How did I land my dream internships at PricewaterhouseCoopers and Grant Thornton? I focused all my energy on preparation and dedicated a lot of time to networking. By doing so, I discovered numerous ways to impress campus recruiters, such as practicing my interview stories and learning how to sell my personal brand by being myself.
Initially, I had a serious mindset, convinced that was what recruiters look for. It wasn’t until my Graduate Career Management Center advisor told me it was important to smile. Until that point it had not occurred to me that in order to work as an auditor, you need to be a people person, so my efforts to be a serious auditor were in vain. Thus, networking and relationship-building played an instrumental part in the start of my career.
It was initially a struggle to network at events because it took time out of my school, work and social schedule. Even though networking seemed like a challenge, it was valuable in numerous unexpected ways.
On October 7, 2014, I attended the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA) CPA Fair. I went in with the intention to talk to three recruiters/professionals, since this is usually how you make the most meaningful connections. When I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to see people I knew from Baruch’s Zicklin Graduate Accounting Society (ZGAS). Additionally, I saw a table for one of the companies I had an upcoming interview with, MBAF CPAs LLC. I took the opportunity to talk to MBAF about their firm and careers. I asked about the industries they provide audit services to, the staff, the role of the intern, and their community service events. Sometimes the answers to these questions are generic, but it is beneficial to build connections. I enjoyed my conversation with MBAF, and it enforced my reasoning for wanting to join the firm.
Following the event, I decided to go out to lunch with one of the students in attendance, which actually led to a lifelong friendship. So, at the end of the day, I developed friendship and professional connections, which are invaluable. In regards to the friendship formed, this may seem trivial, but the friends you make in graduate school could very well be the reason how you get a job in the future. Building relationships is one of the most important stepping-stones to your dream career. And while networking with professionals may be the only way you can get a job right out of school, building other relationships for the future (with peers, professors, mentors, etc.) is equally important.
Networking was always a scary concept that I didn't know how to face. I think the important thing to realize is you don't have to become friends with everyone and can instead have casual conversations that show your personality. by doing so, you demonstrate your people skills and help make your first impression, so recruiters have an idea of how you would impress and interact with clients.
My key networking conversation happened at Baruch’s CPA Fair. I waited on a terribly long line, talked to the PwC recruiter for three minutes in a group, and then e-mailed her afterwards with a synopsis of our conversation to remind her of who I was. The conversation was so simple, but we connected and I was able to demonstrate a positive first impression, which ended in an internship offer.
Playing your strengths is crucial. I’ve always had great relationship building techniques in my personal life, which ended up translating into people skills in the business world. I discovered that I could leverage these strengths to showcase my other talents. I exhibited my skills and personality to Grant Thornton by helping to plan their event with ZGAS. Ultimately, I met the GT recruiter several times, and I reminded her each time where I had spoken to her last, and eventually she remembered me. By building a relationship with the recruiter, I ultimately landed an internship offer.
It’s a lot of hard work, time-consuming and stressful, but if you follow the advice offered, you may end up landing your dream internship!