Master’s in Accounting: Lindsey Dillard, Indiana University (Kelley)

Student Name: Lindsey Dillard

Graduate Business School: Indiana University Kelley School of Business 

Describe Yourself In 15 Words: I am a curious learner who is determined to become a better business problem solver.

Master’s Graduation Class: 2019.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Arkansa – Fort Smith, Accounting.

Current Employer and Job Title: Ernst & Young, Wealth & Asset Management Assurance Staff 2.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: By far my biggest accomplishment is making a career switch into the accounting field.  Before I studied accounting, I ran my own small business as a certified professional dog trainer in Arkansas.  My company was performing well thanks to my CPA’s excellent business advice. However, I found myself desiring to become a better business person. One day I told myself, ‘I want to know what he knows,’ so I took the leap at enrolling in accounting classes at my local university.

Once I stepped into the accounting world, doors began opening for me.  I landed a year-long internship working in the accounting department at ABF Freight’s corporate headquarters, which gave me insight into some of the complexities of accounting in large companies.  As my education and experience progressed, the more I built an interest in learning how to solve difficult business problems where there is no straight-forward answer.

I set my sights on New York City to begin my career working on large clients in public accounting, and the Kelley School of Business helped get me there.  I started with Ernst & Young in 2019 with an offer to be in a one-year researcher rotation in the firm’s Professional Practice Group.  Being a researcher exposed me to how the firm interacts with its clients and regulatory bodies on a national level.  The role gave me insight into some extremely complex accounting problems our clients face daily, which I found fascinating.  Now that I am in assurance, I hope to continue to grow my accounting career and see where the journey takes me.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as a graduate student: My biggest accomplishment as a graduate student was being chosen to be the Graduate Assistant (GA) for the Graduate Accounting Program Chair at Kelley.  As a GA, I assisted with the publication process of an Advanced Financial Accounting textbook and served as a TA in several accounting classes.  Serving as a TA was especially rewarding as I had the opportunity to help the students better understand the material they were learning.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I chose the Kelley School of Business because of the high quality of the curriculum and top-notch professors.  My goal was to not only get to New York City, but to build a skillset to help me succeed in my career.  The MS in Accounting with Data and Analytics allowed me to achieve both of my goals. 

What led you to choose a Master’s in Accounting over an MBA?  I chose a Master’s in Accounting, because my focus was on building a career in accounting and obtaining my CPA.  A one-year program meant I could begin the career I wanted sooner rather than later as the CPA-route requires 150 hours of coursework.  The Master’s in Accounting was overall a better fit for where I wanted to take my career than an MBA.

What has been your favorite course and how has it helped you in your career?  It’s difficult to choose one class that has helped me in my career, as I’ve been able to take information from each class and apply it to my day-to-day work.  For instance, Accounting Theory taught me the origins of regulatory bodies and standard setting, which helps me understand the why behind the work I do.  Whenever I worked for ABF Freight, I worked on pieces of the consolidation process.  Advanced Financial Accounting allowed me to see the big picture behind the tasks I performed as an intern for ABF.  My analytics classes enhanced my problem-solving and Excel skills that I use every day in my current role.  

What role did your school play in helping you to land your first job out of the program?  The Kelley School of Business has a highly rated career services center.  I had a personal career coach who critiqued my resume and strengthened my interview skills.  The coaching I received allowed me to land multiple offers at companies in New York.  Although I am no longer in school, my university is still working for me as Kelley alumni are responsible for helping me land new opportunities within Ernst & Young.

How did your classmates enhance the value of your business school experience?  My classmates were an extremely tight-knit group.  We all got along very well inside and outside the classroom.  During our group projects, we held each other accountable to ensure we were delivering high quality projects to our professors.  I learned so much from my peers, and they continue to motivate me to this day.

Who was your favorite faculty member and how did this person enrich your learning?  Bree Josefy was my professor in several classes, and she served as my academic advisor.  The MS in Accounting and Data Analytics has an experiential learning course where teams are assigned a real-world client for a field consulting project.  Bree oversaw my group’s work for this task.  She helped me become a more polished presenter and learn how to better interact with my clients to help them achieve their goals.  

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s graduate Master’s program? My best advice is to come into the program with a willingness to learn, have a strong desire to better yourself, and to be a team player.  The majority of the assignments in the Master’s program are group projects, so it is essential to learn how to work well with others.

What was your best memory from your Master’s program?  My best memory is from one of the first days of the program.  My class traveled to Bradford Woods for ropes course challenge activities to help us bond and work together as a team.  One obstacle was a tower nearly 50 feet tall we could climb by choice.  One of my classmates decided to climb the tower blind folded as an additional challenge.  Everyone else on the ground helped him find his way to the top by giving him instructions of whether he should go left or right, where to place his hands, and where to place his feet.  He made it to the top with everyone’s help.  That day set the stage for my class for the rest of the year as we were always there to help one another as a cohort.

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