On November 12, 2020, the Student
Accounting Association hosted a Zoom meeting with guest speakers from
three areas of the accounting profession—independent wealth
management, internal auditing, and public accounting. The speakers included Vic
Conrad ’87 (BS, accounting), founder of Pinnacle Financial Strategies; Matthew
McCullough ’15 (BS, accounting), senior internal auditor at Georgetown
University; and Lenore Seifer, director of personal development, at S.R.
SAA president Sarah Crownover led the meeting by asking the
speakers a series of questions about their respective careers, which served as
a great opportunity for students to learn about the various career paths that a
degree in accounting provides.
This is the sixth Zoom SAA meeting held during the
current fall semester, and there will be one more in December. According to SAA
faculty advisor and professor in the Department of Accounting, Kim
Anderson, “At first, I thought replacing the in-person meetings with virtual
meetings would offer few benefits, but I’ve come to appreciate some advantages
of the Zoom format. For one, we can invite speakers from out-of-state, such as
Matt who lives and works in the DC area. We can also more easily hold a
greater number of meetings. In the past, we typically held five meetings per
semester, with four including an outside guest speaker. I think we will continue
to use Zoom for some of our meetings even after the pandemic ends.”
McCullough began the meeting by speaking about his decision
to switch his major from management to accounting, in part due to a guest
speaker from the accounting profession who spoke to his first accounting class.
The professor for this class, Anderson, invited a former student to speak to
the class, and it sparked McCullough’s interest in accounting. McCullough also noticed
all of his friends who were accounting majors were able to get jobs right out
of college, and this was something he definitely wanted.
“I do not have any regrets about switching my major to accounting.
I consider it to be one of the best decisions that I've ever made,” McCullough
said. After college, McCullough worked for a public accounting firm,
where he enjoyed getting to work with his team. In his current job in internal
audit at Georgetown University, McCullough said that there is a different
environment as compared to his old job, and that he enjoys the diversity that this
new position offers.
Seifer spoke next and offered advice about interviewing. Seifer
said students should prepare for their interviews by making sure they have a
solid understanding of the company’s background. She stressed that students should arrive on time for their interviews and should have two or
three questions prepared to ask at the end of their interview. To be a more
competitive candidate for the job, Seifer said students should focus on
building their leadership skills in college by becoming involved with campus
organizations. Seifer believes that being able to demonstrate these leadership
skills matters more than academic grades.
Conrad concluded the discussion by describing his
experience in the accounting industry. After graduating from IUP in 1987, he
worked as an auditor for a large international public accounting firm for four
years followed by three years at PNC Bank in internal audit. He then moved into
the area of independent wealth management, where he has over 25 years of
experience, including almost 16 years with his own firm, Pinnacle Financial
Strategies. Conrad said that people who have an accounting degree have a wide
range of skills. Throughout his time in audit, Conrad said he gained stronger
critical thinking and organizational skills. Conrad emphasized that most
companies want to know you have the ability to learn new information, and an
accounting degree proves that you are capable of learning.
At the end, the speakers offered advice to the students
who were at the meeting. They encouraged students to obtain their CPA license,
become involved on campus, network, and find mentors who will help along the
The final SAA meeting of the semester will take place on
December 2 at 5:00 p.m. with IUP accounting alumnus Charles
Oshurak ’99 (BS, accounting), who is a partner at Arnett Carbis Toothman, a
public accounting firm in Pittsburgh.
Eberly College of Business and Information Technology