MS in Accounting Blog

Nurturing Professional Growth: Building Power Skills in the M.S. in Accounting Program

Micah Hawkins (M.S. in Accounting, '24) shares his journey in developing soft skills in the M.S. in Accounting Program.

M.S. in Accounting students in the classroom having a group discussion

By Micah Hawkins (M.S. in Accounting, ’24)

Embarking on the M.S. in Accounting Program was a significant milestone in my academic and professional journey. Little did I know that beyond mastering accounting principles, this program offered many professional development opportunities to shape us into well-rounded accounting professionals. In this blog post, I’ll share my experiences with the program’s focus on “soft skills,” or power skills, and professional development, specifically drawing from my journey in two particular courses, Communicating Effectively as Accounting Professionals and Leading for Success in the Accounting Profession.

Building Relationships: The One-on-One Networking Assignments

Building relationships and networking effectively are fundamental skills vital for success in any profession. The course encouraged us to leave our comfort zones by assigning the one-on-one networking task. It required us to engage in three one-hour meals with different program participants.

This assignment provided opportunities for meaningful connections and exposed us to the art of conversation, active listening, and networking. These skills are invaluable for accountants, who often need to connect with clients, colleagues, and superiors. Participating in these one-on-one meetings gave me confidence in striking up conversations and forming relationships that will serve me well in my accounting career.

Enhancing Communication Skills

Communicating Effectively as Accounting Professionals significantly improved our communication abilities. The syllabus emphasized the importance of effective writing and speaking skills in accounting. These are essential skills for conveying complex financial information, persuading clients or colleagues, and maintaining transparency in financial reporting.

The course polished our communication skills and helped us discover our speaking styles. Coordinating writing instruction with assignments in our other classes encouraged a holistic approach to communication. This alignment allowed us to apply our newfound writing skills directly in our accounting work, making us more proficient professionals.

Power Skills: The Cornerstone of Success

The M.S. in Accounting Program recognizes that technical knowledge is only one piece of the puzzle. Communicating Effectively as Accounting Professionals focuses on developing soft skills essential for a successful career in accounting. The course highlighted the significance of direct style communication in speaking and writing.

We delved into various aspects of professional communication, such as memo writing, briefs, personal storytelling, impromptu speaking, group and individual presentations, and self-analysis. An especially valuable component was improvisation work, which provided a low-risk environment to practice quick thinking and adaptability—crucial qualities in the fast-paced accounting world.

Survival Simulation: Applying Power Skills

Amid all the coursework, we had the opportunity to participate in a unique survival simulation in Leading for Success in the Accounting Profession. This exercise challenged our problem-solving, teamwork, and communication skills, pushing us to apply the power skills we had been developing.

We were presented with a scenario in which we found ourselves stranded in a remote location with a limited set of items, some possibly very useful and others not. Our task was determining the best way to survive, ranking these items from best to worst based on their potential utility.

This exercise was a great learning experience, highlighting the importance of teamwork and effective communication. Each team member had a unique perspective on the situation and different ideas about the usefulness of each item. To reach a consensus on ranking these items, we engaged in a constructive dialogue, provided reasons for our choices, and collaborated. This real-life scenario allowed us to apply our power skills in a practical setting.

During the simulation, we learned that critical thinking and the ability to listen to others, adapt to different perspectives, and work collectively towards a common goal are essential. These lessons extended beyond the theoretical and technical aspects of accounting, emphasizing the importance of power skills in real-life scenarios.

Real Colors Personality Test: Understanding Each Other in the Workplace

Leading for Success in the Accounting Profession introduced us to the Real Colors Personality Test. This test was designed to improve our team collaboration skills and help us better understand the dynamics of our peers. This test gave us insights into our personalities, strengths, and communication styles, which allowed us to work more effectively in teams.

The Real Colors test revealed valuable insights into how we approach problem-solving, decision-making, and interpersonal interactions. In Real Colors, green personality types are independent thinkers, gold personality types are pragmatic planners, orange personality types are very action-oriented, and blue personality types are very people-oriented. Understanding the diversity of personalities within our team allowed us to tailor our communication and collaboration strategies to ensure more effective and harmonious teamwork.

Triple C Camp: Developing Teamwork and Encouragement

As part of our professional development journey, we visited the Triple C Camp, where we participated in a ropes course. We participated in team-building activities that required us to balance and move items using ropes, maneuver large objects together, and provide encouragement while crossing tight ropes suspended 20 feet above the ground.

These physically demanding challenges mirrored the professional world’s demands for collaboration, problem-solving, and mutual support. The ropes course experience taught us how to trust our teammates and rely on effective communication and teamwork to achieve common goals. It pushed us to conquer fears and anxieties individually and collectively and demonstrated the power of encouragement and positive reinforcement.

My journey through the M.S. in Accounting Program has been transformative. Beyond the theoretical knowledge and technical skills, the program has provided me with a strong foundation in the power skills essential for a successful career in accounting.

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