One of the first questions I’m always asked relates to why I chose Schneider Downs after attending the University of South Carolina. As I’ve come to learn, it is apparently somewhat rare for interns and new hires to come from universities outside the region, which makes my perspective and experience especially unique.
As someone who spent their teenage years in the Pittsburgh area before choosing to attend a university over 500 miles away, I had always felt a connection to the city. However, my initial career plans never included the possibility of coming back and choosing to stay in the Steel City. The major cities closest to my university included Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, and the whole state of Florida. So, what happened? Why trade palmetto trees and sunshine for bridges and clouds?
Before the globe fell under “these trying times,” my plans were to stay close to my alma mater and ideally work in the Charlotte area. I had become familiar with the area, and the new life I had created was centered around the region with many of my closest friends living in the Southeast and along the East coast. When COVID sent everyone home in the spring of my junior year, my perspective began to change. I valued the time I was able to spend with my family, and the realization of having aging grandparents made it that much harder to leave in July 2020 to begin my internship with a regional accounting firm in the Southeast. The experience I had at my previous internship cemented a few early ideas I had about my future career path. For instance, I like the feeling of a more regional firm, as the teams and organizations are more connected and not overwhelmed with ‘warm bodies.’
While navigating my first full semester of a COVID education, I was faced with the additional task of trying to determine what my next career move would be. While discussing my plans with one of my professors and mentors during one of our semi-regular meetings, she brought up if I had thought about looking for roles in the Pittsburgh area at all. I hadn’t, but after further discussion, she revealed that one of her bigger career regrets was not being closer to home (specifically family) when she started, and that really got me thinking.
Fast forward to my first interview with Schneider Downs, which I initially thought I bombed, and I knew something had changed in me. It was the first time that I could remember being genuinely nervous for an interview, and it made me realize just how much I wanted to return to Pittsburgh – especially if it included being a part of a prestigious firm such as Schneider Downs. Following a few more interviews and an especially captivating conversation with shareholder Joseph Bruce, I was responding to my offer letter the day I received it.
Throughout my internship experience, one thing has stood out above all else. Schneider Downs employees really pride themselves on being more than just coworkers - but being a team and a family. And more than that, Schneider Downs is a family that cares. This is evident throughout the firm from top to bottom. I look forward to a post-COVID world where I can meet many of these remarkable individuals face-to-face and continue to learn and grow throughout my accounting career. If we’re fortunate, these experiences aren’t all that far away.
You’ve heard our thoughts… We’d like to hear yours
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