Encourage Students to Pursue a Career in Accounting

The field of accounting isn’t always portrayed as the most exhilarating in popular culture. “Everyone is walking into my class with their own prejudice about accounting,” said Lyudmyla Krylova, CPA, an accounting lecturer at Texas State University at San Marcos. Even when they’re not accurate, accounting stereotypes can be difficult to dispel.

Rebecca Bogie, DBA, an accounting instructor at Louisiana State University in Shreveport, said, “I still see a lot of students who don’t really understand the potential of an accounting career.”

Whether or not a student chooses to pursue an accounting degree is influenced by a variety of other factors.

According to Scott Dell, CPA, DBA, more than $1 trillion in student loan debt is owed by Americans. Some students at Francis Marion University in Florence, SC, just want to get their diplomas and get on with their lives, according to an assistant professor of accounting. For students who want to become certified public accountants (CPAs), accounting can be a challenging major that can take up to four years or more to complete. Data analytics and information systems, on the other hand, are vying for students’ attention, he said.

Faculty members agree, however, that it is important to get students excited about accounting by enhancing their understanding of the field and the opportunities it offers. This is what they had to say:

Put students in touch with local accountants who are already in the field

Krylova often invites a guest speaker to speak to her students early in the semester about the realities of working in accounting. Former students who are now working in the field are frequently the guests. According to her, keeping in touch with former students and colleagues via LinkedIn or other means is a good idea. As a first-generation college student or a career changer, many of her university students agree that it’s critical to find guest speakers who share their experiences and perspectives.

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted her to start requiring her Intro to Financial Accounting and Accounting in Organization and Society students to interview a friend, relative, or neighbor with at least two years of accounting experience. Asking accountants about their job satisfaction, most memorable moments, and whether or not they’d recommend it to a friend were all things she urged her students to do. “They make it a personal endeavor when they interview someone they know,” she said. “It’s important to me that they feel like we’re on the same page.”

As a first step, Krylova instructs her students to watch the Start Here, Go Places videos, which detail the many career paths available in accounting. They feature a diverse group of experts with a range of backgrounds and specialties. In her own words, “I did it as a forum for discussion.” In groups of four, students would interview or watch a video, write about their experience, and respond to other student’s posts. She’s heard from a number of students who say that hearing from real accountants has shifted their outlook on the field.

The Student Engagement Toolkit, an AICPA resource designed to help educators introduce the profession to students, is another option for faculty.

Emphasize the wide range of employment opportunities

The wide range of organisations that employ accountants, including financial firms and government agencies such as the CIA and FBI, is something many students fail to grasp, Dell said. His recent trip to Washington, D.C. with the South Carolina Association of CPAs educated a group of students about careers in public accounting and government finance.

According to Bogie, “People don’t realize the breadth of what they can actually do in an accounting career.” There is a lot of material for accounting professors to cover, and she acknowledged that. That’s why Bogie prefers to let his students take charge. As part of their coursework, each student is required to make a video about some aspect of accounting, such as possible career options. Forensic accountants and health care accountants are two career paths that students can explore. After they see that accounting is about more than just preparing financial statements, “you get a lot more interest,” she said.

Utilize a wide range of tools and resources

The Journal of Accountancy, for example, and job postings on LinkedIn or Indeed are just a few of the many resources Bogie recommends his students consult when conducting research for their projects. Accountants’ daily duties and the qualifications required for different positions can be learned through this method.

In addition to helping students find internships and jobs, networking can also help them learn about the different opportunities available in the accounting field. In Dell’s classes, LinkedIn is used as a small percentage of the grade. Students who already have accounts on the website can use the checklists he provides, and those who are just signing up for the website can also use them. Students can receive extra credit if they connect with 100 or 500 people.

Dell also uses videos, newsletters, blogs, and reports to keeping students up to date on the latest developments in the industry. To him, “it’s all about getting students engaged” with whatever you’re teaching them.

Highlight the positive aspects of the situation

Faculty members generally agree that students don’t realise how much room there is for innovation in the accounting profession, which is constantly changing. Professors should place more emphasis on this aspect of the industry. As an example, Bogie teaches her students about the regulatory environment. This is an ever-changing field, and you have to stay on top of your game at all times, she explained. According to some students, “It’s a nice perk.”

Another aspect of this profession that appeals to today’s students is the opportunity to work remotely or even internationally, in addition to the advantages of continued career growth and financial stability. American accountants working for Pfizer and PwC greeted Krylova students during a study abroad trip in Prague. Students should know that accounting can open doors like this.

Encourage the involvement of students in extracurricular activities

Krylova said that student accounting groups are excellent at promoting the profession. Her university’s Beta Alpha Psi chapter and the Accounting Club host office visits, speakers, and other events. If your school has an accounting club, encourage students to join.

At one time, when Dell worked in Wisconsin, he brought members of a student accounting organisation to meet with financial department leaders from the Green Bay Packers and the Milwaukee Bucks. He asserted that experiences like these have a profound effect on students. During club meetings, Dell says, it’s also a great opportunity to discuss current accounting topics, such as blockchain and bitcoin, which were recently discussed at his school. Students can be inspired by these topics and feel more connected to the real world as a result.

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