Summer has officially ended and school is back in session, which means we’re in full-on “Meet the Firms” season. Not to worry, you still have time to prepare; this post will provide you with a few pointers to help you prep for this exciting event. Even if you’re not an accounting student, these tips can help anyone who’s attending networking events or interviews.
Meet the Firms is an accounting-specific career fair, where students or new graduates have the opportunity to speak with potential employers that are seeking interns and new staff. Firms who participate in this event include public firms, private companies, and government agencies.
At Meet the Firms, you will meet recruiters, as well as client service employees at various levels, who are eager to meet you. They’ll be looking for personalities that fit with the company and will want to hear about your career goals. This is your chance to get to know each company and determine your fit with them as well – after all, the decision goes both ways. This recruiting event is also your chance to develop professional connections before applying and interviewing. So let’s dive in.
- Set yourself up for success. Depending on your school, Beta Alpha Psi, the accounting fraternity, will often have students register for the event. By doing this, you can submit your resume which will be distributed to the companies and firms. There are also other events and opportunities hosted by respective companies to help prepare you for this event – we highly encourage you to go. Usually, there will be workshops hosted by various firms for subjects starting from resume writing to networking and even interview preparation. This is a great way to meet professionals, learn a little more about them, and make an impression.
- Do your research. Take time to check out who’s participating – this event spans a few hours (usually from 6-8:30PM), so your time is limited. Check out the firm size and location, and get an initial feel for the firm – you want to spend time with the firms and companies you are interested in and can envision being at in the long run. You also want to have time to check out some other promising companies that might have not been on your radar. Use your professors and the accounting students from upper level classes, as they can shed insight on what firms they are interested in and why.
- Brainstorm. Create a list of your skills and have a quick summary of your previous experiences. Having a well thought out “elevator speech” will help prevent you from rambling in case you get nervous. This ‘pitch’ can also equip you to start a conversation.
- Questions. Write down specific questions you’d like to ask. Since your time is limited, make sure to maximize it and use the time to obtain the information you seek.
- Dress appropriately. This event is business formal. Yes, this means suits! You’ll be on your feet almost the entire time, so make sure you wear comfortable shoes (I speak from experience). However, it is important to dress to impress, so find shoes that make you feel confident, in addition to being comfortable.
- Ask for a business card. You’ll be meeting a lot of professionals, and this is a great way to help you remember who you’ve met. If you have any follow up questions, you can easily contact the representative. If you don’t have any follow up questions, remember to send a quick thank you note. Thank you notes are an invaluable professional habit to have – they’re a small gesture, but they go a long way.
- Lastly, be enthusiastic! This is an exciting time for both you and the potential employer. This is your chance to market yourself and network – let them get to know you while you learn about them, as well.
If you’re not affiliated with a school but interested in an accounting career, the OSCPA hosts an annual, free Career Showcase, which was recently held at the Oregon Convention Center.
We hope you found these pointers useful. As noted earlier, while we’re specifically writing about “Meet the Firms,” these tips can be used for a variety of networking situations. Good luck, and let’s get networking!
Author: Victoria Uong, CPA, MBA