Raymond Byrd, UVA ’18, University of Florida ’17, PwC Tampa, FL
When I was choosing a master’s in accounting program, it was important for me to consider the factors specific to my life and circumstances. Everyone has different lifestyle choices, hobbies, career expectations, and other things going on in their life that sets them apart from other prospective students. In order to decide where I wanted to spend a year of my life, earning a respected credential towards my future career, I first identified these factors and then figured out how they aligned with my options.
For me, the most important factor in a master’s program was a new experience. I grew up in Florida, did my undergrad at the University of Florida, and rarely vacationed outside of Florida. It was all I had known, and I was ready for something new. To make my decision for UVA’s M.S. in Accounting program simple, it came down to statistics of the best universities for accounting, as well as what I discovered about the personality of this mid-sized university upon my visit. UVA is definitely one of the most beautiful campuses I have ever visited with classic architecture that has been around for a very long time. On my historic tour of campus, I was even told a story about how one student found a civil war revolver tucked underneath a floorboard inside one of the dorm rooms on the Range (graduate on-campus housing). The professors I met, as well as the staff, were intelligent and caring towards their students. Knowing that the professors and staff would be there for me when I needed them was also a rather large factor in narrowing down my options. While the other schools I visited were great schools and fun to be at, none of them had the culture-rich environment and caring faculty and staff that UVA presented.
After going through the program, I realized that the short preview of great things I had seen on my visit were overshadowed by how great of an experience my nine months in the program were. I developed lasting friendships, career connections, and excellent relationships with the faculty. The McIntire professors take a different approach than most undergraduate ones in the fact that they make you look at problems from a different perspective. Instead of trying to memorize how to solve a problem, you are encouraged to look at the big picture and analyze the problem at a higher level, discovering everything about it. What caused the problem? What pressures and incentives are behind the issue? Are there alternative solutions to the issue? What will happen in the future? Obviously there are a million different questions to ask, but I assume you get the point. It goes from memorization to critical thinking, and this is something that will stay in your mind for a lot longer than the journal entries in accounting for a pension benefit obligation.
Last, but not least, I would like to tell you about Commerce Career Services. I didn’t have any issues with career resources during undergrad, but I never experienced having my own personal resource center. Commerce Career Services is like a satellite office to UVA’s career center, that is housed right in McIntire. They have a full-time staff of counselors constantly trying to help you out, and sharing information on upcoming events. When I visited UVA, I was told that the M.S. in Accounting had a small program feel with the resources of a much larger university. I never paid much thought to it until my experience with the staff here and their willingness to help in any way possible. Thanks to them, I will be working at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Tampa, FL and could not be any happier.
Well, now that you’ve learned a little bit about my experience in the M.S. in Accounting program, I hope that you feel more equipped to analyze your options and make the best decision that you can for yourself. If you have any additional questions, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Written by Raymond Byrd, M.S. in Accounting 2017