By Mackenzie Burckbuchler
As Emily O’Dell, Vanderbilt Master of Accountancy Director, says, “Accounting is the language of business, and if you are interested in business, accounting can be the best place to start.” The Master of Accounting (MAcc) degree has helped generations of aspiring business professionals jumpstart their careers through public accounting, an integral industry within the business world. So what does it take to excel as a MAcc student? We spoke with O’Dell to find out.
What do all MAcc students have in common?
Along with their shared interest in accounting, MAcc students exhibit a high level of professionalism. If you have good communication and interpersonal skills, you may be a good fit for a MAcc program. “MAcc students have an ability to work on teams and make decisions. They work with integrity and are ambitious because of their commitment to pursue a career in public accounting,” says O’Dell. Given the program’s fast pace, students need to have strong organizational skills and value the art of time management. By understanding your own working style, you can prepare yourself for the demands of the program. If you structure your time wisely in undergrad, you can use those skills to do well in a MAcc program as well, even if the demands will be slightly different in a graduate-level program.
Will previous work experience help me excel as a MAcc student?
MAcc students spend a lot of time building a foundation of accounting knowledge, they also focus on developing their professional skills throughout the program. Previous work or internship experience may not be required for certain MAcc programs, but work experience will help you understand how the business world functions. Prior experience will enrich your experience and help you maximize the value you derive from the program.
The abilities to network and lead also help students excel. “Accounting is a people business, so sales and marketing skills are vital. Professional presence is important,” says O’Dell. During the duration of a MAcc program, you will work on these skills, so come in with an open mind and willing to work on your professionalism.
What career goals do MAcc students generally have?
All MAcc students have an interest in business careers. MAcc programs prepare students for the CPA exam, a credential that will be vital throughout your business career. “Earning a CPA gives you a solid business foundation and shows that you are a leader with expertise in the business world” says O’Dell. With a MAcc degree, you will begin your career in public accounting, which offers a number of career growth opportunities. As your career in public accounting progresses, the skills you learned in a MAcc program, along with the CPA credential, will allow you to pivot and pursue other career paths and job titles.