When she entered college, Grissell Bautista envisioned a life for herself that would allow her to remain close to her tight-knit Brooklyn family while embarking on a career that soared.
St. Francis College provided exactly that.
A graduate of the Murry Bergtraum High School For Business Careers in Manhattan, the native of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn enrolled at SFC looking for a field of study that would fulfill her professional ambitions and provide a solid foundation to help her family.
She chose accounting and never looked back.
Grissell now works at Deloitte, her first and only employer since earning her degree. Deloitte is a "Big Four" accounting firm meaning that, along with PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), KMPG and EY (Ernst & Young), it's one of the world's largest. Big Four jobs are considered some of the most prestigious in the accounting field, and SFC has a long, successful track record of placing its graduates in those companies.
Grissell reflected on her experience at SFC and the path she forged after.
How did you choose to attend St. Francis College?
I'm the first generation in my family to go to college and I'm very family oriented. I wanted to commute to college. A good friend told me about St. Francis, and once I looked into it – that it was located near the [Brooklyn Heights] Promenade – I fell in love. It gave me memories about when I was little, my parents would take me to the Promenade.
Then I saw that they had a five-year accounting program. That was it.
I knew that accounting was a stable and rewarding career.
Was there a course at SFC that played a big role in your accounting journey?
The first accounting course, elementary accounting, solidified my decision. When I took the course, I saw how demanding the major was. Professor [Louis] D'Elia did a great job at explaining the basics and keeping students motivated. I would like to thank and acknowledge all of my professors, they were excellent mentors.
What did you get out of your internship experience while at SFC?
In 2016, I was awarded the National Grid scholarship, and with that came an internship. For two years, I was part of the budgeting and forecasting team; mainly running reports for my manager and team.
From that experience, I was able to step outside my comfort zone. I was extremely quiet and shy, but I was surrounded by SFC alumni at National Grid. They made me feel a sense of comfort which helped me develop professionally and in my personal life as well. All my coworkers are great people and we still keep in contact as much as we can.
How did you connect with Deloitte?
I got connected to Deloitte through the Career Center. The Career Center is super helpful. They help with everything from refining resumes to hosting mock Interviews to prepare you. Naomi [Kinley, SFC Career Center Director,] is amazing. The office has a resume drop-off during the season when the accounting firms are setting up interviews. I dropped off my resume and shortly after, I heard back from Deloitte.
What do you do at Deloitte?
I'm currently a senior tax consultant for the Business Tax Service (BTS) Real Estate Group. We primarily focus on tax compliance for real estate clients.
What misconceptions do people have about accounting?
That it's a boring field. That the people who choose the career are boring and that they're really good at math.
It's funny because at first, even I thought, "I'm great at math, I should go into accounting!" After a few accounting courses, I realized that accounting is not just math focused. I never liked doing the same thing over and over again. I was happy to learn that tax isn't repetitive, you're always learning new things and are never bored.
How does the education you received at SFC stack up against that of your colleagues from other schools?
I think it's on par if not better, because we have that one-on-one connection with our professors. We're not just another student, they know our names and personal stories. I was always able to reach out to my professors and ask them for help. We received a lot of guidance and I've always felt prepared.
Why is Big Four experience helpful to accountants' careers?
I think it's helpful to get Big Four experience so you can get broad exposure to the field. In a big firm, you get to see different departments and it's easier to transition into different areas. For example, I know a couple people that were originally in tax and they decided to go a different route, into auditing, and they're happy. I'm in the Real Estate Group, but for the summer I get the opportunity to work with the Private Equity Group. There's a lot of diversity within the field.
What advice do you have for prospective SFC accounting students?
There's a lot of opportunities at SFC. Take advantage of the resources SFC has to offer. Don't be afraid to join clubs. If you're thinking about majoring in accounting be sure to join the Accounting society, they have SFC alumni that share their experiences and you will find that super helpful. With the professors there, I feel that St. Francis is very prepared to set students on a path to success.
I run into a lot of St. Francis students in my neighborhood. I usually wear my SFC hat, and they come up and ask me questions. I tell them I'm a graduate and how St. Francis prepared me for the career I now have.