Juan Cazares is a first generation student who graduated from Prairie State College. Soon after graduation, Juan attending one of Depaul’s accounting bootcamps. Here, Juan was exposed to Depaul's accounting program in addition to big accounting firms that intrigued him. This experience motivated Juan to transfer to Depaul as a junior.
Within two weeks of transferring, Juan landed an interview with a big accounting firm. With minimal accounting experience, Juan was able to excel in the interview process and is now getting ready to intern with Ernst & Young this summer. We decided to learn more about his journey and here’s what he had to say.
How did you know about this internship before being a DePaul student?
I didn’t know much about the Big four until I got introduced to DePaul’s accounting boot camp. While I was at this boot camp which was geared for minorities, I learned about accounting program at DePaul and also the importance of the big four. They encouraged us to apply to the opportunities that the big four companies had. That’s exactly what I did. I went to a career fair at DePaul in early September.
You have to understand that there are many people applying to these internships, recruiters aren’t just looking for technical skills they are looking for people they’ll feel comfortable working with. That’s exactly what I did; most people were having 5-minute conversations with the recruiter while I had almost 40-minute conversation with him. I expressed interest in the technical skills this internship could teach me, but also in the culture of the company and the people working there as well. That’s something that I felt resonated with him and allowed me to stand out.
Needless to say I applied to the opportunity at hand and within three days I was notified that I had made it to the on campus interviews.
What do you thing allowed you to stand out in the interviews?
I think people focus too much on having the best GPA and technical skills. I believe that what made me stand out was my ability to communicate with recruiters. I was able to connect my passion with the company’s values.
Being a first generation student you don’t really know how these things work. You don’t know much about the corporate environment. You don’t know how these interviews go. Especially when all you’ve been taught as a child is to get good grades. I had no idea what they were going to ask. I just focused on communicating what I could sell to them what I had, and do it well. At the end of the day we as human beings fear what we don’t know. I feared not knowing what they were going to ask me. However my mentor once told me to transform that anxiety that stems from fear into confidence. When I was up next during the interview process, I spoke with energy; I was able to create small talk. I was able to bring out the recruiters interests, the interview was for me but I made it about them. It's not all about you, it’s about making them feel comfortable too.
How has HACE helped you move forward in your career?
I believe organizations like HACE are great because they focused on minority groups and the issues they face. HACE does an excellent job in addressing these issues by providing workshops and conferences that provide solutions to those issues.
I went to their annual conference in Chicago; here I met a mentor, Lizette Arias that eventually sparked my interest in accounting. She motivated me to come to DePaul. What stood out to me was that she didn’t seem consumed by corporate America; she was someone who had dominated corporate America. She told me “ I know what you are going through and I can help you get through that” and it resonated with me.
Those words really go along way because that proved to me that she genuinely cared about me because she could relate to my struggles. HACE provides the events to make connections with people that can turn into valuable relationships in the future.
What are three best traits to have for someone who wants to get your internship?
- The ability to adapt. You don’t know what they are going to throw at you.
- Confidence. Recruiters can smell fear.
- Be yourself. Recruiters are not looking for robots that they can't connect to. They are looking for someone that is genuine and fits the company’s culture.
What’s the best book you’ve read?
“Rich dad poor dad” by Robert T. Kiyosaki has really impacted me.
Facebook: Juan Cazares