The Student Experience at the 2011 Regional NABA Conference

2011 Regional NABA Conference

On October 6th-9th, students from the University of Connecticut School of Business and other schools and colleges from the eastern region of the Unites States had the opportunity to attend the 2011 Regional National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) conference in Bethesda, Maryland. The conference included two and a half days of workshops, seminars and interview sessions.

The program was designed to help better prepare minority students for careers in accounting and financial management.  The major objective of the conference was to encourage student involvement in NABA and to assist in the development of leadership skills.  The other objectives include providing an opportunity for students and professionals to share their goals and objectives, a forum to discuss student issues and to present positive alternative resolutions, opportunities for students to develop and exhibit their organizational and planning skills, and to provide a cost-effective method for students to interview for different corporations for entry-level positions and internships.

In the paragraphs below, UConn students recount their experiences at this year’s NABA conference.

Christopher Sanchez ‘12 (Accounting) – My experiences at the 2011 Regional NABA conference were truly unforgettable. There was not a single element of the conference that was not perfect. Not only was the landscape and the hotel beautiful, but the seminars were all extremely touching and helpful. Even more importantly the atmosphere really changed me and molded me into a much more professional and career focused individual. Surrounding yourself with so many professionals who want to assist you is important, and I believe that NABA provides this to their students more than any other organization I have ever had the privilege of being associated with. The networking and career opportunities that were available to everyone this weekend were something unlike anything I have ever been exposed to before, leading me to believe that through NABA students are definitely destined for success. All of my experiences from this conference have done nothing but further my appreciation and admiration for NABA, and it has definitely made me realize that I want to become more involved and continue taking part in NABA post-graduation.

Venice Sterling ’13 (Psychology) – For me it was more than the all of the great companies that were at the conference, giving advice and conducting interviews; it was important to see all of the other NABA chapters in attendance at the conference. Knowing that NABA is such a huge part of so many individuals’ lives helped brand the experience for me. There were many other chapters from different schools such as Morgan State University, Maryland University and many more. The experience was one that I cannot forget. The interactions that took place and the enthusiasm that each school had for their own individual chapters helped to create a live environment. Everyone represented his or her school well, and this is something I believe UConn should also be able to do. One of the sessions that I attended was “NABA on your campus”, and my intentions were to learn how I could help build our NABA Chapter up even higher and be more active in our community. The most important thing that I learned at this conference and in this session was being able to appeal to different individuals through different programs and activities. Though our chapter here at UConn is well on its way, I still believe with some more work we can be one of the schools that had over 20 members at the conference, in the future.

Christina Headley ‘14 (Accounting) – My experience at the Eastern Region Student Conference for National Association of Black Accountants was a weekend filled of enlightening and informative sessions, combined with opportunities to network with peers with similar interests as mine. The energy during the entire weekend was high and the session that began it all was the opening conference about personal branding. A quote that stuck out to me during the session was entitled “Words to Brand By”, they stated, “You must make your name a best-selling product…something others aspire to be or seek value from… be someone that matters…”

These words resonate with me because throughout the conference this notion was enforced on many occasions. The importance of your colleagues and employers knowing who you are and that you are a quality individual, can say a lot about you. This is true especially when they are able to speak on your behalf when you are and are not present. Also being able to speak with representatives from the big four accounting firms and institutions such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was a great way to learn about and network with them. Many of the companies that are sponsors of NABA also facilitated sessions not only about their companies specifically, but also information that we as young professionals may find useful. The sessions ranged from how to handle conflict to even studying abroad. Overall, the conference exposed me to a world of accounting professionals and an organization that has helped to support me in my career pursuits.

O’Rayne Clarke ’14 (Accounting) – Going to the Northeast Regional NABA conference was truly a blessing. It has increased my knowledge through its many seminars. The information that was provided had a wide range of topics that will be useful in my personal, professional, and academic life. Learning more about NABA and seeing the passion of the professionals, volunteers, and students has inspired me to help with the growth of NABA here at the University of Connecticut. Another great thing about this conference was that I was able to network with professionals and also students. The length of the conference made it easier to build relationships that will last beyond our departure. Many of these things are things that all who participated in this conference could possibly agree upon. One way that my experience may have been different from most of my peers, was that I had already obtained an internship prior to attending the conference. The conference presented students with the opportunity to network with different companies, gain an interview and possible a job offer. When I went into the career fair I bumped into my recruiter from KPMG. We talked for a while then she asked if I wanted to assist with recruiting by sharing my experience and knowledge on the accounting profession, and I immediately agreed. I enjoyed assisting with recruiting because people seek knowledge that I had obtained through my internship experience. Undergraduates and even graduate students came to me seeking advice and this felt great, being that I was only a sophomore. Overall, the trip was a wonderful experience and I would recommend that future NABA students take full advantage of this opportunity.

Overall the conference was a learning experience. This is something that we all look forward to attending in the future, be it as Alums or still as an undergraduate member. We believe that this experience has helped us to have a greater connection to our chapter and a greater respect for the behind the scenes work. The networking opportunities were endless, the spirit of each individual school was incredible, and the overall session taught us about branding ourselves as a person. We would like to thank the Office of Diversity Initiatives, the Travelers EDGE program and the University of Connecticut for helping to fund this amazing experience.

Photo: Students Christopher Sanchez, Venice Sterling, Christina Headley, and O’Rayne Clarke.

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