Sarah Bee is a Senior Instructor of Accounting at Seattle University, BAP Chapter Advocate, and Treasurer and Conference Chair of the AIS Educator’s Association. A fun fact about Sarah is she got married on cross country skis and her guests had to snowshoe two miles to the wedding ceremony after taking an 8-mile snowmobile ride.
1. What does a BAP Chapter Advocate do?
I serve as the liaison between faculty advisors and executive office and board members for about 50 chapters in the West and Northwest regions. I manage regional conferences and review/edit the manuals that are on the national website. I provide ad hoc advice if someone has a question about reporting or membership duties and help schools that are thinking about becoming BAP chapters see what that actually entails.
2. Why is this role important to you?
I enjoy contributing my time and energy to an organization that provides so much value to its members. Accounting is about building relationships and BAP gives students their first opportunity to start doing that by building professional networks. Another reason I enjoy being a BAP advocate is because there’s a requirement for students to do community service and I think this requirement helps them realize how lucky they are to be in their positions as accounting majors at good colleges, making them more well-rounded.
3. What is the most important thing you’ve learned in your career?
Be nice to everybody. Not only because you never know when they’re going to be in the position to help you, but because it’s just the right thing to do. I haven’t applied to a job in the last 30 years because I have one heck of a network. My past 3 jobs have come from people coming to me and offering me a position because they thought of me when they had an opening in their company or organization.
In the last year I’ve had the opportunity to do an evaluation of an MA program in Maryland as well as travel to Ireland to speak at a conference. I was able to do these things from the network I built, which is an important part of career success.
4. What can college students do now to get a kick start to their career?
First, network! Go to professional lunches and have a list of 5 topics that you feel comfortable talking about—preferably something that’s going to show you in a good light. But, the truth is, hopefully you’ll never have to use those 5 topics because the better of a listener you are, the better conversationalist people will think you are. People love to talk about themselves, so give them the opportunity to do that and listen actively.
Secondly, find a mentor. You may think that people are too busy or important, that’s just not the case. It’s rare to find someone who’s successful who doesn’t see it as part of their responsibility to help others on their way up. Most successful people are good at building relationships, so they see the importance of connecting with others. I don’t think students think they deserve someone to care about them like that, but in fact there’s someone sitting somewhere just waiting for them to ask and would not only be happy to do so, but flattered.
I, myself, have a mentor. He’s been the CEO of 3 companies and I see him for lunch once a month. We have a great relationship and he’s given me plenty of great advice.
5. What’s your best piece of career advice?
Be passionate. Don’t ever do a job that you don’t love. If you don’t love your job, make sure it is a stepping stone on the way to the job that you will love. Don’t waste your time. And how do you do that? Just dive in. Get out there and network and talk to people. Do some volunteer work at a non-profit or enroll in some internships.
The only way to find out if you love it or hate it is by actually doing the work. But, more importantly, don’t be afraid to change. If you’re miserable at your job, it affects self-image, confidence, and worth. So find something you love to do in order to live a healthy and balanced life.