Ready to Launch

By Patrick Bohn, February 8, 2023
Accounting master’s program has students primed to start their careers.

The semester before graduating can be challenging for many students, as they navigate finishing their coursework and job hunting.

That’s not the case, however, for the 13 students currently enrolled in the college’s master of accounting degree program. Every student enrolled in the one-year program has lined up a postgraduation job in the field, with placements ranging from smaller, regional firms to the “Big Four” firms of Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“I’m so proud of these students,” said Margaret Shackell, associate professor of accounting and business law and director of the graduate program. “This is definitely rare, but the program sets our students up for success. I’m pretty good at nagging them to update their resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and to apply for jobs. And in the Center for Career Exploration and Development, [career engagement specialist] Johnathan Chalmers has programs that help as well.”

The breadth of the types of firms where the students have secured jobs speaks to the program’s ability to match a firm to a student’s needs and wants.

“Every student had their own place they wanted to land,” Shackell said. “I had meetings with everyone who was looking for a job and spoke to them about what they wanted.”

“You always want to utilize your network when looking for a job. And here at IC, our alumni are really open to helping current students.”

Cullen Dell, ’22, MS ’23

Using connections also ensured students were matched up properly.

“We have plenty of alumni connections in the Big Four and in medium-size firms, so I emailed several of those students, and they were happy to connect with our students to mentor them about preparing for the interview process—how to position themselves to the firms,” Shackell said. “We also had connections with local firm Sciarabba Walker and Insero, and I utilized those.”

Accounting major Samantha Pekola ’22, MS ’23, will be working at Insero after graduating. It’s continuing a relationship she started with them when she interned at the firm during the spring semester of 2022.

“As part of our course programming, we had the opportunity to meet with firms and talk to people who worked there,” she said. “I was able to talk to alumni who work at Insero, and it was a great experience.”

Cullen Dell, ’22, MS ’23, also used alumni connections to help him decide on Big Four firm KPMG.

“I really targeted my search to the Big Four firms, and Professor Shackell connected me to people whom she knew at each of the firms,” he said. “That was really helpful because when I got offers from multiple firms, I was able to talk to alumni at each one to learn more about the cultures, and hearing from the alumni at KPMG confirmed that I was making the right decision.

“You always want to utilize your network when looking for a job,” Dell continued. “And here at IC, our alumni are really open to helping current students.”

For Andrew Turner ’22, MS ’23, talking with alumni ahead of time helped him feel more relaxed during the sometimes intimidating interview process.

“The alumni I met with told me, ‘They’re not going to test you. They just want to make sure you can have a conversation,’” said Turner, who will be working at KPMG. “It made me more confident and comfortable in the interview.”

Shackell also met with students extensively to help them in their job hunt.

“I was on the fence about whether I wanted to work at a Big Four firm or a midsize one,” said Liam Farnan ’22, MS ’23, who will be working for EisnerAmper after graduating. “[Professor Shackell] helped me realize that a midsize firm was a better fit for me.”

That help extended to assistance with internships, as well.

“At the end of my sophomore year, I looked for internships in Rochester, where the options were more limited,” said Andrew Stoller ’22, MS ’23. “Professor Shackell pointed out the best firms for me, and after interning at the Bonadio Group for two summers as well as in grad school, they made me an offer.”

And as fate would have it, when Stoller got to the Bonadio Group for his internship, there was someone on his team who had graduated from Ithaca a decade earlier.

“No matter where you go, you run into former IC students,” he said.