Prior to beginning my graduate studies at the University of Virginia, I completed my undergraduate degree in accounting at the College of William & Mary. One of the many things I enjoyed about my experience at William & Mary was the small class sizes that allowed you to get to know your professors and peers really well. There was also a strong sense of community at William & Mary where people knew each other on a first name basis and were always willing to lend help.
After I graduated from William & Mary in 2015, I went to work full-time at GEICO in the corporate controllers office as part of the statutory accounting group. In this role, I was responsible for helping to design, test, and implement a new cloud-based accounting system. My experience in this role provided me a wealth of knowledge about how accounting systems function, and the purposes of having strong financial controls.
During my time in the working world, I began the process of taking stock of not only where I wanted to go with my career, but also who I wanted to become. I gradually realized over time that in order to accomplish my ultimate career goal of obtaining my CPA license and practicing as an accountant, I would have to pursue further education in the field of accounting. In choosing a graduate accounting program, I wanted to have a unique experience that would challenge me to think critically in ways beyond the scope of my previous work. I found the M.S. in Accounting program at UVA to be a perfect fit that would provide me with the academic knowledge to pursue my goals.
My time at William & Mary provided me with a fundamental base in accounting, and now my experience at UVA has provided me with opportunities to not only build upon my academic knowledge, but also develop my professional “brand” and form lasting relationships with professors and classmates. As a result, I have found that UVA places greater emphasis upon building foundations in areas such as communication, leadership, and strategic thinking that prepare you for the work you will encounter in the professional world.
Additionally, there is an emphasis placed on career development and helping you to find your niche as a future accounting professional. Though part of this process is related to the academic offerings between the two different program tracks, the Commerce Career Services office goes above and beyond in providing you all of the support you need to find career opportunities where you can excel.
One of the other aspects of the M.S. in Accounting program that stood out to me when I was deciding between different programs was the sense of community and close-knit feel. When I attended William & Mary, I enjoyed having classes that were relatively small (no more than 25 students per class) and the ability to work in small groups within each class. Upon visiting McIntire, I found a similar community-like atmosphere to be present in almost every aspect of the program. Observing how students and professors interacted with each other reaffirmed my belief that UVA and the M.S. in Accounting program was the right place for me.