Underserved area benefits from Accounting Career Day

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA content manager

Article1_1Zane State_700pxFinding students to fill the accounting pipeline means working across the state to recruit the best and brightest and including those outside of larger cities, like in Muskingum County.

“That area is underserved by professional organizations,” said Libby Cullins, CPA, vice president and controller, JPMorgan Chase & Co. “There is a whole population that isn’t getting the message that becoming an accountant and CPA is a great opportunity and great career path.”

The Ohio CPA Foundation sought to remedy this by holding Accounting Career Day for the first time at Zane State College in February. Almost 100 students from area high schools, Zane State and Muskingum University attended. Cullins and Darlene Finzer, CPA, both OSCPA executive board members, spoke at the event.

To highlight the demand for accountants, Cullins challenged the students to think of an organization that doesn’t use money. She covered different career fields accounting touches, including government, healthcare and charitable organizations.

“It’s a way to say this field isn’t for just one type of person; it’s a career that is an equalizer,” Cullins said. “You don’t have to come from or have a lot of money to become an accountant. Unlike paying for law or medical school, this field is accessible and in high demand.”

Zane State College, a two-year institution, and Muskingum University, are working to ensure the accessibility of accounting. At the event they unveiled their new initiative “Pathway to CPA,” that allows students to attend Zane State and then transfer into Muskingum University’s public accounting program. Through their curriculum they’ll receive every course they need to sit for the CPA exam without taking additional schooling.

The availability of a local track to the profession is a significant factor for many of these students, said Zane State accounting faculty member Beth Vaughn, who helped organize the event. In an area where oil and gas careers are popular, it’s crucial to make students aware of accounting and offer a route for their success.

“For some of the students we’re speaking to, this is a big dream,” Vaughn said. “Completing 150-credit hours is a big dream, and with this program it’s affordable and there’s a path already set up.”

The day also included a college student panel so high schoolers could ask their peers questions about the major and higher education. Attendees were treated to lunch by local firms McLain Hill Rugg & Associates; Wilson, Phillips & Agin CPAs; and Hamilton Waltman Obenour Melsheimer & Associates.

Both Cullins and Vaughn spoke of a responsibility to give students the opportunity to look for a career beyond what they might have been exposed to growing up.

“Some students don’t look beyond being the shift manager, and if they’re at Zane State, it’s our job to nurture them to dream bigger,” Vaughn said.

“I take it upon myself to do everything I can to ensure the next generation is aware,” Cullins said. “They have the opportunities but need to be made aware of what’s open to them.”

Vaughn said the event was so well received they’re looking to have another in the fall.

“Zane State College is so appreciative of this outreach and this opportunity,” she said. “This event was truly a gift and this is something we wouldn’t have been able to do without The Ohio CPA Foundation.”

For more information about The Ohio CPA Foundation and how you can support programs like Accounting Career Day, visit www.ohiocpafoundation.org or contact Karen West at (800) 686-2727.

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