From costume design to a MAcc

Stitching Together an Accounting Career

Tania Bukach never planned to be an accountant. Originally from the west coast of Canada, Bukach graduated from the University of Richmond in 2012 with an interdisciplinary studies degree focused on historic costume design.

“I loved my costume classes and decided to follow that passion,” said Bukach.

She started a freelance costume design business, opened an Etsy shop and created costumes for theater and TV clients including the PBS television show Mercy Street and the AMC drama TURN: Washington’s Spies.

“Then the time came to do my business taxes so I took an income tax training course at H&R Block,” said Bukach. “It was my first experience with accounting and I really enjoyed it. It was kind of like a million strings coming together.”

Redefining the traditional path to public accounting

After spending a tax season at H&R Block, Bukach’s interest in accounting was piqued. She worked for a while as an office manager in a chiropractic office but she wanted to do more.

“I never thought of accounting as career,” said Bukach. “What really made me decide to go for it was William & Mary’s accounting boot camp. I didn’t realize I could go straight into a Master of Accounting program without having taken a single accounting class."

Last year, Bukach enrolled in the Mason School’s Master of Accounting (MAcc) program and signed up for the optional boot camp, an intense series of courses that prepares non-accounting majors for the MAcc academic year.

“The best part was that I could complete all the prerequisite courses in one summer and hit the ground running at the beginning of the MAcc program,” said Bukach. “It is a fantastic program mainly because of the faculty who are passionate, committed and excited to teach. It’s challenging, but I like that and I’ve met some life-long friends.”

The Road Less Traveled

Bukach quickly learned that she was not alone in her circuitous pathway to an accounting career.

“Many of the boot campers came into accounting from a variety of paths. One studied journalism and worked in politics. Another was a math teacher. There was also a psychology major who was simultaneously finishing a master’s in theology, a horseback riding instructor and two Coast Guard officers,” said Bukach. “We were all non-accounting majors looking to build a new career.”

Counting on a Bright Future Ahead

One of the highlights of the MAcc program for Bukach has been the Integrated Winter Field Experience where she gained first-hand experience in a nine-week internship at the worldwide accounting firm BDO.

“I did everything I would be doing as an associate – client visits, tax preparation, consulting,” said Bukach who has already accepted a tax associate position at BDO starting in the fall. “I’m happy where I am right now and I want to keep the door open to whatever opportunity the future will bring.”