What It Means to ‘Experience AEM’
Last month we hosted our sixth annual Experience AEM, a two-day intensive program that gives 30 select students a behind-the-scenes glimpse into our firm and public accounting in general. It’s a chance for them to test the CPA waters, and it’s also an opportunity for our firm to recruit top talent.
Here’s some of the feedback we received from this year’s participants about what it means to Experience AEM.
“It was a great experience to get a feel for the culture at the firm. There were a lot of opportunities to talk with staff and partners to learn what they enjoyed about their positions.”
Experience AEM takes place at both of our offices. This year, day one was hosted in Edina, day two in Mankato. We are careful to give students ample time to speak with staff and partners at each location. These dialogues are, as this student noted, where the real value of Experience AEM lies. From candid roundtables with partners to panel discussions that include all levels of staff, participants get valuable insight into what a career at AEM could entail. Our managing partner, Steve McDonald, also gives a talk on the firm’s growth and what he sees for the future.
“It was really helpful to learn more about tax versus audit and the differences between the two.”
Each year, we choose the 30 best and brightest students from a pool of applicants to join us for Experience AEM. To qualify, a student must have a minimum 3.0 GPA, be a junior or senior, and have completed Intermediate Accounting I. Although our participants are well versed in accounting principles, their knowledge is limited to the classroom. During Experience AEM, we help students get a feel for what public accounting is like in real life, which is why we include tax and audit breakout sessions on the program agenda.
“I will definitely tell my classmates to attend next year.”
In addition to helping participants learn more about our firm and the field they’ve studied, we give them a chance to learn more about themselves through a personal strengths assessment and team-building exercises. For the program’s final exercise, we divide the participants into small groups and ask them to solve a challenge and present their solutions to the firm’s leadership. (This isn’t the only friendly competition we provide—the first day of Experience AEM 2018 concluded with a cooking school challenge.)
Once the program wraps, we provide participants with a survey that allows them to indicate their interest in an internship or full-time employment and provide feedback on the program. The best feedback we can hope for is a recommendation for other talented students to attend.