This summer, 21 high school students participated in a new, two-week-long program hosted by the Fox School’s Department of Accounting. The new Accounting Institute (AI) helps young people learn more about career opportunities in accounting from Temple University faculty and guest lecturers.
According to Cory Ng, associate professor of instruction in the Department of Accounting and director of the Accounting Institute, the goal of the program is simple.
“We’re hoping that students walk away with increased awareness about the accounting profession and all the wonderful opportunities that are available,” says Ng.
Ng’s goal rings especially true for racially and ethnically diverse students. According to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), only 2% of all CPAs in America are Black—despite making up 12% of the national population.
“Historically, these students have had difficulty entering the accounting profession. What we’re trying to do is to raise awareness about the opportunities for students from populations underrepresented in the accounting profession,” says Ng.
The current lack of representation in the accounting field can leave some feeling as though they have no place in the industry, or as though they have fewer opportunities for professional mentorship or advancements.
Elizabeth Gordon, professor and chair of the Department of Accounting at the Fox School, further elaborates Ng’s point. “By having the Accounting Institute, we hope some of those barriers are reduced and we create awareness about the profession and opportunities there. We hope to help transform the accounting profession into a more diverse profession.”
With financial support from the Accounting Institute’s donors and sponsors—Deloitte Foundation, EY, KPMG, PwC and RSM US Foundation—the program was able to offer scholarships to racially and ethnically diverse students. During the program, these organizations hosted students at their Philadelphia offices giving them a first-hand view of working in the accounting profession. Accounting professionals from the firms also were guest speakers and served as advisors to the students.
Over the course of two weeks, participating students engaged in the Institute’s experiential learning activities, a case competition, technology training, field trips to corporate offices and mentorship from current Temple University students. Students even lived on-campus in a residence hall as part of the pre-college programs at Temple University.
For many students, the Accounting Institute’s program made them rethink their future careers and consider accounting as a major when they apply for colleges.
Brinda Dass, a student from Huntington Valley, says she initially didn’t know anything about the accounting field, but gained perspective during her stay that changed her interest completely.
“As I got immersed into the accounting field, I fell in love with it,” says Dass. “This has definitely convinced me to later on continue in business, finance and even economics.”
Many students, like Reva Segireddy of Malvern, noted how the program allowed students to not only learn about accounting, but also learn about time management and collaboration skills.
“At first, I was a little worried—how am I going to manage my time if I’m going to be able to handle the college level classwork? But Professor Ng designed a really interactive course for us, and I couldn’t have hoped for a better professor,” says Segireddy.
Ashanti Williams, a student from Newark, also feels she learned more about the importance of time management through her experience at Fox’s Accounting Institute.
“I learned that this is definitely not like high school,” says Ashanti. “It took a lot of self-discipline. I understand time management, definitely. This changed my habits of how I think, how I talk and how I represent myself.”
One of the ways students were able to showcase their new skills and confidence was through a group case competition. Working alongside other students, participants had to come up with an original idea, do calculations for their product revenues and costs and pitch it to hypothetical investors.
With her group, Jazmyne Williams, a student from Philadelphia, developed the idea for a shoe that would adjust itself accordingly to weather and climate conditions. Normally hesitant with public speaking, Jazmyne says the Accounting Institute instilled her with confidence.
“I don’t like presenting, but I just felt like a different level of comfort, and I think it’s going to affect me positively in the future, regardless of what I do,” says Jazmyne.
Yasmeen Sayles, a student from Philadelphia, and her group developed the idea for virtual reality driving software, so soon-to-be drivers could practice driving without posing risk to others on the road.
Much like Jazmyne, Sayles also felt the case competition was challenging but helped improve her skills.
“The case competition was pretty hard, but making the calculations for everything, it was actually the fun part of doing it,” says Sayles.
Reflecting on the successful launch of the Accounting Institute’s program and overwhelming support from participants, donors and sponsors, faculty are eager to see the program blossom in years to come.
“This has been the first year of the program and we’re really excited about it. We’re looking forward to continuing the program going forward and building and growing on the successes and the foundation that we established this year,” says Gordon.