The 52nd cohort of the Graduate School of Professional Accounting had their first visit with one of the six leading accounting firms in the world. This meeting is just one of many interactions in the program between students and potential future employers, highlighting the program's emphasis on incorporating global, experiential learning alongside rigorous academics in the classroom.

Over the course of five weeks, the new class of MS in Accounting/MBA students will visit six accounting firms: Binder, Dijker, Otte, USA, LLP (BDO), Deloitte, LLP, Ernst & Young, LLP, Grant Thornton, LLP, Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler (KPMG), and PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP (PwC)–an integral part of the internship experience of the Master's in Accounting/MBA program. These visits enable students to get a firsthand look at the firms, aiding in their understanding of each company and where they could potentially intern.

Students recently visited Grant Thornton guided by Max Ebenstein, MSA/MBA'16, a graduating student who will be an audit associate at the firm. Ebenstein lead students to the Grant Thornton office, answering questions and concerns they had along the way. During the presentation given by Grant Thornton employees, Ebenstein expressed how much he enjoyed interning for the firm, highlighting his ability to work on different aspects of accounting instead of just focusing on one specific client.

“I wanted (the students) to listen to what was presented, but more importantly, to interact with the employees who were present. I wanted them to make their own decision about which firm fit them best and not to worry about what other students were choosing… While each student will have a different experience, fitting in and finding their niche will be the most important part of this process,” Ebenstein said.

Ebenstein feels the visits help a lot with assessing “fit,” which he thinks is the most important aspect of where the students eventually intern.

“No matter what firm they end up with, Big Four or other, it will be more about fitting in with the other employees and finding a culture that works for them than simply the status of the company,” Ebenstein said.

Students will have the opportunity to visit all six firms, a rare chance for networking that can forge professional connections and career choices. The accounting field may seem clear cut with very similar firms, but each is distinctly different in its culture, clients, and style.

“The firm visits allow students to envision their future work experience by meeting with the peers they would work with, and immersing themselves in the culture of the firm,” said Lizbeth Jones, student services specialist for the MS in Accounting/MBA program.

A visit lasts between two and five hours, including an overview presentation of the firm, a tour of the office, and a meeting with current employees. A tour often ends with dinner and more discussion of various opportunities with each firm, which offers unique access for these possible interns to sit down in a casual environment with key members of the firm.

“(During the tour) I was able to communicate first hand with the staff, and I learned a lot about the company's culture and norms,” said Usman Hamid, MSA/MBA'17, regarding his experience at Grant Thornton.

The MS in Accounting/MBA program is an intensive, dual-degree with 15 months of combined coursework and internship experience that infuses global learning with immersive experiences. Twelve months of the program are spent in the classroom, while the other three months are spent interning at an industry-leading accounting firm. These three months are some of the busiest an accounting intern will experience, working through tax season and gaining a range of experience.

Before they were accepted into the program, every candidate met at least one firm representative during their admission interview who vetted their induction and potential of receiving a job offer when the 15-month program comes to an end. The program is expressly designed to prepare students for working in a top accounting firm, including intensive pre-course work, networking events with associates, and multiple open-forum panels.

Faye Han, MSA/MBA'17, hopes her enrollment in the program will lead to a job role that needs and values both her new business experience and previous scientific background.

“One of my friends was enrolled in the program, and she now works at PwC. She told me to look into it, but at the time, I was living in Cleveland, Ohio, working toward a PhD in chemistry. I like chemistry and data analysis, but I didn't enjoy the lab work that was required. I decided to enroll in the program to learn more about the business field,” said Han.

The students are currently visiting the other five firms, and they will receive their internship offer letters in October.