Accounting firm opens up to Baxter neighborhood students
An accounting firm opened up its Grand Rapids office recently to offer local students some critical skills for life and their careers.
Teenagers from the Baxter Community Center’s mentoring program visited Plante Moran this month for a career night.
Baxter Community Center’s mission is to respond to “human needs” in Grand Rapids’ Baxter neighborhood, including helping people become self-sufficient.
Mike Lamfers, a partner at Plante Moran and board member at Baxter, said that 15 students took part in the evening, which was hosted by 10 members of the certified public accounting and business advisory firm.
The students watched skits portraying the dos and don’ts of job interviewing, received a tour of the office and were introduced to the types of careers available at the accounting firm.
Lamfers noted that the atmosphere was fun and laid back, and the students were very engaged in the experience.
“I would say that the reactions were across the board,” Lamfers said. “Some of them were quite knowledgeable — obviously, we coached them a bit on the front end. These are top-caliber students, so they have a propensity to be more cognizant about their surroundings.”
Lamfers said it was important to bring the students to the Plate Moran office versus joining them at Baxter Community Center, because it provides a more thorough experience.
“We gave them a tour of the office, showed them some of the new and upcoming things in terms of office technology and how we leverage computers and communication tools,” Lamfers said. “It gives them a different perspective, and it’s very important to get them in that professional setting.”
Though the night’s purpose was to teach students the life skill of interviewing and get them thinking about their future careers, Lamfers noted that the accounting profession struggles with diversity, particularly in West Michigan, and even efforts on college campuses haven’t made much of an impact on the demographics of accounting program grads.
Baxter’s mentoring program includes a diverse group of students and getting them thinking about accounting when talking about the firm’s job opportunities is a bonus.
Each year, Plante Moran chooses a nonprofit to partner with through its PM Cares initiative.
Throughout the year, it then works with the charity in several ways.
Lamfers said in the past they’ve focused on issues such as children and literacy, and this year’s theme was life skills.
The firm’s next initiative with the Baxter Community Center is providing holiday baskets through Baxter’s family assistance program.