Try before you buy

Jul. 21, 2017  |  Stephanie Schmidt

It's a brilliant concept, right? I can’t tell you how many times I've bought something after sampling it at Costco. Had I not tried it, I would've walked right by.

And then there are companies like Warby Parker that will send you as many as five frames to try on for size before you invest in a pair of glasses.

These are both great, but they’re retail examples. Can the same concept be applied to people?

When you think about it, this has been happening for as long as I can remember -- they’re called internships. However, when you hire an intern, you’re still committing to keeping someone around for a certain amount of time, knowing little about them at the time of hire. How much can you really learn about someone in an hour-long interview?

What about two days? In the accounting world, they’re often referred to as summer leadership programs and they’re BRILLIANT!

Last month, I spoke to a group of students at Olsen Thielen’s BASE (Business and Accounting Summer Experience) Camp. It’s a two-day program for students to learn about the firm, get hands-on experience, learn about different career paths, and get tips about everything from the CPA exam to interviewing and networking.

What’s even better -- it’s an opportunity for students to learn about the culture of the firm, and for firms to learn about students and determine the best cultural fit. In this case, both parties get to “try before they buy.”

That’s so important because a poor hire is costly to both the firm and its employees.

According to the Harvard Business Review, as much as 80 percent of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions. And the cost of turnover is all over the board, ranging from 20 percent to 150 percent of the person’s salary depending on the position.

A summer leadership program can help firms and companies avoid a bad hire and turnover. Moreover, the effort pays off immediately for the organization because of its exposure to many candidates and the opportunity to showcase the company's culture.

Several accounting firms and companies have been doing this for years. For those who aren’t, it might be time to consider. At a time when recruitment and retention are the top concerns of firms and companies, you have to pull out all the stops.


Topics: Staffing

Stephanie Schmidt

Stephanie Schmidt is the MNCPA’s director of membership and marketing. For more than 10 years, she has expertly managed numerous member programs and events. Her skillset comes in handy when also planning sleepovers and birthday parties for her family. Stephanie has also earned the MNCPA’s unofficial title of office fashionista. Step into her office and you’ll see her knack for fashion, design and décor. She’s also a hugger, which you’ll appreciate if you’re ever trapped in a scary escape room with her. Stephanie can be reached at 952-885-5523 or

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