Accounting Program Goes Beyond Balance Sheets
School of Management Answers Market’s Increasing Demand for ‘Soft’ Skills
Jan. 4, 2008
In today’s competitive world, accountants aspiring to advance their careers need more than technical know-how. The sharpest graduates increasingly need such “soft skills” as interpersonal abilities, teamwork, communication, presentation and networking to get ahead.
A new UT Dallas School of Management program will begin in January 2008 to help accounting students develop both “hard” and “soft” skills.
The school’s Accounting and Information Management area is launching a five-year Professional Program in Accounting (PPA) leading to bachelor’s and master’s degrees for top students pursuing accounting careers.
“The PPA brings together some of the best and brightest accounting students at UT Dallas and offers them an exceptionally challenging and rewarding curriculum and opportunities,” said Tiffany Bortz, accounting professor and director of the PPA.
“The goals of the program are to place PPA students in professional accounting internships and full-time positions, increase networking opportunities, improve alumni support and prepare students to become certified public accountants,” she said.
The program will include workshops on interviewing, résumé writing, dining etiquette, and professional attire and conduct, Bortz said.
“Top accounting firms are seeking people who possess superior technical, as well as soft skills,” Bortz said. “We really want to groom our students to be professional and to have the broad skill set employers desire.”
Students of the first class say that even though the program is more challenging, they were drawn to it by the enhanced opportunities it offers.
“I applied for the PPA program because it maps out a direct path to the CPA exam. That saves me from having to figure out what courses to take for the next couple of years,” said Ernest Lowery, a junior accounting student.
Other appealing factors, he said, are the internship opportunities and the CPA review course and soft skills classes included in the program. “The soft skills classes are a big deal to me because I don’t have a lot of professional interviewing experience, and I want to learn to be more professional,” he said.
“It’s an honor for me to be a part of UT Dallas’ first PPA class,” said senior Grace Lee. “The program surrounds us with people who are focused on the same goals and achieving excellence in the field.”
Lee said she applied as soon as she learned about the program from an accounting professor. She is looking forward to the internship opportunities, the soft skills classes and relationship-building with fellow students.
Students may apply for the program in the fall semester of their junior years for admittance in the spring. To qualify, students must maintain a 3.0 GPA and interview with a PPA faculty committee.
The first PPA classes begin this spring. Of the 80 students who have applied for the new program, 38 have been accepted, with an average GPA of about 3.6.