Black History Month Series: BDO Alliance USA Firm Leader Writes Letter to Younger Self

Black History Month commemorates the historical achievements of Black individuals while bringing to light the continued challenges faced by communities of color.

This month, BDO’s Multicultural Alliance is hosting local and national events centered around dialogue, education, and exploration into the cultures and influential roles of Black Americans. As part of this learning experience, we invited professionals to share their perspectives through first-person letters, touching on their personal triumphs and the lessons learned along the way.

Editor’s Note: The following is a letter from BDO Alliance USA firm leader and managing principal of J. Miller & Associates, LLC, Joyce Miller. Miller chose to write a letter to her younger self, who is in graduate school and on the precipice of big moves in her career journey.

Dear Joyce,

When you started college, you really had no idea what your major should be. You were in the business school and, as it happened, one of the courses offered in the first semester was accounting. You loved it. It was like figuring out a puzzle. You had a feeling you’d found your professional calling, but rarely is the path toward success and fulfillment straightforward.

Joyce Miller at age 21Joyce Miller (née Goggins) at age 21

When you began your first job as a public accountant, you thought your career was all set. You’d been hired by one of the largest global firms in a class of about 80 new recruits. After training, you were assigned to some very large clients, which was initially exciting. In the first years, however, you saw only a very small part of the audit, and it was difficult to get an overall sense of the full audit and your role in helping provide assurance to the market. Midway into your second year, you started to lose the thrill for accounting. It was then that you were given an audit assignment with a smaller electronics manufacturer. In that audit, you were able to meet and interact with the owner and get a better picture of the business and its operations. It was a revelation of what the profession could be – and that opportunity once again sparked your interest. With takeaways from that experience in mind, you decided to attend graduate school – and, so far, you’re doing a great job.

Photo of Joyce Miller todayJoyce Miller, CPA, MBA today – Managing Principal, J. Miller & Associates, LLC

I want you to know that eventually, after you finish graduate school and work for years as a financial analyst, you will start your own firm working directly with people. You’ll find your niche – specializing in nonprofit organizations – providing audit, accounting, tax and consulting services. That work allows you to build a direct connection with people and help them solve their business challenges. You appreciate and value the experience you had at larger firms, and you often wonder what your path would’ve been if you’d been "in the mix" with clients much earlier in your career. There are a wide range of opportunities in public accounting when you graduate. I would encourage you to consider them all and then choose the one that fits you best.