be aware of who you are speaking to, and to Ms. Smith’s earlier point, how you want to be perceived. Mr. Maturando also suggests that new employees find a mentor within the firm. Although one is often assigned to the new hire, it is important to have a mentor that can connect with you on a personal level.
Last but not least, we heard from a Deloitte audit partner, Roger Arrieux. Mr. Arrieux gave details on the topic of “path to partner”. He began by rehashing the key points that the previous speakers had made, and used that as a base for his piece. One point that was heavily underlined was to always be a hard worker, because it will be noticed. He advised that throughout a career, one should always look to make their superiors’ lives easier. This is how you can illustrate that you are ready to move up the ladder, and fully capable. Mr. Arrieux feels that quality is the most important part of success. It is important to take control of your career and be the best that you can be in all tasks, big and small.
Finally, the panel explained the importance of schools like Baruch College in their hiring process. Baruch’s reputation for hardworking and intelligent hires continues to bring recruiters back to our campus year after year. The Big 4 panelists were generous with their praise, and reminded us of how much we, as students, have accomplished. The panel closed with questions. One question that stood out in particular was “What would you do different if you were starting your career over?” The panelists took a moment to think about this, and eventually came up with some valuable nuggets of wisdom, such as:
- Look left and right, not just up. Your peers and colleagues can be just as helpful in furthering your career as the people above you.
- Ask questions all along the way; never be afraid to speak up.
- Be flexible in the path you want to follow, or you risk closing doors.
- And of course… network network network!
Article and Photo by Supreet Kesar and Michael Wander