Student Bloggers Out to Upgrade Accounting’s Image
Sep. 23, 2011
Aware that the CPA world suffers from a dull, even “nerdy,” stereotype, area accountants have teamed up with UT Dallas grad students to sell prospective accounting majors on their profession's many benefits.
To that end, four School of Management accounting teaching assistants – Tim Ellis, Jasmine Hernandez, Tripp Smitham and Eric Rivetna – are blogging every week on the Texas Society of CPAs website about their experiences as accounting students.
Melinda Bentley, marketing manager for Texas Society of CPAs, says a confluence of good intentions and willing partners led to the student blog. “We had really wanted to get a student perspective (on the website) but we couldn’t quite get it to work,” she says. Two accounting professors from UT Dallas School of Management, associate area coordinator Amy Troutman and graduate program director Jennifer Johnson, approached the TSCPA and Bentley, offering the insights of their four teaching assistants.
A nationwide survey several years ago had found that students didn’t want to pursue accounting degrees because they thought accounting was “dull, boring, just desk work,” Bentley says. The Texas CPA group CPAs – and others across the nation – started a concerted effort to change the perceptions.
Bentley pointed out that accountants have joined entrepreneurial organizations, work in all areas of commerce and industry and all levels of corporate leadership. One reason for the blog, she said, is to attract a different kind of student to accounting. “You don’t have to do just tax; you don’t have to work in public accounting,” she says.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor ranks accounting among the top 10 professions in terms of job growth for the coming five years.
The accounting faculty at UT Dallas believed it was time to make a concerted effort to promote the program’s benefits and its outstanding graduates, Troutman says. They asked their four new TAs to develop some ideas.
“We did research online to see how other schools promote themselves,” recalls Hernandez, one of the teaching assistants. One idea that surfaced was a student blog. The four School of Management teaching assistants, all master’s students in the accounting program’s prestigious Professional Program in Accounting, reached out to TSCPA to host the blog on the organization’s website. Topics since the blog started in August have covered why Smitham chose to earn an accounting major, what Ellis’ summer internship was like and Hernandez’ advice on what companies are looking for from interns. They’re focusing on topics that real students wonder about, Hernandez says.
Hernandez says the blogs are targeting undecided college students, but high school students would find them interesting as well. On the blog, Smitham writes about his favorite accounting class, Cost Management Systems, admitting it sounds nerdy. High school students, unwilling to acknowledge their own nerdy side in public, can relate to a normal college student embracing his self-proclaimed interest in geeky stuff.
And the Dallas chapter of the Texas Society of CPAs will be featuring the blog in an upcoming newsletter and has already let its student members know about it.
So far, the page, up since mid-August, has had about 1,000 views and its posts have been shared via Facebook and Twitter. Bentley says these statistics show the site is, for now, “kinda famous.”