Blog Archive

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Interview advice from McGladrey social media fans

By Courtney Blonigan
Talent Acquisition Specialist
Minneapolis, MN
One of our favorite things to do on our social media sites is have discussions with our followers and fans. They ask us great questions and also provide awesome answers to the questions we pose. Check out some of their responses to a couple questions we asked about interviewing. We hope their responses give you a couple more things to think about next time you’re preparing to interview!

How do you prepare for a big job interview?

Luz O.: I'll review my résumé and anticipate questions relating to information on it. Make sure I know what were my main responsibilities in prior jobs etc., have all my documents prepared in my portfolio for easy access, prepare my clothes the night before and last but NOT least drive the day before to where the interview will take place this way I won't be anxious or nervous about getting lost and being late.

Daniel B.: 1. I research the company and attempt to gain a better understanding of its business and culture; 2. I synthesize my relevant past to create a clear picture of who I am and where I want to be heading; 3. I try to draw parallels between myself and the company, which not only creates talking points, but confirms that the company aligns with my goals and personality; 4. Right before the interview I take a deep breath, relax, and remind myself that I'm simply going to be having a pleasant conversation with a kind (hopefully!) individual.

Trish S.: Make sure you are properly dressed! Make sure you have a copy of a resume if you have one. Prepare to be yourself and smile and make sure you are on time to your interview

Enterprise Network Services: Research the organization, figure out your personal wants/needs, have a quality resume, and sell yourself!

Niraj P.: Practice possible interview questions in front of the mirror. Have questions ready for the interviewer. Read the job description for the job you have applied. Find best reasons why you believe you are the best fit. Be enthusiastic, professional, and confident.

John Leonard Employment: 1) Remembering that it's a conversation between two people and 2) driving to the location the day before to scope it out. To take it one step further, try typing the name of the company into Google and click Google's "News" filter to see if the organization has been in the news recently. It's a great talking point in an interview, it shows you have done your homework, and volunteering the information ensures a fluid and insightful conversation.

What is the most difficult interview question you ever had to answer?

Mohit S: Why do you want to change your current job?
David W: Why have you been unemployed for so long?
Stephanie S: If you could meet someone from history who would it be and why?
Patricia R: How have you used leadership skills to inspire group members who aren't pulling their weight?
Mary M: What did you not like about your last supervisor?
Courtney B: What don't you do very well?

What's the best interview question you were ever asked?

Maeden M.: What's your biggest contribution from your previous jobs?
Zakahra W.: Tell me something your proud of that isn't on your resume? 
Angelique S.: How do you plan to impact the company today and in the future? 
Elle H.: Would working with our company make your life more fulfilling? 
Lois H.: What are the three most important things you want to learn on your first day here?
Kevin R.: Why do you want to work for us? 
Terence R.: If you were a superhero, which one would you be?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Networking is still key

By Dan Gradel
Sr. Talent Acquisition Specialist
Dallas, TX

I read an article the other day on the importance of networking in today’s job market and I wanted to share some details with you to keep in mind through busy season. I believe the foundation for success is a solid team, committed to each other and the firm’s clients. In short, the one thing that ensures we continue to provide great service and grow is simply talent. The growth of McGladrey is tied to our ability to continuously attract and hire great talent. The article sampled a number of companies and found an increase in referral hiring along with a decrease in the utilization and perception of major job boards. Moreover, referral hires are 15% less likely to quit which lead to stronger teams and more growth opportunities. All these facts help call attention to this important detail: Networking is an activity that most dread to do but is essential to your survival in the professional world. With today’s electronic age it’s easier to keep in touch with past friends and co-workers and I suggest you take advantage of that as well as your various professional association events. If you’re interested in networking with McGladrey, connect with me on LinkedIn at

Monday, February 11, 2013

CPA Exam Advice

Written by Robyn Brooks
Senior Campus Recruiter
New York, NY

It seems the phrases I say the most as a campus recruiter are, “Do you have a plan for the CPA?” and “Make sure you get a head start on the CPA!” Of course, those three letters are vital to anyone with a career in public accounting, and I have even heard the certification dubbed, “the gold standard” by an executive at a major financial firm. It is indeed, the gold standard in certifications, giving its licensee a reputation of trust, accuracy and diligence. Obtaining your CPA is essential, but certainly not an easy task.  

You may ask, between all four parts of the exam, the review courses, the expiration dates, and the cost of it all, “Where do I begin?” New York Tax Associate Joshua Eikenberry is one of two McGladrey employees recently awarded the 2011 Elijah Watt Sells Award by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants for outstanding performance on the Uniform CPA Examination. Josh and B. J. Dinter, associate in the Minneapolis office, were among the 37 award recipients who passed all four sections of the Exam on the first try within the same year with a cumulative average score above 95.5 on all four sections. More than 90,000 candidates sat for the exam in 2011. You may join me in saying, “Not too bad!”

Josh has been paying it forward in the New York office, holding study sessions to help employees prepare for the exams. It is the “critical importance of planning for the exam, both on the macro level (i.e., completing all 4 parts in 18 months) and on the weekly/daily level (i.e., what do I need to accomplish today/this week?),” Josh explains. “I used Becker and I found that the planning tools they provided were most helpful in this regard.”  

Luckily, McGladrey and Becker CPA have a very close relationship. At the time a full-time offer is signed, we are able to offer the Becker course free of charge to employees. This certainly takes off a large portion of stress for many. McGladrey knows how important it is to complete this exam in a timely manner. Busy season can become an obstacle, and not completing the exam may, after a while, hold professionals back from moving up. 

“In most cases, individuals have to self-motivate to complete the CPA exam,” Josh explains, “which means sticking to the plan and being disciplined about putting in the time are both, difficult and critical.” Josh mentions that all plans need to be flexible, especially when many months are involved in this process, but if plans change, a new plan must be made that accomplishes the same goal.

“In dealing with both of the items above, I was extremely fortunate that I was able to study for the exam full time the summer before starting at McGladrey. I decided to take July-November completely off and make passing the exam my full time job. This made it easier to stick with the plan and be focused. I was also extremely fortunate to have the full support of my wife; especially when I would not have any income for 6 months. It turned out to be a great way for us to get through it; since I was studying 8 hours a day, I just closed up shop in the evening and on weekends (with a few exceptions) so we could spend that time together. We were lucky to have the resources to work it out this way so that there was virtually no strain on the relationship. I think for those with families, including those in the planning process it is critical for everyone to be on board with what the process will entail and how much time it will take.”  

Here are Josh’s tips on preparing and taking the CPA:  
  • I tried to minimize distractions and really focus on the material—with material this dry, it’s easy to get distracted, so I turned off my phone and tried to find a nice, quiet place where I could focus. I also tried to keep a regular schedule of working on the material at the same times every day, which helped keep me disciplined.
  • That said, I made a point of taking regular breaks (every 90 minutes or so) to get up and walk around, check email, think about other things, etc. It’s hard to cram all that information into your head and taking the breaks helped me come back fresh
  • Since I was using the Becker system, I did my best to follow their guidelines, such as really working through all the material, review the things I missed, working with the mnemonics, and focusing on the most likely topics for the test.
  • I gave myself daily goals for the material so that it seemed more manageable. It was easier to focus on what to do that day, rather than having the whole test laid out in front of me.
  • On test day, I tried to relax as much as possible and be confident, knowing that I’d put in the time and the work. Also, I found in the practice tests that it was easy to make mistakes just because I was rushing through the questions, so when I was taking the actual test, I tried to be thorough and not rush. I made sure to go back through each question at the end and make sure I hadn’t missed little details that they threw in to trip us up.

Friday, February 1, 2013

McGladrey Beginnings

Written by Thomas Starr
Assurance Intern
San Diego, CA

Today is the last day of my first week at McGladrey. Already, I have learned so much and met great people. Before I dive too much into my experiences thus far, let me start by letting you all know how I got to this point.

Pathways Program client site tour
During my junior year at San Diego State University, I applied and got accepted to attend the local Pathways Program held in August at the San Diego office. For those of you who don’t know, Pathways is an opportunity for interested students to learn more about McGladrey, public accounting, and the different service lines (audit vs. tax). I highly recommend the program to anyone interested in the firm or the profession. Over the course of the first two days, we listened to various presentations, went bowling, toured a client site, and served our community by cleaning up trash. It was a chance to learn the McGladrey culture and meet some of the professionals in a comfortable and fun way.

The third day was the much-anticipated Interview Day. I was excited, nervous, and more. The interviews went great, and I was anxious to hear back. Waiting after the interview was the worst. About a week later, I got the call I had been waiting for. I was offered a winter internship at McGladrey! It was an awesome feeling to see the stacks of applications, numerous networking events, and years of grueling schooling start to pay off in a meaningful way.

So that’s how I got to McGladrey. It’s already been quite the ride. Last week I went to local intern training in Irvine, CA. That’s where we were issued our laptops and backpacks (of course they threw a ten-key in there also because what’s an accountant without that!). I got to experience the joys of living out of a suitcase in a hotel for a few days. I wouldn’t call it glamorous, but I am not about to start complaining about having a king bed to myself or being reimbursed for meals. As someone who loves to sleep and eat, both of those were actually quite enjoyable!

Before my first day at my local office, I attended the office holiday party. I didn’t know what to expect, but I went anyway. After dinner, all the new hires were asked to come up and do the chicken dance. I’m sure everyone reading this knows the chicken dance. I’m talking about the one they do at most sporting events, and the one you would never expect to be performing at an accounting firm holiday party. There were quite a few of us, so it wasn’t bad at all. Before the end of the dance, they announced that they would pick a winner for the best chicken dancer. I’m always up for a challenge, so I shook what my mama gave me… a lot. Let it be known, I’m no expert at this particular dance—or I didn’t think I was—but I won. Indeed, I may have finally found my greatest talent. On my first day in the office, most people recognized me as “the guy who did the chicken dance.” It ended up being a good way to break the ice and calm the nerves of starting my first day.

Back to business.

On Monday morning, I was already assigned to a client. I spent a few hours this week working on cash and have also done some A/R confirmations for another client. As busy season continues, I know I will start to get more and more hands-on experience. I am excited for the challenges and growth opportunities that await me over the next few months! I am learning a lot and am having fun doing it. I couldn’t ask for a better start to an internship.

Internship Preparations

Written by Dorothy Schwartzkopf
Assurance Intern
Minneapolis, MN

Dorothy Schwartzkopf
One question I was asked frequently over the past six months when explaining my internship to my friends and family was, “How did you get your internship?” Luckily for me my answer was simple. Last summer I was selected to attend the McGladrey Pathways program in the Minneapolis office. Pathways is a three day program aimed at introducing junior and senior level college students to everything McGladrey: the culture, client base, history and most importantly the people. Throughout the program I was able to connect with many of the staff level employees at McGladrey and get a taste of what it would be like to work at McGladrey.
One of my favorite experiences during Pathways was a facility tour of one of McGladrey’s clients followed by a presentation given by the CEO of the company. During the presentation the CEO explained how grateful he was for all of the accounting work McGladrey has provided for his company over the years. This experience helped me realize that working in public accounting significantly influences and helps businesses everywhere. That’s what I love about McGladrey’s client base: We focus on small to middle sized businesses, run by people who truly care what is going on in their company.
Another Pathways experience that sticks out in my mind was the Casino Night, which was hosted at one of Minneapolis’ finest rooftop venues. Walking into the venue we were each provided with a bag of chips to play with. There were poker tables throughout the room and we were given the option of playing Texas Hold ‘Em or Blackjack. The room was packed with McGladrey employees of all levels, some acting as dealers. As I made my way up to a Blackjack table towards the back of the room, I was a little nervous.   However my feelings of uneasiness were quickly washed away as I was introduced to everyone at the table. Soon enough I began to really enjoy myself. Throughout the night I moved from table to table getting to meet so many wonderful people at the firm, while doing quite well at Texas Hold ‘Em I might add. This was the night that I realized how special the people at McGladrey are. It was easy for me to interact with everyone and I found myself joking around and having a good time all night.
The final day of the Pathways program was an interview. I had two interviews with managers. Both interviews went really well. In fact, I didn’t feel as if I was being interviewed at all, it was more like a conversation and just getting to know the person. The next day I got the call from McGladrey saying I had gotten an internship. I can’t even explain how excited I was. This was my first “big girl” job offer and it was at a place where I felt I truly fit in.
I spent most of the fall making countless shopping trips with my mom and friends to stock up on heels, business suits and accessories. I also made arrangements to find a place to live in Minneapolis.  This was a big move for me as I had lived in the same small city in southern Minnesota for my entire life. As my internship approached, the more excited I became. Moving up to Minneapolis in late December I couldn’t believe it was already time to start. Although I was pretty nervous before my first day, I knew I would be comfortable with my job in no time based on the Pathways experience over the summer.


Written by Daniel Verastegui
Tax Intern
Schaumburg, IL

Daniel Verastegui
Yes McGladrey is astonishing. Kind of hard to imagine an accounting firm being astonishing isn’t it? When I first got hired for an internship at McGladrey I thought (1) what are the people like, (2) how hard is the work going to be and (3) how much will I get paid? Thoughts on how orientation and training were going to be didn’t even come to mind, all I wanted to do was go to the office and start preparing tax returns (good thing I didn’t).  
Let’s talk about orientation. I have a feeling that I wasn’t the only person nervous about arriving to the intimidating office in Chicago. When I arrived I saw about three to four other people that were standing around in the lobby waiting to go to McGladrey’s floor (no one wants to be the first person at orientation awkwardly waiting for everyone else). Orientation is a very helpful tool for all interns and should be taken advantage of. Aside from getting our laptops and all our tools to start preparing tax returns, we get lunch at Lloyd’s! In all seriousness we get to learn how to charge our time and get to meet a lot of people that I guarantee you will befriend. Everyone there is very open and interesting, there were many people from all different types of backgrounds and cultures which made it fun to get to know them.

Training was a lot like orientation except there were a lot more people. Training was a lot of fun and a good learning experience. We were set up in the Q Center in St. Charles, Illinois. We arrived there on Sunday afternoon and stayed there until Friday morning. I have never had so much fun at a training event. After work many of us would go to the game room and relax, play a game of billiards or two and get intense with some foosball or ping pong. And if all this isn’t enough for someone, there is always the pub a few yards away. Aside from all the activities we did a lot of training. We learned so much, I feel I learned 4 years of school in one week at the Q Center. The trainers were great and provided us with all the do’s and do not’s of being a professional accountant. If anyone was nervous about training, whether it be the materials we had to work on or just meeting new people, there was no need to be. Everyone from the instructors to all the interns were very nice and helpful.

Now I am at work and things are great here. People are getting busy but yet they still find the time to help me out with anything I need. The person who is assigned to be my navigator is extremely helpful and patient; he may have 20 things to do at once but he is always willing to help me out. The managers, directors, partners, and senior associates who have assigned work to me are more than willing to sit down and go over any questions I have.

So if anyone is applying to McGladrey, get EXCITED - it’s a great place to work.  

“But I don’t know how to audit cash!”

Written by Melissa Young
Assurance Intern

Raleigh, NC
Melissa Young

If you’re browsing this site, you probably are either an accounting student trying to figure out what to say during your interview with McGladrey tomorrow morning (or in five minutes if we’re being honest) or have already accepted an internship position.  I’m going to skip over the interview prep and process (sorry procrastinators) and start with right after you sign the offer letter. 

I accepted my offer in October.  Late November I got an invite to the McGladrey holiday party.  I was really excited to go because it was my first “work” event.  I walked in and knew only a few people.  Fortunately, I spotted some other people with a fairly lost expression on their faces.  The other Raleigh interns!  I was glad that I went because there’d be some friendly faces at intern training.

The rest of December, I relaxed, slept, and half-heartedly tried to adjust my sleep schedule to fit working hours.  Finally it was the New Year and time for the internship.   I was pretty nervous the week before training started.  I kept dreaming that on my first day, I walked into a client’s office and was handed a huge file and was told to start auditing.  I woke up in a panic each night mumbling that I didn’t know how to audit cash.  My husband thought this was exceedingly funny and more than a little strange.

The first two days of training were in a hotel in Raleigh.  All of the new hires for North Carolina came to the training.  We went over HR policies and got our computers.  The first night, our lovely recruiter and HR generalists took all of us out bowling.  Now when I say bowling, I’m betting most of you are imagining gross rental shoes and a dark bowling alley.  Please!  Not good enough for the McGladrey interns.  We went to a fancy place in the North Hills section of Raleigh.  McGladrey rented out a private suite for us to bowl.  It was awesome.  I even posted my personal best score (a 93, no bumpers, thank you very much).

The following week was our first day in office.  We settled in to do some online training.  On Wednesday, the other Raleigh interns and I hit the road to Charlotte for another day of training for assurance interns.  We were shown the software programs and an overview of things to know before our first audit.  To wrap up the week, we returned to Raleigh for, wait for it….more training!  The Raleigh office specializes in finance companies.  We attended a two-day training session with most of the Raleigh audit staff to learn about special auditing issues for these companies. 

So the take home message here is: McGladrey invests a lot in training their interns.  Interns are treated just like first year staff.  Don’t stress too much about what you don’t know coming in.  They’ve got it covered.

Disclaimer: This Blog May Make You Hungry

Written by Selin Terzi
Tax Intern
Stamford, CT
This is me!  Selin Terzi, junior at
Baruch College in NYC.

Since my first introduction to McGladrey, I have noticed one lesser discussed of the company’s strong values: FOOD. McGladrey LOVES to feed their employees. Last June I participated in the Pathways Program, a three-day externship program offered to college students who have a year or more until their graduation date.  The three days in that program were filled with information, a client visit…and let’s not forget food, food and more food! To say the least those three days were savory and filling! The participants even had the opportunity to make their own personal pie on a pizza truck. If that’s how McGladrey treated their potential employees, imagine the experience of visiting McGladrey’s training center aka “The Q Center.” The center was filled with buffets upon buffets of every kind of food imaginable. Thankfully, there was a gym in the Q—but I didn’t even step foot in it.

Now that I’ve assured you that you will never be hungry when you’re employed by McGladrey, let me rewind.

A plate of my food from the Q
As previously mentioned, this past summer I participated in the Pathways Program. The three day externship gave an insight into McGladrey as a firm. While I had always thought of McGladrey as the largest provider of assurance, tax and consulting services to the middle market, this program provided me with my first practical exposure to the firm. Leading up to the program I was afraid and nervous that I would get lost in the crowd. Fortunately, one aspect that sets McGladrey apart is that while it has the feel of a small firm, it maintains the resources of a large firm. I felt right at home from the minute I walked in. After a fun two days, the third day of the program was dedicated to interviews for winter and summer internships. I was ready to go. I had prepped and was prepared with an answer to every potential question I could imagine. What I was not prepared for, however, was the curveball they threw us the morning of the interviews. We were no longer getting interviewed one on one; instead we would be interviewing a partner in groups and then making a presentation about the interview process. We had only a short amount of time to prepare. Thankfully all went well! I interviewed a tax partner, Jerry Landau. Might I say, he did quite well… I would hire him any day! I suppose he felt the same way about me, because a few weeks later I got the phone call from Jen—the CT recruiter, and I was offered the winter internship! 
My ride from the airport to the Q Center…  Courtesy of McGladrey!

After months of anticipation, it was finally time for orientation. The first day of orientation was held in the NYC office. Here, a group of associates and interns gathered and listened to a day’s worth of information. A week later we were off to Illinois! I had the pleasure of meeting other amazing McGladrey associates and interns from all over the country. The training was pretty exhausting; we had class Monday through Thursday from 8 am to 5 pm. The classes were hands-on as we were exposed to ProFx (tax software) and did a couple of tax returns for practice. Of course, there were also fun activities scheduled throughout the week. My stay at the Q reminded me of why I chose McGladrey in the first place. Simply put: the people. Every single person I came across was friendly and welcoming. Now I’m back at the office and being the only intern at this location this winter, things are getting pretty busy!
Thank you for reading my blog!
Here are some McGladrey cookies.
As Steve Jobs once said, “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” McGladrey is for ‘hungry’ individuals who want to continually be challenged and want to take pride in their careers. Trust me; McGladrey is able to feed those hungry individuals, in more ways than one.  More to come next month!