I will never forget my first internship during the last semester of undergrad, sitting in the board room of a publicly traded bank starry eyed and amazed. I thought everyone was a genius and there was no way I could ever learn all that they knew. I left there sad to return to school, but excited and anxious to start back as an associate at HORNE. Fast forward three short years later (one year of grad school and two years of professional experience) and I’ve found myself on the other side of the prior situation. I am now the person that interns are looking at and thinking I have it all together and know everything. While I still have lots to learn and I by no means know everything, every year when we get a new group of interns I stop and reflect on how far I’ve come from the time I was in their shoes.
A year after I started as an associate at HORNE, my immediate supervisor left the firm to work for a client, leaving an open position on several engagements. I nervously agreed that I would take over more responsibilities. The key word here is nervous. I knew it was going to take a lot of work, and I really wasn’t sure I could actually handle doing all of my work AND supervising an audit from start to finish. But I also wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass me by.
Things did not always go as planned, I made mistakes, forgot to do things and I let myself get way too stressed at points—but I survived. I learned more than I thought possible, and I grew as a person from that first year. It didn’t take long for me to realize that even when I lacked faith in myself and my abilities, my team and leadership had faith in me and believed in me. Looking back on that year, I was able to learn because I knew it was okay if I messed up and I knew I had someone there to catch me when I stumbled. I knew I was part of a team and that sense of belonging gave me the confidence to take a chance.
After my first year of “in-charging” I gained the confidence to ask for more responsibility and for more challenges. I felt empowered to succeed and take charge of my career. In a short amount of time, I have found my voice, gained confidence, and grown more than I ever thought. When I stop and look back on where I am today, I can’t help but be thankful for the opportunity I was presented and the encouragement from my team to overcome challenges. Yes it took a lot of hard work, courage, and perseverance, but all of those things are much easier when you know you aren’t in it alone. I would not be where I am today or who I am today, if it wasn’t for my team members who have become more like family.
What are you doing to step out of your comfort zone and own your career? What opportunities are staring you in the face but you are too afraid to act on? I encourage you to step up and take action. You never know what learning opportunities await and where they can lead you!
About the Author
Melissa is a public and middle market supervisor at HORNE LLP where she specializes in both internal and external audits and regulatory compliance for public and private financial institutions. Leading with a growth mindset, she empowers her team to make bold moves and own their career.