World travel. A path to top management positions. Mastering the underlying language of business.
Those are some of the opportunities in the field of accounting that recent high school graduates and upcoming seniors learned about during a two-day School of Accounting event in mid-July.
“It’s not just sitting in a cubicle and crunching numbers,” said Kevin Lopez, a recent graduate of Dr. Michael M Krop Senior High in Miami. “It’s not just providing tax services. It’s more about expressing your interest in problem solving.”
Lopez was one of 41 students from Miami-Dade and Broward who took part in Bridge, an innovative program that showed college-bound students the many career possibilities that today’s global economy offers in accounting fields. It is funded through the State of Florida’s TEAm initiative, which brought a $1.3 million grant to the School of Accounting.
With a total of $15 million in grants awarded by Florida’s Board of Governors, TEAm seeks to position three Florida urban universities – University of Central Florida (UCF), University of South Florida (USF), and FIU – to prepare professionals for jobs in “highest-need areas” such as accounting and information technology.
“With an accounting degree from a great university, you can do anything,” Ruth Ann Mc Ewen, director of the School of Accounting, told the group. Mc Ewen, along with accounting school directors Sean Robb of UCF and Uday Murthy of USF, wrote the successful grant.
The mission: Engage students in accounting careers.
Bridge was created and coordinated by Associate Professor Antoinette Smith, who designed the program so students would get wide exposure to the different kinds careers open to students with a degree in accounting. In addition to a trip to the Miami office of global accounting firm KPMG, students also visited with accounting professionals at Burger King headquarters in Miami, and the New World Symphony on Miami Beach.
“We wanted to give students insight into many different industries,” Smith said. In addition, she said, auditing companies in different fields can provide a wide business background and an eagle’s view of business overall.
Accounting is also a profession with a strong mentoring tradition – which is key to gaining professional confidence and career advancement, Smith added.
The efforts seem to have found fertile ground. Participants were energized by the presentations, and came away with a new awareness of accounting career paths.
“You can travel around the world,” said Briam Hernandez, a senior at Westland Hialeah Senior High School. “You can move to a different place and have a job you love – learn new cultures and new languages.”
It was clear that the students were having a good time at the events. Jokes and laughter filled the air as students bonded during the two-day event, as Mc Ewen hoped they would.
“That’s all I wanted to do,” she said. “Show them this can be a fun career.”
Later, Smith received a number of emails, thanking her for putting together the program.
“I am currently a senior attending North Miami Beach Senior High, soon to be a Panther,” wrote Mike Luscar. “With this incredible opportunity, I can now say accounting will be my major when I attend FIU. The exposure and experience was beyond phenomenal.”
“When I do achieve the dream of becoming an internal auditor,” Luscar wrote, “I will lend a hand to give back to the community like you’ve done for me.”