STEM DESIGNATION AND SOFT SKILLS
Due to the emphasis on quantitative coursework related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), the Kelley School of Business’ MS in Accounting with Data and Analytics earned a STEM designation in 2020. Previously an MS in Accounting, the name and curriculum has recently been modified to reflect the program’s changes.
For 2019 Kelley Business School graduate Lindsey Dillard, she chose the master’s program for its quality curriculum and faculty. “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,” she says.
Hodder says that despite the program having a strong focus on the quantitative side of things, they focus strongly on teaching students soft skills too. “We mesh the human element with a technical element. And it may seem that that doesn’t mesh well with the STEM designated program, but it really does; in addition to understanding the technical, data skills, it’s that interface with humans that makes a trusted accounting adviser successful in the workforce.”
According to Hodder, accountants are sometimes stereotyped as being unable to connect with people. However, she asserts that this skill is what makes an accountant stand out from the rest. “We tend to think of accounting as being about the numbers, but it’s about people,” she explains. “Businesses, especially small businesses that employ almost 80 percent of the people in our country, are not monolithic machines. Yes, we’re seeing an increase in process automation and robotics. Ultimately, the support of the business community relies on people to people interactions and sometimes people to machine interfaces. But still, people are the critical component of that.”
EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING: A HIGHLIGHT
Along with its STEM designation, the Kelley School of Business’ graduate accounting programs stand out for their soft skill development and experiential learning.
To remain competitive with other master’s programs, Hodder says that Kelley conducts a regular internal survey of other programs based on publicly available information about their course offerings, required prerequisites, and costs. This helps the school plan their program to make sure it’s distinctive and can provide value. Hodder is proud of the opportunities they provide their students for hands-on work in the field; This is a highlight for students in both of Kelley’s accounting master’s programs.
By building connections in the community, students are able to get real-life experience in providing consulting services to small businesses and nonprofits. In addition to field consulting, the school also provides an opportunity for students to travel to Washington, D.C. and meet with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the PCAOB, and the Federal Reserve as part of an accounting and public policy class. Another experiential course is the Assurance Workshop, where they get to learn from large public accounting firms at their offices in New York and even get to go to the stock exchange.
Hodder says that the skills learned through these experiences are invaluable. “Most MS in accounting programs have two semesters that are 15 hours each. Many directly focus on preparing students to take the CPA exam. That’s the opposite of what we do. We don’t only prepare students for the CPA exam. Instead, we focus on the skills that really can’t be obtained through self study.”
Kelley’s Adam Adelstein is most grateful for the real-world experience that the 3/2 MBA program provided to him. “We constantly worked in small teams, and we provided consulting assistance and research for local companies as part of the program. The feedback I received was invaluable in preparing for my first job.”
IDEAL CANDIDATE & CAREER OUTCOMES
For those looking for a hands-on master’s in accounting program, Hodder says the ideal Kelley candidate is someone thinking beyond their first job. “Within two years, the average accounting graduate changes jobs. We want the kind of student who’s thinking beyond that two years and what their ultimate career objective is.”
Following graduation, most of Kelley’s students get placed in financial advisory services as well as traditional lines within public accounting, such as assurance services, tax advising, and general advisory consulting services. Ten to 12 percent go directly into corporate enterprises, rotational programs, or work within the finance and accounting arms of large corporations.
“We work on providing them with the skills necessary to either put them into management within the financial consulting industry, or within corporations after they’ve worked within the financial advising industry,” says Hodder.
ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS
If students think that they’re an ideal candidate for a master’s in accounting program, Hodder stresses the importance of having an open mind when beginning the master’s journey. “Maintain your intellectual curiosity, optimism, and be ready to say yes,” she says. “Saying yes opens up so many new experiences. I think the ultimate career satisfaction comes from the willingness to try new things. We’re all restless people. But if you keep growing your personal capital and your experiential base, it’s going to help you find that ultimate position”
With most master’s in accounting students coming from an accounting or finance background, Hodder believes that ditching preconceived notions about what accounting prior to entering a master’s program is paramount. “Sometimes, students are already rigid, which I find surprising given how young they are. My advice is to make accounting into what you want it to be because there are so many different things you can do with it.”
Hodder explains that finding career success and fulfillment comes from continuously reflecting on your career. “In each job you have, you have to ask yourself, ‘What did I like about that job? What did I not like about that job? What would I like more of? What would I like less of? What is this new opportunity going to offer me in terms of what I like more of?’ Then, you can start becoming a driver of your own career instead of letting other people drive you.”
ADVICE FROM GRADS
USC Leventhal School of Accounting’s Ryan McMichens echoes Hodder’s advice in maintaining an open mind, adding the importance of being yourself in the admissions interviews. “I had so many classmates with such interesting stories from so many backgrounds. Don’t be afraid to show your interests beyond accounting during the admissions process,” he says.
NYU Stern’s Adeyemi Ashiru agrees with McMichens, expressing how important it is to show up authentically — from the admissions interviews to graduation. “Always give 100% in everything you do, and never be afraid to ask questions.”
It’s also important to think about your goals, according to Michigan Ross’ Sydney Samson. “Think about how a master’s in accounting program can help you to achieve your career goals.”
Learn more about the educational and career journey about these Master’s in Accounting students who are creating impact. Click on the links below.
|Alumni Member||Master’s in Accounting||Current Employer|
|Zavier Webb||University of Virginia (McIntire)||KPMG|
|Sydney Samson||University of Michigan (Ross)||Ernst & Young|
|Rachel Knapp||University of Illinois (Gies)||Higher Ground Education Inc.|
|Lindsey Dillard||Indiana University (Kelley)||Ernst & Young|
|Kelsey Evenson||University of Washington (Foster)||Deloitte|
|Jonathan Goren||University of Florida (Fisher)||Deloitte|
|Jasmina Woodson||Rutgers Business School||WithumSmith+Brown|
|Grace Cheng||University of Rochester (Simon)||Ernst & Young|
|Edwina King||University of Notre Dame (Mendoza)||PricewaterhouseCoopers|
|Ali Walter||Brigham Young University (Marriott)||Ernst & Young|
|Adeyemi Ashiru||NYU (Stern)||Mazars USA|
|Adam Adelstein||Indiana University (Kelley)||Mackinac Partners|
|Ryan McMichens||USC (Leventhal)||KPMG|