Graduating from college is a huge step in charting your own course. On the one hand, it’s exciting, but we’d all be lying if we didn’t admit there’s some anxiety, too. That’s one reason why we at SBF welcome local accounting students into our offices to learn what it’s really like to work at a firm like ours. It’s crucial to understand what to expect when working at an office — and how to spot what makes a good workplace.
This year, eight accounting students joined us on June 21 for our annual Summer Leadership Program. It’s an all-day introduction to the real world of public accounting, which gives students the opportunity to hear from our firm’s partners, ask questions of real clients and have some fun figuring out their own strengths and interests.
Participants joined us from institutions such as University of South Florida, University of Tampa, Stetson University, and Saint Thomas University.
Stetson University student Eric Torres came from Deltona by train to attend. “Going into the working world, I want to hear from as many different accounting professionals as possible,” he said. “I also wanted to see how different a local accounting firm would be in comparison to the Big Four.”
The day delivered. Even if early-career professionals have an internship or fellowship experience, it’s not always obvious what to expect from that first full-time job. Attendees got high-level insights from partners Steve Bunch and Rich Franz about why they’ve built SBF with a deep focus on client relationships and a supportive office culture. The Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ Jennifer Allen and Geraldine Grady talked with us about what the FICPA offers in the field. And SBF employees ran us through an office-wide scavenger hunt that integrated our collective knowledge base, our critical thinking and our sense of fun.
One of the most useful and popular activities was going through the Strengths Profile, an assessment to help students understand the personal qualities that make them happy, productive and engaged at work. Participants agreed that it was a realistic and eye-opening tool for figuring out how to present themselves both in the job interview process and in the day-to-day of their careers.
Today, Joe Cottone works in our Audit department, but before that, he was an Audit intern here. Before that, he attended our 2020 SLP, an experience he found “amazing.” He spoke with us about his journey from the University of Tampa, where he was a member of Beta Alpha Psi, through his SBF internship, where he had a chance to learn by doing right away.
“During my internship, I was able to work in multiple industries, a few different types of engagements, and even had the opportunity to interact with clients,” Cottone said. “The transition from intern to full-time employee was seamless, and since the beginning, I have enjoyed every day here, thanks to such a supportive team.”
After the day’s programming, Stetson student Torres came away with a positive view of the field and of SBF. “I learned that you can have fun at accounting firms,” he said. “It’s not all about work, even if there are some very important busy times. I also saw that there are firms that genuinely care about their employees.”
We believe it’s crucial to model the kind of career and work environment we’d all like to have. At SBF, we’re looking forward to building relationships with this year’s SLP attendees and others down the line. “Whether participants end up working at SBF or not, we are more than happy to help them in their transition to the accounting profession,” said Kiana Lunay, SBF’s Recruiting and Marketing Coordinator. “A Big Four firm is great, but it doesn’t have to be a student’s only option, and we hope that when they attend our Summer Leadership Program, they will see that.”