For Joel Mendez (‘17), every new experience is a new chance to learn—to see how organizations work, to test out a skill set, or to show up with curiosity when he doesn’t have all the answers. By surrounding himself with people who are excited to invest in him, he’s always ready for the next challenge. That’s what PBA does for you: it opens up a world of possibilities and equips you with the confidence to give each one a try.
Describe your current job role:
As a staff auditor at Templeton & Company, LLP (T&C) my job roles range from the beginning stages of audit to the final stage. They begin with a contract agreement with the client to issuing out an Audit Reports. I work with a team of auditors from entry to manager level in experience and each one of us plays a role in an audit. Throughout an audit, I often analyze financial statement accounts by conducting ratios to obtain confidence in the numbers presented to me. Also, I often travel to the client’s offices and see their day to day operations and ask questions about the organization to obtain a better understanding of it. I’ve had the privilege of partaking in audits from various industries; such as the healthcare and construction industry.
What professional experience(s) did you have prior to your current job role?
There were two professional job roles I held prior to being a staff auditor. One of which is an administrative accounting intern at T&C. During my role as an intern, I worked alongside the CFO. I was given responsibilities such as recording expenses through accounting software and later closing out and reconciling accounts at the end of the month. Secondly, although not a professional job, being a bagger at Publix taught me much about professionalism. During my five years at Publix I worked my way up to a Team Leader position. I learned that genuinely caring about customers and staff is crucial in providing great service and a healthy work environment.
Majoring in Accounting at PBA
With challenging coursework, real-life skills building, fast-paced internships, and ample opportunities for networking, accounting majors at PBA are set up for success.
What do you know now that you wish you had known about being a working professional?
Prior towards being a working professional, I thought that I was going to be able to walk into a profession and be able to understand how everything works within a short period of time. I quickly learned that that was not the case. Although learning accounting theories and reviewing case studies provided a great foundation, I wish I had understood that the real working world came with its own learning curve. Knowing this ahead of time I would’ve better prepared myself for it.
“Spend [your] extra time networking.”
How did PBA prepare you for the world of work?
PBA prepared me for the world of work by providing networking opportunities, an internship requirement and, as a part of an excellent education, a course called Accounting Information Systems (AIS). PBA held wonderful events to network with local businesses around the area such as “Meet the Firms”. Through this I was able to meet numerous people who would later become my mentors and supervisors. Also, since an internship is required for the university, I was able to gain real world experience by interning with United Way VITA Program. There I was a tax preparer which later prepared me as an intern at T&C. Finally, as Dr. Turner stated at the end of the course for AIS, “although this class may not be the most exciting class you will ever take, it will be one of the most crucial classes you need in order to understand how organizations operate.” AIS provided a general idea on how organizations usually run their administration and portrayed the importance of an organized and structured system of Internal Control. PBA’s course Accounting Information Systems (AIS), along with internship requirements, and networking opportunities, help prepare me for the world of work. I encourage every business major student to take advantage of these opportunities as much as possible.
Career Preparation at PBA
What starts at PBA doesn’t end here. Openness to learning and asking for support is part of the recipe for success that you learn as a Sailfish. Both receiving help and giving it are always the building blocks of a community that works together to make a lasting impact.
What advice would you give to current PBA students and/or young alumni who are about to start their first professional full-time job?
For those who are about to start their first professional full-time job, congratulations! The real working world is your classroom now, so take every moment to learn. When you’re lost in your work, ask for help. When you make a mistake, own it and learn from it. When work gets tough, bring a great attitude. Take the stairs, unless you work on the 10th floor or higher. Above all, whether you’re scanning papers or signing off on a report, do it all for the glory of God.
Have you been mentored by anyone in your professional field since entering the workforce?
In my professional field, I’ve been mentored by the CFO of our company and several Audit Managers. In addition, I partook in PBA’s mentorship program prior to being a full-time worker. All my mentors have provided great insight and guidance towards helping me grow in my career. They’ve taught me, and continue to teach me, how to communicate my thoughts clearly and present my work neatly. In fact, without them there is no way I could have gained so much experience and knowledge in the accounting and the professional world. Without them I wouldn’t be a Standout Sailfish.
Spotlight posted in January 2018. For current updates from Joel, visit his LinkedIn page.