On a Friday afternoon in The University Hub on UAA’s campus, students have swapped their usual “casual Friday” look of jeans, T-shirts and sneakers, for white button-ups and suit jackets. The Hub’s waiting room is filled with nervous chatter as students clutch folders containing their résumés and wait to be called down the hall to an interview room.
It’s the final day of UAA’s annual Accounting Week. The weeklong collaborative event, hosted by Career Exploration & Services (CES), the College of Business and Public Policy’s Accounting Department and the UAA Accounting Club, invites local and national firms to campus for a week of recruitment, activities, and interviewing accounting students seeking job and internship opportunities for the summer or after graduation in May.
“Part of our goal is to connect students with job and internship opportunities,” says Danica Bryant, The University Hub’s workforce and career development coordinator. She’s been the point person helping coordinate between her office, accounting faculty, the UAA Accounting Club, as well as students and firms participating in the event.
She’s happy with this year’s event as eight local and national firms signed on and they received about 150 student applications to participate in the interview process.
The long game
Although UAA Accounting Week often takes place in late September, the recruiting process and preparation begins long before that. Accounting faculty start preparing students in spring, with an Accounting Week overview orientation and an interview workshop to help beef up students’ skills.
“The department sponsors an Interview Workshop each spring, where alumni return to campus to help students prepare for the upcoming recruiting season,” said Stasia Straley, associate professor of Accounting. “The highlight of the event is the mock interview panel, where accounting professionals interview a student.”
Straley said students are given valuable feedback and notes on how to nail their interview and impress local and national recruiters once they’re face-to-face with them during their Accounting Week interview.
In addition to accounting faculty providing orientations and interview workshops, CES and UAA’s Accounting Club also provide support for students to be successful during the big fall event.
CES provides students with free cover letter and résumé help, as well as mock interviews where they can practice in the space where their real interview will take place. Additionally, CES guides students through the online registration process, making sure students have the correct forms and paperwork turned in by the event deadlines. CES also works with the local and national firms to make sure they’re registered and ready for the event in the fall as well.
UAA’s Accounting Club preps students by spreading the word on the event each year, emphasizing its importance for internship and job opportunities, as well as hosting networking events for students to get in front of local firms and the recruiters who they’ll be interviewing with come fall. The club offers two big networking social events, one in the spring and one the week before Accounting Week and helps facilitate smaller events throughout the year.
Accounting Week 2017
This year, three national and four local firms, plus the State of Alaska’s Division of Legislative Audit, participated in the year’s event, and about 50 UAA students signed up for interview slots.
From this event recruiters hope to fill internship and entry-level accounting positions at their firms for either late December, after fall graduation, but are mostly looking to fulfill positions for summer 2018.
“I think they’re a great and very diverse group of students—culturally—as well as traditional and nontraditional students, said Chad Estes, a partner at BDO’s Anchorage office and recruiter at this year’s event. “There’s a really good mix of candidates to choose from. We do hire a large amount of people from UAA.”
Estes says Accounting Week, as well as other UAA accounting events, like networking socials and opportunities to come in and speak to students, are mutually beneficial for local firms and students. He said it’s important to him and his firm to get in front of local students to raise awareness of the career opportunities at his firm, and appreciates the university’s support in providing firms like his access to such a large pool of aspiring accountants.
“People are our biggest asset and our biggest resource,” Estes said. “Finding good quality people who fit with our culture at BDO, have a good education and work ethic is important.”
Straley says Accounting Week is great because it gives students a real-world look at potential career opportunities with the degree they’re seeking. She also notes that students thinking about participating in next year’s event need to plan ahead, pointing out that the recruitment process really starts in spring semester. Her advice is to get involved.
“Joining the Accounting Club is a great way to stay connected to the information students will need to have a successful recruiting experience,” Straley said. “It will also allow them to learn about opportunities to network with business professionals.”
Written by Catalina Myers, UAA Office of University Advancement