In early 2021, the Young Accounting Alumni Group (YAAG) fulfilled a long-time goal in establishing the Accounting Mentor Program, spearheaded by Anne Engler, BBA ’10 and Joshua Kramer, BBA ’12 and MAcc ’13 and supported by Professor Steve Balsam. Twenty-five alumni connected with 29 students over the course of three months, creating regular opportunities for professional development and networking.
“I wanted to start this program to pay it forward to the next generation of Fox accounting alumni,” says Engler. “During my time at Temple, I had mentors who made a tremendous impact on the direction of my academic and professional careers. I would not be where I am today without their guidance and support. I wanted to provide an opportunity for other students to have similar experiences as well as to learn and network with each other in this virtual environment.”
In addition to facilitating mentoring relationships, YAAG organized an alumni panel presentation and a networking presentation by Pamela Lyman, director of Alumni Career & Professional Development at the Fox School’s Center for Student Professional Development. Lyman gave tips on informational interviewing for students and professionals.
Providing guidance to first generation students
Danielle Gordon is a junior, a mother and a first generation college student. “I wanted to participate in this program because I literally have no support,” says Gordon. “I just knew I wanted to be an accountant. I felt as though this program would provide me with some direction.”
Gordon credits Engler’s support in helping her secure her first internship. “Anne provided me with some key feedback and let me know what things I needed to work on. She also helped me come up with questions to ask my interviewer,” says Gordon. “Because of Anne’s help, I was able to secure an internship with KPMG for the 2022 busy season.”
Kejsi Banaj, a junior transfer student, is also a first generation college student and immigrant from Albania. “As a first generation immigrant student, it gets tough at times, especially when your family cannot help you because of the language barrier.”
She found her mentor, Steven Pham, BBA ’12, to be very supportive. “Steven helped me get on track with my goals,” she says. “I learned quite a lot about the CPA process, starting with getting 150 credits for the CPA exam, and about the different career positions such as auditing and tax.”
Looking ahead, Banaj hopes to start a career in public accounting. “My goal is to get into one of the Big Four firms.” She added, “Steven works at KPMG, which is great as I got to see his perspective towards the firm.”
Exploring a new field
Madison Joseph, a sophomore accounting major, is now considering a new profession in forensic or investigative accounting after working with her mentor, Andrew Kelly. Kelly, BBA ’14, is a manager in Financial Investigations & Disputes Practice of RSM.
“So much of what I have learned from Andrew has been about the differences in the day-to-day between an auditor and an investigative accountant,” she says. “He has given me lots of things to consider while I have time to gain experience and make a decision.”
Joseph recently added legal studies as second major and finance as a minor. She plans to earn her CPA and go into public accounting. “Though experience through internships may change this, I hope to go into audit, with the possibility of transitioning to forensic/investigative accounting after some years of experience in audit,” she shared.
Kelly was particularly excited to join the program as a mentor. “I’ve continued to appreciate how amazing our Fox undergraduates are on a daily basis. They are students, interns/employees and ambassadors,” he says.
Pham adds, “I’ve learned that there are different paths to succeeding at Temple and what works for me may not be the best approach for my mentee. On the flip side, I hope my mentee can see that as well.”
“Both of my mentees have displayed a passion for learning about accounting careers and have reinvigorated my own passion for the profession,” says Engler. “I hope my mentees have learned from me the value of being your authentic self, both in a job interview and in determining what is the best career option, and more about auditing than they probably ever hoped to know!”
While the spring program has ended, the participants are encouraged to keep in touch. “l sincerely hope that after the program ends all of the mentors and mentees continue to learn and grow from each other,” says Engler. YAAG hopes to maintain this positive momentum and continue the program in future semesters.