As a current college student who is majoring in accounting, one of the most important things you can do to get a head start in your accounting career is to attend Meet the Firms events. Hosted either on campus or virtually, this accounting-specific career fair and reception is popular in the Spring and Fall seasons when potential employers from public firms, private companies, and government agencies are seeking interns and new staff. At Meet the Firms, recruiters are seeking individuals with personalities that match their company culture. They are interested in the goals, ambitions, communication skills, leadership skills, poise, and confidence of potential employees.
It’s important to make a good first impression. Below you will find our recommendations for prepping for Meet the Firms both virtually and traditionally.
How to Prep for Meet the Firms (Virtually)
During these unprecedented times, many universities are opting for virtual career fairs and accounting Meet the Firms events. Similar to traditional, in-person Meet the Firms events, students are able to connect with accounting firms by having the opportunity to ask live questions, interacting with firm representatives, and learning more about positions available at the firms.
To find out what to expect at a virtual Meet the Firms, be sure to read What to Expect at a Virtual Meet the Firms Event.
Video: Jumpstart Your Accounting CareerTune in to learn key strategies to conquer Meet the Firms, college career fairs, résumés, interviews, and more - presented by Roger Philipp, CPA, CGMA.
How to Prep for Meet the Firms (Traditionally)
In this video presentation, Roger Philipp, CPA, CGMA, provides great tips on how to prepare for Meet the Firms to get a jump start on your accounting career. Some key points to remember are:
- Just as important as a good resume are the personal connections you make at events like Meet the Firms.
- Attend as many Meet the Firms events as early as possible. Practice makes perfect!
- Build rapport by being personable. If people like being around you, you will have a successful career.
- Recruiters are looking for poise, confidence, demonstrable leadership, and communication skills.
- Be open-minded and ask questions. This can help build connections for both the short- and long-term
- Google “behavioral questions.” These types of questions are commonly asked by recruiters.
- Arrive on time and get off to a good start. Go with a friend or meet one there to help ease nerves.
What to Do Before, During, and After a Meet the Firms Event
Before the Event
- Take time to research each firm. Learn about the firm’s size, office locations, client base. Visiting the firm’s website is always a good idea. You want to be able to talk to firms you could see yourself working for in the long run. Be familiar with who you will be speaking with and know what you are talking about. This is your time to shine and invest in your future, so make sure you are fully prepared.
- List out the skills and experience you have to offer a potential employer, and practice how to verbalize them. Assess your strengths and weaknesses, making sure to come up with the steps you are taking to overcome your weaknesses.
- Determine why you are the best fit for the firm. Picture yourself in a room of students with all the same experience and GPA. Why would a recruiter pick you? What sets you apart?
- Talk with other students who have attended a Meet the Firms event before to get a better understanding of what to expect.
- Create a LinkedIn profile that markets yourself professionally. If it links to other social media profiles of yours, make sure to remove or set to private anything weird or potentially embarrassing.
During the Event
- Dress for success. Remember that you are entering an industry that is very conservative. The dress code for this event is business professional unless otherwise stated by your school.
- A skill that can prove to be invaluable at this event is the ability to start and hold a conversation. Many times, when you walk up to an employer, they will wait for you to initiate the conversation, so be ready! Some conversation starters include the firm’s career or advancement opportunities or asking about the work environment along with work/life balance. You could also ask the recruiter how they started out, what they enjoy about working at the firm, or why they went with Tax vs. Audit. Ask questions and listen carefully!
- Be confident, charismatic, forward, and capable.
- Bring plenty of copies of your resume in a nice carrier.
- After providing the recruiter with your resume, ask them for their business card in return. This will make for easy follow up, and help you remember the names of the firms you visited with that day!
- Market yourself and network with everyone.
After the Event
- Follow up with a Thank You to the recruiters that met and spoke with you during the event. Try incorporating a small detail from the conversation you had to make the message personal and help them remember exactly who you are.
- Use your collected business cards to connect on LinkedIn with everyone you met at the event.
Learn more about why the IMA partners with BAP and how they’re working together to ensure that accounting students learn everything they need to know to make an informed decision.
There are many different virtual meeting platforms students may experience during the Meet the Firms events. Get a sneak peek of what to expect this fall.
Tina Cataran, MNA, CPA, CGMA worked in public accounting for over 40 years. Learn why you should get your CPA License to help your accounting career.
Silke Olsen is the Firm-Wide Lead Recruiter at Moss Adams. See how her experience in the accounting profession and as a Beta Alpha Psi (BAP) Professional helped her get her dream job.
Are you an accounting student or an accountant? If so, you'll want to read these tips by Danetha Doe, Creator of Money and Mimosas, on how to enhance your LinkedIn Profile and get hired.