Quite honestly, not much is new in my life, other than the fact that it snowed this past weekend. I thought I’d write a career related blog post inspired by a few panels I participated in recently. I’ve been meaning to post this days ago, but I have just been so tied up this week!
Last week, I participated in 2 panels — 1) one hosted by my firms for our new hires and 2) one hosted by a club at my alma mater. The first one was related to our firm and practice– we were there to ask them any questions and offer advice to the new hires. The second one was an “ask me about my job” Q&A, where I got to share my education and career experiences with college students.
I remember being in their shoes. I remember what it was like to be a new hire, kind of nervous and very confused about how to even get started. A year and a half ago, I had literally the same questions that the new hires had, and it surprised me that I was actually able to answer them and offer them some advice. It all goes back to something my Sr. Manager would tell me at our check-ins: All the little things count — I know more than I give myself credit for. And again, I also remember the job hunt process in college like it was yesterday. I had the same concerns and questions that these students have, and it’s really humbling to be able to offer some advice and make an impact. Even something as small as inspiring them to pursue (or not pursue) a particular field, or even connecting with them on LinkedIn, are all things I was super appreciative of when I was in college. I’m happy I’m able to be involved in activities like these especially with all of the challenges this year.
I have to say, I give these students and new hires props. Trying to job search, network, and attend similar panels/club activities all virtually is not easy. Starting a new career completely remote? That is such a challenge. Anyway, I made a similar Instagram “AMA” post and got a variety of questions. Thought I’d share some of my responses to the top 5 questions I got at the panels and on my AMA.
1. What is it that you do and any advice to give to someone who is just starting their career? What would you tell your new hire self?
I work as a Risk and Financial Advisory consultant at a Big 4 Firm. I particularly work in the internal audit and assurance space (internal controls), working on IT audits. Honestly, if you’ve never heard of this before, I wouldn’t blame you. I had no idea what this field was until I interned at my firm 2.5 years ago.
My biggest pieces of advice to someone still in college or starting their career is to be open-minded and get to know as many people as you can. Expanding your network is SO important — you just never know who may have an impact on your life and career. Keeping an open mind is one of the biggest takeaways that I continue to practice because, again, you never know what opportunities are out there that you might like. For example, the work I do encompasses many industries. Initially, I thought I’d want to only serve clients in the tech industry. However, I got a chance to explore healthcare, consumer goods/retail, and finance and I realized I really enjoy the consumer and retail industries and would love to explore that further. Had I limited myself to only want to work in tech, I would not have realized that!
Keeping an open mind is also about being comfortable with discomfort. You may not always have all the answers immediately, but that’s ok. I know I was definitely not okay with that feeling, but I learned that I grew the most when I was challenged to problem solve my questions, and when I collaborated with my team to work through a solution. I asked tons of questions in the process (and I still do) and that’s ok!
I discuss more of my lessons learned and what I’d tell my new hire self in this blog post I wrote in August, after completing my first year at my firm.
2. What are some of your interview tips?
I can only speak to interviews in the business world, and most of the experience I’ve had from my time recruiting is behavioral. However, if there is one thing I could emphasize is to be yourself. Especially when you are trying to figure out whether you would enjoy working at a particular company or be a good fit, it’s not fair for you to act like someone different. From a recruiting perspective, we want to see if you’d be a good company culture fit and the only way we can do that is by learning who you are.
Also, it’s really important to do your research on the company. Learn their values, key people at the company and the role you’re applying for (and the team/org if possible). See if they appear in the news, and for what? Is there something big happening at that company?
For example, at the time of my interview, I did my research and found that my firm has a female CEO. This was really inspiring to me, and I wanted to make that known in my interview that I want to be a part of a firm that values women’s empowerment. In my interview, the manager then excitedly told me about all of the initiatives the firm has, from a Diversity and Inclusion and a Women’s Initiative Network.
Lastly, have questions handy and be encouraged to ask them! Your interviewer will ask you if you have any questions at the end of your interview. In my opinion, it’s always good to ask a couple. It can be about the company culture, team/team structure, role/responsibilities, typical day at the job. I even encourage asking the interviewer about their experiences too.
3. What are the effects of working from home on your job? Are there pros and cons? How has the pandemic impacted your work?
I enjoy working from home because there’s increased flexibility. I can squeeze in an appointment or an errand if needed, or get a quick non-work task done. I am able to make more fresh breakfasts and lunches. The biggest pro is that I don’t have to commute. I never liked bussing downtown to my office or driving in traffic to my clients. While I enjoy dressing up and kind of miss it now, I am also taking full advantage of working in comfy clothes or in my workout clothes.
However, there are many cons to this situation. Working from home doesn’t feel novel anymore. It used to be something I’d do if I had an appointment in the middle of my day, or a Friday treat. I used to travel almost monthly for work and now I don’t get to travel. I miss traveling for work. I also miss my co-workers. One of my favorite things about my firm is the people. I loved seeing my team and having resources closely available to me if I had a quick question. Now, it definitely feels like a task when I have a question that would otherwise take a few minutes to resolve in person, but takes much longer because of email/instant message.
Fortunately, while there have been many challenges and opportunities to adapt, the pandemic hasn’t significantly negatively impacted my work in particular. There are some bumps in the road here and there, but it’s amazing to see how my firm and my teams have adapted to the challenges in the past year. Working from home has become the new normal (in my field), and we will continue to adapt as the world keeps changing.
4. How do you manage work life balance?
Something I realized months ago was that a commute really helps to break your day. My bus ride or drive home divided my work life from my personal life. As much as I disliked commuting, that was the main benefit. Now, my commute is a total of 3 feet from my bed to my desk. I’ll be honest, sometimes it’s hard to disconnect. There’s always something I need to do, and finding a stopping point at home is difficult. Routine has helped me balance work and life. I used to go straight to my workout studio after work, so I do the same thing… just like home! I try to work out at home after my workday to break my day up. If not a workout, I’ll step away from my desk and go to my living room or kitchen to get a change of scenery. Spending most of my time in my room at my desk makes me not want to be in that space for longer than I have to, so I’ll watch some shows in my living room or hang out in the kitchen for a while in my evenings.
5. What is the most rewarding and challenging part of your job?
Rewarding: I love it when I am able to problem-solve with the team or collaborate with other parties involved in my project to come to a conclusion. I love that I get to work with so many people, within the firm and externally, to be able to do this. A huge career milestone was when we issued a report to our client after almost 6 months of working on it from last April through September. Given that we were in the thick of the early stages of the pandemic, there were so many uncertainties and challenges that we had to workaround. It was also one of the first projects where I took a significant role, and really put my project management skills to the test. Any time we provide a deliverable to the client, whether it’s filing an audit or issuing a report, it’s really rewarding.
Challenging: While this is a huge benefit, a challenge is keeping up with all of the new things to learn each day. Sometimes that’s a new skill, a new IT system, or learning a new client and how they operate. But that’s also what makes the job so exciting! Juggling many clients at a time is also a challenge I am learning to balance– I have days when I’m so in the thick of the work of a particular client that it can be hard to switch gears to my others. I’ve gotten better about it now than about a year ago, but it’s something I think I’ll continue to get better at with time.
Those were the top questions I got! I hope you found this interesting and useful! Let me know if you would be interested to read similar content. 🙂