Carrie Coco Blog headshot

Last week Carrie contacted me saying she wanted to share her story with other students.  She’s graduating in Accounting this semester and on her 3rd interview with McGladrey.  Take a look at how she got to this point and see if you can use her experience in your job search:

So they say it’s all about who you know. Well, it IS all about who you know….and little about what you know.

In order to tell you how I found this job lead requires a bit of background information. I worked as Director of Operations for a mid-sized custom cabinet manufacturer for 6 years before I was let go so the company could “move in another direction”. This was a family owned and operated business for over 20 years and a few months after its sale, the new owner started making changes. This is very common in business and usually involves a company’s key players. I took this as an opportunity! I returned to school full time to complete my degree and further my career opportunities.

As a member of Beta Alpha Psi I have been given the opportunity to meet with numerous accounting firms in the local and larger markets. During the Local firm picnic and Meet the Firms I was able to speak face to face with Managers and Partners in the hopes of meeting just the right company and to pursue interviews. However, by delaying my enrollment in many of these school programs I have not given the full amount of time many of these companies want to get to know potential employees to make sure they are a good fit.

Last year I hosted an annual holiday party for friends and family. A good friend brought a +1 who happens to work for a large accounting firm. My brother also worked for the firm in the past. We came to find out that my friends +1 was also my brothers’ mentor at the firm. This introduction helped me to move past the barriers and get put in touch with just the right people for what I was looking for at the firm. I had never intended to take the same career path as my brother but here it was years later and his positive work performance and reputation were helping to put me in touch with the right contacts.

During my first interview (a phone interview), I was asked about my experience, but I was also asked “what are you looking for?” It’s very important to know how to answer this question. If all you want is a job, it’s likely you will not get a call back. I displayed my passion for the construction industry and discussed how I was looking for an opportunity to bring my previous knowledge into the field of accounting and find a way to intertwine the two. During the conversation, I requested to meet the interviewer in person to discuss things further and to tour the office. I was emailed shortly after the phone interview to set up a lunch interview and walk-through at their Orlando office.

My second interview was over lunch at a nearby restaurant. Before lunch I was given a tour of the office and introduced to a few people. We also stopped and met with my brothers mentor (my original contact at the firm). During lunch I made it a point to order food that was simple to eat and not too messy. The last impression you want to give someone is one of you eating greasy ribs or something worse. The food portion of the interview session is just an afterthought. The point is to speak with your potential employer and sell your personal brand! I have the gift of gab and am able to fill in any gaps in conversation. This also your interviewer you are able to connect with people personally and will represent a good image of the company with clients. Most of the interview questions were pretty standard. I went a little further in depth on my experience, gave examples of what work I performed and company names as well as people I had worked with on previous projects. The biggest key, I was myself! Personable, kind and confident. And I projected those qualities through to my interviewers.

I have now been asked to return for a third interview. I have been very relaxed through the entire process and not in a rush since I do not graduate until the end of summer. This has given the relationship time to grow. Many companies will review and re-review your “digital footprint” during the recruiting process. During this time I know that my potential employer has reviewed my LinkedIn account and I’m sure any other digital media available for public viewing. It is very important to monitor what you display on social media while seeking employment. This can sometimes be the deciding factor on an employment opportunity. My last correspondence confirmed my interview date and time and also told me that this was mostly a formality to meet with additional team members and Supervisors to finalize my employment. During my initial phone interview, I was told that my skill set was “exactly what he was looking for”! It was a huge confidence and mood lifter and gave me the additional determination to make sure that I did not drop the ball on such a wonderful opportunity!

My best preparation tool for any interview has always been confidence! People often doubt their abilities which does not give the interviewer the best impression of your capabilities. Just by exuding confidence and believing in yourself will give you the strength to get through an interview no matter what the outcome. Always remembering that when one door closes, another one opens and that sometimes that door needed to close so you could walk through a new brighter window of opportunity.

I feel very blessed to have the opportunity that I have right now. But, I also know that at any time, situations change. Life is never easy or predictable. If I am not presented with an offer, I will brush it off and keep moving forward. The best advice I can give for looking for new employment, furthering your current employment, or going into business for yourself…..believe! Chins up, work hard, exude confidence and play fair! Connections are important…’s all about who you know right?

Carrie Coco

UCF College of Business, Dixon School of Accounting