Man Ko, a College of Business student who expects to graduate in December with a double major in Accounting and MIS, is looking for a good job with growth potential. When he made plans to attend the Ahead of the Game Accounting and Business Expo, the career fair for Florida International University’s Accounting, Finance and Management Information Systems students, he went deeply into research, looking into not only the companies that would attend, and each firm’s representatives scheduled to staff the booths, but also what kind of position recruiters might be able to offer.
“Researching is part of the strategy,” he said.
Hard work and preparation was key to the success of job seekers at the event, but it is also an important factor in the success of the event itself. It took coordination by the boards of Beta Alpha Psi and ALPFA, the two honor organizations that serve accounting, finance and MIS students, plus about 40 student volunteers, to pull off the event, held February 13, 2017 at FIU’s Graham Center Ballrooms.
“The most challenging thing was communication,” said Laura Campo, president elect of BAP who took a lead role in bringing more than 30 accounting firms and other businesses to the Graham Center Ballroom. “It took a lot of planning and teamwork. We do it to provide a great opportunity for students.”
And the effort paid off. Within a few moments of the doors opening, students were talking with recruiters from a diverse group of firms, which ranged from global accounting firms such as Deloitte, to local independents such as Coral Gables-based PAAST.
The event was overseen by Sammi Rosin Lewis, assistant director of Career Management Services at FIU’s College of Business, who said that 400 students overall signed up for the event (200 per session, with two sessions). And prospective attendees had to fulfill certain criteria, Rosin Lewis said, which includes having a baseline 3.0 GPA (required by almost all firms, though some want higher averages); active status with Career Management Services; and a major in accounting, finance or management information systems. Alumni who graduated in the last semester were also welcomed.
“This event is critical, especially for accounting majors,” Rosin Lewis said, noting that while some businesses recruit at other COB fairs, many accounting firms only come to Ahead of the Game, in large part because attendees are pre-qualified. “Everyone here is a potential hire,” she said.
The goal: widening career horizons.
Andres Castro is president elect of ALPFA, and was its point man to help organize the fair. He noted that the event is especially valuable for those studying finance.
“I think it gives students exposure to a community they may not have known before,” he said, adding that finance majors often assume that big banks are the only employment option. “There are private equity, boutique and regional firms,” he said, and many firms have consulting and advising positions.
As the afternoon wore on, students came and went, talking with recruiters – some only recently graduated themselves – and chatted with one another.
“I’m here looking for a summer internship,” said Chahnaz Ksontini, a finance undergrad who expects to graduate in August. Meeting prospective employers is key, she said, giving her the opportunity to find the person who might open a door. “It’s different than sending your resume,” she said. “You never know.”
Many, like Man Ko, see the opportunities as an important piece in an ongoing career plan.
“After graduation, I expect to earn different types of licenses, like the CPA, be employed by a firm I can grow with, and gain experience,” he said. Eventually he’d like to reach out and give a hand up to upcoming accounting professionals as well.