Accounting Students Network Virtually with Professionals at EY

As Syracuse University students, faculty and staff have moved to online learning and remote work, many have found ways to use virtual tools to their advantage. With the help of technology and the importance of networking opportunities at the Martin J. Whitman School of Management, professionals have taken it upon themselves to ask, “How can we continue to engage with students while they are off-campus?”

MaryAnn Monforte, professor of accounting practice, developed the ACC Stars Program a few years ago. With campus recruiters, she organizes events with Big Four professionals, as well as other individuals who have started their careers in the accounting field, for her current and former students to introduce networking opportunities for career exploration. 

“For students, it’s all about being in front of people—helping them to know what a career is really like,” Monforte explains. “I thought the program was over for the rest of the semester, but then EY reached out and was willing to create an event.”

EY, like many firms, had planned on hosting on-campus events this past semester. Despite the circumstances, EY campus recruiters decided to continue connecting with students by creating a virtual social hour, which included a panel of Syracuse alumni who have been working at the firm, along with a partner, Mike Cyran.

“It was wonderful to see all these students, the panelists, recruiters and a partner from home,” says Monforte. “I’m so grateful for this opportunity. It’s awesome to see students get excited about careers in business.”

Syracuse’s campus recruiters, Caitlin Gallant and Renee Morrison, organized the event via a Zoom call.

“We are just trying to make sure we remain present on campus although we cannot be there physically,” says Morrison. “It was so great seeing students! The partnership between Syracuse University and EY is one that we have been able to continue to build during our ‘new normal.’

“Since this was my first virtual event, I was not sure how successful it would be,” Morrison continues. “Nevertheless, students were so engaged! They asked various questions and shared how they are adjusting to virtual learning.” 

Students asked most of the questions for the panel, along with pre-composed questions such as, “What were you involved in at Syracuse that helped you in your professional career?” and “What would be some advice you’d give to your first-year/sophomore self?”

The professionals advised students to continually strengthen Excel skills, as well as keep important notes.

Over 30 students were able to attend the event, most of which were first-year and sophomores who have not yet declared a major and are eager to learn about potential career opportunities.

“When I first started at Whitman, I’m pretty sure that accounting was the last career path I wanted to pursue. However, Professor Monforte made me enjoy it,” Clarke Johnson ’23, one of the student participants, reflects.

“The individuals at EY took that enjoyment one step further, telling us about the team dynamic and support network that becomes a lot like your family. This really opened my eyes to what it’s like to be an accountant, and heightened my interest in possibly pursuing an accounting degree.” 

Spencer McGowan ’23, another student attendee, says that the event was extremely informative. “After participating in the discussion and hearing about EY, I can definitely see myself as an accounting major,” he shares.

The event proved to be quite successful, as panelists showed enthusiasm in continuing to connect virtually. “Professionals are true partners with our business school. They are always willing to give our students time and go above and beyond because they value the quality of the students Whitman has,” Monforte explains. “They love getting to our students early on—we all want you to succeed!”

Learn more about the ACC Stars program.

Julia Fiedler
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