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It’s a Family Thing

A handful of resumes, a freshly dry-cleaned suit, and a room with over 100 potential employers; that is what was staring directly back at me my first year at West Chester University. I was 100% out of my element, but this was step one down a new path.

I’m not what you would call the “traditional” accounting intern. I’m 26 years old with a degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology from Iowa State University (yes, IOWA). After years of chasing jobs all around the country, from Arizona to Pennsylvania, with no potential law enforcement job on the horizon, I decided it was time for a change. Being the youngest of three, I always looked up to my older brother, who just happens to be a CPA in Indianapolis. Six months after graduating from Iowa State, after feeling lost not being able to find a job related to my degree, I sat down with him and thought “maybe I could do accounting”.

Flash-forward three years; I’m working as a surveillance operator in a casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and decided to give an accounting degree a shot. After the first week of online classes, it all clicked, and I knew this was the right thing for me. I continued for 18 months doing online courses while working over 70 hours a week doing two jobs to help pay for school and offset all the travel expenses racked up during my cross-country excursions looking for jobs. But even with all this new-found success, I knew that if this was what I wanted to do, I would have to finish my degree quickly. I moved from Bethlehem to Philadelphia and enrolled at West Chester University with my sights set on a new degree.

They call it “Meet the Firms” at West Chester, and that is where the paths of Stephano Slack and I crossed. I remember speaking with Matt, and hearing about how great the firm was, all the jobs he’s done in his time, and the type of people he works with. It really sparked something inside me, and I remember leaving that night thinking about all the people I met from different firms. But something about Stephano Slack and Matt stuck out, I just couldn’t put my thumb on it. The next day, I emailed Matt and thanked him for his time. He replied and said he had already forwarded my resume to his managers. Apparently, I had as much of an impact on him as he had on me.

I interviewed a few weeks later and was offered a position in the A&A department for the spring this year. A full load of classes and an internship was going to be a lot to handle, but I had no doubt in my mind I could succeed while maintaining my 4.0 GPA at West Chester. The choice to join Stephano Slack was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

I was nervous to start, because this was my first full-time semester for accounting and I already had an internship offer. I feel like I had a lot to live up to. I called my brother again and asked for some advice, and what he told me is what any intern, and any staff, should live by: “Never stop learning. You’re not going to know everything from day one, and you’re probably not going to know anything years down the line when you retire. Learn, absorb, be present, and be patient. Knowledge in this field is earned, and it’s earned by doing.”

This firm has given me so many opportunities to grow, not just as an intern or a hopeful accountant and CPA, but as a person. From working on my first job with Matt and Bob, to the audits with Pat, Jim, and Jay, I’ve learned how to be an auditor, a coworker, and a better person. Although I felt lost a number of times, I always had a great team behind me, and they would help in any way that they could. Whether it was asking the staff, the seniors, the managers, or even the partners, everyone is willing to help. It’s not just a group of auditors and tax advisors here, it’s a family.

-Chris

March 22, 2019