“The pool of diverse candidates seeking a career in public accounting is small,” explains Mary Kate Garner, Plante Moran recruiting consultant. “This has created a war for talent.”
So what does one of the largest accounting, tax, and consulting firms in the nation do when — in some cases—high school students are being primed for a career in accounting? We roll up our sleeves and develop a six-week internship program for multicultural freshmen and sophomores. We named it “Track.”
“Track introduces students to business and public accounting early in their college career — when they’re just starting to figure out what they want to do,” says Recruiting Manager Eshe Dotson. “It provides a snapshot of life at a public accounting firm by encouraging these diverse students to shadow partners and rotate through various industries. The goal? Grow our pool of diverse candidates and expose them to the benefits of a career at Plante Moran much earlier than we have in the past.”
After years of laying the groundwork, Track is proving highly successful. Track began in 2010 in Plante Moran’s Southfield office as a pilot internship program for two college sophomores. Since then, we’ve had 38 participants and, this year, we’ll have 14 Track interns across Southeast Michigan, Grand Rapids, Chicago, and Columbus.
“Whenever you ask someone what they enjoy most about Plante Moran, they almost always say it's the people. It is the people...”
“From a diversity standpoint, we think our office should look a lot more like our community and the clients we serve,” said Rich Antonini, West Michigan managing partner. “This continues to be a challenge for us because it’s difficult to find diverse talent — but we need to take the initiative to overcome this obstacle, and Track is helping us do just that. The program allows us to connect with and engage students at a very early stage.”
Doneisha Parker is one of Track’s early success stories. Prior to starting college at Michigan State University, Doneisha was introduced to Plante Moran through an event for high school students, held by the Accounting Career Awareness Program (ACAP). The firm participated in the ACAP event at Wayne State University in Detroit and invited Doneisha to visit the Southfield office that same week. During the visit, she connected with Eshe Dotson, who encouraged her to think about Track.
"It was such a great program," Doneisha said. "We rotated through various service lines that Plante Moran offers, including corporate finance, Plante Moran Financial Advisors, audit, and tax. At the time, I had friends who were interviewing at the Big Four and smaller firms, and I learned how much Plante Moran differs — it's definitely a top-tier company."
After Track, Doneisha kept in contact with people she'd met. In addition, "A lot of my peer mentors at MSU ended up working at the firm, and that helped keep me focused, knowing Plante Moran was the end goal once school was over."
Doneisha was offered a second internship the summer following Track. Then, after earning her bachelor's degree in 2015 and her master's degree in 2016, she began working full-time with the firm's assurance team.
What's her favorite part about working at Plante Moran? "Whenever you ask someone that question, they almost always say it's the people. It is the people, and it's also the variety of experiences I've had within the firm. I've gotten to do a lot of audit and tax work, and I've also worked with clients in many different industries. Plante Moran has been a great place to start my career and develop as a professional. I've accomplished a lot here so far, and Track has been a big part of that."