On June 3rd, 2015, an email with the title “Congratulations!” landed in my inbox. I immediately associated this with the ones that ‘give away’ money, cars and degrees but I decided to take a look anyway. And I am glad I did. “You have been selected to attend the upcoming AICPA Accounting Scholars Leadership Workshop (ASLW),” it said.
I applied to attend ASLW workshop three months ago, via the ThisWaytoCPA.com portal. Interested applicants can apply to attend the workshop as well as apply for the AICPA scholarship. The application process for the scholarship requires an essay and two letters of recommendation. In addition, to apply for the workshop I was asked to email my favorite quote. Every year, a 100 minority students from 50 US states, majoring in accounting or related fields’ are selected to attend this three-day, all-expenses-paid workshop held in places like Baltimore and Portland. The purpose of the workshop is to better prepare minority students who want to pursue accounting professions and become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
There were several activities that I benefited the most from. First and foremost among them was the case competitions. Working with people you have just met and presenting the final product in front of students and a panel of judges in a limited time period can be as daunting. But we did it. Our topic was related to academic fraud. It taught me valuable lessons in teamwork. Reconciling various ways of working and beliefs was tough but the skills developed are vital to professions like accounting where working with others is very important.
The DiSC personality assessment tool is my next most favorite activity. This personality assessment tool gave me valuable insights about myself. It enabled me to work better with other people. I dare say that my mom does not know me as well as this test. I realized from the results that my extra cautious nature can be viewed as a roadblock to group progress, and I should communicate my thoughts more clearly.
Etiquette is an important aspect of any profession. Thanks to the presentation on “Business Behavior and Etiquette”, by Jonna Martin (president of AdvanceMe Associates), I realized that I was eating my bread the wrong way! The essence of etiquette while dinning is not to invent cumbersome rules but to make people sitting next to you comfortable.
I loved the networking sessions. From introductions to follow-ups, from in-person to online networking, I learned that networking is not about collecting business cards. It is more about being genuinely interested in learning other people’s stories and learning how you can be the best in our profession. Networking isn’t a one way street. The workshop taught that it is essential to be valuable to those we want to network with. While learning about them, we must be able to present our value as well.
I met the youngest CPA in the world, Belicia Cespedes, at the workshop. She obtained her CPA at age 17. Despite all her achievements, she is very humble and loves to share her experience related to CPA exam preparation.
I struggled to condense this life-changing experience into two sentences on my resume. This workshop has helped me greatly and it gave me opportunities to network with professionals and understand various career paths in accounting.
I encourage all accounting minority students to apply for this workshop, because it has so much to offer!