PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Virtual Bridge The GAAP – Going From College Student to Staff Accountant

Marianne Badurina Director of Marketing, MBA

29 September 2021

For the past six years, O’Connor & Drew has held a career event geared towards accounting majors and recent graduates. Our goal was to give them an inside look into our firm, give them the ability to ask questions, get their resume critiqued and job-ready, to go on a mock interview to prepare them for the real thing, get a professional head-shot, and to get an overall feel for the profession that they were about to enter into after graduation.

In 2020, our originally dubbed “Meet the Firm” event was forced to go virtual due to the pandemic. We held the event over Zoom. Although it was successful, we felt that the event lost a bit of its charm. Typically, students arrive at the firm and take a tour and are free to spend time in the areas of the firm and take part in the event activities that are the most interesting to them and skip others that may not be of interest. We also wanted the flow of the event to be more seamless and cohesive if we held one online in the future.

In 2021, we decided to re-brand Meet the Firm and changed the event name to Bridge The GAAP. In addition to the accounting pun, the name change really tries to capture what the event is truly about: the students. Yes, the students are getting an inside look at our firm and interacting with staff on all levels and it is our hope that they will consider applying for a position upon graduation, but the true purpose of the event is to help students take the leap, or in our case “Bridge the GAAP,” from student to accounting professional.

“We provide them with the opportunity to really prepare for that first job interview,” says Rebecka Beatrice, Director of Professional Development. “We let them know what firms are looking for, how to shape their resumes to meet firm needs, and what to know and which questions to ask when on an actual job interview. We also provide a space for them to be able to speak with accountants who have been in the industry for 20 plus years as well as talk to first year accountants who were recently in their shoes. It’s really a worthwhile event for accounting majors and recent graduates taking the leap into the accounting industry and we hope to “Bridge the GAAP” for those who attend.”

When it was decided that 2021’s event would also be virtual, we were determined to improve the overall experience. In a sense, we are all “Bridging The GAAP” with our events these days. Due to the unpredictable nature of Covid-19, our goal is to create an in-person event feel in an online environment. This is no easy task. Although applications like Zoom have become commonplace over the past year and a half, the calls are better suited for meetings where someone might be speaking to a large group or for a smaller team call where the group can have a more intimate discussion. Our event is different, and we therefore needed to take a different approach.

Enter Airmeet. Airmeet is a virtual conference platform providing the ability for session scheduling involving all event attendees as well as a lounge area with tables set up where 2 to 8 participants can sit down for a more intimate chat. The former will allow us to have a welcome address for all participants conducted by our Managing Partner and the latter will provide a great environment for our 1:1 resume critiques, 1:1 mock interviews, as well as round-tables on the parts of our firm including: Audit, Tax, IT Audit, and Forensics. The event area in the platform has branding capabilities, the ability to post videos pre-event for playback during the event, and to record and stream sessions during and after the event is completed. There’s also a backstage area where team members can congregate and have discussions before going on stage to ensure event timing and flow is both more seamless and more professional.

Students and our staff logged in and were immediately taken to the main session stage where our firm video was played and then our Managing Partner, Mark Dow, provided opening remarks and gave a firm overview. The opening address was even streamed live on our Facebook page.

Once the session ended, the event lounge opened up and students could visit each table consisting of staff from each firm discipline. Each table offered video chat capabilities where staff and students could talk and screen-share options to share their resumes for the mock interviews and resume critique sessions.

We hope to utilize this tool in the future for recruiting on all levels where we can host shorter events throughout the year. We also plan to use it as a way for current and potential clients to connect with staff to learn about the latest operational, tax, and cybersecurity information within particular niches as well as explore various topics that would be applicable to many different niches.

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