[IMGCAP(1)] Being a business student in the Northeast, more specifically the small state of Rhode Island, I expected my first work-related experience to be at a local firm or business. However, this couldn’t be further than what recently happened to me. As it turned out, this experience and a trip to the West Coast were one in the same.

When I heard my dad was going to San Diego for the AICPA Council meeting, I jumped at the opportunity to tag along. More than anything I wanted to go to California, even if just to sit by the hotel pool. My dad and I went a few days early to meet up with family and visit Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Laguna Beach. I was only at council meeting long enough to attend the mixer on the first night of the conference, but I experienced more in one night than I had ever anticipated.

From our hotel room window I could see the mixer being prepared outside. Numerous workers milled about hanging the drapes, setting up the DJ, and filling the numerous buffets of food. Honestly, it was surprising, since I expected a dinner for business people to be less luxurious and more formal. But, I would have to wait until the night to see what this mixer was really all about.

The hall where the dinner was held was already crowded once my dad, his colleagues, and I got there. Everyone was eating and talking: It was more like a party than a business get-together. Every detail was placed to the nines and there were countless tables of gourmet food, each blanketed with sushi, mini sandwiches, pasta, seafood, and dessert. We went right to grab some dinner and then my dad and I walked around to mingle with other CPAs he had met at previous conferences.

It was a change of pace for me to meet the some of the leaders in the profession from across the country. Each person we spoke to had something different to say. Some talked to my dad about the current financial issues, some asked about what career I wanted to pursue, where I go to college, and some just talked about their family and what they have done recently in business.

Mostly what I gained by attending the Council meeting was a new perspective outside of a college classroom. The professionals I met re-enforced the fact that the business world expands much farther than my town or state. The AICPA Council meeting put large-scale businesses and issues on a more personal level. I was able to put faces to names and meet some of the most influential businessmen and women.

By the end of the mixer, the people I encountered successfully broke the mold of the stereotypical accountant.  They turned out to be some of the more charismatic, personable people I have met. I had a great time!

Jess Lambi is a sophomore accounting major at Roger Williams University. Along with business, she is interested in reading, travel, music, and fashion.