A Personal Perspective From a Third Year Accountancy Student
As I sit here on my last day of my internship at Ernst & Young, one of the “big 4” accounting firms, I am reflecting on everything that has happened these last eight weeks. The experience has been much needed.
My journey starts in a little town called Escalon, Chihuahua located in northern Mexico. That is where my roots began. Escalon was a town of about 500 people during its glory days and has been reduced to under 200 through cartel violence. That is where my parents were born. Fast forward 40 years and my parents are the epitome of the so called “American Dream.” Both, with little education, have raised a young man who graduated high school and is now one year away from getting his bachelor’s degree, and two years from getting his master’s.
Being first generation, at anything, means having to adapt and be tenacious. Especially when those around you don’t look like you, it can be scary. Now, I’ve never really had much trouble with feeling out of place until I started my accounting studies. Everyone just seemed to be two steps ahead, at everything. My cohort of about 30 students was predominantly white, as is the University and College. That didn’t make me feel out of place, so I was really confused on what exactly was making me feel like this. My junior year ended, and I still had no idea why this feeling kept insisting inside of me. Thankfully, I had landed an internship position with Ernst & Young, which at the beginning of the year I had no idea what doors it would open for me.
Fast forward a month and I am on my way to Dallas for training. My emotions ran high that day, and I didn’t know what to expect. Upon arrival and throughout the week I was told many times I belonged where I was, and I knew in my head that I had worked hard for it. But there was a little feeling inside of me which kept me asking myself “Do I REALLY belong here?” Many of the interns were of diverse backgrounds—Latinos, Black, Middle Eastern, and the list goes on. Many had parents with higher education or had experience in corporate America. That’s when everything clicked.
My parents taught me many things: hard work, dedication, being genuine, being humble and so on. What they never taught me was how to navigate a professional setting. That’s why I felt so uncomfortable in my accounting classes. Besides being taught accounting, I’m being taught how to maneuver different businesses. Several students were excelling in this path or had been made aware of it more. Throughout my internship I loved to watch these professionals interact with each other and really familiarize myself with the corporate lifestyle. That’s the way I will be able to get ahead in life and expand on my parents’ “American Dream.”
Although I have not achieved a level of comfortability, I know that even though my parents might not have known the concept of being corporate they provided me the skill set that would bring me to the place I am at now. Being uncomfortable is normal; that is where the most growth happens. So, I recommend that you seek discomfort and be aware of who you are and what you lack as an individual. Through my internship I learned that being emotionally intelligent is a key success factor, embrace yourself and get to know yourself.”