Written by Regina Roetzheim
San Diego, CA
Six months ago I did not foresee myself experiencing the power of being understood. In fact, six months ago I was probably the most misunderstood accounting applicant on the job market. When I graduated in May 2011 with my accounting degree from SDSU, I was one of the very few individuals without a job already lined up.
My situation was a direct result of a choice I made one year earlier, at the beginning of my senior semester: my choice to forego campus recruiting. The recruiters were demanding I choose my specialty immediately in order to start office tours, applications, and interviews. How could I commit to 20 years of tax or audit when I hadn’t even taken an upper division class on these subjects yet? I thought, these people are crazy! I’ll enjoy my senior year, comfortably settle on a specialty I feel passionate about, and then jump right in the job market after graduation.
In June 2011 I was assaulted with the bad news that apparently every accounting firm in San Diego only hires through SDSU campus recruiting. Perfect. I finally understood why everyone does this during their senior year. After a couple weeks of denial and non-directed frustration, reality set in and I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to contact campus recruiting.
At the campus recruiting kick off brief, I was the only graduate in the group. Additionally, the recruiter emphasized to me repeatedly the fact that firms only recruit people still in school. I suppose I was her charity case, and she liked to make it clear my chances of success were microscopic. I decided to start my uphill battle immediately. I submitted resumes, cover letters and transcripts and got several interviews in spite of my graduated status (who knew my degree would be held against me?).
I figured my competition would be stiff since the accounting department at SDSU is world renown, but nothing could have prepared me for the militant levels of motivation and sacrifice I witnessed during these application processes. At my first company tour, I spotted a colleague and fellow applicant studiously flipping through flashcards. Oh NO! I thought, there’s a test!? Without admitting my potentially fatal oversight, I snuck a peek at his cards as he paced through them. Wait, what was this? He had pictures of all the company partners and their bios, as well as facts about the company he’d researched. Really? I wasn’t sure if I should be impressed or disgusted. In the end, I was just worried. Before the tour began we were given questionnaires to fill out during the tour. My new note card friend immediately hunched over his paper and started scribbling his answers, shading the questionnaire from anyone else’s view. Lucky for me, they gave us all the answers during the tour.
The next stage of the application processes were the interviews. Now, I can honestly say I rocked these. Thinking back, I can’t really put my finger on what made me stand out as a potentially limitless employee, but I have some guesses. I think the time that I filled out a 15 page application with my legs crossed, in skirt, only to stand up and immediately fall over because my foot was asleep was pretty unforgettable. I wonder if the sweet receptionist who helped me to my feet as I hopped back to my chair noticed that my 3” heel was broken (along with my spirit) on the way out? That was an elegant walk back to my car.
For an interview a couple days later I estimated my time of arrival to be 45 minutes early. I was on track until an accident closed 4 of the 5 lanes on I-8. Armed with my infinite wisdom and knowledge of the streets of San Diego (born and raised here), I elected to take side streets, which were also completely shut down due to construction. I almost canceled the interview and turned around knowing I would be late, but career services talked me off the ledge and after an Olympian worthy high heeled dash down 2 city blocks, I was only a few minutes late. In the end I landed a paid internship and a full time position at the company, McGladrey (thanks Jim!).
McGladrey is where I’ve experienced the power of being understood. It began with that fateful tardy interview and continues today. Every person I’ve met through this company has been genuine and friendly. Out of all the company tours and interviews I was lucky enough to experience, McGladrey stood out as the most professional and welcoming. Of note is the fact that I sent all my potential employers thank you emails after interviewing with them and only the McGladrey team bothered to respond.
Above all these small details of workplace moral and professional courtesies, McGladrey’s skeleton key to my heart has been through the bags and bags of McGladrey schwag I have routinely received at each stage of my involvement with the company. At my second interview I was showered with gifts including a McGladrey cup, highlighter, sunglasses and lunch bag. I immediately felt appreciated and important. They obviously don’t just give this stuff to everyone. A week later a package arrived in the mail. McGladrey had outdone themselves again by sending me a gym bag (I won’t take the implied hint associated with this gift). Soon after I received a portfolio folder in the mail, then a backpack and computer at orientation. Recently someone left surprise presents on my desk, a business card holder and an office supply kit. I truly felt understood. This company really knows the way to a woman’s heart. I’m already working on routing an official request for a sweatshirt, tire rims, and a hat – I really want to represent McGladrey during all aspects of my day.
(Another girl snagged the last pair of neon pink sunglasses and I was left with orange to my dismay. If anyone out there knows where the secret stash of pink sunglasses is, you know where to find me.)
I am now officially sponsored by McGladrey and should soon be able to compete with the best of NASCAR drivers for endorsement rights.
In the end, despite my year long delayed job search, everything worked out perfectly. I have had an amazing first three weeks at my internship and I’m really enjoying learning the ropes and meeting new people every day. I start each work day with a high probability of receiving more company loot, and most importantly, I know I’ve chosen the right company to start my career with.
Stay tuned for an award winning amateur’s guide to cubicle life and the progress of my transition from ballerina to auditor.