Confidence has never been much of a problem for Mya Reeves. Humble but sure of herself, she has relentlessly pursued her interests and ambitions. This has helped her not only narrow down her career focus but also expand her network and build critical soft skills.
Initially a marketing and entrepreneurship major at North Carolina Central University, Reeves — now a senior — shifted her focus last year. While she says she enjoyed her entrepreneurship classes, she found herself drawn to accounting.
“I took accounting as a basic business class, and I was like ‘I really like this. I could see myself doing this. I’m pretty good at this,’” says Reeves. “I [figured] I could still be an entrepreneur and not study entrepreneurship, so I dropped entrepreneurship and added accounting, and now, accounting is my thing — my main deal.”
She believes that having this direction, along with a stellar work ethic and the drive and confidence to go for what she wants, are what have made her successful. There may be something to that.
A 2019 alum of The Consortium’s undergraduate program, Competitive Advantage, Reeves has had a full-time job lined up since before January. After receiving not one but five job offers — from companies including General Mills, Ecolab, Liberty Mutual and Discover — as a result of attending Competitive Advantage, she ultimately decided to join ExxonMobil as a controller’s analyst, a job she will begin in August.
Reeves recently spoke with us about her professional goals and ambitions, the path that has led her to where she is and the role Competitive Advantage has played.
What sparked your interest in marketing and accounting?
I think my interest in marketing came from my interest in people, psychology and creativity — and the ability to reach out to people in ways that are effective and efficient; that has always appealed to me. For that same reason, actually, I was attracted to accounting. People think of accounting and they think numbers, but accounting is very much a people-based business as well. Accounting spoke to me, especially because it’s the language of business; if you understand accounting and how those transactions work and how money moves through a business, you really understand the heart and soul of how businesses work. To me, that’s the most powerful lesson you can get as a business student.
Accounting is also a very stable field, and I’m very glad I chose it now because I might be out of a marketing job, but I’m not out of an accounting job. Someone always needs an accountant. Audits happen every year. You’ll never be unemployed.
How about your interest in entrepreneurship?
My dad is an entrepreneur. He sells cars, he fixes computers, he flips houses. He’s a jack of all trades. So I’ve always been exposed to entrepreneurial life, and I like how much control it gives you over your future. If you grind hard enough, if you want to be a millionaire, you can be a millionaire. If you want to own a nonprofit or be a social entrepreneur, you can do that. You’re very much in control of where your hard work is focused, and it allows you to allot resources toward what you’re most passionate about.
How did you hear about Competitive Advantage, and what made you want to participate?
I got accepted to a program last year called the Summer Institute for Emerging Managers and Leaders (SIEML) that’s hosted by the University of California (UC) system. You go through a UC hosting institution — my year it was UC San Diego — and you get the graduate school experience. One of the schools I was interested in specifically was UC Berkeley, which is a Consortium school. That’s how I learned about The Consortium.
One of my SIEML [friends] sent out the link to Competitive Advantage. They said all you have to do is pay for your flight to Chicago. I thought that was a very small price to pay to get a job. I thought if there are jobs there and it’s The Consortium, I know it’s a quality program — and I love conferences. I was like, “Let’s do this.” It’s actually the first time I ever paid to go to a conference, and I do not regret it.
What was the most impactful part of Competitive Advantage for you?
I think the most impactful part was probably the company panels because it allows you to sit in front of companies and ask some real questions that you may be scared to ask in an interview. It gave you the opportunity to ask the employees “What does your day look like? What don’t you like? Do you travel?” They were very, very real with us about what their life looks like. Those are very important questions that I think a lot of times candidates forget to ask.
I definitely made lifelong connections there. As a minority student, I think conferences in general can be life-changing, especially if you’ve never been to one because, to be honest, it’s almost like we’re not expected to be as business oriented, as smart and as accomplished as most of us are. So, when you get in a room of people who look like you and are very intelligent, have great résumés and bring to the table all of these things, it’s very inspiring. I also like to learn from people. To see someone who looks like you be able to overcome whatever their challenge may be and still be successful is very inspiring. That was one of the most impactful parts of going to Competitive Advantage.
I also liked that Darden School of Business came in and spoke to us. I thought it was nice that they combined careers and graduate school.
Did you expect to come out of it with a full-time job?
I have a lot of confidence. If it can be done, I feel like I can do it. Did I expect to get five job offers? Absolutely not. I just went in knowing that I may not come out with a full-time offer, but [I told myself,] “You’re going to go in, and you’re going to show them who Mya Reeves is, show them your personality. You’re going to show them how smart you are, how great you are, and if it was meant to be, you’ll come out with something.” I think it was definitely meant to be because I came out with five job offers — all great offers.
Did it help solidify your career path?
It was interesting to see that you really can be a marketing student and still be an attractive accounting student. I think this conference really showed me how to balance my résumé to show all of my strengths, all of my marketing experiences, all of my leadership experiences and all of my accounting and financial experiences. Competitive Advantage helped me balance out everything and showed me who I am, [that] I can be an accountant and still have an interest in marketing.
Do you think this dual focus played a role in you securing as many offers as you did from Competitive Advantage?
It definitely started a lot of conversations. I think what helped me stand out the most was my Big Four internship this previous summer. I interned at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for 40-plus hours a week. I also worked at Apple at the same time for 20 hours a week, so I was working 60-plus hours a week, and I was taking three classes online. To be able to complete my internship, still have a job at Apple and get As in all of my online classes, I think that made for a great story during my interviews. They were like, “Oh, you can multitask; you can balance things.” I think that shows I’m willing to put in the work.
Also, a lot of the people I interviewed with from Competitive Advantage were like “Oh, I worked at the Big Four. Tell me what you thought about it.” A lot of the things I thought about it, they thought about it, and a lot of the reasons that I wanted to transition from public to private, [were reasons] they also wanted to transition from public to private. I think that automatically gave us a connection and showed them that I was already thinking ahead, that I already know exactly where I want my career to be driven. I know the path I want to be on.
I think that helped me — and [having] the marketing side. That helped because, a lot of times, people think of accountants as … introverted. I don’t think that’s true; a lot of times accountants are very extroverted people. They love going out, they love social circumstances and creatives, and I think that having my marketing major shows them that I’m creative, I’m technical and I’m able to do finances. That combination shows them that I would be a fun person to work with, and that type of personality combined with my PwC experience — and my many marketing internships — helped me get the full-time offer.
With so many offers, how did you end up making the decision to go with ExxonMobil?
It was hard. I made a list, and it boiled down to position, place and pay. The position was important to me because I want to be internal, I want to be doing accounting specifically. I really want to hone in on my knowledge, and I want to be a certified public accountant. For that reason, I have to be surrounded by accountants and get that experience in order to get certified.
The pay was important to me because I thought I was going to be moving out of state, so I didn’t want to struggle financially; that includes the relocation package. I wanted to make sure that the companies that I looked at had good relocation packages because that says a lot about how a company treats their employees.
And then place: I’m from North Carolina; I’m from the South. All my other interviews were in Boston in the North, Chicago in the Midwest and then Texas, where Exxon is. When I was in Texas, I almost felt like I was in a larger North Carolina. Everything felt familiar; it looked familiar. I felt very much at home. Exxon treated me like royalty. They sent a car and a chauffeur to the airport to get me. I got to bond with the employees. We went out to a steak and seafood restaurant, and they said order whatever you want. It was very friendly, very free-flowing, but also very informative. Also, their relocation package is excellent. They go out of their way to show they care about their employees, and that is what made me feel comfortable saying, “I’ll pick up my life and move to Texas for this company.”
What do you ultimately want to do in your career?
I want to be a social entrepreneur. I actually want to go back and get my … MBA; I want to focus on computer science and technology. My ultimate goal is to create an accounting software that makes accounting more easily understandable for children so that financial literacy can be more integrated into schools.
When I was a kid, I used to play these really fun math games — I was a beast at them — and I think about how much those days made me fall in love with math. I want to be able to provide that same experience for students with accounting. I want to make other people as passionate about accounting as I am. I think all the things I am doing are working toward that goal. You have to be able to market a business, you have to understand the books of a business, and then, eventually, I’m going to add on the technical side of that. I think all of those things will come together and make me a social entrepreneur in the distant future.
Is there anything else you want to add about your experience with Competitive Advantage?
With the globalization of everything, it’s very important to be diverse, and so I was very happy to see the number of companies there, Fortune 500 companies putting diversity at the forefront. I appreciate Competitive Advantage for bringing them there, for creating this melting pot of people, ideas and jobs — and graduate programs. It was beautiful.