By: Maria Romero and Ming Tang
On Tuesday, March 17, 2015, ZGAS hosted an original and innovative event—“How to Handle Difficult Workplace Situations.” The event gave student participants and attending EY professionals a break from classes and busy season, respectively.
During the event, seven students were paired with one EY professional and given case studies. With the support of the professionals, students worked through the cases and offered their solutions via short presentations, and thus attained a feel of difficult workplace situations.
At the event’s opening, Ms. Merilee Martin, EY Campus Recruiter, gave a brief speech in which she greeted students and discussed the event format. Following her introduction, five cases were presented by different teams. The cases consisted of a disagreement with a coworker, sick leave with multiple projects on hand, accepting a gift from a client, internal control, and internal transfer. After the presentations, EY professionals chose a winning team and presented them with EY swag.
The winning team presented on the internal transfer case. Their win came because the group presented in a fun and interesting manner; further, their strategy in which the team was divided into two groups showcasing opposing scenarios, worked very well. The conflict they targeted was an audit staff member being considered for a promotion. Before he/she gets the message about such consideration, he/she meets a partner from the advisory group and discusses the possibilities of transferring to the internal advisory line. In terms of the scenarios, one allowed the audit staff member to transfer smoothly; the other scenario displayed the hurdles existing in a not-so-smooth transition.
The key event takeaway was that in today’s business world, relationships, teamwork, communication and flexibility are crucial. Students entering the workforce should focus a great deal of energy in these areas because they will prove to be important not only upon first entering a profession, but throughout their careers.
By: Marlena Mason
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!
If you plan to or are in the process of obtaining your CPA license, you probably heard of or used Becker, the professional CPA review provider who prepares students to sit and pass the CPA exam.
On Tuesday, March 31st, Ms. Stephanie Opalinski, Account Manager, visited campus on behalf of Becker to discuss what Becker offers and some of the most concerned issues students have regarding the requirements and process of sitting for the exam. If you missed the event, below are some of the key points she mentioned.
· As most of us know, the CPA exam covers four major aspects of knowledge, including Financial Accounting and Reporting, Auditing and Attestation, Regulation, and Business Environment and Concepts. The AICPA requires that a candidate pass all sections of the exam within a rolling 18-month period.
· To fulfill the requirements to sit for the exam in New York State, a candidate needs to have 120 semester hours and must have taken at least one course from each of the following.
In order to obtain the CPA license, one has to have 150 semester hours, which include 33 semester hours in the professional accounting field, and one year of full-time experience (or the part-time equivalent) providing accounting services.
Stephanie emphasized that all of the credit requirements are evaluated based on letter grades, which means that you do not fulfill the credit requirement if you are still taking the class and have not received an official grade.
· So far, Becker uses three formats to help students prepare for the CPA Exam, including self-study, live classes and online classes.
Sometimes different formats of study can be combined upon a student’s request. Students should make a plan and wisely use Becker as a tool to fit different schedules and learning styles.
· FAR and Audit are generally considered the most difficult sections of the CPA Exam. While most students usually start from conquering the hardest, professionals suggest that one can get the easy sections over with if he or she just finished the class that covers the subjects.
Together with Stephanie, Mr. John Claros came to the event as a guest speaker. John is an expert in the accounting industry, who has experience in both taxation and real estate. He emphasized that having a CPA license opens the door for people to understand how different industries work. John walked event attendees through some direct questions from the Becker software and shared some tips on how to solve different types of questions.
Here is one final important note shared by Stephanie and John:
Starting January 2017, both the content and structure of the exam will be a lot different than today. Currently with the exception of Business Environment and Concepts, the approximate weighing of the types of questions is 60 percent multiple-choice and 40 percent task-based simulations. The AICPA is working on changing the formats of the exam, and will shift towards more task-based simulations, making it a 50-50 format. So if you can study for the CPA exam now, do not wait until later.
Hello ZGAS Members,