In This Issue:
Message from the Department Chair
Hello, all! I hope that your fall semester is going well.
We just had an Accounting Day. Regional CPA firms, students, and faculty participated in a day-long series of seminars, discussions, and other events. My heartfelt thanks to all the participants for making this event a grand success. Our curriculum continues to evolve: A new track in Data Analytics that provides a great skill set for accountants is now offered by the Black School of Business. The accounting club, internships, and other academic activities continue to build the hard and soft skills of our students. We have graduated career-ready students in May, including our third class of M.P.Acc. master’s students. Many of our graduates have found excellent positions in regional and Big Four firms and in industry.
What do these successful students have in common?
They did well in their courses and maintained a solid GPA. Love it or hate it, GPA remains a primary cut-point for many positions. Almost all these students participated in clubs and organizations, did local and national internships, and developed a solid set of soft skills. I urge all accounting students to become proficient in technology. I am a strong advocate of taking as many MIS courses as possible and becoming versed in databases, data analysis, and business intelligence. You want to be ready for a career, not only for your first job. The outlook for new graduates remains great. The accounting job market is filled with opportunities for those who have the right skills. Make the right decisions for you, and shape the future.
Wishing you a very successful fall semester.
Dr. Ash Deshmukh, Chair, Accounting and MIS
What is your educational background?
I am a Chartered Accountant from India. I was in the public accounting and consulting field for nearly seven years. I once programmed in a language called Autocoder, which very few even remember. I did my M.B.A. at the University of Alabama and then earned a Ph.D. from the University of Memphis. I am a serial certification collector and have the CPA, CMA, CFE, CISA, etc.
How would you describe your teaching style or method?
My teaching style varies based on the type of class being taught. For undergraduate residential instruction, I rely on lectures, interactive assignments, and hands-on projects. My evaluation methods are fair but the students must work for their grades. For graduate courses, I focus on interactive cases and presentations in the classroom. For online IT strategy courses, I use cases, simulations, and real-world projects. I expect critical thinking and research from students at all levels.
What is your favorite part about being a professor?
I love seeing the journey of my students from a beginner in accounting to a consummate professional. In the classroom, I like the light of understanding that flashes in my students’ eyes and minds as the course progresses. I enjoy the interaction with students, and I always learn something from the students. I have catalogued how different generations approach the same problem differently. One day, I plan to write a paper on this!
I have met many of my students who are now partners, CFOs, and CEOs leading the profession and industry. It is a pleasure to see them perform so well.
What do you like most about Behrend?
I have been at Behrend for twenty-five years. I like the students, collegial environment, and teaching-centric nature of the college. I also have received tremendous professional opportunities, such as leading the online MBA program for Penn State. I have presented papers across the world and developed a global network of friends.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I am an avid reader and especially love to read science fiction. I am a moderately good chess player and occasionally enjoy a good game of chess. I am also a powerlifter, especially deadlift. I am just marginal in other areas.
What topics do you find most interesting?
Believe it or not, I like to study math and mathematical applications in technology. I have spent considerable time studying math and am often using it in my research. In my next life, I plan to major in math.
Do you have any advice for current students majoring in Accounting?
I will strongly advocate picking up as many technological skills as you can, for example, databases, data analytics, and programming. If you do not do it now, you will be forced to upgrade your knowledge base very soon.
Michaela Boscaljon '19
Michaela will be graduating in spring 2019 and is looking forward to pursuing the CPA. Her favorite class at Behrend has been ACCT 312, the accounting technical lab. The class helped prepare her to use computerized accounting systems at her current job at Emkey Energy in the accounts payable processing department. When asked what she would tell her first-year self if she could go back in time, she would say to take advantage of all opportunities Behrend has to offer! Michaela says, “Don’t be afraid to try something new.” Stepping out of your comfort zone, getting involved, and networking can always start early. Her advice to future graduates is inspiring. “There is so much you have to figure out about your life during the few short years of college. It can be extremely overwhelming, but worrying about it is never the answer. So, don’t stress! Take advantage of all of Behrend’s resources, especially talking with your professors for career advice. It’s not healthy to always be comparing yourself to your classmates and peers. Someone will always be a step ahead and a step behind you. Just focus on where you are now, what your next steps will be, and keep reaching toward your ultimate goal.” Good luck in your career!
Brianna Keith ’20
Brianna plans on graduating in 2020 with her Accounting and Finance degrees, along with a certificate in Financial Controllership. Once she graduates with her 150 credits, she looks forward to taking the CPA exam soon after. If Brianna could go back and give her first-year student self any advice it would be, “Join a business club sooner.” It is great to make connections with all kinds of students, but it is even better to make connections with students who have similar career interests as you. She says the connections you make with business students in your first year will last throughout your whole college career and will help you in your classes and after graduation. Brianna’s favorite class at Behrend is CNED 280, Job Prep and Success. Although CNED 280 is not a business-specific course, it has helped her prepare to go out into the real world, network, interview, and confidently communicate her abilities to future employers. After graduation, Brianna plans to stay local and work at a CPA firm. Being a track and field athlete, she loves sports so her long distance goal is to become a sports accountant for a professional team. She is excited to see what her future holds after graduating from Penn State Behrend, and we are excited as well!
Alison Bastion ’19 – Ernst & Young
Alison will be graduating in May 2019 with her 150 credit hours. This past summer she was an intern at Ernst & Young in their assurance department. She obtained the internship by applying online and reaching out to an EY employee she met networking who passed her resume along. Alison prepared for her internship at EY by researching as much as she could about the Big Four and specifically EY. The part she liked the best about her internship was the people she worked with. Her coworkers were extremely helpful and willing to teach her more about public accounting. The internship led to a full-time job offer with EY after graduation. Alison has proudly accepted the offer and will be starting in EY’s Pittsburgh office in August 2019. She is a double major with Finance with a certificate in Financial Controllership. Being a double major helped her stand out throughout the interview process. Her advice for anyone trying to pursue an internship at one of the Big Four accounting firms is to get internship experience as soon as possible. Alison strongly believes that her previous year and a half of experience at BKD, a national public accounting firm, is one of the main reasons EY showed interest. Out of the other fourteen interns Alison worked with this summer, every single one had previous intern experience. We look forward to seeing amazing things from Alison!
CPA Review Session
Nicole Overby, a 2018 Accounting graduate, is currently a student in the M.P.Acc. program. She spent her summer completing all four parts of the CPA exam. Now that she’s done studying for the exam, what is she doing in her free time? Letting her experience help students who are sitting where she was a year ago. Interested students were able to sit with Nicole for a short presentation about her experience preparing and sitting for the CPA exam, and then get answers to their own questions about their own next steps. Students learned about the application process, available scholarships, studying tips and tricks, the pitfalls of scheduling each part, and the nitty-gritty rules about the test day. They also received honest answers from someone who has just been through the process. What better way to spend a beautiful fall afternoon than getting a jump on your career?
On August 28, the Accounting Club held its annual fall picnic. Members came to play Frisbee, eat picnic-style food, and get to know their professor outside of the classroom. Students met one another and discussed the opportunities their Behrend’s Accounting program offers.
Spencer Randall ’19 was a 2018 Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA) Scholarship winner, and Katie Gozzard ’19 received a scholarship from the Erie Chapter of the PICPA. Great job!