How They Got Their First Job: A Dancing Number-Cruncher

accountingA business savvy dance major landed a job as a tax accountant for a major New York accounting firm, right out of college, in this job market. Wow!

For Amanda Rack, a combination of varied interests, hard work, internships and good connections landed her that first job.

Here's her story:

An Aggressive Attitude

Amanda graduated last year from Hofstra University in New York with dual degrees, a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting. She works as a staff accountant focusing on tax preparation for Marcum, LLP.

Rack's might seem like an odd combination of majors but, she says, "I constantly need to challenge myself and always be active. While in college I carried this same philosophy."

During her time in school, Amanda had three internships. The first one, with a Brooklyn-based modern dance company called Misnomer Dance Theatre, combined her love of dance and her interest in business, and she made the most of it.

"Three of my most memorable assignments were preparing press releases, interacting with the dancers to prepare them for upcoming events, and organizing sales receipts to give to the accountant," she told me.

Even the way she got the internship showed an aggressiveness that would help her out later. She met the choreographer, Chris Elam, when he was a guest choreographer for the Hofstra Dance Faculty show and she was picked to dance in his performance.

"I had talked to the director of the dance department and said I wanted to intern at a dance company. He told me Mr. Elam was looking for an intern. I applied and was accepted for the position."

Getting Experience Any Way You Can

After that, she interned with the New York State Department of Tax and Finance and with PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the top four accounting firms in the world.

"[The Pricewaterhouse] internship helped prepare me for the real corporate world in terms of the long hours and time I would have to dedicate to my future full-time positions," she said.

Amanda was also busy on campus, involved in student dance groups, working for a professional business organization,selling CPA review books to students and pursuing one extracurricular activity that really made her stand out: "I was a mascot at football and basketball games and open house events.

"I made people laugh and people who knew me had no idea I was in the mascot costume," she said. "Employers found this extremely interesting and it gave us something to talk about besides accounting. From my standpoint, it made me stand out and be remembered by employers."

Network, Network, Network

When it came time to look for a job, Amanda, again, made all the right moves.

"Besides sending out my résumé and cover letter, I attended networking events where I met employees from the firms I was interested in working with. I exchanged business cards with the employers. Many of them were impressed that I had my own business card," she says.

She immediately followed up with emails to the employers she had met to keep her in their minds. She also worked with the school's career center and took advantage of its on-campus recruiting program.

"The program allowed me to network and be interviewed by 17 employers in a time frame of one month. From all of my interviews I was able to land my first full-time job by the end of the fall semester of my senior year."

Believe in Yourself

A tried and true formula worked for Amanda. She got experience in college and during internships. Through those experiences she found a passion in an industry with available jobs. She networked and met lots of people in the industry she wanted to work in, and she took advantage of campus resources to get interviews. There's one more part of the formula that Amanda says is crucial to success.

"Above all, have confidence in yourself," she said. "If you are not confident in yourself and think you are not the right fit for a certain position, an employer is going to think the same thing and not hire you."

Well said!

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