Hey y’all! So I am starting a new blog after I take REG next week where I basically upload condensed, sanitized versions of what I write here. It will all be posts about my personal journey in faith and career, nothing about the actual clients I’m working on. I do not disclose anything about any clients I work on to any friends or social media profiles. You can expect posts about networking (as I am planning to do more of that, God willing), health tips, food tips, and etc. 😀
When I did my internship with the firm I’m starting with last summer, there were a few moments that made me question what full-time in this company would really look like.
The first was when I met a first-year and found out that during the summer, which is supposed to be one of the lighter seasons of work, he worked from 9am to 9pm some days. I was told something different is something I think a lot of first-years who start in Big 4 kind of think. “I was told that I would have a good work life balance”
But I accepted my offer because I knew that even if I did have to work long hours, it will pay off. It’s an investment. I intend to take this path as long as God wants me to.. and from the first time I really got to know this firm, I felt that God wants my time with this firm to be a chapter in my life.
Coming from a family of small business owners, I frequently pitched in to help my family’s business with the mantra of “if you don’t work, you don’t eat.” So I’m just grateful for the chance to have a steady salary and good health insurance.
When I started my internship, I had a formal coach assigned to me who was a manager.
In terms of achievements, he was perfect. He had been promoted early twice and made manager in four years. To shine light on how rare this can be, I shared that information with a director from another office and even he said that was very rare. When I was having lunch with another team, I remember telling them that he was my career coach and their eyes lit up. Even though they didn’t know him personally, they had heard of him.
He inspired me because he was also Asian-American and it seemed like he was being rewarded for his efforts.
In terms of connection, I really, really tried to connect well with him but it just didn’t seem to work out. To put it shortly, I tried my best to establish some sort of connection that would last beyond the summer. I think our personalities just clashed, to be honest. I was very formal that summer while he’s a very laid-back, “I don’t take notes or write in capitals in IMs” kind of guy. Which is great. But I was just an intern, you know. Someone who was afraid that not taking notes (btw, I NEED to write things down or I forget in like five minutes haha) or using proper grammar would cost me my offer.
We had long mentoring sessions where we’d sit and talk one-on-one. He shared his secrets for success, things he described nonchalantly as if we were discussing what he had for breakfast that day (but he was a foodie, so I think he would’ve been more excited if we talked about food). Like I said, I really tried.
I think I started to give up on creating a real connection when he said, “I usually don’t work with interns.” (he left the firm now so I think I can say that, haha.. but I kinda get where he was coming from. :/)
I also met another manager that summer, an alumni from my school. He was chill, down-to-earth, and reminded me of the mentor I made when I went to interview with the firm for my second-rounds.
During my second round interviews for the leadership conference with the firm, I had an interview buddy who was very easy to talk to and just an awesome person. We even played League together a few times. He’s a Teemo main, so I donno…..
I went to have lunch with Manager B the third week of my internship, I think. He was so chill that he played Pokemon Go. We had lunch at this cool sushi restaurant where I had miso soup and eel. I shared stuff with him about recruiting and I think even elections.
He was the type of guy who put a bag full of pennies into the senior’s laptop bag as a prank.
Anyway, because we weren’t on the same client, that was the last time I saw him that summer. He did message me the final day of my internship to wish me good luck. I sincerely believe that a real mentoring relationship could have been established with him if I had had more face-time with him. He was a chill, down-to-earth guy who had a family and liked to play PokeMon Go and went to the same school I did.
During one of our last mentoring sessions, Manager A said that he wished I had invited him to the lunch I had with Manager B. I felt bad too and I really wished that I had. It would’ve been a lot less awkward, really. It would have been fun actually. But I had already had dinner with Manager A the week before so I thought it would’ve been awkward to ask again.
I think when I went to have lunch with Manager B, that’s when Manager A started to be kind of on the fence about me :/. The truth is, I wanted him to like me more than Manager B. Because I really looked up to him.
In the end, both Manager A and Manager B have left.
I believe that God has a reason for everything. I’m sure that Manager A doesn’t even remember me (he called me Olivia at one point), but I’m always going to remember the example he set in terms of his achievements and his work ethic. For instance, one person told me that he got to where he was because of the way he communicated with people. So that’s inspired me to work more on my communication skills. There’s been a lot of times where his advice has helped me and will resonate with me for a great portion of my career.
I don’t think that God wants me to become some sort of superstar at the firm like Manager A was. More so, I’m planning to just learn and absorb as much information as I can for the future. I know for sure I’m going to make mistakes so I think this is a great opportunity to learn about how to approach them.
I know what I want to be: authentic. Even if it gets me low performance reviews, I will be authentic this time. Authenticity got me to where I was. And it will get me to wherever God wants me to go in the future. I know He’s got great things in store for me. Whether it’s as a librarian, a housewife, an accountant, or as a business owner, I truly believe Him when He says that He has good things planned for me… and not bad.
And so, to really take God up on His promise, I need to pray and to remember to be myself this time.
Hiding my personality out of fear was always something that I struggled with. During the leadership conference, I remember sitting in a hotel room with a friend. Someone who I would eventually run against for president.
To be honest, I was feeling quite insecure during that conference. It was a weird conference that had over 1,000 students attending.
So there we were in this big ol’ ballroom. The recruiters ask all the students to get into four corners of the room based on our personality types. I don’t remember all of them, but I remember there was one called Driver which was the leadership, “call de shots” “Look at me, I’m the captain now” type. Before that event, I was sitting at the table and got some red cards put in front of me. All the red ones were for driver, I think the cards just got messed up so I didn’t get any of the other choices.
Anyways, of course, there was a huge crowd of students in the Driver section and a sampling of students in the other section – the name of which I don’t recall but it was for people who liked to contribute to a team even if it meant obeying the orders of others (I mean, I wouldn’t mind..)
So there I went into the driver section, with my wide-leg trousers, big ol’ blazer, and my Ann Taylor mini purse that swung like a wrecking ball if I moved too quickly. I think like 50 students at least were in the Driver corner. So the recruiter tells us, “Guys, here’s a whiteboard. Pick one person to present the Dos and Donts of being a Driver.”
Immediately, people start clamoring. And I march right up to that whiteboard and I say that I want to present to the people around me. We all agree on who’s going to present the dos and don’ts. And so, that’s how the three of us got to present that day :D.
Even then though, I felt really discouraged by the end of the day. I tried to make small talk with the professionals at my table but they were the social equivalent of brown rice or unseasoned salmon.
So there I was, sitting in that dimly lit hotel room with the person who I would run against in a small – but defining – election in my life. Her roommate hadn’t shown up, so I was on one bed facing up at the ceiling and she was on the other, on her side and looking at me.
“I donno,” I said, staring up at the light on the ceiling. “I don’t feel like I’m a leader.”
“Ophie,” she said. I turned on my side to look at her, still wearing my wide-leg trousers and black blazer. My legs were sore from standing in heels all day and my ego was sore from trying to make small talk with people who looked past my shoulder. She smiled and said, “You exude leadership.”
Like elections, it was something small that I will remember for a while. People looked up to her as a leader in the club. She exuded leadership and charisma too. So for her to say that meant so much to me. And that’s why I could never really be angry at her or dislike her – even though she won against me.
When I first joined that club on campus, I was this curious person who didn’t really know much about herself leadership-wise. I was pretty chill and was okay with standing in the background, although I didn’t hesitate to speak my mind if needed.
But it was moments like that that taught me that maybe I can be more than the girl who stands in the back.
Accounting itself isn’t a glamorous profession like investment banking or management consulting. But I feel happy with where I’m going. And I know God is going to open a lot doors for me as long as I try my best and keep my heart open to Him. I owe Him everything.
I am excited to join public and to start my career although I know it will be challenging. I know that it’s going to be like being involved on campus times 1,000. With God at my side, I feel prepared :). I feel good about it. Prayerfully, it’ll last.
Even joining the club as a member was something that happened by chance. I remember my first semester at university. I had just transferred from community college and was planning to graduate then start applying for jobs. If you had asked me back then, I would have thought that public accounting was working for a government agency.
There I was, new to this school and not knowing a soul. I sat on the bench in the shiny new business building and picked up a flyer next to me. It was a promotion for Meet the Firms, hosted by.. Accounting Society? I cringed and put it down. I pictured myself going to an event and feeling alienated (which wasn’t totally inaccurate -at least not during my first semester in it).
What if I walked into a room and awkwardly walked back out five minutes later, $40 wasted, and never showed up to an event again?
I pictured attractive accounting students staring me down across the room and me quickly scuttling away.
The bell rang. I went to my business writing class. That darn professor. I’ll always remember her. You won’t believe how many times I sat in front of her office, yearning for that A. She always gave me a B-plus, man!!! Oh well :(. Anyywayyy…
As people poured into class, I put my phone away into my bag and turned on the computer. I sat in the front row on the right side and waited for the computer to load, my head resting on my hand.
Then I made some small talk with the person sitting next to me, a guy with a big smile and curly hair. There was an intimidating looking girl sitting next to him. She was very pretty and had curly brown hair. We didn’t make much eye contact so I was kinda put off by her.
When the teacher spoke, we transitioned into silence and turned to listen. “So, group projects!” she said brightly, clapping her hands together. She went on to explain the assignment before telling us to get into groups.
I glanced behind me and saw some guys that I would likely be friends with. This is sad but I usually measured potential friendships by wondering, “what is the likelihood of them playing league of legends?” It’s sad. I know. I played League THAT MUCH.
I asked God to “put me in the right team”. Just after my prayer, and just as I was about to turn behind me and ask the guys to be on the same team, the guy next to me said, “Okay, so we’re in a team, right?”
“What?” I sat back in my chair. The girl and the curly-haired guy looked at me expectantly.
Really? I thought. She looks so intimidating. The guy’s okay but honestly, she doesn’t look like someone I’d get along with too well…
“Okay!” I smile. “Sounds great!”
Anyway, during the project I really got to know that girl well and we became friends. We’d sit in the library together and have lunch and work on our project. Then she became a board member in the club and she invited me to join the next semester.
“N-nah…” I remember saying. “I don’t know anyone… so :/…”
“Come on!” she said. “It’ll be fun 🙂 and you know me! My co-chair’s really sweet too.”
“Err.. well, okay! :)”
So yeah! I’m 99% sure that if I hadn’t been friends with her, I wouldn’t have joined as a member in that club.
Even becoming a board member was something I felt a bit apprehensive about doing.
In Fall 2014, I was speaking to the Business Specialist on campus and she encouraged me to get involved as a board member. I remember looking out the window at the fountains and getting that frightening image again – a bunch of attractive accounting students critically assessing me before turning away. “I’ll try,” I remember telling her. And then thinking, I probably won’t.
But when I got the invitation to interview for a position, I remember feeling convicted by God to apply. And so, I did. And well, being involved changed my life. It opened a lot of new doors for me career-wise and in terms of personal development and even spiritual development. It put a new sense of hunger in me that I had never known was there.
I think that hunger was ignited when I went to my first speaker meeting and saw students who had gotten offers with their firms talking about their experiences. Sitting in that crowd, I was attracted and knew that I wanted to be up there someday talking about my own experience. I eventually got the chance to – even though it was in an awkward Q&A and I mostly focused on how the firm got us free food (haha).
The truth is that when I first joined, I DID get some attractive accounting students who looked at me and turned away. But they didn’t matter. The friends that I made were the ones who did.
And as I start work, I know it’ll be more important than ever to remember that the ones who don’t mind matter and the ones who mind don’t matter.