By: Richard Segal
I was lucky to attend the inaugural Student Leadership Institute of North Carolina (SLINC’13), hosted by the North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants. I cannot say thank you enough to Jared Plummer, Sonya Guthrie, Jackie Asekhauno, all the firms that were in attendance, and the speakers who made the inaugural event so spectacular.
The event consisted of numerous professionals and CPAs who gathered at Wake Forest University to advise the 48 student-attendees on valuable lessons they have learned since entering the world of accounting. Personally, I took away three major points from the weekend:
- Initiate—The person responsible for our success is the person we see in the mirror every morning
- Fail—“Every failure brings with it the seed to an equivalent success” – Napoleon Hill
- Dream—Even if it means being unique
Initiate: It’s Our Responsibility
Mr. Plummer kicked off the weekend by encouraging all of us to initiate. Whether it was networking with the firms or getting a head start on learning about the CPA exam which looms on the horizon, we are at the point where it’s on us to show the initiative to get things done. For example, all the attendees were divided into groups of four or five and given a team leader. Each leader worked in the accounting world, and their role was to help with and answer any of our questions. It was up to us to initiate these conversations with the team leaders and make the most out of the 48-hour opportunity.
Fail: It could be a valuable lesson
During a panel discussion on the transition from the academic world into the professional work force, Mark Soticheck, a Senior Manager at Dixon Hughes Goodman, LLP, pointed out that too often students are afraid to fail when they enter the workforce. Rather, Mr. Soticheck encouraged us to fail, because some of the most valuable lessons are those we learn through failure. I thought that was superb advice. No matter how hard I study, I still won’t know all the answers at the end of the day. If we are to be successful in the workforce, as Mr. Soticheck wisely suggested, we must embrace failure and make sure we learn the crucial lessons that result because they can be the most beneficial.
Dream: It’s timeless
Kevin Snyder was the keynote speaker of the conference, and the enthusiasm of his presentation set the tone for the entire conference. Most notably, he talked about his life-long dream of meeting Bob Barker on the Price is Right. Even through college, he avoided scheduling classes during his beloved show. Eventually, he initiated a conversation with someone, who ironically, had just been on the Price is Right! His friend helped him get on the show, he skipped his college graduation, flew cross-country, and chased his dream of meeting Bob Barker.
As students, Mr. Snyder encouraged us to follow our dreams and do what makes us happy. Whether it’s passing the CPA exam or getting the dream internship with a highly respected firm, I learned that dreaming is not frowned upon: it’s encouraged.
My experiences from SLINC are not limited to the points above—I also learned about dining etiquette, the ethical code of CPAs, financial planning, and honed my interviewing skills. It’s difficult to describe how beneficial one weekend could be in terms of how it will affect my overall career. I believe, without a doubt, that SLINC taught me lessons I would not have learned anywhere else, and encouraged me to be a better student and leader. If I had to sum the weekend in up into one sentence, it would be as follows: I learned that as students and future leaders, we are responsible for initiating opportunities, even if the opportunity could lead to failure, in order to chase our dreams.