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Connecticut CPA Magazine Excerpt: From Landing that First Job to Becoming a Leader - Destiny Hartmann Shares Her CTCPA Journey

September 23, 2022

By Caitlin Q. Bailey O'Neill, Assistant Editor

When CTCPA member Destiny Hartmann says that the organization has changed her career trajectory, she's not exaggerating.

As a junior at Eastern Connecticut State University, Destiny volunteered to contact local CPA firms to try to get firms to come to the Eastern career fairs and talk with students.  

The professor overseeing the career fairs was impressed by Destiny's work ethic and offered her one of the college's coveted CTCPA Interview Day spots; each college or university is only offered 5 to 10 spots, to ensure that hiring companies have the opportunity to connect with the best and brightest accounting majors from each school. 

CTCPA Interview Day

At 8 a.m. on Interview Day back in 2015, Destiny sat down for her first of four interviews, with Glastonbury firm Fiondella, Milone, & LaSaracina (FML). Sitting across the table from CTCPA Past President Brian Kelleher, an audit partner at the firm, Destiny shared her plans to embark on an auditing career path and, eventually, earn her CPA.

Shortly after Interview Day, Brian reached out to tell her that, unfortunately, the audit internship had been filled, but Tax Partner Angel Li was interested in speaking with her if she was willing to consider a tax internship.  

“I said sure,” Destiny laughs. “I was an impressionable college student – I'll talk to anyone! I know a little bit more about taxes than audit – why not.”

That tax internship turned into a full-time offer – and Destiny is now working her way up the ranks at that very same firm as a Tax Supervisor.

Job landed – check.

CTCPA Accounting Scholarship Foundation

Since her first introductory accounting class in high school, Destiny knew that a career in accounting was for her, and the CPA credential the ultimate goal ... but she also knew that the education required to become certified had a price tag.  

As a CTCPA student member, Destiny received the Student CONNection emails telling her about available scholarships. When preparing to pursue her master's degree at Eastern Connecticut State University, she applied for the CTCPA Accounting Scholarship Foundation Candidate's Award.

A few months later, she was at the Aqua Turf Club with CTCPA leaders and fellow aspiring CPAs at the CTCPA Recognition Reception, where she accepted the $5,000 Candidate's Award scholarship.

$5,000 scholarship – check.

New and Young Professionals Cabinet and Programming

FML has long been supportive of the New and Young Professionals (NYP) programming, and Destiny quickly found herself invited to CTCPA social events by her coworkers. One of her earliest NYP memories includes taking home the sought-after trophy at the annual kickball tournament on a “brutally hot” summer day, and she's been a part of everything from the Mingling & Merriment holiday party to educational breakfasts to the dodgeball  tournament.

The New and Young Professionals Cabinet is a group of about two dozen individuals representing firms and companies throughout the state that plan NYP events and programming. When the FML spot on the Cabinet opened up, Destiny jumped at the chance to help steer the ship and build a connection with other professionals like herself.

“The NYP group is a great resource for young professionals starting in their careers. Whether you're attending networking outings, social events held by the society, or subject matter presentations, there is something for everyone,” said Destiny. “It should be a resource that they can utilize as they progress through their careers.”

After several years of serving on the Cabinet, she stepped into the role of chair and happily took a spot on the Advisory Council, further expanding her CTCPA network – which she holds out as one of her favorite benefits.  

“I think the most rewarding part of being a CTCPA member is the opportunity to connect with other professionals in various industries,” she shared. “Being able to go to a CTCPA-sponsored event and knowing that there will be familiar faces is comforting.”

Destiny's goals for the NYP programming in her stead as chair are relatively simple: after nearly 2 1/2 years of virtual programming, she's ready to reconnect.  

“From experiencing firsthand how the pandemic has affected my career and my connection to my colleagues, and even discussing with others within the profession, it seems people want to get out there and reconnect,” she said. “Whether that's through a volleyball or kickball tournament, charitable event, or even just grabbing a drink together, people want to feel connected again.”

Connecting with peers and climbing the leadership ladder – check.

Connecticut Professionals' Leadership Academy

Destiny took her desire to connect with other professionals to the next level when she became one of 27 individuals accepted to the 2022 Connecticut Professionals' Leadership Academy.  

The group met once a month for six months for interactive, hands-on workshops, leadership training, and, of course, networking between six different professional organizations.

From the first session, when participants worked together to assemble airplane pieces to employ lean principles and teamwork, to the Legislative Day at the Capitol and all the way through a graduation celebration at a Hartford Yard Goats game, Destiny considered the program a professional game-changer.

“I am a huge advocate for leadership development and when I saw the CTCPA hosting the Leadership Academy, I knew that I wanted to participate. This program provides a more intimate environment connecting you with other professionals from different industries, which in return could lead to potential referrals or clients for an opportunity for business,” she said. “So not only are you gaining these valuable connections, you're also learning the necessary leadership tools to hopefully apply within your career. You learn skills on effective communication, time management, and  providing effective feedback, all skills that will translate to what you do on the job.”

Expanding the network beyond finance professionals – mission accomplished.

As Destiny looks toward her next goal – passing the CPA Exam before the new exam is launched in January 2024 – she's grateful for the opportunities that got her to where she is.

“I've kind of grown up with the CTCPA ...

It's nice looking back to have an organization that supports your goals,” she says. “Being a member, you're definitely heard. You're not just another person who gets lost in an association.”