The power of STEM | News at Poole College

By Eliana Chow

When she was an accounting student at Poole College of Management, Shayista Syed ’19, MAC ’20, remembers hearing Jenkins MAC students speak highly of their instructors. “In and out of the classroom, I’ve heard countless examples of how these faculty members have gone above and beyond to prepare students for the real world,” Syed says. “These stories came true time and time again when I became a student at MAC.”

A conscious choice

The Jenkins MAC program in Poole ticked every box on Syed’s list of characteristics for his dream school. First, the affordable accelerated degree would give her a head start on her career and on her path to CPA certification and work experience. She was also drawn to Poole’s strong track record as a diverse program. “Poole’s focus on inclusion and belonging was one of the biggest deciding factors for me,” says Syed, who grew up in India. “I knew I would learn a lot from others in addition to finding my place on campus.”

Throughout his time at Poole, Syed took full advantage of the wide range of courses offered to MAC students. From management accounting to tax law, the quantitative nature of the discipline appealed to her most, but she also looked to the teamwork environment fostered in Poole’s classrooms. “Classes can be a steep learning curve at first,” she says, “but the teachers push you beyond your comfort zone to help you achieve what you are capable of.”

Kelly Hardy and the Office of Career Services were also instrumental in helping Syed discover her own unique interests as she began to scan the horizon for post-college opportunities. Whether networking on campus at events like Meet the Firms or road tripping to Charlotte for lunches with senior associates, Syed has gained insight into the world of public accounting. “Without Kelly’s support and the guidance of my teachers, I would have entered the workforce completely blind,” Syed acknowledges. “Having their support every step of the way has been an invaluable resource for me during this transition from college to full-time work.”

The power of STEM

When Syed started grad school in 2019, the Jenkins MAC was considered a paper-based, non-STEM degree. As an international student, Syed’s F1-OPT visa only allowed her to work in the United States with a non-STEM degree for only one year after graduation. Along with this reality came the heavy burden of uncertainty during recruiting season. “Most companies aren’t willing to hire fresh graduates, especially international students, if they know you’ll have to leave after a year,” says Syed.

But as time would have it, the MAC program gained an official STEM designation in 2021. Within months, Syed’s career prospects took a 180-degree turn and she landed a job as a public accountant at RSM, a mid-market audit firm. . With an official STEM degree, Syed has the freedom to work in the United States for over a year without her visa status changing. “I am very grateful for the work of our CMA Director, Dr. Scott Showalter and others who made this possible,” says Syed. “I wouldn’t have found long-term work in US accounting firms without this new title.”

Share the fun of accounting

After a year in public accounting, Syed moved to a small business in the construction industry, where she now works as an accountant. Along with his pursuit of a healthier work-life balance, Syed cites the focused nature of the industry as a major motivator for change. “In public accounting, you work with multiple industries at once, and that variety attracts many others to the field,” she says. “Personally, I wanted to learn more about the industry and improve myself by working with one company for an extended period of time.”

While she dreams of a career spent traveling and helping clients achieve their financial goals, Syed is also service-minded. In the future, she hopes to start an educational institution to teach underserved communities the value of accounting. “My Poole teachers’ passion for accountancy is contagious,” she says. “I want to bring that same joy to historically marginalized groups in the United States and around the world. Thanks to the foundations laid in Poole, I can follow in the footsteps of teachers who have become some of my greatest role models.

This post was originally posted on the MAC program.

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