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Leilani Wai

Leilani Wai

KPMG, LLP @ Irvine, CA. Jan. 21 Hire

Irvine, CA USA

"Only you will know deep down what is best for you and your family."

Career Roadmap

Leilani's work combines: Business, Technology, and Learning / Being Challenged

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Day In The Life

Financial Services Audit Associate

I work closely with my engagement team to ensure that we provide exceptional client service through our quality audits.

Skills & Education

Here's the path I took:

  • High School

    Okkodo High School - Guam, U.S.A.

  • Bachelor's Degree

    Associate of Science Degree for Transfer (AST), Business Administration

    Orange Coast College - Costa Mesa, CA

  • Bachelor's Degree

    Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Accountancy

    California State University, Long Beach

Here's the path I recommend for someone who wants to be a Financial Services Audit Associate:

Bachelor's Degree: Associate of Science Degree for Transfer (AST), Business Administration

Bachelor's Degree: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Accountancy

Learn more about different paths to this career

Life & Career Milestones

I've taken a lot of twists and turns

  • 1.

    Leaving the comfort of the island I grew up on, my friends and family—especially my little sister who was only 3 at the time I left—was the HARDEST thing I've ever had to do up until I was 17.

  • 2.

    During my first year in CA, nobody wanted to hire me. I got a slew of restaurant/retailer rejection letters/no responses at all. After finishing 2nd in my HS class in Guam, my spirits were crushed.

  • 3.

    I spent 3.5 years at OCC, figuring out what to study. I wanted to be an engineer but soon learned it wasn't my forte. In my 2nd year at OCC, I put down "Business Admin" as my ADT and joined clubs.

  • 4.

    Also volunteered at a hospital because I thought I could be a nurse but at the sight of blood—soon learned I couldn't. I helped my cousin set up weddings. I worked at a pizza shop then Olive Garden.

  • 5.

    TIP: Serving at a restaurant is one of the BEST experiences you can have on your resume if you're recruiting with firms. They like to see that you can handle stressful situations and difficult people.

  • 6.

    Transferred to CSULB in Fall 2017, learned about BAP and decided to pledge the following semester. My college career was a balancing act of working, recruiting, helping BAP committees, and getting As.

  • 7.

    Summer 2019, I interned with KPMG, accepted the FT offer, then set out on the road with RTN to help with the CAQ's "Discover Audit" Initiative by being 1 of 3 selected individuals to interview folks.

  • 8.

    In 2020 before I was set to start FT with KPMG, I had a mental health episode. KPMG compassionately pushed my start date back, and I took time to heal. Now, I'm studying for CPA & crushing it at work.

Defining Moments

How I responded to discouragement


    Messages from Peers:

    You won't make it out here. You need to be thick-skinned and you're not. And you want to go into corporate America? You should just go back to Guam now because that's how you can best help your family: by being there. —Former manager, former friend

  • How I responded:

    Only you will know deep down what is best for you and your family. Do I miss them every day? Yes. Did I almost listen to the Noise and go back home because I was homesick A LOT? Yes, multiple times. People are going to say hurtful things to you in life—even those you trusted, making it more difficult to keep trucking your path. So put your invisible noise-canceling headphones on, and rather than cave into the noise (because that's the easier thing to do), listen to the song in your heart.

Experiences and challenges that shaped me

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  • I often felt that the people who told me to go back home or to specialize in something else were right because it's hard to uplift the life you've known, leave friends and family, and start a new chapter alone. I just kept going until KPMG hired me.