The American Society of Women Accountants put on an event yearly, called ASWA Annual Student Night. They invite accounting staffing companies, Big 4 Accounting Firms, accounting review courses, accounting clubs, and small to medium size accounting firms. They also invite students from local schools and let them network and eat with these companies. You get to spend the first hour and a half networking, then you sit for dinner and listen to the speakers.
It was extremely nerve racking to get ready for such an event. I got my first suit, nice button up shirt, and close toed heels, so I could look professional for these potential employers. I took my resume in to get reviewed and brushed up on it right beforehand (although not a lot of employers ask for your resume right then and there). I got a portfolio with a notepad and wrote down a few notes. My notes consisted of important information I wanted to know and key points about the firms. I was nervous that the conversation would not flow, so I started to think of ways I could flow into the questions. Here is an example of the open ended questions I asked in order to keep the conversation flowing…
Make eye contact (make sure you are not interrupting another student)
Shake their hand and introduce yourself.
I then ask, so you work in Tax/Audit in ____________ company?
Why did you pick this area of accounting?
Do you get to Travel? How much?
Do you find that there is a nice work/life balance at this company?
What types of training programs do you provide for your employees?
Do you have any advice for me?
When do you hire for internships?
It was a pleasure to meet you,
Do you have a card, so maybe I could contact you again?
I am not an expert at this, again, this was my first event. These were the issues that were important to me, so please ask questions that you care about. I did cater my questions to the person who I was speaking to. For example, I would not ask a recruiter how much they travel, because I’m not looking to be a recruiter. I would not ask an Intern about what she looks for in a potential intern. Although Interns can be a good source of information for the internship life. Other notes I wrote down, was key points about the firms that were attending. It seems a little silly to walk up to a Big 4 accounting firm and ask, so who are you? Write down information from heir websites. There are examples of what I wrote down…
Where are they located?
Are they Big 4?
Are they regional? International? Local?
Interesting facts from their website that you can bring up in a conversation?
Overall, this was a GREAT experience. Even if I don’t get that job from this event, The practice really helped me out for the big Meet The Firms event. I relaxed and realized that these people aren’t as scary as they may seem. They were actually very nice. They we
re there to answer our questions and we were there to ask questions. What do you know, a perfect fit!
By the way, on another note. I didn’t write down any notes during this event. I wish I would have. Now that it is the next day, I may be getting a few companies mixed up. So, my suggestion to anyone going to a networking event or job fair, please, write down what you liked and key points about the conversation. That way if you met this person again, like say, in an interview, you can bring it up again.
Please, comment if you have any questions or if you have any other ideas. I have plenty more of these events to attend.