Navigating FAU’s Fall 2015 Career Fair: An SOAEP Students’ Tale
For SOAEP student Onassis Vilaire, FAU’s 2014 Fall Career Fair was an immense success: Interviews with FIVE firms (two were BIG FOUR firms) and an internship offer and start in December ’14. And that is not to mention the valuable contacts she made with FAU alumni representing several of the firms.
Onassis used the career fair as an opportunity to rocket-launch her career in public accounting.
In less than one year, she began studying in SOAEP, landed an internship with McGladrey, was offered a full-time Assurance Associate position, and then was quickly promoted to a RAS (Risk Advisory Services) Consulting Associate managing a 3-year BSA (Bank Secrecy Act) Compliance consulting engagement.
You too can take advantage of the many professional services SOAEP offers: Complimentary Professional Photos and Resume Reviews as well as Career Fair Assistance.
SOAEP Professional Services Consultant Denise Gravatt provides the resume reviews as well as support the day of the fair for students/alumni who attend. She attends each fair to introduce SOAEP students/alumni to hiring managers and other SOAEP alumni who will be there representing their firms.
Denise and Onassis recently collaborated to come up with a few helpful tips for SOAEP students/alumni to make FAU’s Fall 2015 Career Fair a successful experience.
Before the fair
- Sign in to the OWL Career Link (http://www.fau.edu/cdc/ ) to see which accounting firms will be attending.
OV: The FBI will be there!!! For all aspiring forensic accountants, FBI presence is definitely a big deal!
DG: SOAEP alumni work for the FBI, so the recruiters know our program well.
- Research the firms to determine which ones interest you. Check out their mission statements, locations, internship and summer leadership program opportunities, and forensic accounting departments.
- Identify the top ten companies that you want to apply to. List a few details that stand out about each one.
- Make an individual folder for each of your top companies. Most office supply stores sell these quality folders in packs of 4-5.
OV: Each of my folders had: my own business card neatly positioned on the front with my resume and a customized cover letter inside. *It’s worth the investment!
- Create a personalized business card to exchange with companies.
OV: “My business card appeared to set me apart because the representatives weren’t expecting the exchange of cards or a personalized card. *Again, simple and worth the investment.
During the fair
- Arrive as early as you can in the day. The doors open at 10 a.m. and once the arena gets busy, the representatives and recruiters will have less time to speak to individual candidates.
- Write MAcc on your nametag.
OV: Masters students /alumni are prime candidates for internship experiences. So, to distinguish yourself from the throng of undergraduates (and from everyone else’s name tag with the designation “accounting”), I recommend using “MAcc” on the name tags rather than just “accounting.”
- Visit the companies on your list in order they most interest you.
OV: This strategy was very helpful when navigating through the tables and lines. It also helped me stay prioritized during the event.
- Don’t be intimidated by the long lines at some of the Big Four accounting firms that may be present (Deloitte, EY, and PWC).
OV: Waiting in line may feel overwhelming as you prepare to present yourself as an ideal candidate, but be encouraged. I did find one of the warmest welcomes of the day from one of the Big Four representatives.
- While waiting in line or in-between tables, review the list you made of the details for each company so you having talking points with the representative:
OV: For example, when speaking with a PWC representative, who was also an FAU alumni, I spoke about the fact that PWC was the only one of the BIG Four accounting firms that did not drop in ranking on Forbes Top 100 Companies to Work for in 2014, but rather jumped almost 20 spots higher. I communicated that I would like to be part of that kind of successful growth.
- Don’t miss out on the chance to network with other influential students and alumni while waiting to speak to the firms’ representatives.
OV: Though the ultimate goal is to secure a position at your dream firm, never let the opportunity to connect with other talented students with similar career interests pass you by. Making these connections at the career fair made me more comfortable during the interview process with the firms because I continuously saw familiar faces. And even more importantly, I’ve maintained many of these relationships with students who’ve accepted positions at my firm as well as at other top firms. You can never have too many connections in the accounting world, so be sure to get LinkedIn in person!
After the fair
- A few days after the fair, make sure to send a follow-up email.
OV: I sent an email to every company representative I spoke with so they wouldn’t forget about me. I think this follow-up also helps set you apart from other candidates.
Best of luck to all of you who will be attending!
Be sure to let Denise Gravatt know if you will be there email@example.com and stop by the McGladrey table to say hi and introduce yourself to Onassis!