To measure our success as an institution of higher learning, simply look at the success of our graduates. MAcc program alumni are making significant contributions in a variety of fields, and have become leaders of distinction working for some of the nation's top employers and Big Four accounting firms.
Ariana Rincon '15
Tax Assistant at Ernst & Young
Advice to Students
"Take advantage of every networking opportunity provided by the program. It is a great way to meet alumni, corporate executives, and other individuals who can serve as mentors and who can potentially help you get a job after graduation."
Mastering the Language of Business
Accounting is often called the "language of business" and Ariana Rincon '15 knew that to be successful in the field she would need to become fluent. As an undergraduate at Lake Forest College, she laid the groundwork by earning a bachelor's degree in finance and mathematics. But graduation from the program was just the beginning. To achieve her goal of becoming a certified accountant, she would first need to pass what many consider to be one of the toughest professional licensing tests - the CPA exam. She decided that a master's in accounting from William & Mary would not only guarantee her the educational hours necessary to sit for the exam, but would also provide the extensive body of knowledge needed to pass the test.
MAcc's Career-Ready Focus
With so many accounting career options, Ariana felt the MAcc program at the Mason School of Business was the best choice to help her explore specializations and find a niche that would boost her earning potential. Plus, the unique partnership between William & Mary and Lake Forest meant that she could fast-track the admissions process. "The partnership between Lake Forest and William & Mary is an excellent opportunity for students who want to pursue a career in accounting," she said. "It allows students to further enhance their professional growth by integrating the knowledge and experience gained from Lake Forest's outstanding liberal arts education into the Mason School's top-ranked business program."
While William & Mary's strong reputation and exceptional, world-class faculty were key factors in her decision to enroll, so too was the MAcc program's success rate - nearly all graduates of the one-year program have been able to secure professional positions with top firms. "The enthusiasm for the program and enumeration of the many internship and employment opportunities convinced me that this would be a great fit," Ariana said.
High demand for MAcc students
Like many MAcc students at the Mason School, Ariana was able to use her William & Mary education to start a career even before graduation. She was only in her first semester of the program when she accepted a job with one of the world's largest public accounting firms, Ernst & Young (EY). She began working for their tax services practice immediately. "It's been surprisingly fun," Ariana said of her new job. "As a tax services staff member, I am responsible for preparing corporate and partnership tax returns and assisting with provisions, which involves working with the audit team to determine whether the clients' tax accounts are appropriately stated." There are plenty of opportunities for professional development and advancement, and since she works with uniquely diverse people from around the globe, she believes those relationships will help to broaden and enrich her career even more.
Besides rigorous academics, the Mason School's MAcc program is also renowned for its hands-on learning experiences and networking opportunities. Ariana said she particularly benefited from the program's D.C. Trek. "My position with Ernst & Young requires me to work in different and diversified teams. I was able to acquire experience in this area through the MAcc program's interactive learning opportunities such as the D.C. Trek," she said. Through this annual Washington D.C. trip, MAcc students are led by university faculty as they interact with top executives, attend panel discussions and networking events, visit regulatory agencies, and learn more about the private and public sectors. "It was a remarkably rewarding experience that has proven to be invaluable in both my personal and professional life. It allowed me to meet partners, executives, and alumni from top CPA firms and companies in different industries."
Pass the CPA Exam - the First Time
Before starting her sought-after position with EY, Ariana was able to pass all four sections of the CPA Exam on her first attempt – an accomplishment that she says has been one of her greatest achievements. "It would not have been possible without the MAcc program," said Ariana. "The classes prepared me very well. I even used notes from the lectures to study for all four sections of the exam." As a result of her dedication, and William & Mary's commitment to academic excellence and applied learning opportunities, Ariana became a fully licensed CPA – achieving a dream she had set for herself years before.
Lifetime Benefits of a W&M Education
Now living and working in Washington D.C., Ariana continues to see the benefits of the time she spent at the Mason School. "I owe my achievements and enthusiasm for the accounting profession to the strong support and encouragement of the faculty at William & Mary's Mason School of Business," said Ariana. "The knowledge and commitment of the professors has immensely increased my understanding of accounting and its applications. They have proven to be mentors that I will rely on for the rest of my career."
Eric Albrecht '13
Senior Tax Accountant at Ernst & Young
Advice to Students
“Take pride in everything that you do. Your work product will always be a reflection of you. You never know when your colleagues will become your client, your client will become your boss, or when a former boss will develop a relationship with a future boss. Reputation carries a lot of weight and you always want to work to build a reputation you can be proud of.”
The Unrivaled Community of William & Mary
Growing up, native New Yorker Eric Albrecht vacationed frequently with his parents in Williamsburg, Virginia. On one such trip, when he was about 15, they decided to stroll the tree-lined sidewalks of the William & Mary campus. Albrecht was sold. He set his sights on attending W&M after high school.
And that's exactly what he did. Twice.
He graduated from W&M with his bachelor's in accounting and then decided to stay for his master's in accounting too.
“The William & Mary community is unrivaled. I had no interest in letting that go," he said. "I relished the opportunity to further soak up all of the knowledge that William & Mary professors had to offer.”
Albrecht particularly liked that the Mason School's MAcc program allowed him to take a deep dive into the sectors that most interested him. “I am a tax guy," he said, "so law is a very important component to that field. The ability to take tax law classes significantly differentiated W&M from other MAcc programs."
He says the Mason School's world-class faculty also set the program apart. “The professors provided me with a very strong foundation in the field. When I started my career, I really saw how far ahead my baseline tax knowledge was compared to others from different institutions.”
He added: "They were extremely caring and interested in my development as a student and person. They shared their insights in public accounting, and undoubtedly shaped me into the strong tax professional I am today.”
Summer Boot Camp
Albrecht says he benefitted from the diverse knowledge and skills of his Mason School classmates, especially those who joined the program from different undergraduate majors. “You can be immensely successful in the MAcc program despite coming from a non-accounting undergraduate major," he explained.
Through the program's Summer Boot Camp, students can fulfill prerequisite classes in Principles of Accounting, Intermediate Accounting I and II, Auditing & Internal Controls, Cost Accounting and Taxation, regardless of their undergraduate major. And, the Bootcamp is taught by the same top-ranked faculty who teach W&M's semester-long courses.
"I knew MAcc students who were Philosophy, Economics, Psychology, and English majors. They brought unique ways of problem-solving to the table which further helped me grow and learn.”
The Power of Teamwork
After earning his graduate degree, Albrecht landed a job with a Big Four accounting firm Ernst & Young in the heart of D.C. He works at the intersection of the private and public sectors handling corporate, partnership, individual tax planning and compliance, as well as managing federal tax credits and incentives.
He enjoys the work immensely.
"My normal day-to-day responsibilities include client communication, internal correspondence, teaching, project management, reviewing work, conducting tax research, and a plethora of other things," he said. "I am a jack-of-all-trades in the tax industry."
He also successfully pitched the idea of an office ping-pong table for the staff. "The real world is all about relationships. You have to do your individual job, but at the end of the day you must deliver as a team."
"The MAcc program taught me the importance of building a team up as a whole rather than just focusing on myself."
Marcus Badger '16
Audit Associate at Deloitte
Advice to Prospective Students
"Consider the MAcc program if you're looking for the perfect bridge to help transition from school to the real world. The program teaches you valuable skills that you normally do not learn in undergrad and helps mature you into a better prospective employee."
Envisioning A Future With The Big Four
Marcus Badger '16, from Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, already knew about William & Mary's reputation as a world-class institution of excellence when he went in search of a business school to further his education. For him, the rigorous academics and top-ranked faculty were important factors, but ultimately it was the Mason School's ability to connect graduates to real career opportunities that led to his decision to enroll.
"I was told about the great opportunity to be heavily recruited by the Big Four accounting firms and other top employers," Badger said. "I chose William & Mary because I felt it would provide me with the best networking and career opportunities."
He was right.
Those networking opportunities began before he had even attended his first class. "I spoke with over twenty firms during the recruitment process," Badger explained. "I was able to learn about the various career paths of an accountant, so it was reassuring to know that I would have a lot of options if I chose William & Mary."
When his professor at Randolph-Macon College, who was also a William & Mary graduate, suggested he take a look at the Mason School's MAcc program, Badger was already sold.
Real World Immersion
His undergrad work at Randolph-Macon provided the general business and economics knowledge needed to gain a solid foundation in the field while the Mason School's real-world learning experiences provided the jumpstart needed to land a job with a top firm.
With the help of Mason's faculty and staff, he received an internship with Deloitte in Mclean, Virginia. Offered as part of the MAcc program's Winter Field Experience, it was a unique opportunity to get hands-on skills in the field and network with top professionals. "I was able to gain real life, valuable experience as an auditor working in the busy season," he said.
A few months later, Deloitte offered him a job.
Along with the school's immersion opportunities, Badger also credits his success to Mason's distinctive academic programs. The rigorous accounting curriculum gave him the necessary background in US and international generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), while electives such as his Communications and Professional Development class helped him develop valuable writing, presentation, and interview aptitude. “The program teaches you a variety of valuable skills that you normally do not learn as an undergrad," he said. "The MAcc program helps mature you into a marketable employee.”
"The program absolutely helped me achieve my goal of obtaining a job with the Big Four and expanding my network," he said.
Relationships That Extend Beyond The Classroom
Badger was able to expand his network with the help of the Mason School's Executive Partners program which connects students to hundreds of senior business executives. These retired and semi-retired successful business professionals work with students, providing them with any-time access to their expertise, and helping to carve out a plan for success. "It was so helpful to learn about their experiences and the path it took for them to be successful," he said.
"My experience at W&M has helped me meet some amazing people," he said. "I was able to interact with many bright and talented MBA students, partners, CEOs, and CFOs who were all looking out for each other."
"With their help," he continued, "the MAcc program was the perfect bridge that enabled me to transition from school to the real world."
Sasha Obradovic '15
Tax Assistant at Ernst & Young
Advice to Students
“Participate in all MAcc Council events. They were a great way to meet people and spend some time with them outside of the classroom. They were also a lot of fun.”
From Basketball to Business School
Sasha Obradovic was just 17 years old when he considered leaving school to pursue a career as a professional basketball player. In his native Belgrade, the capital city of Serbia, sports were not offered through high school or collegiate programs, forcing talented students like Sasha to choose between athletics and continuing their education.
His mother intervened.
"She wouldn't allow me to quit school for basketball, and I am thankful for that." Sasha said.
Understanding his passion for the sport, Sasha’s mother encouraged him to relocate to the United States where he could complete high school and play basketball without giving up his education. It was the right decision. Later that year, he was recruited by the varsity basketball team at Hampden Sydney College, where he earned a degree in Mathematical Economy and graduated with honors.
Gaining a Career Advantage
Sasha hoped to pursue a career in business and knew that graduate school was necessary to gain an advantage in the field. He was undecided on a program of study until he met with representatives from the Mason School's Master of Accounting (MAcc) program. “The William and Mary staff took their time to visit my school, and made themselves much more available and approachable than other programs I was looking at,” Sasha said. He decided William and Mary’s MAcc program, with its top-ranked faculty and academics, was a great fit. “I signed up for a meeting and submitted my online application the same day.”
MAcc's Fast-Track to Success
In just one year, and with the help of the MAcc bootcamp, Sasha would have the foundation needed to graduate and begin a lucrative career as an accounting professional. “Although fast paced, the bootcamp was a valuable experience,” according to Sasha. “Knowledge gained in those few weeks was a great foundation for the rest of the program.” Guidance from the Mason School’s faculty helped too. “Working with every William and Mary professor was absolutely amazing,” he said. “They had experience in public accounting and related fields which added so much value to the class.”
“Their doors were always open,” he added. “That’s something you don’t always see at other schools.”
The Power of Immersion
Sasha was impressed at the number of recruiting, networking, and team-building opportunities offered to MAcc students, and the DC Trek was no exception. This unique experience offered a faculty-led trip to Washington DC where students received a first-hand look at the accounting field from both the private and public sectors. “Hearing and reading about industry regulatory institutions is one thing,” he said. “But actually visiting all of them, and hearing from their employees about what they do takes the understanding of public accounting to the next level.”
Additionally, MAcc’s Winter Field Experience afforded Sasha the opportunity to gain real-life work skills, and earn a salary, from a notable accounting firm. “I came to William and Mary immediately after my undergraduate program so I didn’t have any real job experience,” he said. “The Mason School’s Winter Field Experience changed that.”
A Degree That Leads To A Job
After completing his internship with Big Four accounting firm Ernst & Young, Sasha was offered a job there immediately after graduation. “Many Mason Career Center events were open only to MAcc students,” he said. “I feel that gave me a distinct advantage with recruiters.” His fellow students also had a positive impact on his career. “I worked with students who came from different backgrounds, had different working habits, and different levels of professional experience,” he said. “I realize now how important this was for my professional development since most of the work that I am doing at Ernst & Young is in the same diverse group setting.”
“The MAcc program was an amazing opportunity; an opportunity to learn from top-notch professors, to work with top-notch students, and most importantly, to be exposed to recruiters from the best companies,” he said. “It had such a positive impact on my career and my life.”
Stephen W. Coyne '15
Deals Associate, PricewaterhouseCoopers
Advice to Students
"I highly encourage anyone who is interested in pursuing a MAcc degree to attend W&M. I am where I am today because of the school, and I am proud to be a part of such a prestigious network of successful individuals who look to give back to the students and help them grow both as people and professionals."
From Miller Hall to Madison Ave
Stephen Coyne '15 spends his days in a towering, New York City skyscraper on Madison Avenue. It is near Grand Central Terminal and the Empire State Building – but far from his college days spent at William & Mary's Raymond A. Mason School of Business in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Working for the U.S. headquarters of Big Four accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Stephen is part of the Capital Markets and Accounting Advisory Services (CMAAS) division. The practice advises corporate and private equity clients on a wide array of transactions including mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, IPOs, debt offerings, bankruptcies, and other transformational events. His work provides him with the opportunity to travel around the world and meet interesting and diverse people from different backgrounds.
It's an exciting job. And exactly what Stephen was hoping to land when he decided to enroll in the Mason School's Master of Accounting (MAcc) program.
"I chose the Mason School because the reputation that the name William & Mary carries is highly respected in all lines of business," he said.
Academics & Faculty - Instruments of Success
As an undergrad at Ohio Wesleyan University, Coyne studied accounting and management. "It prepared me for success in the MAcc program because it provided me with a great foundation that I could build on while expanding my knowledge of accounting and finance," he said.
"The combination of the course material and the professors made it an enjoyable learning experience."
Those professors, he said, were instrumental to his success in the program – and his career. Consistently ranked as some of the best in the world, "the faculty at William and Mary are top tier," said Coyne, adding that he appreciated their ability to “make things interesting,” and not just “teach out of the book.”
"Whether they had experience with a Big Four firm, Wall Street, or academia – each professor brought something extra to the table."
He added: "I believe that my professors contributed to my success in their own way and I am very thankful for all that they have done for me."
Paying It Forward
A native of Long Island, he is excited to be back in New York and working in the heart of the city. He says he owes the accomplishment to the time spent at the Mason School. "Sure, I had to interview and build my network," he said. "But William & Mary enabled me to meet the right people and pursue the opportunities that interested me."
While his days in Williamsburg are behind him, he does look forward to giving back to the college and the W&M community.
“The alumni are very engaged and eager to help students, whether it be for a job opportunity or just simply offering their time and expertise,” he said. “It is clear that when you graduate from William & Mary you are joining an elite network of successful individuals who truly care about giving back however they can.”
"I am very confident that I would not be in the position that I am today had I not gone to William & Mary," he added. "I want to pay it forward and share that success."
Trent Walker '15
Tax Specialist: PricewaterhouseCoopers
Advice to Students
“Participate in the DC Trek. I really enjoyed it as it allowed me to hear from some of the brightest minds in the accounting profession. To meet and hear from people responsible for carrying out duties with important organizations such as the PCAOB (Public Company Accounting Oversight Board), the SEC, and the Department of Treasury gave me much greater context to the things we were learning in the classroom.”
From Basketball to Business School
Basketball has always been a big part of Trent Walker’s life. Growing up in Charlotte, North Carolina, he developed quite a passion for the sport. His talents eventually led to a coveted spot on the varsity team at Randolph-Macon College allowing him to enjoy the sport he loved while pursuing an undergraduate degree in Business and Economics. He benefited from the experience, but when graduation was on the horizon, he began to think about his marketable skills in the job market. He decided a top-ranked grad school with the resources to help him take his career to the next level was the answer. Strong academics and a job-ready program were important to him - but he also wanted a challenge. William & Mary’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business was his first choice.
The Next Step
Though Trent says he had other options for master's programs, he found that the Mason School’s MAcc program stood out from the crowd. “W&M encapsulated everything I desired in my next step,” he said. “It represented a place where I would be challenged in the classroom, while having access to priceless resources and networks.” Trent maintains that the rigorous classes have helped him develop the skills needed to succeed in the professional world, but says his experience outside of the classroom was also “a truly spectacular experience.” From the case based courses, to the DC Trek, to the on-campus recruiting opportunities, Trent says the MAcc program was unsurpassed. “The amount of resources in terms of professional coaching, development, and networking is invaluable,” Trend said. “The vast amount of networking events for students and alumni have allowed me to develop professional relationships with men and women who are not only at the top of their professions, but also willing to give back valuable guidance on how I can reach my goals.”
Real World Relationships & Academics
In addition to developing professional relationships at networking events, Trent was also able to form close connections with his professors, including Elizabeth Foster. Praising her passion for her students and her willingness to share her experiences in public accounting, he describes her as “an insanely endearing professor,” adding “I will continue to look to her for guidance well after my time here in Williamsburg is over.”
Besides the quality of the professors, Trent was especially impressed by the courses in which he was given the opportunity to apply classroom concepts to real world scenarios. “So much can’t be taught or measured by a test,” he explained. In case-based courses such as Advanced Audit, Driving Organizational Performance, and Valuation he was able to apply his academic knowledge to professional situations, giving him the confidence he would need to excel in the high-demand financial services industry.
Professional Preparation With a Payoff
While Trent feels the knowledge gained in the classroom was a valuable part of his professional development, he points to his Winter Field Experience at PricewaterhouseCoopers as key to his career readiness. “There is so much emotionally, mentally, and professionally that just can’t be taught during any class,” he said. “My internship during the busy season in the accounting industry was by far the best experience I’ve had during my time in the MAcc program.”
It also led to a lucrative job offer.
After graduation, Trent was offered a career position with PricewaterhouseCoopers and credits the Mason School’s MAcc program for his success. “From the on-campus recruiting and network, to the opportunity to intern at PricewaterhouseCoopers during my Winter Field Experience, the MAcc program’s coordination and resources played a huge part in me finding the perfect professional fit and help me to take the next step in my life.”
Yuhong Xie '15
Venture Capital Tax Associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers
Advice to Students
“Enjoy everything you are learning now. You never know when it will come into use.”
Partnership Program Adds Up For Accounting Students
Mason School of Business Master of Accounting (MAcc) graduate and Chengdu China native Yuhong Xie '15 always had an affinity for numbers. At Lake Forest College where she completed her undergraduate degree, she excelled in math and business classes, delighting in mastering the rules of algebra and analyzing the complexities of business processes. For Yuhong, how best to commute those talents into a job were her only uncertainties.
Thinking that a well-respected graduate school might be the answer, she went in search of a top-ranked program that could help her make an easy transition into a lucrative career in the field. As it turned out, she didn't need to look far. "I learned about the Mason School's MAcc degree through a partnership with Lake Forest," Yuhong said. The partnership allowed her to fast-track the grad school admissions process and transition seamlessly from her undergraduate program directly to William & Mary. Most exciting though, was that in just two semesters she would be fully prepared for a career in the high-demand financial services industry.
"As a non-accounting major, the William & Mary program is a great opportunity because students with different academic backgrounds are welcomed,” she said.
It was a perfect fit.
Experience That Counts
Through William & Mary's small and inclusive community, Yuhong was able to gain leadership experience while serving as the Vice President of the Mason School's MAcc Council. As part of her role, she represented her fellow students by organizing cultural and charity events and leading weekly council meetings. She also had the opportunity to get real-world experience working as an accounting intern at the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, an organization that supports living-history museums such as the Jamestown Settlement. It was there that she realized accounting isn't just numbers and balance sheets but instead the backbone of a professional organization and crucial to most important business decisions. She knew then that she had made the right career decision.
W&M Prestige + Rigorous Academics = Job Offers
Yuhong was confident that the intense immersion gained through the MAcc program had given her a solid foundation for success enabling her to be competitive in the job market and prosperous in the field. Soon after graduating, one of the world's largest and most prestigious accounting firms, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), offered her a position as a tax associate. "I did not have much work experience before, but it did not stop me from getting a job," said Yuhong. "Mason School staff, faculty and partners dedicated a lot of time and energy on my behalf. They provided career coaching events and one-one-one advising. One professor even volunteered to conduct mock interviews to help students prepare," she said. "I cannot imagine that I would be where I am today without their help."
Working in the metro Washington D.C. area, she specializes in federal and state tax compliance for partnerships in the PwC venture capital division. It's an accomplishment that requires her to not only be a skilled tax expert, but also an effective communicator. "I collaborate well with my peers and managers on tax projects, especially during the busy season when effective communication and productivity is most needed," she said. "I feel like William & Mary and the MAcc program prepared me well for the real-world life of an accounting professional."
A Degree That Pays Off
Yuhong says that she is "grateful to have been selected" through William & Mary's partnership with Lake Forest. "The program provided me with excellent academic experiences and career resources that led to my success."