Leading Part of the Pack to Baker Tilly

By Andrea O'Neill '06

Though the Zeigler Institute of Professional Development (ZIPD) did not exist when she was a student, Melissa Wolf knew she wanted to help fellow Huskies the minute she received her invitation.

Melissa Wolf, CPA, is now a Firm Director at Baker Tilly US, LLP in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. In 2001 however, she was a brand-

Melissa Wolf, Baker Tilly

new graduate of the BU Zeigler College of Business, trying to find her professional path. Because of the intense preparation she experienced in the Accounting program, Wolf knew she had the skills, knowledge, and ability to get things done on day one.

"The Accounting program was so strong and intense that it prepared me for the long days and big projects," said Wolf, whose first position was with Baker Tilly as an intern. She has remained with the company through nearly two decades and several company mergers, a rarity in public accounting. She says she loves the people, company culture, and having the opportunity to work at a large firm so close to home.

"When I started, there were 200 people, and now we're nationwide with over 4500 employees", said Wolf. Even [As we've grown], we still have the same connectivity and sense of belonging, just with more resources."

Though the Zeigler Institute of Professional Development (ZIPD) did not exist when Wolf was a student, she knew she wanted to help fellow Huskies the minute she received her invitation. Wolf enjoyed her first experience on an alumni panel so much and found such value in sharing her wisdom with students that she has volunteered every year since.

"[The students] have no idea the opportunities that are given to you that will give you a leg up and interact with individuals and their experiences," said Wolf. "I want to be able to arm them with anything I can – it is so competitive now, so if I can offer them something to help them succeed and get a job, that is great."

It wasn't just the students who benefited, however. During Wolf's first panel, she answered a question about Baker Tilly from a student who eventually became one of her employees.

"He asked questions, then got me his resume," said Wolf. "I couldn't promise anything, but I could help him through the process. Him coming up to me and seeking me out is what ensured his success in the position.  Now he's working for us and doing great, and it's rewarding to see him here and to know I helped him get here."

Wolf says her advice to students is always to come prepared to interviews as if one is already working at the firm. In an industry where candidates are already pre-screened for their GPA, student involvement, and other qualifications, interpersonal skills land someone the position.

"First impressions do count, especially in a competitive environment," said Wolf. "When we do interviews, we interview20 students, and you have to narrow it down to5, and it usually comes down to appearance and communication.  Public accounting is talking to people and your clients.  If you have a 4.0 but can't talk to a client, then I don't want you on my team."

Being part of the team at Baker Tilly has the benefits of a work-life balance and the opportunity and flexibility to pursue accounting in several different areas, both in industry type and physical location.

"You can work in tax, consulting, or assurance," explained Wolf. "You can get hired in Wilkes-Barre, and in a year, you can move to CA or TX and still be part of the same team working for the same firm."

Wolf credits Bloomsburg for showing her the path of what is possible, and for that, she will continue to help other Huskies find theirs. She encourages other alumni to do the same.

"I had a great experience [at Bloom] and was fortunate," said Wolf. "You have nothing to lose other than a little bit of your time, and It's so rewarding talking to the students and seeing their excitement. Anything I can offer makes me feel good to know that I'm arming them with some wisdom I wish I had had.”
 

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