For accounting students, interviews add up to success

September 30, 2008

During the recent Accounting Interview Day, Business Administration major Josh Smith ’09 wasn’t a bit nervous.

And well, why should he have been?

Not only does he already have a job as an auditor for an accounting firm lined up for after graduation, he was offered the job last year.

Smith, who is minoring in Accounting, attributes his good fortune to his first Accounting Interview Day experience during the fall of his sophomore year, which resulted in his securing three internship offers.

“It made college seem worthwhile,” said Smith, who gave other students interview tips and encouragement as they headed into meetings last week with employers from around the region. “Initially when it was set up, it wasn’t so that students could get jobs. It was so we could practice interview skills.”

But ever since Susan Milstein, professor of Economics and Business Administration, began arranging Accounting Interview Day three years ago, eager employers have been snatching up promising McDaniel College students with internships and job offers.

In the event’s first year, every senior who interviewed secured a job and every junior got an internship, Milstein added. She expects the same results this year.

“It’s an extremely active industry,” she said. “There’s a dire need for good people. These kids are very much in demand.”

The event has grown from seven employers that first year to 17 this year, with employers seeking out invitations to participate, Milstein said.

She said she came up with the idea after learning about “speed-dating” sessions, which are organized events where people looking for mates participate in several short, timed one-on-one sessions.

She said she decided it would be more efficient than the individual phone calls she used to make to find jobs for students, and it would give students and employers a more intimate setting in which to meet each other than the typical job fair.

This year’s employers conducted nearly 140 interviews during a three-hour window in offices and meeting rooms in Hill Hall and Lewis Recitation Hall.

Participants included eight accounting firms, such as Arthur Bell of Hunt Valley, Bond Beebe of Bethesda, and Westminster-based Sturgill and Associates.

Nine financial services businesses also participated, including The Motley Fool of Alexandria, Va., Baltimore-based T. Rowe Price, and Susquehanna Bank, which as 230 branches throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.

Deanna Lintz, senior vice president for branch administration for Carrollton Bank, was among this year’s employers.

Before heading into an interview with business major Ryan Liberatore ’10, Lintz said McDaniel students seemed exceptionally well-prepared for the interviews and asked lots of good questions. Lintz said employers aren’t looking only for impressive resumes, and the students seem to know that.

“They’re doing a nice job of establishing a rapport and not waiting to be asked questions,” she said. “The resumes have been impressive. They are making up for the lack of work experience by showing their activities and where they’ve held leadership positions.”

An integral part of Accounting Interview Day is the nearly hour-long feedback session where the employers debrief the students on what they did well and what they should improve for future interviews.

Albert Leech, a junior business major with a minor in accounting, interviewed with six employers – The Motley Fool, Stone Ridge Construction Services, Carrollton Bank, Arthur Bell, Salter & Co., and Rager, Lehman & Houck.

“I was more nervous in the first one. I was a lot more comfortable as it went on,” said Leech, who hopes to land an internship. “It feels like a crash course in interviewing.”