There are over 2,500 4-year universities in the United States alone. We are privileged and blessed to go to one of these universities as well as have the opportunities to network with many professionals, colleagues, and professors.
It is true that certain universities have an advantage in providing a steady pipeline of students toward tech, accounting, and consulting positions within large, Fortune 500 organizations. Some students use it to their advantage while others do not. Some schools do not have many connections, as most networking must be done by reaching out, creating an external network, or attending other university events.
According to various recruiters and professionals, my school is a “non-target” school. Through research of students reporting for my school in 2016, only a handful of business students received offers from top companies in the business field. It honestly made me sad and disappointed; I wanted my school to be the best with the best opportunities, not only for myself but also for my fellow colleagues.
I have been humbled to help hundreds of students and individuals through different projects, initiatives, and workshops, especially with their Resumes and LinkedIn accounts. I am thankful for wonderful organizations on campus such as the Association of Latino Professionals For America (ALPFA) and a support system that motivated my efforts. We must be thankful for success. But success is not measured by your first job, by other people’s opinions, or simply by how people praise you; it is measured by what you aspire success to be, whether it is being wealthy or being passionate and happy about your work.
I was fortunate to receive multiple offers from top companies and would love to share some advice, especially for those students who are at non-target schools or do not know where to start. My success is a product of everyone else’s success, as success does come from struggle but also from a great support system. Here is my advice from me to you on how to obtain your own success:
- Do Well in School: Students will say that GPA doesn’t matter, but I beg to differ; ask those students who say that, and you’ll realize the irony of them having low GPAs. In Business, GPA matters, especially for filtering out candidates. Students must have at LEAST a 3.2 GPA to even be considered by top Accounting and Finance firms. If you’re a student who goes to a non-target school with a significantly low GPA, do not expect to be contacted unless you have serious experience from past internships/applicable work experiences or have a strong network within the company. Maintain a high GPA in the beginning of your college career, and great things will follow.
- Network with Professionals and Other Students: If you do not have a high GPA, networking is key. The saying “it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know” applies in this case. Go out to events and meet professionals. Get business cards. Stay in contact with professionals, students, and your professors. Update them on your progression. If you are able to network as best as you can, then you will have professionals who will refer you to positions you once thought were unattainable.
- Join Organizations: Join organizations that pertain to your major or interests on campus. There is so much value joining organizations such as ALPFA, ASUCR, Beta Alpha Psi, Accounting Society, and others. If you go to a non-target school and apply to a Big Four for example, you have a smaller chance of receiving an interview unless your qualifications stand out. Join organizations and be active in them. Connect with board members and ask them for help. They not only help you network, but also improve on your professional etiquette, interview skills, and keep you updated on events occurring throughout the year.
- Stop Being Lazy and Playing the Victim Card: “Oh I didn’t get his because of _____.” “Oh my school has no connections, that’s why I haven’t gotten anything”. Yes this is true, but to an extent. Too many people say this; I said this as well, until I actually went out there and gave it my all to network and meet professionals who were in the industries I wanted to be in. If individuals play the victim card all the time, they may never achieve success. They will blame others for their failures, they will get jealous of other people’s successes, and they will be fake towards their friends. Don’t be that type of person. Instead of being a victim of unemployment, be a person who is seen as a hard-worker and determined to achieve something greater than just the minimum.
- Apply Now, Not Later: At the start of my senior year, I wanted to begin employment at a Big Four firm. Although I have found a different alignment to my current goals at this time, I found that many consulting and audit firms initiate their selection process far sooner than we realize. If these companies interest you, make sure you take the initiative to begin applying in August/September.
- Get a Mentor and a Champion: What’s the difference between a mentor and a champion? I heard from ALPFA Professional board member Michael J. Rodriguez that this is the difference: “A mentor is someone who guides you along your path and helps you with various advice on how to get where you want to be. A champion is someone who pushes your resume out there and advocates for your skills to other professionals”. I have had the privilege to receive mentorship from several professionals who have helped me during my career path, whether they are from well-known company or a professor from school.
- Be Selfless, Not Selfish: Selfishness in our generation is noticeable. Some people only care about their own successes, not the successes of others. If you help fellow students succeed and reach their dreams, you will reach yours as well. Don’t just brush people off, especially when they go to your same school; lift them up with you. Host workshops or events to help other students. Be open to help students who are struggling. “Do unto others as they do to you”.
- You Are Who You Associate With: Your close friends and network are reflections of yourself. By associating with those who want to be successful in their careers, people are then motivated to achieve those successes. If you associate with those who “do it for the snap”, go out everyday to parties, are not focused on their career goals, and have the “i’ll worry about it after college” mentalities, it may influence your own mindset. As the saying says, “Birds of the same feather flock together”.
- Stop Talking and Start Doing: Actions speak louder than words. I have met several people who have told me what they are going to be doing later on or what they aspire to be; they brag about how much they are going to make, they say they are the best at this and that, and they only care about themselves. Their talk does not translate into any noticeable action. Make it happen on paper!
- Be Yourself: Be yourself! Be confident in what you do, take setbacks as comebacks, be the best you can be through your actions. Strive for the best and don’t settle for less. Stand true to your beliefs, and if you believe, you can definitely achieve whatever your mind strives for.
Remember to always have a positive mindset! Sometimes, things are not meant to be. You may have setbacks and failures may occur, but instead of remembering the failures, create successes. That is what we all want to be in the future: successful. I hope we all do.
To future successes,
Any inquiries, contact me via LinkedIn