Unforgettable People, Unforgettable Experience


By Jamal Blackwell

Upon my first interview here at Schneider Downs & Co., I was a senior at La Roche College and in the middle of a very busy fall semester. I’d been juggling the responsibilities of being a full-time student, a full-time assistant coach to the Varsity Boys’ Lacrosse team at Seneca Valley, Head Coach and Coordinator with the Greater Pittsburgh Gorillas Lacrosse program, and a mentor to a few children, and, as a result, I didn’t think I spent as much time as I would have liked to mentally prepare for my interview with Schneider Downs at the Accounting Consortium in Robinson.  But contrary to my belief, as soon as I walked into the room, I was greeted with a warm welcome, and I knew that this interview would turn out to be better than all the rest I had that day. The tax partner who interviewed me was very down to earth, and wanted to know more about my experiences in college, rather than the actual lessons learned in the classroom.

Usually interviewers ask about your coursework to see if you are qualified for the position, but for some reason, he was more focused on what I had done outside the classroom. Closer to the conclusion of my interview, he made a very profound statement (which later became one of the many reasons I hoped for a call back from Schneider Downs). He said, “The reason I am so focused on what you have done outside the classroom and not the traditional focal points for an interview is because I know you are qualified for the job by the look of your resume, but I am more concerned with who YOU are as person to see if you are a good fit for this company.”

From that moment on, Schneider Downs had just made it to the top of my interest list.

After my interviews and some months later, I was eager to step foot in the offices for my first day and begin the experience.  After sitting with Mike Collins, Senior Manager of Human Resources and Thomas Harvey, Director of Human Resources for the first few minutes of my day, I was quickly reminded of why I was so eager to join. From day one in the offices, even as interns, we were given the responsibility and, the more importantly, the space and encouragement, to fulfill those responsibilities on our own. The phrase that stuck with me for the first two days of our training was “Don’t be afraid to ask us questions.”  And never before had I seen a professional work environment where the air was open to ask questions about literally ANYTHING possible.

From the great intern class that I entered the door with up to each shareholder I had a chance to speak with, it was a very inviting, resourceful and refreshing experience here at Schneider Downs & Co. All the staff, in-charge staff, managers, and shareholders on each engagement I was a part of made a big impact on me while working there and allowed me to make mistakes with assurance that an explanation was ALWAYS in the works soon after. They each understood the magnitude of my capabilities, but challenged me to go further and become better. I’ve learned another lesson about time management; I’ve learned more on how to communicate better with others in multiple facets; and most importantly, how much going the extra mile makes a huge difference when it comes to client trust and comfort.

On a lighter note, I do have something to offer to those interns who are soon to follow, and honestly to anyone who comes across this article. If there is a decent piece of advice that I can offer, it is a very simple one. “The care you put into the smallest details in your life, whether it is personal or professional, will ultimately and almost directly reflect your future in life”. The reason I conclude my article with this quote and none other is because I want each and every person that I come across in this life, whether it be in person or through a short essay, to hopefully walk away with a meaningful experience and a better understanding of who I am and the principles that have helped me throughout my life.

This quote carries much significance in that the effort, the work, and the attitude you have now have an overwhelming influence on where you will end up later on.  So with this information, I challenge you all to be personable day-in and day-out, try new and exciting things, treat everyone with respect no matter their age or position in life, try to help at least one person every single day, and although it may sound very cliché, live each and every day like it is your very last. We often get caught up in the confusion of ALL that life has to offer us, with very little discrimination towards the fine line of what is good and bad and which one should take precedence over our lives.  The people here at SD & Co. have made this challenge for me a very pleasurable one, and I will be forever grateful for that.

As I get ready to leave for Dubai and Shanghai for graduate school, I want to wish everyone at Schneider Downs all the best and prosperous futures!

© 2014 Schneider Downs. All rights-reserved. All content on this site is property of Schneider Downs unless otherwise noted and should not be used without written permission.

This advice is not intended or written to be used for, and it cannot be used for, the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties that may be imposed, or for promoting, marketing or recommending to another person, any tax related matter.

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© 2019 Schneider Downs. All rights-reserved. All content on this site is property of Schneider Downs unless otherwise noted and should not be used without written permission.