As I entered my first high school class, I did not expect a mere schedule mistake to alter my entire career path. Growing up, I had always enjoyed math and science classes, so quite naturally most people suggested engineering as the perfect career for me. However, after my first “Principles of Business” class, I quickly found an appreciation for the world of business. The next year, I decided to give accounting a try. Although the class was difficult, I found pleasure in the challenge. My teacher, who was the Faculty Advisor for Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), noticed my passion. She convinced me to become a member of FBLA and compete in North Carolina’s accounting state competition. As I competed against other students, I noticed that I was the only African-American. However, instead of this difference discouraging me, it stimulated my interest to learn more about careers in accounting and how I could help change the traditional accountant stereotype.
As I continued to research the accounting profession, one day I received a random email from Wake Forest University with the subject line: ‘Come to a FREE Weekend at Wake Forest!’ I immediately applied to this Accounting 3-2-1 program, as this opportunity would help me determine if accounting was the right path for me. After applying, I was invited to attend the Wake Forest weekend where I was introduced to the world of public accounting, as well as Big Four and other accounting firms. After I returned from the Wake Forest weekend, I began to research the firms I remembered from the program. For some reason, I could recall DHG as we had played an interactive game with the recruiter. After realizing the firm offered a summer Leadership Conference, I emailed the DHG recruiter from the program asking for career guidance, as I was about to start my first year at UNC Chapel Hill.
Within an hour, my recruiter responded warmly with career advice and an offer for lunch in Chapel Hill when we were both in the area. Over the next two years, my recruiter and I kept in touch, as she was a great resource for learning more about being a woman in the accounting profession. After my junior year, I had landed an internship with a Big Four firm, as well as applied and been invited to DHG’s Leadership Conference. During the Leadership Conference, I had the opportunity to learn more about DHG and to get to know the firm on a more personal level. Toward the end of the conference, I was offered a summer internship for the following summer. This offer would force me to make my first major decision – Big Four firm or Regional firm. However, after finishing up my Big Four internship that summer, the decision was crystal clear. I belong at a firm who values people, relationships, career-life balance, diversity, and the list goes on and on.
With my DHG internship soon coming to an end, I could not be more pleased with my decision. The relationships I have built through this internship remind me of the importance of a strong firm culture. In addition, having the flexibility to build the career you want is hard to find at other firms. However, it all exists here at DHG. Although my pathway to business and accounting was by chance, I have no doubt in my mind that everything happens for a reason and this is exactly where I am supposed to be.
Chantal is an assurance intern in DHG’s Charlotte SouthPark office. This fall, she will be entering her senior year at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her Life Beyond Numbers revolves around spending time with her friends and family. She also enjoys community service and traveling. This past May, she completed an immersion experience in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa.