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Brandon Hickey's story

RFP
During my sophomore year I was pretty involved with my Beta Alpha Psi group at Akron. Beta Alpha Psi is an honor organization for financial information students and professionals, and they have chapters on more than 300 campuses. They regularly had employers come in and speak to us, and the first time I ever heard about Grant Thornton was when they came to one of those meetings. They gave a great presentation and I liked the presenters. When I started looking into places to potentially intern over the summer, I remembered how laid-back those presenters were and how easy they were to talk to — the decision kind of made itself.

I became even more aware of Grant Thornton because the Cleveland office managing partner teaches a class at Akron. I took his class after doing the internship, and I felt like I got to know him because he would tell stories about his work life. Through his teaching, I built my tax knowledge and learned more about what it’s like to be successful at a top firm. I spoke to him after class pretty regularly, and I just tried to build that relationship. After I graduated, I got hired and started as a federal tax associate in September 2013 — now every time I see him he always remembers my name. It’s great that I took his class and we have that thing we can always talk about.

From that, I felt like the leadership here would support and help guide my career. Now that I’m here every day, I’m talking to the senior managers and managers. I always try to ask advice, get feedback, and just shoot back and forth ideas on my career goals. I like to hear about what happened for them and what they went through, and then see if I can apply it to my career. I’m really interested in growing my whole career, so I think getting to talk to a lot more role models has really helped me focus on where I want to go.

I think Grant Thornton is a really good fit for me. The people and culture are really the top reasons I’m working here. Now I live the culture every day, and it just further confirms the feeling that I’m very happy that I ended up here. Even though we’re not in the Big Four, we have a big firm feel where we have offices across the country and across the world. We go to Chicago for national trainings and I really like that, but there’s also a small firm feel, and our employees here are very close with each other. I also like that during my internship I got to work on clients in a number of industries, which might not have been possible at a Big Four firm because their clients are so big — I got broader experience, and I think it’s really important to be as well-rounded as possible.

Another thing I like about working here is actually outside of my tax work — we do a lot of community service events, and that’s a real passion for me. We have our golf outing in the summer, which is always a good time, and we do a Christmas party, the Junior Achievement Bowl-a-Thons, we work with the Hunger Network, we do our annual service day, and much more. We also do professional networking events. Obviously our tax work needs to get done, but the point is that there are also opportunities to get to know each other in a nonwork setting, and even practice our networking and selling skills way before it gets to be an official part of our job descriptions. The partners and managers really stress how important it is to be well-rounded as an individual, and it’s up to us to step up and grow our whole selves, because the opportunities are definitely there.