Major Spotlight: Accounting

Posted on Monday, October 15th, 2018

Do you have a way with numbers, the ability to be self-motivated, organized, and want to work anywhere in the world? Do you enjoy working with data and helping people reach their financial goals? If you answered yes to any of these questions, consider taking a look at the Accounting major. UNIBusiness is nationally known as a top institution for CPA (Certified Public Accountant) professionals due to the professional-level exam preparation that is tied into the curriculum. Here at UNI, the CPA examination pass rate is higher than the national average and many of our graduates pass the CPA exam by the time they graduate. With knowledgeable professors and a curriculum that truly prepares you for the future, UNIBusiness sets you up to be a successful professional. Still unsure? Keep reading below to hear what current students have to say about the accounting program here at UNI. 


Why did you choose Accounting as your major?

Claire Lawler: I took a couple of classes in high school and enjoyed it because it challenged me. My parents and 2 brothers are also accountants, so it runs in the blood! I knew that accounting could lead to so many different paths and every business needs one, so I thought it was a good option.

Brandon Qually: I knew that I wanted to do something in business, and I have always been good with numbers. After taking my first accounting class at a community college, I realized that I was catching on pretty quickly. I don’t have any immediate family members who knew much about accounting, so I began to ask questions to my professors and other people that I knew who worked in a business environment. The more I learned about the degree, the more I realized how well it fit into my future goals. It provides stability, an above average salary, gives me the ability to live practically anywhere, has a high career ceiling, and is challenging.

What are some interesting classes you took that helped you decide your major or career choice?

Claire: As hard as it was, Intermediate Accounting helped me better understand how challenging accounting was. That was really when I found out that I enjoyed it and was interested in it as a major. I officially added Finance as a major after I took Corporate Finance. I found the course very interesting and it came pretty easy to me.

What type of jobs are you looking at with this major?

Claire: Auditor, tax professional, financial analyst or controller are the top jobs that I can get with these majors.

Brandon: I am planning to start for the CPA firm EY in Des Moines in their assurance practice. I knew that I wanted to go into public accounting, and EY made the best impression on me through the recruitment process at UNI.


Did you have any internships or volunteer experiences that influenced your career path?

Claire: I worked a private accounting internship last summer and that really helped me learn about different careers and options that I could go with this major. I also have 2 internships in public accounting. I think that once I go through with these 2 internships, it will help me really see exactly what I want to do. Internships, I think, are the best way, and really the only way, a person can fully see what a day-to-day job is like. They give great experience, and I encourage everyone to get as many as they possibly can!

Brandon: I’ve had a few internships that have helped me solidify my decision. The one that had the biggest influence was working for Summit Agricultural Group the summer after my junior year. At this point I was pretty confident that I wanted to go into accounting, but I wasn’t certain. Summit challenged me and really helped me grow not just my accounting knowledge, but my overall business and critical thinking skills as well. I think this is a very important aspect that may be overlooked in some internships. If you are just there to do menial tasks, you aren’t really gaining relevant knowledge and your impression of the company or industry as a whole may not be reflective of what an actual career may look like. So for my experience, I was fortunate enough to able to see how accounting was done for small local operations, for private equity funds, and even for some pretty sophisticated international business operations. Having all those things wrapped into one internship made me realize just how many different opportunities there are in this field, and that it’s just a matter of finding which area is the best fit for yourself.

Any other information or advice you would tell students who are exploring majors?

Brandon: I transferred to UNI in the fall of 2015 planning on getting my accounting degree and CPA, but really didn’t know what sort of job I wanted, or really even what sort of jobs college grads usually get with an accounting degree. Luckily it was suggested that I join the Accounting Club to get a better feel for the things I was unsure about.

The thing about accounting recruitment is that essentially as soon as the semester begins, the recruiting starts going in full force, especially for students that are third and fourth years. So here I am, as a stressed out transfer student, who really doesn’t know what’s going on at all these events, and what the recruitment process looks like. I attended a couple events right at the beginning and got a good feel for how the events worked. Then on a night in September, the firm EY was putting on an Accounting Club event that centered on volunteering. At this point I knew little about EY and the industry in general, and just showed up because I heard they were a good firm, and tying that to a service event appealed to me. As the event goes on I’m trying my best to navigate my way through networking with as many people as I could, and making sure I’m asking the right questions. As the event came to a close, I found myself sitting next to a couple guys from EY who were UNI alum. So I explained my situation to them, how the semester was going and all that typical small-talk. The two guys seemed really genuine, and were so easy to talk to. We had a solid 10-15 minute conversation that felt very natural and not forced. As the event is ending I tell them thanks for their time, and that I really enjoyed hearing about the firm and just chatting with them. They then give me their business cards and I find out that one of them was actually a partner for the firm. I was surprised that someone in his position would take the time to answer all the questions that I had, and to be able to hold a normal conversation with a nervous kid who really didn’t know what he was doing.

Fast forward to July 2017, and I had the chance to chat with the same partner towards the end of my internship with the firm. We talked about how I was enjoying the position, and how my experiences had been. The discussion eventually shifted to all the great opportunities that UNI Accounting students have for getting to meet face-to-face with so many different employers. He said he remembered when he met me and brought up things that we had talked about that day. I couldn’t believe that here I was, nearly two years later, in the office of one of the first people to give me a chance when I first got to campus. It was a great feeling to know that he had remembered meeting me, as well as some of the things that we discussed that day. So the point I’m trying to make, is the fact that the UNI Accounting program and its alumni do an excellent job with connecting to students, and helping us make that jump to their next stage in life. Throughout college, there are so many interactions that you get to have with professors, alumni, and classmates. Most will be very casual, probably won’t lead too much, and you might not think anything of them. But someday you’ll be able to look back at a certain event, or a certain interaction that would lead to a major change in your life. For me, I never would’ve thought that a 4 hour Accounting Club event would help shape my future in the way that it did, so I am very grateful that UNI was able to open that door for me.


Want to find out more? Stop by Majors in Minutes on October 23rd from 7:00-9:00pm in the Maucker Union Ballroom to ask questions and learn more about each major on campus!

Click here for the Accounting Department Website

Click here for the Accounting Plan of Study