Business students, major employers put supply and demand into practice at Firm Night
At the heart of Firm Night, the annual networking forum held by the Davis College of Business and Economics, lies a very basic concept, and a fitting one at that.
“All we’re really doing is commingling supply and demand,” said Associate Professor of Accounting Mike Chatham, who co-coordinated this year’s event, now in its 17th year.
“The demand is that these firms need either interns or full-time employees or both. And we have a great supply of accounting majors and other business students,” Chatham said.
Sponsored by the Department of Accounting, Finance and Business Law, Firm Night took place Sept. 14 in Kyle Hall’s third-floor conference room and hosted representatives from 25 companies who met with more than 60 students.
The more than two dozen organizations that attended ranged from accounting firms (such as Brown Edwards & Company; Ernst & Young; FORVIS; Keiter CPAs; Robinson, Farmer, Cox Associates and many others) to banking (including Carter Bank & Trust, Freedom First Credit Union and Truist) to government entities (such as the Auditor of Public Accounts, Internal Revenue Service and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency) to business and industry (Food City, Kollmorgen and more).
Next year’s event will further expand to include information systems firms.
“They’ll bring a whole new set of prospective recruiters, and that'll be a cool overlap,” Chatham noted.
One Highlander who attended Firm Night this year was Reyna Osuna, an accounting major from Galax, Virginia.
A first-generation college student, Osuna likes to plan ahead. She took a year off after high school to do basic training with the Army. Now a Radford University junior, she’s also a reservist with three years of service under her belt, and she’s also in ROTC.
Though not yet ready to graduate, Osuna said she applied for internships in the hope of gaining experience in accounting.
“I’m curious what a work day as an accountant would look like, especially for auditors, because that’s what I’m interested in,” she said. “I feel like seeing that through an internship would definitely help me get my mind straight on what I want to do.”
Two of the representatives who returned to the fair are Radford alums now with PBMares, an accounting, tax and consulting firm, and they were seeking to recruit employees as well as an incoming crop of interns.
“Our summer internship program has a mix of tax and audit work,” said senior accountant and supervisor Shannon Sparger ’16.
Todd Swisher ’94, who’s a partner at PBMares, was particularly optimistic about the possibilities now open to accounting majors.
“The opportunities in accounting are currently off the charts. I don't know of an accounting firm that's really fully staffed, that isn't looking for staff,” Swisher said. “If you're willing to come in and do some work, the path upward in a public accounting firm right now is wide open. You can write your own ticket.”
Swisher’s forecast connects soundly with the supply and demand concept put forth by Chatham, and it’s also the kind of news the Firm Night coordinator relishes.
“For professors in my area, and for me personally,” Chatham explained, “the greatest joy comes from a student walking into your office saying they got a job.”
As the event moves steadily toward marking two full decades, Firm Night seems fully dedicated to seeing that particular goal consistently fulfilled.