How to Mentor a Student to Their Best Potential

by Maryann T. Reyes, CPA, WithumSmith+Brown PC | January 22, 2019

What’s the best way to mentor a student? In short — be present. By that I mean, be involved, be proactive in communications with the student and don’t just wait for them to contact you. They may be shy or intimidated; keep the relationship active by becoming familiar with the CPA Exam format, what their personal interests are or what their professional goals are. Thus, a mentor is somewhat like a big brother or sister.

What kinds of advice should a mentor give?

  • Be one step ahead of the curve — the accounting profession is moving towards an advisory business first, with tax and assurance in the background.
  • Be very technology-friendly. The ever-changing landscape of the accounting profession is being driven by technology.
  • Be familiar with industry buzzwords: cybersecurity, international tax, advisory, etc.
  • Be available, be enthusiastic and contribute to the conversation. Students should research their likes and dislikes, so they know what questions to ask their mentor.They should tell the mentor which accounting classes they enjoyed the most and what topics they enjoyed.
  • Know that a mentoring relationship works both ways. A mentor has a wealth of experience to offer and can provide their opinion/view on any topic but they cannot read minds. Be friendly and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Mentoring relationships occur at all stages in one’s career from student to staff to manager. The relationships that one fosters as a student, if kept alive, can very well take them through one’s career. These relationships can turn into friendships or even networking opportunities in the future. You never know where a simple conversation will lead you.

Maryann  Reyes

Maryann Reyes

Maryann T. Reyes, CPA, PFS, is a senior manager at Withum. She is a member of the NJCPA and can be reached at

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