Being a FICPA Student Ambassador at Florida State University has been such a great opportunity for me, from meeting multiple accounting professionals in the Tallahassee area to meeting faculty members at Florida State that I hadn’t before. It has helped me build new relationships with people I would have never known without given the chance to represent my school as a student ambassador. It has been an exciting experience, one that I would recommend to anyone looking for a way to be involved in their local community while also helping fellow students learn more about the accounting field.Essentially, a student ambassador has many duties but our one main goal is to get students involved in the accounting profession through our student memberships. Student memberships are completely free and offer a wide array of opportunities such as scholarships, mentorships, and even internship openings. The difficulty with this though, is that students don’t know a lot about the FICPA except for the fact that CPAs attend meetings to earn CPE credits. Students are not required yet to learn more about CPE topics so it can be challenging to influence them to attending a meeting. However, they don’t realize the networking opportunities that lie ahead of them if they were to attend these meetings. Another issue is that many students lack the skill of networking. While attending Florida State University as an accounting major, you will go through classes that will prepare you for the CPA exam but we do not take a class that can completely prepare you to network with business professionals. We take a speech course that attempts to teach you how to walk up to someone and introduce yourself or even give an elevator speech, but many students still lack this skill thereafter walking out of this class. The minimal education around the topic and nervousness some of these students feel can be a big barrier to talking them into attending a Tallahassee Chapter FICPA meeting. Another barrier is that many students seem to be falling into the herding mentality. One of the most frequently asked questions I receive is, will any of the Big 4 accounting firms be at any of these meetings? At FSU, the Big 4 accounting firms are heavily promoted and a lot of students don’t know anything about local accounting firms in the Tallahassee area because all they hear about is the Big 4. This leads them to thinking that they cannot be successful unless they begin their career with one of the Big 4 firms. This results in them never taking the opportunity to meet with others from local firms and talking about the opportunities offered by these firms. This is something that consistently comes up during membership conversations, and sadly turns many people off joining the FICPA and learning about the possibilities lying ahead.
Some of the ways that I have been recruiting students to sign up for memberships are tabling outside of the College of Business at FSU, and tabling within sponsored events and even promoting Chapter meetings in classrooms around campus. These ways have been effective, resulting in multiple people signing up to become members. The issue still is that we want these students to become active members in which they show up and participate in meetings. We want them to come out and speak to our local CPAs for mentorships or even just tips/advice on how to best prepare for the CPA exam. Another way we want to start bringing students out to meet some local professionals and promote membership is through student-based events. Some of the ideas for student events so far have been happy hour socials for students to come and grab drinks with some other CPAs and have time for small talk and ask any questions they may have. Another idea was to go to an activity based business around Tallahassee such as the new escape room that has opened in Collegetown near FSU. This would allow students to come and experience a new attraction to Tallahassee while also working closely with other CPAs from around the area. This seems to be a more advantageous event because not only will it give the students a chance to enjoy themselves but it will also take the pressure off of them to attend the event and begin networking with people they have never met before.
Overall, being a student ambassador for the FICPA poses its challenges, but it is such a great opportunity between the people you meet, get to work with, and the events you can attend to recruit student members. I would highly recommend anyone in the future to apply to become their school’s student ambassador because it is something that opens up so many doors and allows people to create permanent relationships with local accounting professionals. It is guaranteed to be a wonderful experience and a great way to learn more about the accounting profession in a well-rounded view. Also, if any future CPAs have any ideas to help us ambassadors promote student membership and get more students involved, please share your idea with us because we want to do anything we can to reach out to students and get them to become active members.
Student Ambassador – Florida State University