Thomas received his undergraduate degree in Accounting from Kelley in 2023. Thomas is an Incoming Audit Associate at Grant Thornton LLP in their Chicago office.
Why did you choose to major in accounting?
I think Accounting is the major at Kelley that gives you the most flexibility in your career. Accountants are needed everywhere, and accounting firms are paying competitively for pursuing it. I was always better with numbers; I saw it as a field I could do well in and make a difference. One spring semester, I helped people file tax returns and saw how accounting knowledge can help people directly. Also, I found it easier to relate to my accounting peers, and finance felt too speculative.
Was there a course/project/group/interaction, etc. at Kelley that has been particularly helpful to you in your career?
My C201 and iCore case group projects helped me understand the comradery that can exist in work settings. Being friendly with your groupmates makes doing the work more enjoyable. You do not need to be serious all the time in work settings. The group work at Kelley pays off because communication skills can be more important than technical knowledge in a work setting. Staying in a meeting a bit longer for some small talk has made all of my group/work experiences better.
What was your favorite part of being an accounting student at Kelley?
I did not have much trouble finding a job I am excited about. The alum network is huge, and I felt many employers make an effort to recruit Kelley kids. Beyond that, all of my accounting professors were willing to share their personal experiences, advice, and insight on the field. I found it interesting when a professor would break down the accounting perspective of current events. My courses prepared me well for the CPA exam, and the coursework did a great job of making me feel comfortable in an accounting role.
Drawing on your career experiences, what advice would you give to future Kelley Accounting students?
Try to be as authentic, casual, and curious as you can with recruiters and colleagues. You will be more memorable in an interview if you can make it a conversation, and it is easier to make conversation with a partner twice your age if you are curious. Go to as many SAS/BAP/Recruiting events as you can because it will show you what you might be most interested in doing and at what firm. Further, putting yourself on a career path that you can see helping other people will make the hard work more enjoyable. The people I know who work for promotions and money are the most burnt out.
What was your favorite accounting class at Kelley?
I enjoyed Tax and Intro to Financial the most because they solidified my decision to major in accounting. The material in those classes came more naturally to me than my other classes, making me feel that I was onto something by pursuing it. The knowledge I learned in my tax class has helped me personally, and the logic of debits and credits made intuitive sense to me and can be satisfying. I took a lot from those courses by diving deep into the material.
Learn more about Thomas on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/thomasfentoniu