One way CPAs give back: the career fair skills workshop at North Carolina A&T; CPAs help students build the skills they need to land their first accounting jobs.

Author:James, Kevin L.
Position:Certified public accountants

CPAs can play a tremendous role in enhancing the professional competencies of accounting students to prepare them to meet the current demands of the profession. One way CPAs are involved in student development at our institution, North Carolina A&T State University, is by participating in the Career Fair Skills Workshop.

Like many universities, we experience a flurry of activity around campus recruiting in the first four to six weeks of the fall semester. For us, this includes a large campuswide career fair, a Beta Alpha Psi Meet the Firms event, an event for employers in industry, and numerous company information sessions. To prepare students for these opportunities, we host our Career Fair Skills Workshop in the first few weeks of the semester. CPA volunteers are integral to this program.

The first hour of our program is divided into three 20-minute segments. A CPA volunteer discusses professional presence and confidence using students to demonstrate handshakes, body language, and professional image. A second CPA discusses professional attire. A local retailer provides clothing for display and uses students to demonstrate several looks. Here students gain clear and detailed information on what constitutes professional interview attire and what mistakes may cost them an internship opportunity. Because a primary challenge students have is what to say when they first meet a potential employer, a third CPA describes the key components of an elevator speech and has volunteers demonstrate. Student feedback on this program has been very positive, and students have noted that using current students to demonstrate the principles discussed is impactful.

The second hour of our workshop is a resume review session. During this time, students receive individualized critiques and recommendations on their resumes. The individualized attention provided during this hour requires more volunteers. We normally use about 12 to 15 professionals to review about 125 resumes. The professionals are encouraged to be critical and direct in their analysis and feedback. Students' comments indicate that they do not want to be coddled; they want to leave with the most competitive resume possible.

An important companion to the Career Fair Skills Workshop is the opportunity for students to participate in mock interviews to...

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