How one MAcc’16 alum realized she didn’t want to go to law school — and that valuation for the entertainment industry was the perfect fit for her

Leah Robinson (MAcc’16) always planned on a career in the music and entertainment industry. While she appreciated the creative side — she played the piano and participated in choir in high school — she decided in college that she wanted to work on the business side instead.

Originally, Robinson was “100% sure” she would pursue a career in entertainment law, and she started applying to law schools while wrapping up her senior year at the University of Delaware. Moving through the law school application process, however, she increasingly realized that she didn’t want to practice law after all.

Leah Robinson, MAcc ’16

Robinson had already applied to Vanderbilt Law School when she received an email from the Master of Accountancy program at Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management. She researched the program online and contacted admissions to get more information.

“I was like, (the MAcc program) is so much of a better fit for me, what I’m good at, my undergrad major, everything I want to go into,” Robinson recalled.

She quickly took the GMAT and switched her track from law school to business school. Even as her plans for graduate school changed, her passion for the entertainment industry never wavered.

“When I came into Owen, I was very clear that I always wanted to work in the entertainment industry, and that I would do anything to get there,” she said.

I was very clear that I always wanted to work in the entertainment industry, and that I would do anything to get there. -Leah Robinson

Preparing for the Next Step

Robinson was drawn to the valuation track at the MAcc program, which provided a mixture of accounting and finance that fit well with her undergraduate major in economics. The valuation track also allowed her to use many of the logical and analytical skills that originally made her interested her in law school.

“It’s a lot of hard facts, but you also have to make assumptions and think logically, which is kind of what drew me to law school in the first place,” she said.

The MAcc program also taught Robinson how to network with recruiters and prepare for interviews. Since Robinson hadn’t had a full-time internship before, the career coaching “completely changed” how she networked and interviewed.

“The draw of the MAcc program at Vanderbilt was the interview prep, the close personal relationships that you get with the Big 4 recruiters and the partners,” she said. “I don’t think any other program has anything like that. I made a completely informed decision about where I was going to do my internship and eventually work.”

Launching Her Career

Robinson secured her Mod III internship at Ernst & Young (EY) in the valuation department for the entertainment and media group. EY doesn’t usually have winter valuation interns, but Robinson had networked beforehand with an audit partner who thought she would be a great fit for the team. He helped her secure a winter internship in the valuation department, the only one that season.

“They didn’t treat me like an intern. I was full staff, doing work for not just staff ones and twos but seniors and managers. I learned so much,” she said.

Robinson’s hard work paid off: the internship led to a job offer, and she started full time in EY’s NYC offices after graduating in May 2016. She worked on a variety of clients, providing audit assistance and pure valuation work.

They didn’t treat me like an intern. I was full staff, doing work for…seniors and managers.

Moving to the Client Side

After nine months, Robinson began contemplating a move to the client side. She hadn’t planned to make the transition from EY so soon, but a great opportunity presented itself: a financial analyst role at Warner Music Group’s headquarters in NYC.

Understandably, Robinson was a bit hesitant about making the switch so soon. She reached out to fellow MAcc alumni who had the made the move from the Big 4 firms to the client side themselves.

“I talked to a few students who had made the move, or who wanted to make the move. Everyone (said) ‘it’s a good move, it’s a good path.’ That really helped me feel comfortable making the decision to move from EY to Warner,” she said.

Robinson accepted the financial analyst position and started this May. She said the Vanderbilt name and the MAcc program helped her secure the new job, despite being less than a year out of school.

“It usually requires three years of experience for this job, but (they hired me) because of my background, because of the Vanderbilt name and the MAcc name, and then I had that Big 4 experience, along with my CPA,” she said.

Valuation at an entertainment company wasn’t her original plan, but Robinson greatly enjoys her work and appreciates how the MAcc program launched her career — all thanks to a single email.

“I would suggest (the MAcc program) to anybody, especially people like me who didn’t know what to do,” she said. “I knew I didn’t want to go to law school and I kind of stumbled across this program, and it really opened so many doors.”

It usually requires three years of experience for this job, but (they hired me)…because of the Vanderbilt name and the MAcc name.