IC accounting students Graduate READY for work
In her last semester at Illinois College, Katie Conklin ’20 is prepared to Graduate READY. She’s so prepared, she has her own office.
“I have it all decorated and everything,” she said with a laugh. “Every week I talk to clients and I have to keep up with them — email communication, call them, manage their accounts. I'm going to be doing the same thing when I go full time."
As an accounting major, Conklin knew early on that she would need an internship. The Illinois College accounting program requires students to get the hands-on learning outside of the classroom that will help prepare them for careers and help them network with prospective employers. Conklin held two internships during her sophomore year and found the second internship was a better fit for her professional goals. She has been with Cowan, Epperson & Associates since — and she will graduate early.
"I interned that spring semester during tax season and then they asked me to come back in the summer and then come back again in the fall and now again in the spring,” she recalled. “It was my one-year anniversary with the firm a couple of days ago."
An Illinois College accounting degree prepares students for the CPA exam and gives them the skills they need to analyze data, solve problems, think critically and communicate financial information. The College also recently launched an online accounting program to give students flexibility, while still learning from IC’s experienced faculty, who have a track record of successfully preparing students to pursue careers in accounting.
Nearly all graduates of the program have stayed in touch with IC and reported being employed in an accounting-related field or going on to pursue an advanced degree full time within six months of graduation. Recent accounting alumni can be found at some of the top companies in the country, such as Sikich LLP, ADM and State Farm. Jacksonville CPA firm Zumbahlen, Eyth, Surratt, Foote & Flynn, Ltd. also employs many IC graduates. John Rush, associate professor of accounting and chair of the department, said many students go on to work on a master’s degree part time, as well.
When Kristan Shaffer ’20 graduated in December, she was already working part time at the Horace Mann where she would become a full-time tax accountant. Shaffer interviewed for the position in September and received the job offer while she was finishing her last semester at IC. She said her faculty advisor helped her to find internships and encouraged her to get a variety of experience, which prepared her for a full-time job.
"John Rush was my advisor and he was able to give me advice on things I should do — tell me when I needed to be doing things like applying for jobs,” she said. “He actually is the one who pushed me more to apply for an internship that really made me a shoe-in for the position I'm in now."
Conklin said her accounting professors at IC really care about their students, from checking up on issues students are facing in their personal lives to encouraging them to take the steps they need to prepare for their careers and life after college.
“All of my classes this past year have really focused on getting a job after graduation,” she said. “You're not here just to get your degree. You're here to go on, go to grad school, get a job, start being productive in life. I like that they really encourage that, because I'm not paying all this money just for fun. The end goal is to have a job and a career in my industry."
“All of my classes this past year have really focused on getting a job after graduation. You're not here just to get your degree. You're here to go on, go to grad school, get a job, start being productive in life. I like that they really encourage that, because I'm not paying all this money just for fun. The end goal is to have a job and a career in my industry."