Senior Reflections: Melisa Pilipovic ’17

Melisa Pilipovic is a senior accounting major. She will begin as a federal auditor with KPMG in May.

How the College of Business Helped Me

melisaWith only roughly two weeks left until my Undergraduate Commencement, I have been reminiscing on all of my past experiences here at Mary Washington. Many of my fondest memories revolve around the College of Business.

Every semester, the College of Business hosts many different types of events to engage students, help them with networking, and to meet professionals that may be of guidance for the future. I have attended multiple events offered like Speed Networking and various Financial Seminars, but one event in particular became an event that I looked forward to attending every fall semester. The event is called Meet the Accounting Firms.

Being the ambitious freshmen that I was, I attended Meet the Accounting Firms my first fall semester, not knowing anything about it. This event was structured towards upperclassmen and Business Administration: Accounting majors, which neither fit me at the time. Also, I brought my high school resume with me, which was two pages…talk about embarrassing! Not only did I have no accounting experience, I didn’t have a clue who these firms were or what types of things they did. Not to mention, I was surrounded by juniors and seniors that seemed like they knew what they were doing and they were determined to get an internship or a job from these places. I had to find a way to stand out from the crowd. So, I decided to go straight up to one of the professionals standing behind the KPMG table and introduce myself. I had no clue at the time that KPMG was one of the ‘Big Four’ firms nor did I understand what that meant. I was in for a treat. After hearing that I didn’t quite qualify yet for an internship, I was proud of myself for trying but still disappointed. The conversation seemed to go well but it felt like I had so much more work to do before I even stood a chance. However, stepping out of my comfort zone so early on in my career not only challenged me, but also made me realize the importance of networking. My next step was to create a profile on LinkedIn so that I could continue the conversation with this professional that I had just met. This was a pivotal moment in my college career.

Since I made such a strong impression so early on, the next year when I attended the same event, and went to talk to the same guy behind the KPMG table, he recognized me. He knew my name and even remembered an update I had posted on my LinkedIn not too long ago. This was a proud moment for me. I had made myself stand out for the better and having a positive presence on social media only helped me. This is thanks to a LinkedIn seminar I attended, hosted by the College of Business a few weeks prior. However, I was only a little more qualified for the internship and my resume was only a little better. Although, I was more interested in the accounting field now since I was starting to take more upper-level accounting classes. KPMG had hundreds of more opportunities and being that I was so interested, I had a million questions I wanted answered. This time, the conversation went much smoother and I walked away with confidence. I even followed up once more via LinkedIn (another tip I learned from the LinkedIn seminar). By the time it was my junior year and third time attending the event, I was ready for the next step. I went straight to the KPMG table intending on submitting an application on the spot for an internship for the upcoming summer. Little did I know that this ‘Big Four’ firm had a lot more steps than just that. After my approval that I had all the necessary coursework, I received an email for a phone interview. Since this was my first time doing something like this, I reached out to my mentor, who was an alumnus, and who had been assigned to me by the COB, for tips. Just another way how the College of Business helped me grow my network of connections. After the phone interview, I finally got the chance to go up to the DC office for a formal face-to-face interview. Again reaching out to my mentor, I got some words of inspiration. Also, I vividly remember Dean Richardson telling me to do as much research as I could before the interview. Of course I listened and I went into the interview with my questions ready, smiling and being my extroverted self. I nailed it.

My summer last year was filled with meaningful work and real-life accounting problems and experiences that are hard to mimic in the classroom. I am forever grateful for all of the events with the College of Business that led me to all of the connections I have made. Without getting involved and building my resume with meaningful experience, I would not be where I am today. If I hadn’t attended that Meet the Accounting Firms event and been so persistent on my desire to work for KPMG, I wouldn’t have a full-time job waiting for me in a few months. All of the events and networking opportunities are essential in the real world. Everyone should have the opportunity to show their worth and practice the skills now before entering the workforce. The College of Business at Mary Washington opens the door for opportunities and growth, beyond just the classroom.

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