Like senior Tamara Wiggemans, FSU business students often face tough decisions before graduation about which of several employers’ internship or job offers to accept. Wiggemans, an accounting and finance major, received bids to intern this summer from all of the Big Four accounting firms. Though she said every firm she interviewed with was “phenomenal,” she decided to go with Ernst & Young (EY) in Tampa as a tax intern.
Haley Lawson, a 2016 accounting graduate interviewed with five of largest accounting firms before heading to Seattle in February to begin a 10-week internship as an auditor, also at EY. When she and Wiggemans finish their internships, they both will start the FSU’s Master in Accounting program in the fall.
Because a successful internship frequently results in a permanent job offer, Wiggemans and Lawson are feeling pretty good about having a job lined up before they have their graduate degrees in hand next year. Wiggemans is on track to eventually become an international tax accountant, and Lawson, a corporate auditor.
They aren’t the only FSU College of Business students or recent graduates who have found themselves in that enviable position.
- Real estate senior Michael Walsh had a few internships, which resulted in his having to balance the pros and cons of three job offers before opting to go with real estate investment giant Heitman in Chicago as an acquisition analyst. He graduates in May and starts the new job in June.
- Nick Vinson, also a real estate major, was flattered by two job offers, one by Wells Fargo, before graduating in 2016. He wanted to work in a commercial real estate origination department, so Vinson thought Prudential Mortgage Capital in Atlanta would be the best fit and offer him the exposure he’ll need to progress in the field.
- Finance and marketing senior Colleen Koubek had offers from Ross Dress for Less and Boston Scientific before accepting an offer from Kraft Heinz in New Jersey as a sales management trainee. She starts a couple of weeks after graduating this spring.
- Management Information Systems graduate Chase Kepferle was courted by Protiviti and Sabre Systems, but decided on military and defense contractor DCS Corp. in Virginia, where he is a technical analyst II.
These students – and others like them – have two things in common. First, they were standout students who excelled in the classroom. Second, and more importantly, they took advantage of the myriad opportunities offered at FSU: networking at professional conferences, attending informational sessions at firms across the nation, participating in case competitions, taking leadership roles in student organizations and spending summers interning.
“To have networked and built professional relationships early on has made the career aspect a lot less daunting,” said Wiggemans, who chairs the Student Leadership Council. She was invited to attend each of the Big Four’s national leadership programs, spent a week at EY’s international headquarters in London during spring break last year and vied against peers from other universities in case competitions. “All of these activities challenged me to speak in public and in front of firm partners, and has helped me become much more confident.”
Jefferson Johnson, EY’s director of campus recruiting in Florida for the past three years, said he was impressed with Wiggeman. “Some students have a hard time deciding what specific area they want to focus on, but Tamara had done her due diligence by researching, and knew she wanted to focus on public tax accounting, and that, along with her different experiences helped.”
He said he has hired several FSU graduates. “FSU accounting students are just as well-prepared, if not more prepared, than students at other Florida schools. Some of them just blew me away.”
Walsh, president of the FSU Real Estate Society, made a point to network with FSU alumni, including Chris Marino, a 1998 graduate of FSU’s real estate program, who became his mentor and connected him with Heitman. He also has attended the FSU Real Estate Center’s Trends Conference, which draws more than 600 real estate professionals. In addition to providing networking opportunities, Walsh said the annual event has been a valuable venue for gaining insights into the industry. He credits the real estate program for his good fortune. The program ranks No. 6 among public institutions and No. 11 overall in the 2017 U.S. News & World Report rankings.
All students admitted that deciding between offers could be grueling, often requiring a number of interviews that lasted all day, running through a gauntlet of managers and executives. Then, once an offer was extended, they had to juggle various acceptance deadlines as well.
“I was interested in a few jobs, including one in New York City, where I had an internship, and I took a substantial risk by turning down an offer in hopes of receiving the one I really wanted from Heitman,” said Walsh, echoing similar dilemmas other students faced.
Kawana Johnson, director of the college’s Internship and Career Services Office, says employers are impressed when they meet FSU students. “Many employers mention in student evaluations how they value their attitudes, professionalism and insatiable thirst for knowledge,” she said. “These are just a few attributes that make our students desirable interns and even more marketable future employees.”
By Barbara Ash