Grasping every chance to foster professional growth
Having found out career interest in Accounting through an Accounting course with Professor Diep Phan, Beryl Sybil “Kikie” Odonkor ’20 landed up securing an internship through the same class. She is now chasing her passion as a Delivery Assurance Analyst at McKinsey & Company.
Why did you decide to go to Beloit College?
I was from a competitive boarding school in Tema, Ghana, and had an initial aspiration to enter the medical field in the future. Therefore, during my high school years, I focused solely on the STEM education program (International Baccalaureate program) to work on that intended career pathway. However, I realized that the medical field perhaps was not for me as I graduated from high school. So I wanted and had the urge to know more about everything else, except for science, that was missing out on in my high school years. That was why I was looking for a liberal arts education for my college experience. I also wanted to have a tight-knit community where I could engage with professors and other students since college would be my fresh start with all the material I had never done before. And Beloit ticked all the boxes with a bonus point for its generous financial aid package. Altogether, it sealed the deal.
How was your transition from high school to college?
Academically, I devoted my freshman year to exploring a wide range of courses that I had never had a chance to be exposed to during my time at high school. I tried different classes, ranging from French, and Political Science to Grecian classics courses, to satisfy my desire to get a fresh start. Besides classes, I considered myself lucky to have found the right place where I could be true to myself while at the same time growing as a person right from the beginning of my college journey. I had my first college employment with the Office of Development and Alumni Relations and participated in some student clubs like Black Students United and International Students Club. These involvements not only helped me navigate college life by offering me the chance to new people, but they also provided me with numerous opportunities to grow.
What advice would you give to first-year students?
It is crucial to surround yourself with like/right-minded people. If you are not grounded in who you are or are unsure of what you want, you may end up without a support group or lacking a sense of stability. By building those connections and finding people with the same interests and goals, you can build up your energy while simultaneously having a good time. And, be open to learning from others. Beloit has so many opportunities and different things available at your fingertips, so if you go out and look for them, you will find the one that fits you.
What are your majors and minors at Beloit College? When did you declare each of these? What inspired you to go down these routes?
My major at Beloit College is Business Economics, and I declared in the spring semester of my sophomore year. It was an interesting story behind my decision to have my degree in this field. Initially, I came to Beloit with no intended field of study. After the union with my high school friends in the winter break of my freshman year, I was in limbo. Recalling my high school experience, I found myself interested in participating in community services, especially working with children. So, I intended to go with a Psychology and Education and Youth Studies double major in the spring semester of my freshman year. However, my intended major changed to Psychology and International Relations at the beginning of my second year after one year of exploring. Because I enjoyed the political thinking mindset in Political Science courses and considered having my French language courses get in use. However, it changed again after taking the Principles of Economics by coincidence in the spring semester of the same year. At that time, I seriously took my future career pathway into account and saw ample career opportunities offered with an Economics-related degree. That is why you see me in this field.
Which student experiences at Beloit College have made a significant impact on your personal and professional development?
First, it was the experience of being an Orientation Leader and the Residential Assistant in my sophomore year. It was an invaluable experience to engage more with the campus and be a resource for other people. It also helped me open her circle of friends and work on improving my leadership skills. Second, it was my first experience executing an idea to make it happen. I, together with my friends, founded the African Caribbean Society. With this club, we aim to celebrate African/Caribbean cultures and identities on campus and educate the Beloit community about African/Caribbean heritage.
Which experience from your degree in Business Economics supported you to carve out your career path?
I appreciate all the opportunities that the Economics department offers for students. They all made me feel more engaged in the sense that I was able to give my insights to contribute to the department’s work. I was involved in searching for the Miller Upton Forum professors. I also got an opportunity to work with the Center for Entrepreneurship as a Program Coordinator, in which I coordinated and managed projects for student-alumni programs. It tremendously helped me strengthen my soft skills and gave me the platform to be more involved in the community. The Econ Day, an exclusive opportunity for Economics department students, was also beneficial to build up my network circle and networking skills and gaining insightful working experience by listening to alumni sharing their experiences. However, what really paved the way for my current career pathway, accounting, was the Accounting course with Professor Diep Phan and the accounting internship I secured through that class.
Looking back at your 4-year experience at Beloit College, what comes to your mind?
It is always the people at Beloit College that I remember the most. They gave me the confidence to overcome any obstacles I faced. They are my life-long mentors and advisors during and after my time at Beloit. I remember coming to Career Works in my first three years to figure out what I wanted to do for my post-Beloit life. Not only did Career Works provide excellent career-building advice (job search, resume, cover letter, mock-up interview), but it also helped me to make the most out of my time at Beloit by showing what resources to look/ask for or use and who I should talk to on campus. My French professors are also my role models who have taught me efficiency in public speaking, coaching, and guidance skills. With these coaching skill sets, I was able to work as the Teaching Assistant for the Fundamentals of Accounting and Finance course. I also successfully led a networking seminar with two other economic seniors to share my experiences developing my own networking skills at Career Works with other current students.
What is your current job? Could you give us an insight into your daily work routine?
I am currently working as a Tax Intern at Rödl & Partner USA (the same company where I interned in the summer after junior year) to further my technical skills and build up my experience in this field. My daily work involves processing financial information for companies and analyzing financial transactions within multinational companies.