Accounting Coast to Coast

I was born and raised in Seattle, Washington, and received my Bachelor’s Degree of Business Administration in Accounting from Gonzaga University before starting the M.S. in Accounting Program at UVA. I recruited through Gonzaga University, so already had interned with KPMG and accepted a full-time position with the firm in the Seattle office.

After deciding that graduate school was the best route for me to take in order to meet the 150-credit requirement to sit for the CPA exam in Washington State, I began my search for the right program. Gonzaga University was a smaller college, so I knew that I wanted a large university for my graduate program. I also wanted to expand my search outside of Washington State, to help develop my professional network and grow personally as I had never lived outside of Washington. After being accepted to the M.S. in Accounting program, I visited the campus and immediately fell in love with its beauty, the welcoming nature of the community, and all that Charlottesville had to offer.

Enjoying the football game with members of the M.S. in Accounting Program.
Enjoying the football game with members of the M.S. in Accounting Program.

While I was nervous to make a move across the country, I knew that this was the time in my life to embark on a new journey. Virginia in particular interested me as I was drawn to the history of Charlottesville as a city and the strong historical roots of the University of Virginia. The Lawn, the rotunda, the gardens and the ties to Thomas Jefferson was so different fromt anything I had experienced on the West Coast. Once at UVA, I was blown away by the diverse backgrounds of the student body. Our classroom discussions were enhanced by my peers’ diverse undergraduate experiences, which brought unique perspectives to our in-class group discussions.

I was drawn to the M.S. in Accounting Program because it was the best of both worlds – a large university experience with a small program. The professors at McIntire were always willing to assist students outside of the classroom and the curriculum was well rounded. My undergraduate program was heavily oriented towards preparing students for the CPA exam, while the M.S. in Accounting program focused on other aspects of accounting and finance. There was a significant amount of group projects, writing assignments, and accounting research, which prepared me to start my career at KPMG. Public accounting is extremely team oriented, so developing the skills to complete a technical accounting project in a team environment has helped me to succeed thus far in my career.

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At an MS in Accounting social event.

The M.S. in Accounting Program was the perfect opportunity to experience another beautiful city, meet great friends, and continue to develop my overall business and writing skill set. The class quickly became a tight knit group of friends. We enjoyed exploring the Charlottesville restaurant and wine tasting scene as much as possible on the weekends. Gonzaga University did not have a football program, so I was thrilled to be able to attend several of the UVA home football games. I also enjoyed exploring the surrounding areas by taking weekend trips to Washington D.C. and North Carolina.

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Exploring a local Charlottesville winery.

I chose the Financial Reporting & Assurance Track and feel that it set me up for success post-graduation. The program isn’t just a CPA prep course, however it did ultimately help many of us who were taking the CPA exam while studying at McIntire. I found this, as well as the support from my faculty, to be a key factor in passing the exam.

I am currently a senior associate at KPMG and have found that UVA has provided me the tools that I need to excel in my career. Specifically, the critical thinking and research skills I acquired have been extremely valuable throughout my career in public accounting. Many projects at McIntire involved a research topic where students had to utilize accounting guidance to solve a business issue and explain their conclusions via a memorandum. This is a key piece of my everyday job and I am confident in my writing and research skills due to my master’s degree.

The M.S. in Accounting program helped enhance my communication skills, business acumen, and confidence presenting in front of a crowd. I would highly recommend the program to those looking to launch their career in accounting, enhance skills needed to succeed in the workforce, and expand their professional and personal network.

-Written by Emily Newman, M.S. in Accounting 2014

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