Typically, students come into accounting thinking that they must choose between two career paths—tax or audit. The truth, however, is that a wide variety of careers are available to accounting majors, and that’s precisely what Kelley’s four accounting workshops are designed to showcase.
“A student may start in tax or audit, but these workshops are about opening their eyes to the many career possibilities that might be a great fit for them,” says Professor Lori Bhaskar, who teaches the Assurance & Risk Advisory Workshop. “Even picking between tax and audit is hard because students are selecting this career path as freshmen, sophomores, and juniors when they don’t really understand what audit is since they don’t take that class until their senior year. Taking these accounting workshops early helps them understand how many careers there are and gives them a little taste of each.”
The goal of these workshops is for students to find the career that best suits them. This process involves self-awareness (asking “What do I enjoy doing? What am I good at?”) as well as career awareness (asking “What career opportunities exist?”), then developing professional skills to succeed in those careers.
“Those goals overlap for these three workshops, but how we [professors] go about that is different for each of us,” says Bhaskar. “The workshop involves experiential learning. It was important for me that the students were able to meet, learn from, and network with a diverse set of professionals working in a diverse set of related accounting fields.”
Every fall Professor Bhaskar invites more than 30 professionals to her classroom to participate in panels that include people from the Big Four accounting firms, smaller regional & consulting firms, and those in practice. Panelists share their job descriptions and participate in a Q&A session. After class, Bhaskar holds networking socials to provide an informal opportunity for students to chat with the professionals, garner advice, and practice networking. Many students say this is their favorite part of the workshop.
When Brooke Knapp came to IU, she knew she wanted to go into audit, but she wasn’t familiar with the inner-workings of the industry.
“The accounting workshops helped me understand the work auditors do and helped me finetune what sort of auditing I wanted to do,” says Knapp. “Networking with professionals allowed me to ask specific questions, which helped me understand which industries I was interested in.”
Ellie Pedersen’s vision evolved immensely as a result of taking these workshops.
“I’m interested in pursuing a career in risk advisory or forensics post-grad,” she says. “As a freshman, I couldn’t tell you what either of those jobs were, much less why I think I would be a good fit for them.”
Prior to taking these accounting workshops, Emma Fine was unsure of the right career path for her.
“This workshop opened my eyes to the different opportunities available and helped me develop my professional skills in a way that will help me be successful for the long run,” says Fine. “I got a much better view of the day-to-day in accounting careers at different levels. I also learned about what I want from a company and how to ask the right questions.”
Students in these workshops go on a combined weekend field trip to Chicago. Each workshop splits off to do their own thing. Bhaskar’s group visits several professional firms (e.g., KMPG, EY, Protiviti). Then in the evening, the whole group of 60-70 students gather for an alumni networking event where they get to mingle with 60+ IU alum accounting professionals.
“It’s amazing how excited the professionals are to see the students,” says Bhaskar.
This field trip takes place two weeks before fall’s big recruiting event. Last fall some students who didn’t have internship offers were feeling anxious. When they saw that these professionals were interested in hiring them, however, it was a confidence booster.
“I would be in way over my head even applying for the most basic position if not for the workshop course,” says Anthony Lang. “My advice to any accounting major is to absolutely take one of the workshop classes.”