Student Perspectives

Fit, Growth, & Passion: The Recruitment Trifecta
By Alyssa Mangaoang, Cal Poly Accounting Club Firm Relations Vice President

As recruiting season comes to a close, many of my peers and good friends are finalizing their summer internships. With fall symposium and most of their interviews complete, the decision must be made—where will you be spending your summer? A Big Four firm? Midsize? Regional? Industry? With accounting, the career possibilities are endless and, therefore, so are your choices. When choosing a firm, there are many considerations that come into play.

Whenever you ask a firm what differentiates them from others, they always say it’s the people. And as cliché as it is, it’s true. Ultimately, the work in these firms is incredibly similar, so your experience depends on the people you are surrounded by and the culture that fosters a warm, welcoming environment. Do the people at this firm seem like people you would like to spend 40 hours a week with? If work is a second home, could they be your second family?

All firms will teach you everything you need to know, regardless of how simple, to make sure you succeed. While the learning curve is incredibly steep, its challenges will push you to be the best you can be in your field. However, the best companies are those that give you the tools you need to excel and allow you the freedom to do so. These tools could be anything from leadership opportunity to a mentor/mentee program to a comprehensive project to challenge your technical abilities. Remember that there is beauty in challenge and that it will allow you to grow into a more developed and skilled individual.

Above all, pursue what you love because your profession is only as great as your perception of it. I believe that the other criteria—salary, benefits, etc.—are meaningless if you don’t love what you do. The best indicator of a company that fosters passion is its people. How happy are they? The people that you work with should be as driven and as motivated, if not more, than you are. If we are the product of the people we surround ourselves with, then why not surround yourself with passionate people?

At the same time, remember that deciding what firm to intern at does not determine the way your life and career play out. This decision is not one that will ruin or make your career. At the end of the day, it’s only one summer, and you have the rest of your life to work.

Of course, there are other important criteria; these are simply my personal categories of interest when it comes to selecting a firm to work at. If you take away anything from my piece, I hope it’s the following: Don’t choose a place to work because your friends chose that place, because your parents are pressuring you into it or because you feel like it’s what you have to do. Choose where you’ll be happiest, excel and ultimately a place that allows you to live the life you’ve always wanted.

Alyssa Mangaoang is vice president of firm relations for the Cal Poly Accounting Club.

A Global Mindset
By CalCPA Campus Ambassador Patrick Dillon

You will inevitably face challenges working at your first job out of college or starting your dream internship. Navigating firm politics, as well as learning the corporate culture and the expectations of you can be difficult. This is increasingly true as successful corporations continue to expand internationally. Global expansion requires emerging leaders with a global mindset.

Traveling in Asia this summer I saw how similar we all are, while at the same time seeing the beauty in our differences. Whether it’s talking with my Airbnb host while she cooks dinner for her granddaughter coloring in Saigon, Vietnam, or connecting with Chinese tourists in Chiang Mai, Thailand, about our love for the outdoors, I learned that we all share similar aspirations.

As we prepare to become the next generation of global leaders there are four things we need to keep in mind.

Enjoy Cultural Differences
Many times we see differences as a barrier. They can create difficulties that lead to frustration. As global leaders, we need to seek cultural differences. We need to increase diversity and allow people to express themselves, rather than conform. Everyone has a unique story to share, and these ideas lead to synergy and the ability to understand business opportunities. If everyone on the original iPhone team came from a similar background, chances are smartphones would not be the same today.

Look for Upcoming Opportunities
As global leaders we need the ability to anticipate the next big thing. If we’re able to utilize a global mindset to develop new products and services, we will keep ourselves one step ahead. Leaders with a successful global mindset are able to think proactively and anticipate emerging movements to act on them promptly.

Become an Effective Communicator
Communication—listening, verbal, written and nonverbal—is key in the business world. A business can’t afford for information to be lost in translation. The way we present our ideas needs to be tailored for our audience. This is especially true with our international colleagues and friends who might only know a synonym for an idea you are trying to convey.

Learn to Enjoy Ambiguity
Every second of the day things are prone to change. We need to be able to capture this uncertainty and use it as a catalyst of positive change. The ability to react to the unknown in a professional and accurate manner will help you be the go-to person for solving challenges and thinking of new ideas. This also means we can’t be afraid to step away from the conventional path. When we detour from the norm, we have the opportunity to find something better by learning from our successes and failures.

The next time you meet someone new I encourage you to ask meaningful questions and really try to get to know the other person. These conversations will demonstrate our interconnectedness, exposing that all people share similar emotions and maybe even create a lifelong friendship. The friends I have met abroad and at home in the U.S. have all taught me something new about myself and the world around me.

According to Market Watch author Steve Goldstein, we’re approaching a time where a majority of revenue will not be generated at home. In 2014, S&P companies only generated 52 percent of their revenue in the U.S. With this in mind we need to escape the trap of ignoring different viewpoints. The ability to be open-minded and grasp every opportunity thrown your way will lead to great success.

As you start your career I encourage you to learn about new cultures, continue to meet new people and travel.

Patrick Dillon is a CalCPA Campus Ambassador at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. You can reach him at

The Dividends of Involvement

By CalCPA Campus Ambassador Patrick Dillon

Enticed by free pizza, I reluctantly agreed to attend an Accounting Club meeting at my university. After watching firm presentations, meeting members and learning about the profession, my perception changed. I decided to study accounting and pursue my CPA license.

Over the years, I expanded my involvement within the club. I joined a committee, then sat on the board and today serve as president. Although my roles have changed over the years, certain things remain the same. Becoming involved in professional organizations, such as CalCPA, has allowed me to broaden my network, give back and take charge of my career.

I encourage all of you to become involved and attend professional events. In January, I visited Sacramento for CalCPA Day at the Capitol. I saw how CalCPA brings together individuals who are genuinely enthusiastic, intelligent and, most important, care about the future: students and young professionals.

We live in an exciting time with advancements in technology changing the way we do business, communicate and live. Transformations in the business environment require the next generation of leaders to be global‐minded, curious, innovative and passionate.

The ability to be comfortable with the uncomfortable will take you far. Each day brings its own excitement and challenges. As a leader, it’s important to accept failure, while also sharing your success with others.

Take advantage of alumni reunions, continuing education, mixers or even waiting in line at a coffee shop to meet someone new. The ability to build meaningful relationships with people at all stages of your career will help you find informal mentors, learn and create a network of those you can exchange ideas with.

We belong to an exciting profession that has a multitude of opportunities. It is up to us to capture and make these opportunities a reality.

Patrick Dillon is a CalCPA Campus Ambassador at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. You can reach him at

CalCPA Campus Ambassador’s Perspective
Tips for Accounting Students

By Stephanie Singh

  1. Understand professionalism. Professionalism is the embodiment of how you carry yourself around others. There are core principles that define professionalism; however, it’s important to know that every person embodies professionalism differently. The pieces of your identity that shine through are the pieces that people connect with. Try to keep the integrity of your personality while exemplifying the qualities of a professional.
  2. Make mistakes. Everyone will make mistakes. As students, we’re all learning and maneuvering around the industry together. Stay positive and be sure to learn from each mistake and the mistakes of others. Sometimes you may be underdressed and other times you may say the wrong thing. Understand that everyone around you has experienced this. Keep your chin up and work on ways to avoid that mistake in the future. Organizations, professionals and fellow students are always there to support you.
  3. Get involved. It’s important to be adventurous and to explore opportunities outside of your comfort zone. As a campus ambassador for Becker Professional Education, I’ve had the wonderful experience of meeting new people and helping students work toward their goals. Getting to know each student and professional is an incredibly rewarding experience. Joining school organizations is another way to get involved. Building a sense of camaraderie and exploring alongside others is a fantastic way to form long-lasting relationships.
  4. Know what young emerging professionals can do for you. YEPs give students a venue to learn about professionalism, build more confidence and become involved. It’s filled with exceptional people who want to hear your story, teach you tips to use toward your personal development and who want you to have a great time along the way.

Stephanie Singh is a junior at California State University, Sacramento.

Student Perspectives
Volume 5, Issue 3

Opening the Door to the Accounting Industry
By Stephanie Singh

There’s no better way to experience the world than with an encouraging group of people who are there to support and learn alongside you. The accounting profession—filled with cheerful, kindhearted, and dedicated people—is one that I had always dreamed of joining. This dream is transforming into a reality, and I have my first CalCPA young emerging professional (YEP) social event to thank. This event opened the door to opportunity and helped me better myself as a person.

I still remember the date of the event, the day my life would never be the same. July 24, 2014. I stepped into the Fox & Goose and was greeted by a CalCPA Campus Ambassador. He was a student at Sacramento State and cheerfully welcomed me as a Hornet and as a fellow accounting student. As a few of us gathered in a circle exchanging stories, the guest speaker from Becker Professional Education introduced herself to the group. She and I chatted for a bit, and not too long after she offered me a position as a University Campus Ambassador for Becker Review. It was this position that changed my life forever. The position I would not have received if it weren’t for the incredible YEP event. Here I had my first try at networking, and met future classmates and professionals from spectacular firms. I made new friends, new connections and secured an ambassadorship, which would become, and is still, one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Each one of us is unique, strong, intelligent and committed. We have something amazing we can offer to the profession, something that will influence the industry for the better. CalCPA YEP social events are exceptional arenas for students and professionals to learn from each other’s diverse experiences. My first YEP event resulted in bonds and lessons that will follow me throughout my lifetime, and I hope that they will positively influence the lives of others as well.

Stephanie Singh is a junior at California State University, Sacramento. You can reach her at