By Lixing Xu and Shimin Hao
On April 14, 2015, the Zicklin Graduate Accounting Society (ZGAS) hosted “On Campus Recruiting (OCR) Declassified.” As many of us know, OCR is the best opportunity for a student to gain a foothold on their dream job. Since many students do not understand the OCR process and how to take advantage of this opportunity, we invited five current Baruch students to share their stories on how they successfully received offers during the previous OCR season. The main agenda of this event was to share OCR experiences and insights with the students, and ultimately, give them ideas on how to build their own strategies during the upcoming recruiting season.
During the event, the moderator, Nikki Gao, asked our panelists common questions, such as how they prepared for OCR, their networking strategies, and “dos and don’ts” for the OCR process. Many panelists expressed that we should fully exploit the services offered at the Graduate Career Management Center (GCMC). For example, we can find our strengths and weaknesses through mock interviews, and have our resumes and cover letters reviewed at the Resume Clinic.
Undoubtedly, building a strong personal network is a crucial element of landing a job; however, the networking process could be difficult, if not frustrating, for many of us. Fortunately, our panelists gave us helpful advice on how to standout during networking sessions:
After the panel, through a roundtable discussion, students had the opportunity to interact closely with panelists to ask them questions and attain tips. Many students enjoyed the conversations in this collegial atmosphere, and in the end, we were glad to see that everyone had key takeaways from this event.
Again, OCR is the best way to land internships and full-time jobs, but the competition is high. How to stand out amongst hundreds of peers can be difficult. Through our event, students can now better prepare themselves for the coming fall recruiting season. We wish all students a lucky and successful OCR season this fall.
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.
by: Nikki Gao, Secretary
On Tuesday, March 3, 2015, the Zicklin Graduate Accounting Society (ZGAS) had the privilege of hosting Mr. Lawrence Zicklin in “The Man Behind the Namesake: Mr. Lawrence Zicklin on Business Ethics and Corporate Integrity,” in which Mr. Zicklin led a thoughtful and highly informative discussion.
Mr. Zicklin graduated from Baruch College with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and earned a Masters of Business Administration degree from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Zicklin is a philanthropist who has generously donated $18 million to Baruch’s Zicklin School of Business and also endowed the school with a $2 million fund for the Robert Zicklin Center for Corporate Integrity. Throughout his career, Mr. Zicklin has been a true believer in ethical business practices.
During his presentation, Mr. Zicklin discussed his background, recent changes to the business world, the ethical dilemmas facing first-year accountants and lawyers, as well as the invaluableness of one’s reputation. Following Mr. Zicklin’s presentation, Vera Wang, President of ZGAS, moderated an audience Q&A session.
Some highlights of the presentation were:
As a professor at New York University, Mr. Zicklin focuses on teaching about “sensitivity.” He teaches on “grey areas,” where right or wrong cannot be easily defined, and in which judgment comes into play. Mr. Zicklin stated that a single bad judgment can cost one his/her career; “Once you get things wrong, it’s very hard to get them right.” Students have to grow fast, and learn about judgment in the classroom, as well as from internships. He advised students not to compromise too much when facing unethical situations in the workplace because “such errors can seriously shorten your career.”
There was a broad discussion on the many challenges Millennials (ages 18-29) face upon entering the business world. Mr. Zicklin pointed out several major changes that have now made the business world more difficult than ever:
· Technology and social media have created a world that is virtually without secrets. With information widely available and analyzable worldwide, the way organizations and individuals interact are dramatically affected. A world without secrets requires students to behave as if everything is public every single moment.
· Globalization has made the business world a smaller and more complex place, since diverse economies and cultures affect how business is conducted. The factors at play include faster communication via the Internet, worldwide competition and harmonization of business standards and practices. One must take into account all such variables when conducting business.
· More and more companies face intense regulatory pressures. Mr. Zicklin mentioned that his business now spends more on regulation than new business. Investment in compliance with legal and regulatory standards is crucial to stay ahead of the game.
Mr. Zicklin then discussed the increasing importance of reputation management, which can be broadly applied to both individuals and corporations. Management has to consider corporate responsibility when it comes to goods, investments and employment. Mr. Zicklin compared Goldman Sachs and Citigroup in their practices of maintaining business integrity and their reputations. In 2006, Goldman Sachs saw problems in the mortgage market and predicted things were beginning to take a wrong turn. Thus, it painfully decided to cut back its inventory which ate into huge profits, but in return, it maintained its place during the financial crisis. On the other hand, Citigroup, tempted by huge profits felt, “as long as the music is playing, we are going to stand up and dance.” They played so hard that they required a bailout by the US government. Citigroup also had to embark upon the long journey of reestablishing its reputation because “reputation is everything. Reputation follows you closely as you go so make sure wherever you work, there’s an excellent corporate culture.”
Mr. Zicklin has been a role model in the strategic leadership of ethical behavior within the business world. He has developed a healthy relationship with his employees and established lines of defense for effective internal control. “Keep your doors open for employees to report any issues they have discovered, as this can save your life.” He is grateful that his employees have faith in his company’s management and bring up issues without hesitation.
We hope this brief overview has piqued your interest in business ethics and corporate integrity, as well as provided you with the notion that such issues are the foundation upon which the business world is built.
Hello ZGAS Members,