One of the challenges we face as accounting educators in Montana is “nudging” accounting students forward in their professional development. Their professional development is important because accounting students of today will be tomorrow’s leaders. This “nudging” is best accomplished by a choir of many voices rather than a single voice. As educators, we strive to develop knowledge of critical concepts and principles new CPAs need when they leave their college campus and set foot in the professional world. This knowledge is important to their progress, but it is only one of many skills needed for success. Helping students develop an understanding of the professional environment is harder to accomplish in the classroom than helping them learn that debits go on the left! I have thought many times, while talking to students about the importance of developing professionalism, that they see me as their parent rather than their professor—and we all know the tendency of older teens/young adults when it comes to listening to parents! When it comes to motivating professional development, CPAs have “street cred” that students typically don’t give to accounting educators. What are some ways CPAs can get involved in the development of up-and-coming professionals? Here are a few brief suggestions:
- Consider offering internships or expanding existing internship programs. Most (if not all) schools in Montana offer credit to students for internship. Students gain the benefit of learning about the day-to-day operations of the accounting profession that will enhance their recognition of the relevance of what they are studying in their classes. Employers benefit by having the opportunity to evaluate the potential of interns as future employees—and that can reduce the risk of the hiring decision.
- Be a speaker at an accounting club meeting. Accounting clubs around the state are always looking for professionals to come and speak to their clubs. These meetings are usually in the evening and typically don’t conflict with the work day.
- Be a guest speaker in a class. From time to time, accounting faculty seek guest speakers who can share their expertise with students.
- Attend student-related events sponsored by the MSCPA that provide an opportunity for soon-to-be-graduates to rub shoulders with professionals from their communities. Annual events currently take place in Billings, Missoula and Bozeman.
Perhaps you would like to get involved, but you don’t know exactly what to prepare in terms of a presentation. The AICPA has prepared resources available on the website ThisWayToCPA.com/resources to assist those seeking ideas to use for presentations about the accounting profession and becoming a CPA.
Having a strong group of up-and-coming professionals to step into the roles and positions opening from the departure of those who have reached the end of their careers is vital for the stability for the accounting profession in Montana. It is also vital for the strength of the economy in Montana. Reconnect with a favorite professor or take the time to get to know new accounting educators at the nearest college. When accounting educators and practicing CPAs work together, everyone wins.