As someone who has logged more than 100 career games for the George Washington University women’s basketball team, senior accountancy major Faith Blethen has been in hundreds of coaches’ huddles strategically plotting a way to get an easy bucket.
But last fall, Blethen approached her coaches with a play that wasn’t so easily diagrammable on a whiteboard.
Before the 2022-2023 season began, Blethen, head coach Caroline McCombs and assistant Adam Call met to discuss whether she would use her final year of COVID-19 eligibility in 2023-2024. Factored into that decision, of course, was what would be best for her career outside of basketball.
Because basketball at the Division I level is an all-encompassing time commitment, Blethen wondered whether she’d have the professional experience on a resume that would stack up to peers who aren’t athletically involved at the varsity level. So, when her coaches asked her what she wanted to do at that meeting last fall, she wondered whether her time would be better spent adding professional experience she couldn’t pursue during the season. She let her coaches know she had lofty ambitions of applying to Big Four accounting firms, but she just didn’t know how her resume could possibly stack up with peers who had more internship or professional opportunities.
“I figured it was too late, and I wouldn’t get one,” Blethen said. “Pretty much all the self-doubt things started kicking in.”
While it wasn’t as black and white as setting a screen on the off-ball defender to spring a shooter open, her coaches broke out the X’s and O’s to help her. McCombs was supportive in every way, while Call got her in touch with a recruiter.
The next thing she knew, Blethen had an interview opportunity at Deloitte for an internship during summer 2023. She said she basically had two days to get ready for the process. It was a full sprint to the final buzzer.
Blethen got in contact with a GW alumna who worked for Deloitte and asked for any tips or advice. Julia Browne, the associate program director for Career Competencies, was on speed dial to go over last-minute tweaks to her resume and cover letter.
She was told that her soft skills sharpened from basketball, such as leadership, resilience, time management and communication, would translate well to what she was applying for at Deloitte. Then, the interview came. Two weeks later, the representative from Deloitte called and told her she had gotten the internship.
This summer, Blethen will officially be a Risk and Financial Advisory intern at Deloitte’s office in McLean, Virginia. And because of this, she’ll return to play for a fifth season of basketball as she pursues a master’s in accountancy. The play had been perfectly executed.
“I felt on top of the world after having someone so confident in my abilities,” Blethen said.
Blethen has been particularly grateful to the GW Professional Competencies Initiative that has helped equip student-athletes with tools that incorporate skillsets needed to be high-level athletes into their resumes and eventual job applications. Through this program, Blethen met Cathy (Neville) Cranberg, B.A. ’95, a former women’s basketball captain who helped lead GW to the Sweet 16 in 1995.
The mentorship has made a world of difference to Blethen, and it even led her to a summer internship at Aspect Holdings, LLC, in Denver, where Cranberg serves on its board of directors. There, Blethen got her first real taste of professional accountancy experience and confirmed her interest in finance and risk management.
In addition to the internship, Blethen will play again on a team that is returning almost all its players from last winter’s 18-13 campaign, which was GW’s first winning season since 2017-2018. There is a lot of promise headed into next season, and she wasn’t about to miss out on that.
“When are you ever in your life going to have an opportunity to compete with your best friends again?” Blethen said. “So, the idea of leaving that on the table when the opportunity is right there in front of me, just didn't sit well with me.”
Blethen, who will have had a full summer at Deloitte under her belt by the time she next hits the hardwood, is also excited about graduate school and pursuing electives that she didn’t have time to take as an undergrad, in addition to reaching the 150 credits required to sit for the CPA exam.
While her hectic schedule hasn’t allowed her much time to reflect, she’s pleased with where the GW journey has taken her.
“I know my freshman self would be very proud,” Blethen said. “And I’d tell my freshman self that anything is possible, be really great to the people around you, be confident and everything that is supposed to be, will be.”