August 28, 2016 BMF Insights

“I expected two days of seminars, but what I experienced was hands-on learning—not just about accounting or the firm, but about myself, my leadership style and the opportunities in a regional firm,” said Megan, a participant in “Building My Future,” BMF’s inaugural summer leadership program.

That experience is precisely what our Human Resources and Recruitment Specialist Sara Martin envisioned for this inaugural program launch. “Most colleges and universities heavily promote the Big 4 and national firms to their students, and don’t give much information about equally lucrative opportunities at regional firms.” BMF created this leadership program to fill that information gap, as well as to start the recruitment process of accounting students before their senior year to find the best talent as early as possible.

Fifteen rising sophomores and juniors from accounting programs in the region were selected to take part in the exclusive two-day program. Led by BMF staff, students explored the landscape for a career in public accounting. “More importantly, they discovered the kind of leaders they could be, and how important it is—in any company or role—to adapt and work collaboratively with other leadership styles,” said Sara. Many students were surprised by the differences between a Big 4 firm and a regional firm and really enjoyed learning more about the positive culture at BMF. “It’s more than sitting behind a desk all day,” commented one student in the post-event survey. “BMF is very hands-on with its clients and the community.” Another student wrote, “I learned that in regional firms, promotions are based on performance, not years with the firm.”

As part of the program, we had our very own staff lead panel discussions on “What to Expect: Your First Year in Public Accounting” and “Advice from Experienced Young Professionals,” which provided insight for the soon-to-be accountants. Senior Accountant David Askew told the students, “A collaborative work environment is important. Accounting can be intimidating, and even if you have done well on the academic side, there is still so much more to learn. Having a supportive team around you helps with that learning curve.”

In true BMF style, plenty of fun with a purpose was on the agenda. A “Goose Chase” scavenger hunt led by BMF Team Leaders Caitlin Lucas, David Askew, Monica Foster, and Andrew Futty took the teams throughout the Akron area. “This was a hands-down favorite among the students for team-building. They collected photos of historic and interesting areas in Akron, and it also had silly components, like bringing back the biggest rock you can carry,” said Askew. “Beyond that, it gave the students an opportunity to explore Akron, see the beauty and history of the area, and make them aware that this is a great place to live and work.”

But it wasn’t all fun and games for the students, as part of the program included the analysis of a case study involving fraud and preparing a presentation of their findings to a panel of BMF judges. “One of the most amazing things was to meet all these people I didn’t know, from different schools, yet within just two days we were able to work well with one another and strategize how to get the job done,” said Casaundra.

“It was refreshing to experience such enthusiasm among the students, and to see how 15 strangers could work so effectively together,” said Sara.

Students gained an understanding of life in accounting and we were able to work with top prospects for future internships and job opportunities. “Recruiting in the accounting industry, particularly in Northeast Ohio, can be challenging. What BMF has to offer makes that challenge a little bit easier. Our family-friendly work environment, tremendous opportunities  for advancement, and our proven commitment to our community (just to name a few!) are very appealing to new graduates,” said Sara. “Over the course of two days, the students experienced a workplace where they could make a difference and be appreciated. I am ecstatic about the success of our first leadership program. It truly was a win-win experience for everybody involved.”

Plans are underway to continue the summer leadership experience with a new group of rising college sophomores and juniors next year. Our hope is that these talented students who took part in this year’s program will one day be members of the BMF family. According to Megan, “This (program) totally reassured me that a regional public accounting firm felt right for me. It was great to experience the accounting environment and interact with relatable individuals that, one day, I might work with!”

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