Students attend conference and establish school chapter

Share on Facebook
Tweet on Twitter

It’s not every day that you’re surrounded by representatives from more than 30 accounting and finance firms, including the “Big Four” accounting firms (Deloitte, PwC, EY, and KPMG) and companies like JP Morgan Chase and Procter & Gamble, who are looking specifically to recruit students. And it’s certainly not the case that your first interview is with one of the partners of those firms.

Yet, that was the eye-opening experience I and four other students encountered when we attended the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) Central Region Student Conference in Chicago in early October.

During the three-day conference, we were not only exposed to recruiters at leading companies, but were also able to network with other students and NABA professional members who shared experiences and invaluable advice with us through workshops and over catered meals. Before the career expo with company recruiters, several NABA professionals, including current president Jina Etienne, spoke with us. One of the main points they stressed is that we take advantage of the opportunity of speaking with the professionals, and that we could “mess up with them” so that our later interactions with recruiters would go smoothly.

Perhaps one of the most unexpected but rewarding activities was a day-long session, which preceded the conference, at the Ernst & Young (EY) offices in Detroit, where we met with EY professionals who personally critiqued our résumés and conducted mock interviews with us to prepare us for the conference. They even provided us with behavioral interview question packets.

Another facet of NABA of which we were previously unaware is the scholarship opportunities available to students. During the conference, several students were honored during a luncheon and presented with scholarships funded by corporate sponsors that ranged from $1,000 to $2,000. Although no one in our group was among the recipients, we noted how useful those funds could be when paying for textbooks, supplies and tuition.

Wishing to share the many incredible opportunities we have had with other students, we formed a local NABA chapter right here at Saginaw Valley. The organization was established in 1969 and based primarily on the lack of black Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) in the accounting field. According to its website, it is an organization that strives to “bridg(e) the opportunity gap for people of color in the accounting, finance, consulting, information technology and other related business professions.” Now with more than 200,000 members, student chapters focus on preparation for the professional world by providing members with a “toolkit” of skill-building and informative experiences that will ultimately lead to academic and career success.

Embodying NABA’s motto of “lifting as we climb,” it is our chapter’s mission to inspire students and assist them in reaching their goals in accounting, finance and other business fields. We ultimately envision a campus where students—especially African-Americans and other people of color—are aware of and exposed to the numerous career opportunities in these fields, have honed their business and professional communication skills and are conscious of the value of giving back to others through community outreach.

As a way to further these goals, we took part in a student panel at Midland High School as part of their “Reaching Back” initiative after attending the conference. It was particularly gratifying to know we were helping high school juniors and seniors by opening up about our college experiences and giving them advice about how best to succeed in school, very much like the professionals at the NABA conference imparted us with their guidance. We have a similar panel planned for a local Saginaw high school in the coming months.

If you wish to join us on our powerful journey, attend a meeting! Our next meeting is Wednesday, January 20, 2016. All are welcome. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us before then—email our main contact Zikora Okafor at [email protected] or visit our OrgSync page.

Connie Ofori-Dankwa is a professional accountancy major and president of SVSU’s chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants. She can be reached at [email protected].