Setting Your Sights on a Scholarship/Fellowship?
Fall is upon us but it is not too early for those interested in the Master of Accounting Program to start considering the necessary requirements of admission. In this blog, I want to touch on the steps that would result in a MAC Fellowship and a big step forward in my journey toward a new career in accounting.
So, what is a fellowship?
I’m glad you asked! NC State’s MAC Fellowship Program matches upcoming students with employers who (through a partnership with the MAC Program) sponsor a student’s tuition. Often, the fellowships are also accompanied by job offers. There is an interview process with accounting firms hosted by the program the spring before classes begin so the sponsors can get a feel for which student(s) would be the best fit with their company.
As I alluded to in my last post, you will not be considered for fellowships or scholarships if you don’t apply by the first deadline. In my case, that deadline was February 1. I felt the odds were against me, but I set the deadline for myself anyway. I’m glad I did because shortly after hearing I was admitted to the program, I also learned I was a fellow finalist. Before I go further, know that only twelve students received fellowships this year, but that shouldn’t stop students from applying early. There are a lot of smaller scholarships awarded and you never know what could be offered unless you apply.
The exciting/nerve-racking process
I was thrilled. From start to finish, thrilled was really the only emotion I remember having. Many of my peers were also thrilled, some were nervous, others were flat out stressed. It is said that every unsuccessful interview prepares us for the next one. Looking back, I am now thankful for all of the job interviews I had over the years that did not produce a job offer. They helped me relax and show the interviewers my real personality.
The networking event was on a Thursday and went by very fast. There were 9 firms at tables oriented in a big circle. You meet the company’s recruiter and have less than 10 minutes to convince them that you deserve a second interview. Time’s up, rotate to the next firm’s table. A few people joked that it was like speed dating. When I left the room, I sat in a corner and frantically tried to write down as many names as I could remember and one part of our conversation that stood out in my memory. Liz likes Tennessee football. Gary likes to watch the Masters. Davey plays foosball with coworkers. That night, I emailed every single one of them and said a quick thank you followed by what I enjoyed about our conversation.
Interviews were held the next morning and were 1-on-1. I remember my return interviews being very relaxed. Although we were allotted more time than the day before, the interview still flew by and I wished I had more time. Afterward, if the firms still think you are a potential candidate, you make it to the next round, which is office visits.
The office visit
Fortunately, I was offered an office visit where I had casual interviews with a diverse group of accountants who were more senior in the company. I actually had an appointment with 4-5 other candidates at the same time. We each went to someone’s office and had lengthy conversations before rotating to the next office. I felt very comfortable talking with these senior level employees. We didn’t talk much about my resume, rather we talked more about travel, woodworking, and the history of the Tervis Tumbler. We even spoke about a few NCSU professors. I immediately felt well received and left feeling good.
Time seemed to stand still as I waited for a reply. We were told it would be 2 weeks, but we should not panic if it was longer. In my head, I was thinking they had already offered all the fellowships and a few students had requested a week to think about it. Then came the call. I was mowing the grass when the Big 4 firm partner I met with weeks ago called to offer me a job and fellowship. I accepted the job and agreed to the terms of the fellowship.
It is a huge relief to not worry about recruiting while taking classes. I can focus completely on my grades and studying for the CPA exam. I will talk more about both of those in the months ahead, so be patient. Don’t forget to write comments and questions if you have any. Most importantly, get those applications in early!