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."