Skip to Main Site Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Footer
Back To Top

A Love of Numbers

Published on October 05, 2023

A Love of Numbers

Accounting students explore career prospects at 19th annual fair

state accountants booth
Accounting alumni Jaimey Makie '92, '10 and Leslie Thibodeau '23 promote The Auditors of Public Accounts, along with with principal auditor Walter Felgate (center), to students at the 19th Annual Accounting Career Fair.

The common denominator at the 19th Annual Accounting Career Fair at Eastern Connecticut State University was a love of numbers.

“I like numbers. I like to think with figures,” said Enmanuel Acosta, a sophomore accounting major from Cromwell who was visiting company booths at the Sept. 28 fair. 

Sylvia Liang, a senior accounting major from Preston who was looking for an internship, echoed that sentiment. “I really like numbers. In high school I took an accounting class — I was really interested in the financial statements,” she said.

The employers on hand, many of them Eastern graduates, agreed. Katherine Patnaude ’10, a partner with PKF O’Connor Davies in Wethersfield, began her college career as a music major at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. But when she realized that a music career was not for her, she took an accounting course and “fell into it,” finishing her degree at Eastern.  “I love this,” she said of accounting.

“I’ve always been good with numbers,” said Ian Kim, a part-time Eastern student who is in between his junior and senior years. He works contract jobs or does temporary work as he studies toward his degree. He’s interested in auditing because he likes to explain things to people.

Katherine Patnaude '10, foreground, and Kayleigh Donnellan represented PKF O'Connor Davies at a career fair booth.

Bernardo Lowe, left, of Travelers, speaks with sophomore accounting major Enmanuel Acosta.

Students looked for internships and future jobs at the accounting fair.

Terrell Flint, a senior accounting major from Stafford Springs, likewise said he also enjoys interacting with clients. He was pleased to discover that accounting was about more than just numbers.

Public speaking and report-writing skills are important for young accountants to master, especially if they want to be on a company’s partner track, said Carolyn S. Kurth ’97, a director at Cohn Reznick in Harford. Besides analyzing data, accountants need to make presentations to audit committees, for example. Developing an executive presence early in their career is important, she said.

“We’re all geeks and spend too much time behind computers,” she joked.

But that basic knowledge of numbers pays off, students pointed out — it’s possible to go from accounting to finance in your career, but not vice versa, they said. Most CEOs have an accounting background, said Tehya Cerase, a senior accounting major who was looking for winter and spring internships. She added, however, “I’m just aiming for CPA right now.”

Most of the employers at the fair boasted those important initials (certified public accountant) next to their names. Walter Felgate, CPA and principal auditor with The Auditors of Public Accounts (the Connecticut state auditors), said his office hired 30 new accountants last year — a high mark, due to retirements.

“We’ve been very successful hiring Eastern graduates,” he said. “It’s the caliber of their education — they have a solid background in the fundamentals of accounting.” Felgate, who is on the accounting advisory board at Eastern, brought with him to the fair co-workers Jaimey Makie ’92, ’10 and Leslie Thibodeau, a May 2023 graduate who is now an audit trainee. Both women said an accounting career appealed to them not just for their love of numbers, but as mothers of young children. 

“I really enjoyed the principles (of accounting) class — it was difficult, but it really piqued my interest,” said Daniel Galliher, a sophomore accounting major who was at the fair looking for a summer internship, having already lined one up for spring. He hopes to land a job at a public accounting firm and work for about 10 years, then start his own accounting business. He’s looking for job security and flexibility.

Job security is high on the list of what most students want, said Kayleigh Donnellan, a recruiter with PKF O’Connor Davies. “It shows up on surveys,” she said.

student at accounting fair
Jack Soto, a senior accounting major

Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), one of the largest accounting firms in the world, promoted its practice of remote work. One PwC representative said she traveled throughout the New England states before COVID. Since COVID all work has been remote, she noted.

Competitive pay and an environment where employees can learn is also important, said Felgate. Work-life balance also matters, he said, promoting the state accounting office’s 40-hour work weeks. Some of the big firms have 60- or 70-hour work weeks during tax season, he said. When salaries are broken down by hours worked, the state is quite competitive, he said.

Pay was on the mind of Jack Soto, a senior accounting major from Ellington. “I’m just looking to make enough to be comfortable,” he said. And, to build a nest egg toward his long-term goal —  to be an actor. He now records audio books and voices for animations.

Drew Kelley, a second-year accounting major from Waterford, was looking ahead toward landing a job after he graduates. “I really like math — I think it would be interesting to see the transactions,” he said.

Mohd RuJoub, professor of accounting and co-chair of the Department of Accounting and Business Information Systems, said the 19th annual fair featured 22 firms, including two of the Big 4 accounting firms: PwC and Ernst & Young.

In total, 30 representatives met with students to discuss internships and job opportunities, nearly 25 of whom are Eastern graduates.

“We are grateful for those employers for their genuine support and confidence in our students and program and for giving our students the opportunity to serve and compete for the positions available at their organizations,” he said. “Their support has enabled us to help most of our students get hired way before they graduate.”

#WarriorsGive - Make a gift in support of students, scholarships or other high impact practices at Eastern!

Written by Lucinda Weiss