By Keith Wrage and Kristi Helget

Relationships and teamwork are two of our core values at AEM. Both are fully on display at Experience AEM, our annual program that offers students an inside look at our firm as well as the world of public accounting. Each year, our partners and staff go out of their way to make it happen—to authentically connect with participants. This year was no different. Despite a pandemic and a conflicting tax deadline, our team once again made it a complete success.

Like last year’s Experience AEM, our 2021 Experience AEM took place via Zoom. Here are a few observations from our team’s second year of going virtual.

Cultivating relationships requires creativity.

At its core, Experience AEM gives students a chance to connect with members of our firm as well as each other. This year, we welcomed 30 students from 15 universities—a diverse group! To set the tone for the event, we kicked off the program with an icebreaker: We gave participants three minutes to find an object in their house that said something about them.

Day one included partner roundtables, during which 17 of our partners hosted small group discussions. These allowed students to truly engage with partners and ask questions about life as an AEM partner. We closed out the day with a social mixer that paired AEM staff with students for five rounds of conversation-starting questions.

Laughter is the best medicine—and strongest glue.

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve held a weekly “Midday Mixer” for AEM staff via Zoom. Think of it as a mini talk show. Our host (and co-author of this article) Keith Wrage interviews a staff member with off-the-wall questions and asks them to pick their favorite from a themed list, such as a favorite way to serve potatoes.

We’ve also hosted regular Zoom Olympics (our traditional Office Olympics but in video format) that feature trivia as well as games like “Name That Tune” and “Chicken or the Egg.”

The goal of these events is two-fold: Bring our staff members together and brighten their days.

We didn’t pause either event for Experience AEM—we simply invited students to join us. As we watched the smiles and laughter spread across the gallery of participants, we knew we had accomplished our mission.

It takes a (dedicated) village.

We’ve always known how committed our partners and staff are to Experience AEM, but this year it was especially clear. The extension of Tax Day to May 17 put Experience AEM (May 11–12) smack dab in the middle of crunch week for our tax department. Nevertheless, more than 50 of our staff members participated in the event, and even more were instrumental in its planning.

In addition to the events mentioned above, our partners and staff took part in a 1.5-hour tax and audit breakout session, sat on a new hire panel and an employee panel about consulting and advisory services, and presented a firm overview complete with an engaging Q&A session.

It’s clear that people matter at AEM—and that our partners and staff will go the extra mile to be a resource for accounting students.

We look forward to welcoming a group of brilliant interns!

To participate in Experience AEM, students must apply to and be interviewed for the invite-only program. Our hope is that, after getting an eyes-wide-open look at our firm and the public accounting profession, participants will also apply for one of our January 2022 internships.

Participating in Experience AEM is NOT a prerequisite for an AEM internship—all accounting students are encouraged to apply. To learn more about Experience AEM or our internship opportunities, check out our University Recruiting page or contact us today.

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