As a senior, this is an obligatory post about my personal tips for freshmen 🙂
- If you entered into college declaring your major as an accounting major, don’t believe that you have to stick with it – Be open to other majors within AND outside of business
- Don’t officially declare your major until you take your introductory accounting courses (financial and managerial/cost)
- Listening to other accounting students tell you that accounting is the best major out there can be helpful, but honestly, they’re biased – The only way you’ll know if you really will like the major is if you take the courses and get an internship
- DO NOT FOCUS ON GETTING AN INTERNSHIP DURING YOUR FRESHMAN YEAR – The summer after your freshman year is over is the perfect time to have an internship if you’re interested, but your first year should be about establishing a solid GPA (Big 4 firms have a standard minimum 3.4 GPA. Many post that they accept 3.2 GPAs but they really are looking for those who have much higher ones)
- DO NOT LET YOUR GPA BRING YOU DOWN IF YOU DO NOT HAVE AT LEAST A 3.2 AFTER FRESHMAN YEAR. I certainly did not. I actually had a 2.9. I worked so hard every semester and after my junior year, I brought it up to a 3.4. It will never be a 3.6 or 3.7 but hey, I know that I tried my absolute best and glad that hard work paid off after I realized the mistakes I made during my first year.
- Make a LinkedIn profile. You may have some high school experiences/awards listed but that’s fine for now! Stay active on it! Connect with everybody you meet: professors, business professionals, recruiters, family, students, and friends! You can refer back to my previous post I made about LinkedIn (under “Social Media”)
- GO TO CAREER FAIRS. If your school is fortunate enough to have career fairs where companies come to offer students internships/jobs, TAKE ADVANTAGE. I guarantee that they will not be looking for freshmen, BUT it is an opportunity to meet the recruiters. In general, the same recruiters return to the same school every single year, so if they recognize your face from the career fairs or events over the course of 2 or 3 years, by the time you’re actually applying for those internships/jobs, those recruiters who you’ve kept in touch with will know you on a first-name-basis and believe me, connections can go a long way.
- CONNECTIONS CONNECTIONS CONNECTIONS. NETWORKING NETWORKING NETWORKING. If you can attend any networking event either hosted by your school or an organization outside of your school, GO TO IT. Meet others! Find out what they do and see whether you’d be interested in their role. Connect with them on LinkedIn. The people you meet could be future co-workers, managers, partners, CEOs!
- If you’re struggling in your courses (whether accounting related or not), go to office hours. Getting extra help will not only get you noticed, but will clarify what exactly you aren’t understanding. Don’t be ashamed. I used to be. I never had to get extra help in high school, but college is a different story. Plus, if you get really close with a professor, they may even write a recommendation letter for you which will be SUPER helpful for scholarships/internships/graduate school. Just understand that if you really need the help, don’t hesitate to ask for it. If you don’t want to get help from the professor, hopefully your school offers a tutoring center. Like I mentioned before, GPA is very important for that first “big named” accounting internship/job.
- Even though I’m stressing GPA a lot in this post, it’s not everything. I definitely had a 2.9/3.1 when I was interning at several companies during my sophomore year. A GPA does not represent you. I was able to get these internships at well-known firms because I was extremely active around campus and showed my enthusiasm. But it was difficult. I had to fight for it because my GPA was lower than their standards. If I had a 3.4 or higher, it would have been a slam dunk and I wouldn’t have to fight for the internships. That wasn’t the case. I had a low GPA and during the interviews, I had to somehow stand out from the rest of the crowd with the high GPAs. Don’t put yourself in that situation. You never know how a recruiter judges students so it definitely is best to be safe and have a solid GPA along with active involvement around the community and/or school.
- Scholarships? There are always scholarships out there. The AICPA post their scholarship application every year in the Spring so definitely apply! They may be small amounts like $2,000 or $3,000, but that amount will cover your books right?!
- BOOKS. DO NOT BUY YOUR BOOKS FROM THE CAMPUS BOOKSTORE (unless it really is cheap, then let me know what school you go to because I’d love to transfer there. JK. But seriously, I’d love to know the school lol). Usually, the campus bookstore will over price their books. I would either buy/rent from amazon.com. FRESHMEN, SIGN UP FOR AMAZON PRIME. It’s free for one year as long as you have a college email! It will provide you free 2 day shipping and believe me, it actually comes in 2 days. IT WAS AMAZING (note I used “was” because it only lasted a year and I’m very sad that I no longer have it)! If you buy your books from Amazon, trade them back to Amazon! You won’t get the same amount but it’ll still be a good amount that you’ll get back from them and you can use that money to buy books for next semester! Works right? Some other websites my friends have used are chegg.com, campusbookrentals.com, and barnesandnobles.com. If you find a website you’re not familiar with, just do a quick google search on them to confirm their legitimacy.
- and lastly, HAVE FUN. ENJOY FRESHMAN YEAR! Please don’t work too hard and over-stress. Everybody wants to do well, but college is all about learning from your mistakes. If you mess up, whether on academic or personal matters, IT IS OKAY. Life moves on. How you overcome it is what’s most important. I definitely enjoyed my first year because of all of the new friends I made. If it weren’t for them, I probably wouldn’t love my school so much. I genuinely hope that for all of you freshmen, the school you are currently enrolled in is the school for you. If not, then I hope you can transfer to one that you think you would enjoy.
- Feel free to post any other tips you think would be helpful for a freshman (accounting student)!