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By Rob Stussie

Rob Stussie graduated with his undergraduate accounting degree in May 2012, and completed his master’s in 2013.

At first, starting my Masters of Accounting (MAcc) the semester after graduating with my bachelor’s degree did not seem ideal. While my friends with other majors started their jobs and moved away to new cities, I was in for another year at Eller. This is actually very typical for accounting majors as we need 150 units to sit for the CPA exam, so the majority of my undergrad class went right along with me to our master’s program. This definitely made the situation a lot better as we were all in it together.

Rob Stussie

Rob Stussie

My MAcc experience turned out to be an excellent one. Along with taking classes from top-notch faculty, I was given the opportunity to serve as the student coordinator of the Accounting Department’s other master’s program, the Master of Science – Accounting emphasis (MSA) Program. The MSA program was in its infancy and I helped welcome the first incoming class in Fall 2012. The MSA Program differed from the MAcc as it was tailored to non-traditional accounting students, most of whom did not have accounting undergraduate degrees. Throughout the year, I helped the students plan their course schedules, prepare for recruiting events and ultimately land jobs. At the same time, I worked with applicants for upcoming semesters to make their transitions to Eller as seamless as possible. The role was truly rewarding and a great opportunity to meet and work closely with faculty in the Accounting Department.

Graduation day came far too quickly, I wasn’t ready to leave Eller quite yet. For the past two summers I had participated in the Business Careers Awareness Program (BCAP) as a resident assistant, and Summer 2013 would be my third and final summer as an RA. BCAP is a weeklong program sponsored by Ernst & Young, a major public accounting firm, and run by accounting professors Katie Maxwell and Leslie Eldenburg. The program targets underprivileged high school juniors from diverse backgrounds and aims to open up their minds to college and a career in business. I was sad this would be my last summer participating in the program, but excited as I knew watching the kids grow over the course of the week would be as rewarding as it had been the first two summers.

The 2013 program didn’t disappoint, as we had 30 students from over 20 Arizona high schools and the most ethnically diverse class in the program’s history. Over the course of the week, the students grew steadily as they attended accounting, marketing, business writing and entrepreneurship classes. The students also took a trip up to the Ernst & Young Phoenix office where they met with business professionals and participated in team building activities. Throughout the week, the students worked in teams of three mentored five other RA’s and I to engineer a business pitch. As always, the program culminated in the “new business venture” case competition where the students demonstrated their knowledge to their parents and a handful of judges from Ernst & Young. The winning team walked away with $1,500 in UA book scholarships and a newfound interest in the business field.  Once again the program was a success, and while my role as an RA was now over, I’m happy to say I will continue my involvement as I’ll be working at Ernst & Young starting in the Fall.

This left room for one last Eller experience and that came in the form of teaching a summer class.  I was given the opportunity to teach Intermediate Accounting II (ACCT 400B) during the second summer session. I was thrilled to have the chance to teach a summer course but surprised at the amount of work that went into prepping the accelerated lectures. Luckily, the work was worth it as teaching was rewarding in many ways. Working with the students on a day to day basis really gave me the opportunity to look at accounting through a different viewpoint. I would recommend taking an opportunity to teach a class to anyone as I truly believe you cannot fully understand a subject until you are able to teach it to someone else. The course was challenging for students and for me as a teacher but we got through it together and I grew a lot as a result.

Working with the MSA students, participating in the BCAP Program, and teaching my first class were all amazing experiences that taught me a great deal. The MSA and BCAP programs taught me how rewarding it is to work with people from different backgrounds and this will translate well to my career where I’ll constantly work with different teams as an external auditor. Teaching a class taught me that you can never stop learning and I look forward to continue to expand my knowledge with Ernst & Young.

My Eller experience has been a great one and my advice to other Eller students would be to take every opportunity that’s given to you as you can only continue to grow by expanding your horizons.

Top photo of BCAP students courtesy of the Department of Accounting.