When it comes to deciding a career, we all struggle with finding the right career for ourselves, but at the age of 18, this becomes even more challenging. How can I choose a career when I barely know who I am? How can I make a big decision, when I barely have a grasp on how the workforce operates? I was just in homeroom, and now the fate of my livelihood and career is in the palm of my hand. For Christopher Huang, an MS Accounting graduate from Cal State LA, his path to becoming an accountant was met with multiple roadblocks but has led him right where he is meant to be.
Upon graduating from Cerritos High School, Huang enrolled in Cerritos Community College before transferring to the University of Berkeley, graduating with a degree in Anthropology in 2008. Graduating during the Great Recession, Huang began to contemplate what was next for him, like all millennials during this time. A time when jobs were scarce, and opportunity was even sparser. In 2012, a chance encounter with a friend's mother about the instability of the current economic fate and their future, facilitating, "a career in accounting affords you a life of stability”.
A brief enrollment in Cal State Fullerton gave Christopher perspective, of his wants and expectations diving headfirst into the Cal State LA curriculum. With his eyes set on working for one of the big 4 Accounting firms. Christopher sought out Marlon Pasamba, the president of the Beta Alpha Sigh (at the time) who helped him network with various accounting firms. It is important to note, the College of Business & Economics has built a relationship with the Big 4 over the last couple of years, but in 2014 the relationship had not been formulated. Christopher and Marlon had to work harder to seek out relationships with various companies.
Receiving an offer from EY, “Ernst & Young,” was affirming, Christopher worked hard and for the next 6 years (2 accounting, 4 advising), his skillset grew extensively. Christopher's time at Ernst Young was intense, the expectations were high, and it became a challenge to learn how to manage them. The atmosphere at EY was competitive, and it forced individual actions to be taken outside of one’s comfort zone. The camaraderie and competitiveness met Christopher's expectations, but in terms of feeling valued, this fell short.
The six years, Christopher Huang spent at Ernst Young, taught him valuable skills and tools that have prepared him for opportunities that came his way such as the value of networking, professional relationships, and how to prioritize listening and communicating (oral and electronic) effectively. Understanding the big picture, how to structure and display thoughts and ideas, how to manage a project or product (how to be accountable for my work), the difficulties of being accountable for others' work, and working with difficult people and circumstances (being flexible). Finally, and most importantly, the value of remaining calm, trusting my judgment, and being comfortable in my skin. With the experience under Christopher's belt, the biggest lesson and action he practiced moving forward was the value of saying “no.”
“EY allows you to learn from others,” Christopher states, “Although I now work in procurement, the workload has become second nature.” To prospective accounting students, Huang insists that “students find what motivates them, and find a career that will still be influential long-term". Be open and willing to adapt to new opportunities and not be discouraged by math. Math is one element; it is not as strenuous as our trigonometry professor stressed. The ultimate criteria are being able to read, comprehend, and do the daily milt-task. “Humility is a strange thing. The minute you think you have it; you have lost it” reflecting that a humble person considers others and knows there is always more to learn from others.