The first day of my second year as a Grant Thornton apprentice
I’ve been having a run of firsts:
First year of college interview for Grant Thornton’s new apprenticeship program
First in my family to earn a college degree
First apprentice to be hired at Grant Thornton full-time
First day of employment on the fiscal year’s first day
For some background on each of these firsts — the apprenticeship program launched in fall 2017 when I was a college sophomore, my family immigrated from Mexico with the hopes of providing better educational opportunities, after graduation I accepted a job offer in Grant Thornton’s Chicago office, and in August 2020 I became an associate in IT Audit Assurance.
Apprenticeship to employment
Arrupe College and Grant Thornton offer year-round internships that extend Arrupe’s mission of providing access to professional services careers to diverse students. The apprenticeship program’s goal is helping students develop into full-time Grant Thornton employees.
In my freshman year at Loyola University’s Arrupe College, representatives from Grant Thornton came to campus to introduce the new apprenticeship program. After chatting with me, one of the professionals said, “Join us if you can.” I researched the firm, browsed employees’ reviews, visited the office and liked what I read and observed about the culture. I became a member of the apprenticeship class, working at Grant Thornton for three years, year-round, while I went to school.
Within the program, I was able to experience each of the three service lines — Audit, Tax and Advisory — and how people in these different areas work with each other. I made connections in all of them, not just the one I eventually joined.
A Bulls game with Grant Thornton-Arrupe College interns
During my three apprenticeship years, people on whatever team I was on were interested in the classes I was taking and had recommendations for what I could do next. They were very supportive of my working part-time and going to school full-time. It was always clear that school came first. If I had an exam coming up or particularly heavy homework, I was encouraged to devote time to it by taking days off work. When I had any questions about either client work or schoolwork, people were open to answering and explaining concepts.
In the beginning, when I was new to business classes as well as to the business world, my questions were basic. But as I progressed through client work and schoolwork, I felt I was able to contribute and answer others’ questions.
But it was never just a matter of asking and answering questions. People at the firm were as friendly as they were helpful. I was often invited to take a break for froyo or something else. We’re still in good contact during these work-from-home months.
Arrupe College graduation with an AS in business administration, then on to a BBA in information systems
Meeting and talking to many people in rotations through the service lines, I was able to find what I most enjoyed and where I best fit in. I would be given an overview of a project and my role, and be well guided in my work. There was a coach for me in each service line; one coach in particular scheduled regular check-ins to make sure I was doing well and to ask if there was anything that she or the team could do better. It was as I spent time with on her team — Audit Services — that I envisioned myself in audit. Through my rotations, I also discovered the IT side and how interesting it is. This is the area I chose as the place to start my career at Grant Thornton.
I’ve also chosen the areas where I can give back in some way. In my senior year in college, I volunteered to be on a Grant Thornton panel to inform and interact with high school students in the same position I was in at their age. I know it’s a struggle to be a first-generation college student, and it helps to have understanding and guidance. For this reason, I also return to my high school to answer questions from seniors and juniors in a forum.
One brother and I at our other brother’s Marine Corp boot camp graduation
Another place where I’ve connected and volunteered has been within the firm’s Latinx Business Resource Group (BRG). In the Chicago office, we call our chapter the Chicago Amigos. The national BRG recently added a Cafecito Series. These monthly coffee chats have topics, and people share their personal stories. At the one in June, people talked about their experiences as Latinos, and we learned how to make delicious coffee.
The BRG is a way for me and others to contribute to our community. The Chicago Amigos hosts virtual happy hours that have been great for meeting across service lines. For Cinco de Mayo, leaders were super kind and held a recognition for me and others completing bachelor’s degrees because our formal graduation had been postponed due to caution about COVID-19.
I will continue to stay involved with the Latinx BRG, and I plan to become involved in the Veterans BRG, as well. I want to support both of my brothers and many friends who are in the military.
As for my work in IT Audit, my goal is to keep contributing by concentrating on my chosen field and putting clients first by diving deeper.