Amanda Carey ’21, receives admiration and recognition by employers and the Merrimack College community alike for her commendable drive to advance her career potential throughout her academic career. Carey, earning a Bachelors of Science degree in business administration with concentrations in accounting and corporate finance & investments, exhibits the confidence and skill set of a seasoned professional from her experiences with WinnCompanies, Big Four accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, otherwise known as PwC, and, as of the summer of 2020, Fidelity Investments. In her sophomore year, Carey, looking to venture outside of her comfort zone and gain experience with one of the Big Four accounting firms, applied for and would come to receive an offer for her current co-op position with PwC as a Private Companies Sector Assurance Intern for the 2020 Spring Semester. When January of 2020 arrived, Carey set out to begin working with her team and expand her personal and professional skills. Unbeknownst to Carey then, she would come to learn more from her co-op experience than she had ever anticipated with the abrupt changes that would affect the world amidst the COVID-19 crisis.
Carey began her co-op position with PwC in January of 2020 under immensely different circumstances. Initially, Carey worked within the Private Company Sector performing auditing responsibilities with her team for privately held companies. Her position kept her on-the-go throughout Massachusetts, and put her professional skills to the test with her own group of clients. “My day-to-day routine started out with a lot of travel,” Carey recalls. “My group had clients all over New England, but I mainly focused on clients in Massachusetts.” For Carey, the mobility of her position presented a new and exciting challenge to look forward to each and every day. “Every day, I was driving to a client, which could be as far as an hour and a half away from me, or as close as just a twenty minute drive a few towns over,” she details. “The experience I had [earlier in the year] was really very different and enjoyable for me, because I had the opportunity to meet different clients and have face-to-face interactions and conversations with people every single day.”
By March of 2020, Carey’s daily responsibilities and overall schedule evidently required remote adjustments amid the escalation of the global COVID-19 pandemic. As most other students who are fortunate to have the choice to maintain their experiential learning opportunities this semester may relate, Carey felt some trepidation towards the uncertainty of navigating the changing landscape for the remainder of her position. “I honestly thought [the transition to working remotely] was going to be really challenging, and I was afraid my team might get frustrated with me,” Carey shares of her initial reaction to her transition to remote work. While she had built a wonderful foundation with her team in-person prior to the remote transition, Carey worried about how the limitations of a digital workplace may affect her connections with her co-workers and clients. “My team needed information from me about particular clients, and now we would have to work remotely to pull all of those loose pieces together,” she details of her uneasiness.
Despite her concerns, Carey realized all she needed to do to ease her transition to remote work involved putting her improved and newly developed skills to use. “Having good communication and initiating necessary conversations is definitely the most important [skill to have],” Carey reveals. “I realized that [avoiding my apprehension] was all about applying myself and putting myself out there. From my very first day [at PwC], I was told to ask as many questions as I had, at the right time of course. That’s something I kept in mind throughout my co-op that I think was just really helpful with the transition [to remote work].” Carey’s close-knit team certainly appreciated the effort Carey made to voice her concerns and to take their early guidance to heart.
Since adjusting to remote working for her co-op position with PwC, Carey chooses to view the current situation with a positive perspective. “Something I didn’t expect to get [out of the transition and adjustment to remote work] was just confidence in myself and my skills, and self-awareness,” she admits. “I realized that I have to reach out and put myself out there and ask questions to better my learning and help me grow as an individual.” Carey further stresses how much she and other students in a similar position are learning from their current situation within their internship, even if they don’t realize it yet. “I’ve honestly completely changed as a person from this experience, and I’ve learned so much more than just accounting from this firm, both before and after the transition,” Carey confides. “Whether it’s a good or bad experience, it’s a learning opportunity, and there are definitely positives that can come out of working like this.” Carey’s since received a glowing performance report from her supervisor regarding how she’s handled the recent adjustment. She urges her fellow students to consider their feedback from their supervisors as a positive asset that may be of use in their future job and internship search.
In her spare time from her remote responsibilities, Carey tries to take advantage of the opportunity to refine and learn even more skills through her LinkedIn Learning account. “I feel like LinkedIn Learning is so underrated and should be hyped up so much more,” Carey expresses animatedly. “I’ve been taking some courses that my co-workers at PwC have actually taken too, and I actually get to see [on LinkedIn Learning] what courses people at PwC care about most. By taking those specific courses, I get to learn how to be on the same page as my co-workers and other employees, and really better myself.” For other students looking for a place to start on the platform to better their skill sets, Carey recommends several quick courses she’s found incredibly helpful within her current co-op experience: “the course(s) on public speaking, having a global mindset, and how to be a good mentee are really great! The global mindset course is especially helpful if you’re looking to work for a large company, because they have offices and territories all over the world, and it’s really important to be cognisant of other cultures and having a culturally sensitive mindset.”
As Carey approaches the close of her co-op experience with PwC, she considers her future experiential learning opportunities in an entirely new light. While she prepares for her summer internship with Fidelity Investments, which will occur remotely at the very least for nine weeks in total, she feels even more prepared to take on any challenge that she may face, equipped with the confidence and a strengthened skill set to persevere. She encourages students to continue to take steps towards advancing their career development in any way they feel ready for. “You can do small things every day to help your career development,” she imparts.
As the college community continues to adjust to remote transitions, know that the O’Brien Center for Career Development and our resources remain available to you to assist your own career development journey, whenever you feel ready and at your own pace. If you’re looking to continue your professional development remotely, reach out to your career advisors to ease any career-related stress you may have, or take advantage of your free LinkedIn Learning account to work towards developing a variety of personal and professional skills. For assistance in activating your account, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written By: Kerry Reynolds, Class of 2021