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Amazon, FBI and other professionals share tips to success

Experts answer questions at an accounting panel at Western. // Photo by Ashlyn Farnworth

By Ashlyn Farnworth

Carla Anderson Skogland began her career working for a “small start-up” called Starbucks. After 15 years of holding various positions in the company, she was hired at Amazon and worked her way up to director of finance.

“Careers are no longer a ladder; they are a jungle gym,” Skogland said. It’s OK to go sideways or in an unintended direction, “as long as you are progressing up.” 

On thursday Jan. 30th, Western’s Department of Accounting offered an opportunity for professional development for students interested in pursuing careers in business. Skogland, along with four other panelists from various companies, sat down to answer questions regarding their personal experiences navigating the job market and share some tips and tricks they learned along the way. 

As college students venture out and search for jobs after they graduate, it is important that they develop the skills necessary to succeed. Skogland recommended that students use the STAR (situation, task, action, result) format when practicing with potential interview questions. 

Sean Teraoka, a recent Western graduate, is accounting SAP support for the lumber company Weyerhaeuser. He spoke about what he learned while applying to different companies. “You are just as much interviewing the business as they are interviewing you,” said Teraoka.

This means it’s important for someone seeking employment to pay attention to what the business likes and dislikes so they can factor that into their decision about where to work.  

When students are trying to determine where to work and where they best fit, Ben Reimenschneider, the assistant vice president and global accountant for Costco, said it is important to observe the atmosphere of the place that you will be spending your work week.

“It’s not just the title, it’s not just the pay, it’s what aligns with you,” he said.

Ethan Via, the supervisor of the Complex Financial Crimes Squad for the FBI Seattle division, said he uses his accounting background to track down white-collar crime. 

He said that it is important to have enthusiasm for the job you are doing. He said he found himself unfulfilled at his previous job and decided to make the switch into government work. 

“If you don’t have a passion for your job, you’re not going to do a good job,” Via said.

When it comes to finding a job in the current market since his graduation, Riemenschneider said this generation is “lucky” that the job market is extremely competitive

Riemenschneider graduated in 2008 into the Great Recession and worked a few odd jobs before finding a job in his current employment with Costco. 

“I was just lucky to have a job,” he said. 

A student asked how the advancement of technology in the business world, shifting the dynamics of many companies, has affected the panelists’ jobs on a day-to-day basis.

Riemenschneider believes that the  human aspect of business will remain important even as technology continues to progress. “You may be able to teach a machine debits or credits, but you can’t teach them to communicate with people or make good decisions,” Riemenschneider said.

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