Each fall, the O’Brien Center for Career Development in coordination with the Girard School of Business at Merrimack College hosts networking events for undergraduate students interested in the industries of accounting and finance. These networking opportunities offer Merrimack students the ability to network with some of the region’s top accounting firms and finance corporations, gaining valuable career advice and learning more about available internship and employment opportunities. Over 100 students and 30 alumni and industry professionals attended these two events: the Accounting Networking Breakfast and Finance Networking Brunch.
Merrimack College alumna, Danielle Donovan, CPA, MSA, was one of 25 professionals who came to the Accounting Networking Breakfast. She is a supervisor at Walter & Shuffain, P.C., and handles accounting, assurance and taxation services across a variety of industries. As a Merrimack alumna of 2013, Danielle recalls the importance of attending networking events as a student. “Networking creates opportunities. It enables accounting students the opportunity to connect with working professionals, who can share knowledge and resources to students. I love coming back to Merrimack and connecting with students, where I can share advice and knowledge from what I have learned in my five-year public accounting career.”
Danielle goes on to offer advice for all students on how to navigate the professional world and to build experience through mistakes along the way. She states, “Dealing with criticism positively is an important life skill. We all make mistakes, especially in the first couple of years in our professional career. It is part of human nature. Sometimes the fear of making mistakes can keep you from trying new things, but give yourself permission to mess up, and learn from those experiences.” Danielle’s determination to succeed within her career has awarded her Massachusetts Society of CPAs, Inc. 2019 Women to Watch Award. This prestigious honor was awarded to only 7 women in Massachusetts this year for leadership in the accounting & finance industry.
With a plethora of knowledge in the room from alumni and industry professionals, students have opportunities to ask questions and build upon their professional network. One student’s experience stood out in particular. Amanda Carey, a junior majoring in Accounting and Corporate Finance & Investments, is no stranger to networking events. When the opportunity presented itself to attend both the Accounting and Finance networking events, she was excited to attend. “It’s really important to network with different individuals…you never know who’s going to impact your career later on down the line.” Amanda was able to connect with a variety of individuals at the Accounting Networking Breakfast, such as John Williams, Merrimack class of 1989, and Vice President of Finance & Controllership at Fidelity Investments. “He [John Williams] asked for my resume, I got it to him that morning and later that afternoon I got a call from a recruiter at Fidelity for an interview next week. I think it was really important to connect with him, letting him know about my career goals and how he could best help me as someone who is invested in Merrimack College students.”
Although Amanda seems to easily build upon her professional network at career-related events, it’s not to say she hasn’t put in the effort to prepare behind the scenes. She frequently meets with Joe Jenkins, the Assistant Director of Career Advising for the Girard School of Business, to go over her resume and how to stand out in her application materials. She also was integral in the planning of pre- and post-networking events for members of the Accounting Club, where she serves as Vice President. Amanda states, “This past week we [the Accounting Club] had Michaele Morrow, Managing Director of the Bouchard Center, talk about tips and tricks for career fairs and the accounting breakfast specifically, like how to dress and prepare.” Amanda continues to build her network and prepare for a career in accounting, as she’s accepted a Co-Op position with PricewaterhouseCoopers, PwC, in Boston this spring.
Networking events are an important way for students to connect themselves with alumni and gain access to industry knowledge they can only get outside of the classroom. As Danielle explains, “Experience is the best teacher. There is always something new to learn. Learn as much as you can every day. Your education is never complete.” You never know what doors could open for you at career-related events.