MAcc Students Immerse in Experiential Learning During Invaluable D.C. Trek

In today's competitive job market, practical work experience is an increasingly vital requirement, not just a mere advantage. Deep knowledge of current industry issues is crucial for aspiring professionals to enter the workforce successfully. Therefore, interacting and communicating with real employers has gained significant importance for future career prospects. Fortunately, this is an area the Raymond A. Mason School of Business excels at – experiential learning! Students in the Masters of Accounting Program (MAcc) are provided with exceptional opportunities to develop into highly valuable employees explicitly based on the needs of employers and current industry standards.

Recently, participants from the MAcc program embarked on their annual Financial Markets Trek to Washington, D.C. This signature MAcc experience aims to deepen their understanding of the intersection between the public and private sectors in the accounting field. The agenda was packed with informative sessions featuring prominent organizations such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.S. Treasury, PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, KPMG, and EY. MAcc students had the opportunity to discuss critical accounting issues with top regulatory agencies in the country and engage with emerging leaders in the field. The trip also allowed attendees some free time to explore the city of Washington, D.C.

The MAcc program at the Mason School holds an impressively high nationwide ranking among small schools. Immersion programs, like the D.C. Trek, are a common feature of the curriculum, emphasizing real-life experiences for students. Additionally, the William & Mary's MAcc program offers other unique experiences, such as a summer boot camp that helps students refine their foundational accounting skills, an orientation program focused on networking and recruitment opportunities, and the chance to intern at an accounting firm during the winter season while earning academic credits.

Q&A with Two Students from the Class of 2023

We had the privilege of interviewing Quinn Graves and Zyquan Bessant, two accomplished Master of Accounting students from the esteemed Raymond A. Mason School of Business Class of 2023. Quinn and Zyquan discovered their profound passion for accounting during their undergraduate studies, where they had the opportunity to delve into the principles of accounting under the guidance of Professor Smith and Professor Stephens, respectively. In stark contrast to some of their classmates, they were genuinely fascinated by the intricacies of debits and credits. However, they humbly acknowledge that accounting might not be everyone's cup of tea.

Fast forward to four years later, Quinn and Zyquan had the opportunity to participate in the D.C. Trek, a much-awaited experiential excursion for master-level accounting students. This experience shaped their understanding of the industry in profound ways.

During our interview, we presented Quinn Graves and Zyquan Bessant with a set of four focused questions aimed at exploring their unique experiences:

Q: What motivated you to pursue a career in accounting, and how did your trip to Washington, D.C., shape your understanding of the industry?

Quinn and Zyquan found shared motivation in their journey toward a career in accounting. They had initially taken accounting courses out of curiosity but soon realized their growing interest in the subject. During the D.C. Trek, they had the privilege of hearing from professionals actively working in the accounting industry. They discovered that the common perception of accounting as rigid and lacking creativity was far from the truth. In fact, they learned that the accounting profession is continuously evolving to meet the changing needs of society and the financial landscape.

Q: How did the experience of meeting with key players in the accounting industry impact your future career aspirations and goals?

One of the most impactful aspects of the D.C. Trek for Quinn and Zyquan was hearing the personal stories of the industry's key players. They were inspired to learn that very few of these professionals had initially set out to hold the positions they currently occupied. Many had embarked on diverse career paths, transitioning between different jobs and firms in pursuit of knowledge and seizing new opportunities. This realization provided reassurance that a career in accounting doesn't have to be a linear journey. It allowed them to envision a future full of growth and evolution, mirroring the dynamic nature of the profession itself.

Q: Discuss any interesting or unexpected experiences you had during your trek to Washington, D.C., and how they impacted your perspective on the accounting profession.

The tightly-knit class of around 40 students, half of whom participated in the D.C. Trek, made for a memorable experience for Quinn and Zyquan. Amidst the packed schedule of engaging speakers during the day, the students had evenings of free time, which they eagerly embraced. One particular event stood out: a karaoke night where the MAcc students showcased their singing talents. This unexpected experience demonstrated the vibrant and sociable side of the accounting profession. It reinforced the notion that young professionals in the field work hard but also know how to have fun, fostering a sense of camaraderie within the industry.

Q: What advice would you give to other accounting graduate students who are considering embarking on a similar trek to Washington, D.C.?

Quinn and Zyquan wholeheartedly encourage other accounting graduate students to participate in the trek to Washington, D.C. They emphasize the unique opportunities it offers, such as getting an up-close look at influential figures like Janet Yellen and walking past her office in the Treasury building—an experience that goes beyond what typical tourists or residents can access. Furthermore, engaging with and learning from accounting experts and being able to ask them challenging questions provided an invaluable learning experience. They believe that this trek can broaden perspectives, offer networking opportunities, and inspire future career paths within the accounting industry.

Overall, the MAcc program at the Mason School is dedicated to equipping its students with the practical skills and industry knowledge necessary to thrive in the competitive job market. The D.C. Trek and other immersive experiences provide invaluable opportunities for students to enhance their expertise, connect with professionals, and gain a competitive edge in their future careers.