From the Accounting Club to the accounting firm, starting at UIC Business

by Geraldine Deliva
President, Accounting Club

In the coming weeks, I’ll finish my MSA at UIC Liautaud, sit for the CPA exam, and start working downtown at Grant Thornton. Unlike the Big Four, Grant Thornton hasn’t recruited at UIC Business for a while. I met them through the Illinois CPA Society, which I got involved with at UIC Business, but I digress—today I want to tell you about the Accounting Club, and maybe along the way I can explain how it helped me get to where I am now.

The Accounting Club is one of the largest and most active student organizations at UIC Business. We’ve been on campus for forty years, which means we have a large alumni network and some well established traditions. The Club offers students a lot of networking opportunities. Meet the Firms, for example, which we put together exclusively for accounting majors, is an accounting job fair. In 2014, 26 firms attended. In 2015, we had 34 firms, and we’re working with the Business Career Center to expand it further.

But we offer students more than just networking opportunities. We organize a variety of activities to help students get internships and jobs. And most importantly, we provide accounting students with a community of kindred spirits, people who share goals and interests. I think that above all this is what the Accounting Club has meant to me, the friends I’ve made and the support I’ve received in starting my career. My strongest professional relationships come from the Accounting Club.

When I enrolled at UIC Business in 2011, I was finding my feet in accounting. Knowing that I liked math, my parents suggested that I study accounting. Little did I know I’d end up working with entire accounting systems, instead of just numbers, but all the better. It’s the complexity I like.

The Accounting Club popped up in an online search during my first semester. I was commuting from Hinsdale, and wanted a club that didn’t require a nighttime commitment. During my second semester, I started as a proctor for the Club. This was back when the Accounting Club offices were on the 11th floor of University Hall. We proctors sat behind a desk, answered questions, collected dues and generally just welcomed visitors to the Club. We had about 20 proctors that year.

In my junior year, I served the Club as VP of Operations. At the beginning of my senior year, I was VP of Finance (I’ve bounced around a bit). Since becoming President of the Accounting Club, I’ve streamlined things a little. We’ve moved a lot of our processes online, and now we schedule meetings on an as-needed basis. This freed up office space and scheduling, and left our core staff with more resources to focus on our most important work, like Meet the Firms, or our Networking Night and the meetings that precede it. (Firm representatives visit the Club before Networking Night to prepare students for networking. I've learned indispensable lessons in these meetings with reps.)

I can testify that these events are a huge resource for students. For me, all of the interview prep and networking experience proved its value when the Illinois CPA Society introduced me to Grant Thornton. The CPA Society’s placement process usually involves a few rounds of interviews. In my first round, I interviewed with Deloitte, Ernst & Young and Grant Thornton. I was already leaning toward Grant Thornton—I liked their support for the Mary T. Washington Wylie Program, and I liked the office culture. Thanks to all of my practice, the interview with Grant Thornton went really well, and I relayed this to the CPA Society. Grant Thornton had done the same—a match! I didn’t even go through the subsequent rounds of interviews.

As I’m writing this, the Accounting Club is preparing for our biggest event of the year, our Spring Banquet, on April 21st. This year we’re holding it at Navy Pier. We’ll have about 20 tables, students will be seated with firms, the college will award scholarships, and we’ll hear from our guest speaker, Michael Anderson, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Chicago division. Before he joined the FBI, Mr. Anderson was a CPA at KPMG.

Grant Thornton will attend this year, part of my ploy to get them recruiting at UIC Business again. And, what I most enjoy: we’ll see a lot of UIC Business alumni at the banquet, because so many alumni work at these firms. At last year’s banquet, I met the last nine presidents of the Accounting Club. I expect that at the 2017 banquet I’ll be meeting the Accounting Club’s next president.

There's a lot more to know about the Accounting Club. I can't say it all here! Find us online at accountingclubatuic.org, and write to us with your questions. We'd love to see you get involved in accounting at UIC Business.