Northwest Ohio firm visits local high schools, impacts students

Written on Feb 15, 2018

By Molly Ryan Kowaleski, content & community manager

The team at Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD is going back to school.

But, instead of studying accounting systems and advanced reporting, they’re introducing high school students to the accounting profession and helping them understand what a career in accounting might look like.

“Our presentation goes over the different opportunities you can have in the industry,” said Krista Huff, a senior audit associate at GJM, “and it goes over the potential salaries and all the things our firm does for fun. We touch a little bit on the CPA exam and those requirements so they’re aware of the path they might take to get where they want to go.”

GJMHighSchoolsThe firm has offices in Toledo and Findlay and, since the fall, has visited Perrysburg, Bowling Green and St. Francis de Sales High Schools to engage with students and introduce them to the accounting profession. The team has plans to visit several more area high schools, including those in the Toledo Public Schools network.

“We’re trying to hit a variety of different high schools and a variety of audiences,” said Carrie Giannetti, PHR, recruiting manager at GJM. “Hopefully, we’ll attract a more diverse population that has an interest in accounting.”

Beyond visiting a variety of schools in different areas and neighborhoods, GJM also has made a point to meet with a range of student organizations and age groups. Of course, they’ve gone into accounting classrooms at some of the schools they’ve visited, which are typically full of juniors and seniors, but they’ve also met with business groups like DECA, sat on panels with other professionals and gone to career days so students in all grade levels can see what accounting is about and the opportunities available.

That’s also why they’ve taken their IT Consulting Director, Matt Hoverman, with them to highlight the nontraditional accounting jobs and opportunities in the profession.

“If music is your thing or you love sports, or maybe you want to work for a particular company, whatever gets you excited, nine times out of 10, accounting is involved in some way,” said Giannetti, “So we talk about all those opportunities.”

Hoverman has focused on recruiting at the college level in the past, but is excited by the challenge of building more awareness in high schools.

“I spend time talking about what I do,” he said. “It’s not programming, it’s much more about understanding the impact of technology on business and how that drives change.”

He visited Perrysburg at the beginning of the year and later agreed to come back at the end of the year to answer more detailed questions about the accounting major, the CPA exam and what a potential career path might look like. He said he was happy to hear that many students subsequently added accounting classes to their coursework.

“We want to get the high-performing students excited about accounting,” he said. “That does nothing but benefit us, so that was really cool to see them take an interest in it.”

Alex Spieker, CPA, who is a manager on the assurance side at GJM, agreed these programs are beneficial and would have been extremely helpful when he was in high school.

“I definitely would have benefited from someone bringing that perspective in,” Spieker said. “I think students want to know about the job stability – entities will always need accountants to take care of their finances. It also can be a building block because it gives you the foundation of how a business works.”

Giannetti agrees the perspective her team provides is valuable.

“I think high schools are doing a great job of letting professionals get in front of their students, so they can gain a better understanding of all the options that are available to them,” said Giannetti, “I think the more professionals that can get in front of students, the better off they’ll all be.”

Want to help students discover accounting? Visit The Ohio CPA Foundation to learn how to get involved in one of our student outreach programs or support OSCPA’s student outreach efforts.

Related: GJM Staff Go “Back to School” to Help Dispel Misperceptions of Accounting Profession

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