Atra Kalantari

Many of our members belong to multiple student groups – not just ISACA SJSU. For example, some of us are in Beta Alpha Psi (BAP) and the Financial Management Association (FMA). Some of us have been officers or directors in multiple groups too…at the same time!  Not only is this is a great way to build a solid network for yourself but it also allows for “cross-pollination” between the groups, which allows us to share ideas and resources.

Atra Kalantari is the perfect example of multi-membership- she was active in BAP. These days, she works at the top public accounting firm, Grant Thornton, with the Business Advisory Services team.  Despite her hectic traveling schedule, Atra took a moment to answer our questions. Check it out:



Q: Where are you working now and what do you do there?
A: I am currently working at Grant Thornton LLP in their Business Advisory Service (BAS). I am involved in different projects around Internal Audit, External IT Audit and Banking Business Practices.

Q: When did you graduate from SJSU?
A: I graduated from SJSU in May 2013 with Bachelor of Science in Accounting Information System (AIS).

Q: Did you intern or work while you were in school? Where and what did you learn?
A: I was a TA for AIS course during my time at SJSU and I was responsible for grading assignments and being in contact with students for any questions they had with regards to their results. I was also an officer for both ISACA and a director for BAP during my time at SJSU. I learned how to manage my time, work with others in different situations, meet the deadline and finally get to know how much I am capable of.

Q: Why did you first join ISACA SJSU?
A: Extra Credit for the class that I had with Dr. Ingraham was the reason I joined ISACA, but that was just a starting point to other great opportunities to happen. Joining ISACA helped me to come out of my day to day routine of just going to school, sitting in classroom and taking tests.

Q: What office/s did you hold in ISACA SJSU and what did you entail?
A: I was an External Vice President for two semesters. During my position, I was responsible for arranging the meetings and inviting guest speakers from well-known Accounting and IT firms.

Q: Did you participate in the research competition and do you have advice for upcoming competitors?
A: I did compete in research competition during spring 2012 along with my other classmates. Like any other team projects and presentation, I would recommend to make sure you know your audience and do your research. The judges and students who come to see your presentation might end up being your colleagues in future or even your clients, so it makes it even more valuable to present the best of you.

It’s a great opportunity to make an impression and make yourself stand out among others. You can definitely deliver a great presentation by planning ahead, collaborating with your team members and doing a good research. When giving a presentation, you want to make sure you understand the concept of what you are presenting, and not to only memorize your speech. I really recommend that students participate in this competition and get involved in different school projects as well. These kind of school participations will give you some great hands on experiences in how to work in teams and also to grow as a great team player and presenter.

Q: How have you benefited from ISACA SJSU?
A: Being part of ISACA helped me to meet new people, make new friends and build a great network. Life is not only limited in what you know but in who you know as well. Before joining ISACA, I didn’t know what I wanted to do after graduation and what great opportunities were out there. After joining the club, I came out of my comfort zone and got exposed to lots of great opportunities and a different world. I got a job, made so many new friends which I am still in contact with and found my path.

Q: Overall, do you have any advice for students who want to achieve what you have achieved, professionally?
A: You are the main player of your life so manage it well and never give up on your dreams. Get out of your comfort zone, meet new people, and keep adding to your knowledge. Participate in different clubs at school and be an active member by attending the meetings, social events and competitions. There are so many great resources at career center such as mock interviews, resume workshops and job fairs, so make sure to check it out.

Always know that failure is part of success, and if failure never happened we never would value our success. Finally, have confidence in yourself and your abilities as you are unique in a way you are!

Q: Anything random you would like to add?
A: To be successful and achieve the things you want after you graduate, it is important to have a good GPA and a bonus to have an internship prior to graduation, but also know that your success is not limited on only these two factors. It is very important to communicate, network and get to know people. Try to participate in discussions during ISACA meetings and ask questions from guest speakers. They are there to guide you and help you find your way, so do your part and be part of it.