Next Up: Certified Public Accountant
Almost 10 years after her first college attempt, Tiandra Threat returned to Brightpoint with a clear vision to grow her business career and leveraged every possible opportunity to build her network and experience, as a campus leader, mentor and mentee.
Almost 10 years after her first college attempt, Tiandra Threat returned to Brightpoint with a clear vision to grow her business career. This time, she leveraged every possible opportunity to build her network and experience, as a campus leader, mentor and mentee.
Through new connections, the 2023 Trailblazer of the Year landed two internships, including a stint with a Big Four accounting firm, before transferring to Virginia Commonwealth University to complete a dual bachelor’s degree in accounting and information systems.
Here’s how Tiandra rallied support to conquer her goals:
When Tiandra first attended Brightpoint after high school, she was dealing with a family tragedy that made college seem impossible.
“Exactly 30 days after I turned 18, I lost my brother,” Tiandra recounted. “College didn’t work out because I wasn’t mentally prepared to grieve, and I didn’t know what resources were available to me then.”
Not sure where to turn, she dropped out and started her own hairstyling business. Years later when the pandemic hit, she re-evaluated what she wanted out of life, and recognized that she loved managing all the administrative aspects of her business.
“Selling products, doing the paperwork, ordering supplies, managing money — I liked that a lot,” Tiandra said.
With that in mind, she took a career assessment test through Brightpoint’s Career Coach platform, which matched her with accounting.
“That was my confirmation,” Tiandra said. “Accounting is the science behind finance and running a business.”
Build a safety net
After doing her due diligence, Tiandra re-enrolled. When she started feeling the pressures of being a college student again, she had a different reaction this time. She surrounded herself with people she could count on.
She contacted Amy Shutts, Brightpoint's career and internship coordinator, who was Tiandra’s first point of contact at Brightpoint when searching for best-suited career paths. Amy helped her fine tune professional skills. Tiandra also contacted Bennie Rogers, a professional counselor and club adviser at Brightpoint, who connected her with the Care Team at Brightpoint, which guided her through resources for personal support on and off campus.
“Taking advantage of the Academic Resource Center, the Care Team, and resources like Mr. Rogers and Amy Shutts are the reasons why I made it through Brightpoint for the second time around,” Tiandra said. “I was really determined to not get back to how I felt when my brother passed away. So, I made sure that I took advantage of everything.”
“What really surprised me about Brightpoint was the fact that any idea I had or wanted to do, it was done. That’s never happened in my entire life. I’ve never been this supported ever.”
Ask for what you want
A skillful networker, Tiandra balanced leadership roles as a treasurer for the Student Government Association and Black Student Alliance, a student advisory board member for Career Services, a member of Mu Alpha Theta — the U.S. mathematics honor society for two-year colleges — and a participant in the state-wide VCCS Student Leadership Conference.
One of her many accomplishments at Brightpoint was spearheading a new event, Dress for Success, a fashion show and workshop sponsored by Career Services and Black Student Alliance.“The fashion show was an idea that I came up with after I attended the VCCS Leadership Conference in Roanoke,” Tiandra said. “While I was there, I noticed that many students didn’t know what to wear in business settings.” She approached her BSA adviser about the idea, and they surveyed BSA members who agreed they should do it.
The event included a what-to-wear-in-business workshop, followed by a fashion show, using clothing items from the college’s Career Closet, which provides free professional clothing to students for interviews and career fairs. “What really surprised me about Brightpoint was the fact that any idea I had or wanted to do, it was done,” Tiandra said. “That’s never happened in my entire life. I’ve never been this supported ever.”
Jump one step ahead
After making new connections through student clubs and leadership events, Tiandra networked on LinkedIn for career advice. That’s how she met VCU’s president of the NABA chapter, an organization that elevates Black business leaders.
“She told me about different resources, tips on time management skills, and the Big Four accounting firms,” Tiandra said.
Tiandra didn’t waste any time reaching out to KPMG and Deloitte.
“After talking with KPMG and Deloitte recruiters, I learned that they really want employees who are prospective CPA candidates,” Tiandra said. “Then in speaking with my VCU adviser, she informed me about the dual degree program where I could get my accounting and information systems bachelor’s degree at the same time, which would give me the 150 credits needed to be a CPA candidate.”
Tiandra graduated from Brightpoint in May 2023 and transferred to VCU in fall 2023. Now, she has secured a summer internship with PwC in business advisory, following a summer 2023 audit Discovery internship with Deloitte. After serving as VCU’s NABA treasurer in fall 2023, she kicks off the year as the incoming president of the Beta Alpha Psi chapter at VCU, excelling in her spring internship at Keiter CPAs, and actively contributing as a member of the Virginia Society of CPAs DEI Advisory Council, all while consistently ranking in the top 3% of her class.