Bridget O'Malley
 
 
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Bridget O'Malley

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U.S. Campus Recruiting Lead

Protiviti

Alexandria, VA

 

Rocking the Internship

Q&A with a leading campus recruiter

Learn how to stand out in a sea of adequate applicants with this previously live chat where students fired off their most pressing internship-related questions. Protiviti’s Bridget O’Malley dishes on how to be more proactive, make your external interests an asset and grab that internship by the proverbial horns.


ThisWayToCPA:  Welcome everyone. We'll be getting started in about five minutes. If you have questions, feel free to start submitting them.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 01:57

How do you plan to spend the summer?

Working as an intern
( 37% )
Looking for an internship
( 25% )
Searching for an entry-level position
( 12% )
Relaxing and taking time off
( 25% )
I don't have any plans
( 0% )

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:04

ThisWayToCPA:  Bridget O'Malley is with us today. She's the National Campus Recruiting Lead at Protiviti. Hi Bridget.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:05

Bridget O'Malley:  Hello!

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:05

Bridget O'Malley:  I'm excited to be here.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:05

ThisWayToCPA:  We're happy to have you. Looks like we've got our first question.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:05

Lyndsey:  What should I do if I apply to countless internships and I never hear anything back? Is it alright to follow up with the company I've applied to?

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:05

Question

Rebecca:  How do I make myself stand out in the interview process?

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:05

Question

Jackie:  What are some things I should be doing during my internship this summer?

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:08

Bridget O'Malley:  Hi Rebecca! To answer your question, there are a number of things that you can do to stand out in the interview process. First off, I think it is important to show you personality beyond your grades, GPA, and technical experience. Talk about things that interest you and things that you are passionate about. Also, I think it's very important to link your interests to the role that you would play in an organization, so do research on the company to find out things that are compatible with your background or focus, or things that fit what you are looking to do. As an employer, I always like to see someone who is driven and passionate and has a vested interest in our organization.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:08

ThisWayToCPA:  Thanks for your questions everyone. We will get to them all.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:10

Bridget O'Malley:  Hi Jackie! Congratulations on having an internship - it's a very exciting opportunity to have. There are so many things to do! The most important thing is to get to know the work that you are doing and the people you work with. Show that you are interested and can excel in the projects that you are given, and build relationships with your peers, managers, mentors, and other individuals whom you meet. Be open to anything that is thrown your way and be excited about the time that you have to explore a company in such detail. Have a lot of positivity and energy!

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:10

ThisWayToCPA:  Great insight Bridget. How do students who aren't very outgoing do some of the things you've suggested?

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:11

Bridget O'Malley:  Lyndsey - Regarding your question on following up, I do think it is absolutely appropriate to follow up with an employer that you are interested in. This just shows an enthusiasm and interest in an opportunity. However, it is also important to note that sometimes timing or focus isn't right and employers are unable to consider you for a position. In that case, it's important to keep in touch and leave the employer with a positive perception of you as a candidate.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:12

Question

Jackie:  If you had to choose one intern for a permanent position, what would be the deciding factor and why?

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:12

Bridget O'Malley:  Even if you are not the most outgoing candidate in the room, there are certainly great things about you that qualify you for a position that you are interested in. There are things that you are passionate about and things that make you stand out. Don't worry about charming everyone during the recruiting process - it's more important to be sincere and thoughtful and to connect with an employer on a genuine level.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:14

What do you consider the best resource for finding an internship?

Campus career center
( 22% )
Parents and family friends
( 0% )
Internet searches
( 0% )
Professional networking
( 77% )

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:14

Question

Abraham Grimaldo:  I am a Junior majoring in accounting, and I have noticed that every firm hire interns differently. Some firms offer internships for when you have completed your master's degree, other firms offer internships when you are starting your master's and other firms hire when you are your senior year. When should students be looking for an internship?

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:15

Bridget O'Malley:  Another great question, Jackie. As an employer, I always look for interns who 1) are strong performers, but who also 2) show passion and interest in the work that they are performing. I look for the interns who go above and beyond to make connections with our people and to add value beyond tasks that are given to them. The deciding factor would be to find those interns who show that they want to go the extra mile to make a difference.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:16

Question

Alexey:  I have earned bachelors degree in accounting almost a year ago. I also passed all the sections to the uniform CPA examination. It seems like I'm not eligible for internship with public accounting firms, because I'm out of school. For entry level positions in the field of public accounting employers require 1-2 year of public accounting experience. I'm not sure how to proceed and if I can not get an internship where should I gain required public accounting experience?

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:18

Bridget O'Malley:  Hi Abraham, great question. The important thing is to look at each employer's job description to understand the requirements that candidates need to meet. As a generalization, I would say that most larger firms require that students are one year away from graduation at the time of the internship. If you are a junior in a five-year program, you would not meet that requirement. It depends on the employer and this information should always be provided in the job description.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:18

ThisWayToCPA:  So, Bridget. Would you say that it's too early to begin looking for an internship as a sophomore in a four-year undergrad accounting program.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:20

Bridget O'Malley:  Hi Alexey. It sounds like you may not fit the traditional "intern" position because you have already graduated. You seem to be more compatible with an entry-level position. I would focus your search on entry-level positions, versus internships, and you can search for those positions a number of ways, including online job boards, employer Careers websites, or your alumni organization.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:21

Bridget O'Malley:  I would say that it is typically too early, yes, to find an internship as a sophomore. Having said that, it is NEVER too early to begin networking with recruiters and employers on campus, so visit the career fairs, attend employer events, and join organizations on campus that get you in front of employers. Also, many employers have leadership programs or externship opportunities for students who are too early in their academic careers to be considered for an internship. Your career center will have information on those opportunities.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:23

ThisWayToCPA:  With so many applications being submitted online and through standardized forms, how can a student stand out? Is it okay to hand deliver a resume or call the recruiter?

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:23

Bridget O'Malley:  Yes, as recruiters, we love to receive resumes in whatever way they are delivered, whether in person or by phone, or online! I agree that the internet can sometimes create challenges or distance during the recruiting process. The best thing to do is to take advantages of events on campus or in your market location to get in front of employers and to interact with them outside of the online recruiting system.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:25

Question

Lyndsey:  What is the difference in the experience I'll get at a summer internship at a large accounting firm rather than a small, local firm?

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:27

Question

Jordan:  Would it be appropriate to mail your resume to the recruiter in the case that you are not located nearby?

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:28

Bridget O'Malley:  There are definitely benefits to both types of experiences. In a larger firm, you tend to work with larger clients, on bigger project teams, and you get the benefit of a firm with a lot of infrastructure. These internships tend to be very organized, with mentoring programs, events, trainings, and other formalized programs. With a smaller firm, you have the opportunity to be less of a number, more of a name, and to get a more in-depth understanding of the business environment that you are working in. It's important to think about what type of experience you are looking for and to find the employer and internship that matches that best.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:31

Have you ever hand delivered your resume? Our panelist says recruiters are open to that and even phone calls!

Yes
( 37% )
No
( 37% )
I didn't think it was an option
( 25% )
I will in the future
( 0% )

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:31

Bridget O'Malley:  Hi Jordan, yes, it is appropriate to mail a resume, but in our digital age I think it's also important to find the right venue online where you can also submit your resume electronically.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:31

Question

Rebecca:  What are the pros and cons to getting an internship in public accounting? How about private accounting?

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:32

Question

Jackie:  My internship this summer is in corporate accounting. Would that experience be considered valuable if I were to apply to a public accounting firm later?

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:33

ThisWayToCPA:  We've got another 26 minutes to go. Keep sending those questions!

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:34

Bridget O'Malley:  Hi Rebecca, there are pros and cons to every type of internship. Again, I think it's important to first thin about what you are most interested in doing with your Accounting degree. Sometimes there will even be differences from firm to firm that may make one particular employer more appealing. Find the internship that best matches what you think you want to do full-time. During the internship, you will be able to figure out if it really is the right career path for you. That is the BEST thing about an internship - the perspective it gives you into a position that may become your career.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:34

Bridget O'Malley:  Hi Jackie - Congratulations on your internship! Yes, it certainly would. Your internship will give you technical, hands-on experience, and it will also give you some insight into the corporate environment. I always like to see candidates who have internship experiences, even if the role was different from the one they would play in our company, because internships of any type can help you develop professionally.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:37

Question

Lyndsey:  At what point in my internship can I go into my supervisor and ask about a full time job? And how do you bring that up in a conversation?

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:37

Bridget O'Malley:  Honestly, I think it's important to understand what types of full-time opportunities are available to you even as you go through the recruiting process for an internship position. For example, I always indicate that one of our goals with our Intern Program is to bring interns on full-time if they like what they are doing and if they are doing it well. Throughout your internship, you should continue to touch base with your mentor or manager on your performance and on the possibilities for full-time employment. It is always good to show an interest in your career.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:39

ThisWayToCPA:  As a recruiter, what are some of the mistakes you've seen? What have students done that immediately took them out of the running?

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:40

Bridget O'Malley:  So I guess, to answer your question - Ask early and often about a full-time job. Show your interest and passion for what you are doing and make sure your employer knows that you want that full-time position!

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:40

Bridget O'Malley:  Good question on mistakes... For me, I think the biggest mistake is to miss the opportunity to research and get to know an employer. For example, my company is a consulting firm, and our job descriptions clearly state that travel is a part of being a consultant, but I will have students indicate that they are not interested in traveling... That is fine, if it's their preference, but we are clearly not a good fit for them.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:43

Question

Caity:  Hi Bridget. I am just finishing up my sophomore year in college as an accounting major. I am excited that I will finally be able to qualify for many of the internships offered to juniors. I am very nervous about the college fair and networking part of finding an internship. I often feel as if when I go up to speak to a representative of a company at a job fair, I might freeze before even talking to them and eventually giving them a business card or resume. Do you have any suggestions on how I should go about networking with individuals from different companies? What kind of questions should I ask?

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:43

ThisWayToCPA:  Jobs and Internships

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:45

ThisWayToCPA:  For those of you who haven't yet visited our community, we have a lot of great tips on jobs and internships. Check out the link above when you have a few extra minutes.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:46

Bridget O'Malley:  Hi Caity! First off, don't be nervous! Trust me, as a recruiter, I have met tons of students and I don't think I've scared any of them away :) Honestly, I know this is so cliche, but it is SO important to just be yourself, from the start. You will want to have a genuine relationship with whatever employer you choose, and that starts with your introduction.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:46

Bridget O'Malley:  There is nothing that recruiters love more than talking to students, so don't ever be concerned about networking. We look forward to it!

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:46

Question

Abraham:  Just a suggestion for Caity. It happened to me when I started networking with employers. I prepared an elevator speech and with that I would start the conversation. Hopefully this will help!

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:46

Bridget O'Malley:  Good suggestion, Abraham :)

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:48

Question

Lyndsey:  When I am preparing my elevator speech are there certain things I absolutely need to include? Are they interested in my major? My hometown? Or something completely different?

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:48

Question

Jordan:  In searching for an internship/job what role should Linkedin play and how should it be leveraged?

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:48

Question

Kristyn:  My university offers career fairs for on-campus students but offers no formal help for online students...and the accounting major does not require an internship at all. What kind of help is out there for a person "on her own"?

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:50

Bridget O'Malley:  For me, as an employer, I like to know some basic things such as major, grad date, and what position the candidate is looking for. Beyond that, I like to hear about what a candidate is really interested in, or what their biggest accomplishments are... whatever makes them feel that they are a strong candidate for our opportunities.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:50

ThisWayToCPA:  It looks like we've got time for a few more questions. Bridget has been working hard to answer them all.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:50

Bridget O'Malley:  LinkedIn is such a great resource for students who are building their professional networks. Many employers post available positions on LinkedIn, so that is one way to utilize it. Another way is to connect to people whom you meet first in person. For example, when a student talks with me at a campus recruiting event, and then connects to me afterward, I am always impressed with the follow-up.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:51

Question

Jackie:  How is applying for a permanent entry-level position different from applying for an internship?

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:52

Bridget O'Malley:  Hi Kristyn, good question. I would suggest going through sites like LinkedIn, where you can access opportunities and employers, as well as utilizing professional organizations where you can network with people in your profession outside of the campus recruiting system.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:53

Bridget O'Malley:  Jackie, it isn't completely different, but certainly I look for entry-level candidates who have a bit more experience than our intern candidates... Typically an entry-level candidate will have had a previous internship or other type of employment experience; he or she will have an extra year of coursework to make them more articulate in their field of study; he or she may have also taken on leadership roles during that additional year of school; and I look for a bit more focus or maturity from someone who is graduating.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:55

Question

Julia:  I currently reside in New Jersey for college, but would like to move out to the Midwest to Chicago after graduation. How do you suggest getting in contact with companies in a different location for an internship? Is weird for a recruiter to receive a resume from someone not in their local area but that is willing to relocate for a summer internship and then eventually for good?

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:55

Question

Abraham:  I would like my friends to participate in a live chat lie the one today. WIll there be any other opportunities to interact in a live chat?

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:55

Bridget O'Malley:  Well, Julia, I applaud your decision - Chicago is the best city in the world! (And I'm not at all biased, being that I live in Chicago!)...

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:56

ThisWayToCPA:  Abraham, we are so glad you enjoyed our first chat. We will definitely do more. Are there any specific topics you'd like to see covered?

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:56

Question

Ruth:  When I choose an internship do I have to pick a specialization (like tax or audit) or will it be more general?

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:57

Bridget O'Malley:  To answer your question, Julia, most employers take a national approach to recruiting on campus, so I would still go through the on-campus recruiting process at your school. When you talk with an employer, be sure to be clear about your preferred location. At that point, the recruiter may still take you through the standard campus recruiting process, or he or she may forward you on to get you in touch with a more local resource for you to continue conversations with.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:57

Bridget O'Malley:  Hi Ruth - It depends on the firm or employer. When you go through the recruiting process, the employers you talk with will outline the structure of each of their internships, so you will be able to understand what types of specializations there are, or what type of work you will be doing. Just be sure to ask questions!

Wednesday May 11, 2011 02:59

Question

Julia:  What is the recruitment process like? I go to a smaller school. Many of the recruiters are local or regional public accounting firms. I am not sure if many even come to our school directly. What do you then have to do in order to be involved in the recruitment process?

Wednesday May 11, 2011 03:00

Bridget O'Malley:  Hi Julia, if you are interested in a company that does not currently recruit at your school, the first thing to do is to check out their Careers page online. There are typically instructions on how to get in touch with a recruiter and be considered for an entry-level position or internship outside of the on-campus recruiting process. Another way to do this is through LinkedIn. Additionally, your alumni network should have connections to organizations beyond the companies that currently recruit on campus, so you may want to check with professors or your career center to see if there are any alums you can reach out to.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 03:01

ThisWayToCPA:  Time sure does fly when you're having fun. Thank you to all of our participants in today's chat and to Bridget O'Malley for being so generous with her time. If you have additional questions, feel free to post them on our Facebook wall.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 03:02

ThisWayToCPA:  Bridget, do you have any closing thoughts before we close the session? You've been great!

Wednesday May 11, 2011 03:03

Question

Rebecca:  Thank you, Bridget!

Wednesday May 11, 2011 03:03

Question

Abraham:  Thanks very much for all the good information!!! Hope we can live chat again

Wednesday May 11, 2011 03:03

Bridget O'Malley:  Thanks to everyone for a great dialogue! My best piece of advice is to be EXCITED about the recruiting process and to be CONFIDENT about your value as a candidate! Please also feel free to contact me directly - you can reach me at bridget.omalley@protiviti.com.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 03:03

Bridget O'Malley:  And to those of you with internships, best of luck this summer!

Wednesday May 11, 2011 03:04

ThisWayToCPA:  And thank YOU Bridget again, for all of your insightful answers.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 03:04