Alumna: Accounting '15
An Tran is a young woman of distinguishable drive who currently serves as audit senior at BDO. During her studies at Towson University, Tran was constantly involved in nearly all the accounting groups on campus, including Beta Alpha Psi, the Accounting Club, and the TU Chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA).
You were involved a lot on campus during your studies at Towson. How did it help you?
Why were you so involved?
Being involved was helpful. Professors usually know a lot of people within the field, because they know their former students, so it’s how you connect. You get to know a lot of people, big people, in the industry. They gave me so much advice. I applied for scholarships and they gave me a lot of scholarships to help me pay for my schooling.
Dr. Aru Rao, the biggest influence during my school years, advised me where to go and what kind of activities to be involved in. For an international student, it’s really hard to get an internship or a job, so I asked her how to get one, and she told me to get involved in any organizations within my major.
Why did you choose to start your career through audit?
I’ve always had an interest in learning about business and about how business can operate. I want to be either an executive for a company down the road, or maybe run my own company in the future, so I need to know how the company is run and how to operate it. If I like it enough at my current firm, I could continue down my current path to becoming a partner, but if I don’t like it, I can go into another company in the executive position, after manager.
What drove you to put so much time and effort into your education and getting involved?
When I was in Vietnam, I thought it was impossible to study abroad, but luckily I got a chance to come to the U.S. Usually only rich families can send their children to go to school here, because it’s so expensive. I got a chance to study here, so I knew I had better make it successful and I had to be grateful to my family and the people who were mentoring me and showing me the way to grow and learn. I feel like I somehow owe it to them, you know? And I am the person who always enjoys learning and I want to grow and I don’t want to stay in one place. I want to explore things and I enjoy meeting new people. I think it’s my grandma’s influence on me too. She always really believed in me. A lot of people believe in me and my potential, and I think I should strive to be the best version of myself.
How did you balance your studies, internships, and social groups during your time at Towson University?
If you don’t plan, you plan to fail. During the beginning of a semester, I would ask people who had actually studied the classes the semester before what the professor’s teaching style looked like, how the tests looked, whether it was going to be more reading focused or what kind of questions they usually asked on the exam, or what information I needed for projects. Then I planned it out when I got the syllabus. So if you can, try to get started early on a project by setting up what you need and just get it done in advance. I took advantage of the times between classes if I had to wait, so I just did homework while on campus. Then I didn’t have to worry about doing it all at night when I got home. I realized that if I took a lot of classes, my grades were actually getting better, because I learned how to be more efficient.
Which programs would you suggest students at TU get involved in?
I would highly recommend TU students participate in the organizations related to their major, because there is so much opportunity to network, and you learn so many leadership skills. You get to network with people in high-up levels at companies you might be interested in. It’s all about a connected network.
Is there any specific group you would recommend for any business student to join?
I would say Towson Toastmasters, because it helps with public speaking skills. It’s a group led by business excellence and legal studies professor Quincey Johnson. It really helped me to speak confidently in public, and eventually you have to speak a lot in public to influence people and work with people, so obviously you need to get good at public speaking. I’m still improving on it right now. There’s also ISA, the International Student Association. It was a social group for me and I got to learn about a lot of cultures and make friends from different countries.
Interview compiled by Kellie Podsednik