Michelle Mitra is a Dominican alumna, class of 2008. She graduated with a BA in Business Administration, concentration in Accounting and a minor in Sports Management. In her junior year at Dominican, she was recruited by Deloitte and she is now a Senior Tax Consultant at the firm.
While at Dominican, she was captain of the women's golf team all four years, served as a peer advisor to business students as well as a teaching assistant and a tutor to introductory accounting students. She attended numerous conferences and volunteered with Tax-Aid to prepare income tax returns for low-income families.
Offered BA Concentrations
Q: Michelle, why did you enroll at Dominican?
As the eldest child in my family, the first to attend college, and a student-athlete, I always felt the need to prove something to myself. I wanted to be a shining example to my younger sisters and cousins.
When I was a senior in high school, I had my heart set on attending another Bay Area university. But the golf coach at that university would not talk to me or even consider me as a recruit for the team.
Feeling discouraged, my parents advised me to look elsewhere. As college brochures poured in our mailbox, we received one announcing that Dominican Athletics was starting men’s and women’s golf programs.
My parents and I attended a campus visit day and they absolutely loved the school. After I met with some of the business school professors, students and the golf coach, I was convinced that Dominican was a school for me and I signed on to be the first student-athlete on Dominican’s golf teams.
Q: What makes Dominican’s undergraduate business program stand out?
Dominican’s small class sizes and availability of classes make it an easy choice when looking at a list of Bay Area universities. Students are given an opportunity to develop close relationships with professors and university staff and get one-on-one mentoring academically and personally.
Q: What are some of your fondest memories at Dominican?
There are three things that sum up my best memories at Dominican:
(1) Being part of the athletics department helped me develop school pride.
(2) The small class size allowed me to get to know my professors, and for them to get to know me. This helped me maximize my educational opportunities and experiences. For example, my advisor, Professor Elizabeth Capener, would regularly share with me different opportunities in accounting and encourage me to apply for various programs and scholarships. And I did. And I won many internships and scholarships that way.
(3) Since Dominican is a small school, it’s easy to meet people outside of your major and your classes. I made friends with many of the nursing and biology students, some of whom are my closest friends to this day.
Q: What is one of the most important lessons you learned in your undergraduate program?
I learned from my professor Dr. Chris Leeds that I have to enjoy the little things in life. When I was a student, I was very anxious to finish school and start working in the “real world.” But, Professor Leeds would tell me, “The real world sucks.” He was joking, of course, but he taught me to enjoy my college years.
Now that I am in the “real world,” I see what he meant. It's not that I have learned that the real world "sucks"; rather, I’ve learned that it’s tougher than I thought it would be. Being a grown-up has its advantages, but it comes with more responsibilities. I’ve had to teach myself to stop and “smell the roses,” to enjoy every minute of every moment, and to learn something new every day.
Q: How did Dominican’s business program prepare you for a career in business?
Dominican’s business program taught me the soft skills of interacting, networking, and presenting. Specifically, I’d say that the Business Communications class with Dr. Denise Lucy and Dr. Chris Leeds is the most useful and applicable class I ever had as a student.
When I was interviewing for summer internships in 2007, I was competing with students from bigger, well-known schools such as UC Berkeley, USC, and UCLA.
At first, I was intimidated. I felt that there was no way I could do as well as these other students. However, once I started working as a Deloitte Tax intern, I realized I had a big advantage: While students from bigger schools had a difficult time interacting and networking with Deloitte’s professionals and partners, I found it easy to converse with them because of the daily interactions I have had with my professors.
Q: What kind of activities did you engage in outside of the classroom?
I originally came to Dominican because the athletics department was starting a men’s and women’s golf team. As the first person to be recruited and signed to the program, I take great pride in what I accomplished as a collegiate student-athlete.
Being involved in so many activities taught me the much needed skills of multitasking, organization, teamwork and accountability.
Q. Can you tell us more about your experiences with Tax Aid?
Tax-Aid is a non-profit organization that provides income tax preparation to low-income families throughout the Bay Area. As the organization was looking to expand the number of sites to they opened, they wanted to hire a consulting firm to standardize the process in running a site. Professor Elizabeth Capener stepped in and said that she’d have a group of Dominican students conduct this research project.
In the fall semester of 2007, three other accounting students and I conducted interviews, data analysis, and produced a standard process for opening a Tax-Aid site. We delivered and presented a manual to the board of directors and site managers, and Tax Aid uses this process manual to this today.
Once we presented it to the board and site managers, we felt empowered to do more. Our group presented this project at national conferences in Chicago and at Dominican. We were in the trenches during tax season to implement the process at a few sites. In all, we were given an opportunity that benefited the organization, the community, and our personal growth.
Q: What is the single most important event that changed the course of your career?
Since I was a young girl, I was pushed to become a professional golfer. Being involved in many different activities at Dominican made me realize that I enjoyed being part of the business world.
Once I realized that I did not want to be a professional golfer, I had to make a solid decision to become a businesswoman. Making that decision was tough in itself.
Telling my family was even harder.
I had to tell myself over and over that I was making decisions to make me happy; that I was doing this for myself and not for anyone else.
Q: How did you start working at Deloitte?
Being involved with Tax-Aid as a Dominican student helped me expand my network with business professionals.
By volunteering, I met Rob Massey, a Deloitte partner and now an adjunct faculty member, who connected me to a recruiter at Deloitte. Eventually I interviewed, received and completed an internship, and received a full-time job offer, all before my senior year at Dominican.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In 10? In 20?
Professionally, in 5, 10, and 20 years, I still see myself working on my career at Deloitte. The great thing about working at a big firm like Deloitte is that there are so many opportunities to do different things within the firm. If I get bored of doing compliance tax work, it will be relatively easy to do a rotation in a different area of the company.