Why I chose Hood & Strong

DEBORAH LEE, TAX STAFF

 

When did you graduate from college?

I graduated in June 2019 with a BS in Business Administration and an Accounting concentration from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

When did you join Hood & Strong?

I interned with Hood & Strong for three consecutive summers during college, and officially started as a full-time tax staff in 2020.

What made you pursue a job in accounting?

When I was a freshman, I entered as a business administration major. I had no idea what I wanted to concentrate in, but my mom, who is an accountant herself, recommended that I check out accounting because Cal Poly has a pretty reputable program. I took a couple of classes and actually like really liked it.

How did you find the firm when you first started your internship?

I actually stumbled upon Hood & Strong through a job posting website, and they were looking for an admin during busy season. I later learned that this was actually a tax admin intern position.

How did you decide whether to start a job in public accounting versus industry? Did it have to do with the fact that you already had the public accounting internship experience with the firm?

The accounting program I was in at Cal Poly heavily encouraged students to go into public accounting first. You gain really valuable skills that are applicable to all fields. You learn the basics, and you’re able to really hone your craft at a public accounting firm like Hood & Strong, so that’s something that I was very interested in.

How did you choose between the tax and audit side, especially if accounting was a more generalized degree for undergrad?

I have a little bit of bias because I interned at Hood & Strong as a tax admin. I had a really enjoyable three summers with the department, so audit wasn’t even in the picture because of my experience and commitment to tax.

What did you take into consideration during your initial job search?

For me, it was location. I’m currently based in San Jose, so working somewhere close by was a priority. I also factored in whether or not the job fits my lifestyle as work-life balance is extremely important. And of course, reputation and firm culture were also really big factors.

How did Hood & Strong stand out from competitors, and what factors led you to accept the position?

Before I accepted the position at Hood & Strong, I shopped around with other firms. But after a closer look, I felt like I would be a cog in the machine at some of these larger firms. Especially when I interviewed with the Big Four and other regional firms, there was a very cookie-cutter process to their operations, and I felt like I really couldn’t connect with that environment.

Hood & Strong’s firm culture was something that really distinguished itself from other competitors. I remember when I first interned at the firm, I was super shy. But there were so many team members, like managers and the seniors, who were actively making me feel welcome and comfortable. I just felt a really great sense of community.

Is there anything you wish you had been taught in college that would have helped you during your job search?

It would be really helpful if underclassmen were encouraged to participate in networking opportunities because I feel like I didn’t build connections until I was an upperclassman looking for a job in the market. A lot of the connections I made have helped me get to where I am now.

What surprised you about the profession or the industry?

When I first started at the firm, I thought there would be this sink or swim attitude. Instead, I was genuinely surprised at how much people were willing to help from the get-go. They understand that when you’re a new graduate, you basically know nothing, so they willingly held my hand in the beginning to walk me through how to do my job successfully.

What advice would you give to graduating seniors (or recent graduates) who are unsure about what route to take in the accounting profession?

I would definitely say to be open to all positions, especially in accounting, since there are so many different fields you can go into. Accounting is necessary in every type of business. Be open to the size of firms too. I always thought that I would go into a bigger firm, but then after joining a smaller firm like Hood & Strong, I’ve really felt like I found my place and niche.

What else do you enjoy about working at the firm?

Definitely the people and the professional relationships that I’ve built here. That’s what I came back for after my consecutive summer internships. We’re all trying to help each other out, be there for one another and support each other.

When COVID-19 hit, I definitely thought that I would feel disconnected from everyone, but then I realized everyone was just a ping away. I can message anyone, and they’d be happy to have a conversation with me. We’re still very much connected with one other.