Last summer I had the honor of attending the Deloitte National Leadership Conference in Dallas, Texas for five days. I’m really happy that I went through the rigorous accounting recruiting process and have recently accepted an internship offer with Deloitte.
I started recruiting with the Big 4 during spring quarter of my junior year at the UW. This consisted of several coffee, or lunch dates with professionals; socials where you could interact with the larger group of your peers; and many opportunities to get insight into public accounting and the culture of each firm. Just as we were getting started, due dates for applying to summer leadership programs quickly approached. Summer leadership programs are so popular because students are completely enveloped in the culture of that firm for a few days— and as most people will tell you “it’s the people that make or break your decision.”
When our shuttle arrived at Deloitte University, the facility left us in awe. There were conference halls, team rooms, auditoriums, exercise facilities, and even a restaurant and bar. The next four days consisted of meetings with our teams for the week, Q&A panel sessions, speakers, a philanthropy effort, and group presentations. Each day we would meet with our group of eight peers and two professionals to learn about the accounting field and our part in it. Topics included identifying our leadership skills and how to incorporate them in our teams; how to network in small and large groups; what to expect from an internship and from full-time employment; identifying our needs and wants from a career and how to match those with company culture; being flexible and reaching compromises as a group; and goal setting.
The focus that most resonated with me was how to define and promote your brand. Your brand in the business world is made up of your skills, your leadership style, your work ethic, the way in which you present and carry yourself and the overall feeling you give those around you. Your brand is what ultimately gets you the job so you need to make sure that you know what it is and that your potential employer does too. Your brand doesn’t only come out in an interview or in a professional email but more so in those informal meetings—those topics of conversation about what makes you passionate and what you find valuable. Deloitte spoke a lot to this idea that if you can identify, build and market your brand, your network of professionals and your access to opportunity will grow together.
I would encourage any student interested in finding an internship in the business world to seek out opportunities to get involved with companies early on. This may come in the form of the summer leadership programs similar to those I attended, or weekly club meetings, attending firm info sessions, reaching out to advisors to make contacts, networking through family and friends, and eventually building your own brand. In this way, once you have made those strong connections with a variety of opportunities—not only will the companies really have a feel for what you bring, but you will also have a better understanding of what you are looking for post-graduation and which firms align best with those needs.