Jobs picture strong for accounting grads

April 20, 2018

A recent networking event for Saint Michael’s College accounting students with successful alumni accountants, considered alongside a recent Business Department profile about the career prospects of St. Mike’s accounting graduates, paints an optimistic employment picture for one of the College’s most popular majors.

Ten Saint Michael’s College accounting alumni who graduated between 2003 and 2015 joined five Business Administration and Accounting faculty and more than 20 current Saint Michael’s students in Pomerleau Alumni Center Thursday evening, April 19, for the department’s Careers in Accounting Panel & Networking event. Ingrid Peterson of the Career Education Office and Allison Gardner of the Alumni Engagement Center helped organize this valuable opportunity for students.

The alumni guest panelists were:

William Corkum ’15, a senior associate at KPMG in their deal advisory practice with his main focus on financial due diligence; Peter Emerling ’03, a management consultant working with RSM US LLP as director of their Technology and Management Consulting practice; Matt Healy ’08, a manager in RSM’s Technology Risk Advisory Services group; Matthew Lyman ’05, the Associate VP of Finance for University of Vermont Health Network – Adirondack Region; Will Meconi ’03, a partner in RSM’s assurance group with over 14 years of accounting and audit experience; Monica Meunier ’03, an audit senior manager in public accounting at RSM; Alex Monahan ’08, director of Transaction Advisory Services for RSM, advising financial and strategic investors on both the buy-side and sell-side of M&A transactions, having worked on close to 100 deals in his career with a range of $10 million to $500 million in enterprise value (primary industry focus consumer products); Julia Murphy ’15, a senior associate in KPMG’s Internal Audit and Enterprise Risk Advisory Practice in the Boston office; Denise Watson ’12, an accountant with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Vermont; and Chris George ’14 who also works at RSM in Boston and is employed in the firm’s accounting standards advisory practice.

Of Thursday’s strong turnout, Steve Doyon of the business/accounting faculty said, “We can credit the Sigma Beta Delta honor society induction, to be held for Senior BU/AC majors on Friday afternoon (April 20) for the significant representation of alumni from diverse areas of RSM’s Boston practice.” He noted that Meconi – partner at RSM and its campus recruiter for Saint Michael’s College and the University of Vermont — is the chapter’s new Honorary Member and a speaker for today’s induction.

During the event, four alumni initially led a panel discussion of alternative accounting career pathways and insights. All alumni then joined in offering observations regarding how Saint Michael’s prepared them effectively for life after college, and shared thoughts about the value of a liberal arts education.

Meconi told students how he has interviewed and hired many accounting professionals for his firm through campus recruiting. “Saint Mike’s prepares you well for life after college,” he said. “The Saint Mike’s students we bring in have really flourished here because the personality of RSM is well matched to what is learned at Saint Mike’s.”

Julia Murphy ’15 of KPMG cited mock interviews with Career Education staff as a turning point in her internship and employment search comfort level and success. She said that her Saint Michael’s liberal arts education helped her become “a little more well-rounded of an individual, developing my conversation skills, my overall ability to be a critical thinker, to think outside the box, and in the interview process, to talk more effectively about my education” adding that all these qualities have supported her early career success.

Matthew Lyman ’05 echoed her thoughts, crediting liberal studies for encouraging him to take courses he would not have otherwise, developing effective communication and presentation skills now used daily. “Saint Mike’s definitely prepared me for the job I have today, the job I had after graduation as well,” Lyman said, explaining how he uses Excel daily and frequently presents analyses and performance data to his organization’s audit committee, senior management, and board members – all things for which Saint Michael’s trained him well.

Denise Watson ’12 has used her accounting and liberal studies to support non-profit organizations that have meaningful community and social impact. Praising operational Excel knowledge both for efficiency and its ability to foster multi-generational respect in the workplace, by having the technical-know how of effective data analysis, Watson stressed the importance of internships “as a way to get your foot in the door; you get to know them, they get to know you.”

Karen Popovich of the College’s business faculty reminded students that a new two-credit elective course leading to potential Microsoft Office Excel certification will be piloted during summer 2018 and become available regularly during Fall 2018.  In addition, the Department’s Analytics in Operations course enhances students’ Excel capability and its use for data-driven decision making.

Most of the alumni speakers encouraged students to seek experiential learning through internships, participation in athletics, student government, and extracurricular activities to increase collaboration and soft skills.

Monica Meunier ’03 pointed out the diversity of career pathways and opportunities in accounting.  Of her six RSM colleagues attending the event, she said, “we are all in public accounting, but we do so many different things.” She was enthusiastic about opportunities to interact with her colleagues to service firm clients’ needs. Matthew Lyman ’05 expressed similar optimism regarding opportunities for accounting students in the private sector.

After questions, the evening continued as students networked over refreshments with these alumni.  Two seniors, preparing for life after graduation in May, expressed the value of direct confirmation from the alumni of the importance of communication, presentation and soft skills emphasized in classes.

A recent document from the business/accounting faculty for prospective students tracking outcomes for graduates offered some specifics on post-graduation prospects. “Fortunately, we monitor our accounting majors’ individual goals objectives closely throughout study at Saint Michael’s, and post-graduation plans/opportunities of our seniors as they develop,” Doyon said. Some results of that tracking: At this time, 75 percent of the Class of 2018’s soon-to-be newest accounting alumni have secured full-time employment, full-time graduate school admission (to complete the 150-credit hour requirement for CPA licensure), or a full-time summer public accounting internship. Some destinations for these 2018 grads already known are three to Crowe Horwath in Burlington, one to Davis & Hodgdon Associates in Williston, one to KPMG in Colchester, one to McSoley McCoy & Co. in South Burlington, and two at RSM in Boston, one in auditing and one in advisory; One student has a full-time public accounting internship at Johnson Lambert in Burlington; one student each have landed positions as a financial analyst with National Life Group in Montpelier, and with the captive insurance management firm Marsh in Burlington, with Heartworks Preschool as finance and accounting associate, and with Growth Lab Financial Services in Boston; two students have been accepted for full-time graduate studies for their MSA at Northeastern University in Boston. Other interests being pursued by remaining accounting majors include work in a professional sports environment, an internship closer to a student’s home, a Certified Management Accountant pathway that includes a gap year in Europe in an area of special interest; and a potential job either with the State of Vermont Department of Financial Regulation, or possibilities posted via SMC JobLink, the Career Education database.

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