Collin Chubbfertal ’21 was not planning on a major in accounting and didn’t know until his first accounting class that he even liked it. Now, he says choosing it was one of the best decisions of his life.
“What I realize now, after being in the program for four years, is that with hard work — and I mean hard work — the professors teach you all of the essential skills you need to be successful,” he says. “Learning from [members of] a very experienced department, I can say they have shaped me to be a better accountant and overall person. And I have benefitted from the commitment of my classmates, who work every day to be the best they can be and push me to be the best I can be.”
Professor Renee Hall, chair of the accounting program, agrees that students work hard. “As an accounting major, students will discover they can work harder than they ever thought possible,” she says. “Accounting changes the way your brain works. It requires deep understanding of economic events and transactions, precision with numbers and language, and an ability to work fast.”
Hall says that, in addition to the effort needed in the major, Redlands’ accounting students are strongly encouraged to complete the requirements needed to become a certified public accountant (CPA). Coursework for the major lays the groundwork for passing the national uniform CPA exam, and graduates have taken the specific courses and earned the 150 credits required to be licensed in the State of California.
“CPAs earn more than accountants and have more career opportunities available to them,” Hall says. Many recent graduates spend their first summer studying for and taking at least a section or two of the CPA exam. They start to work at an accounting firm in the fall and quickly meet all three requirements for licensure.”
Professional development and fun
Supporting accounting majors during their time at the U of R is the Redlands Accounting Society (RAS), a student-led organization that hosts events designed to prepare students to be professionals.
“RAS brings professionals to campus to make presentations on career paths, conduct Q&As about their firms, help students with resumes, and conduct mock interviews,” says Hall. “Accounting faculty and student members of the Redlands Accounting Society work with sophomores and juniors to polish resumes, cover letters, and approaches to questions likely to be asked during accounting interviews.”
RAS also hosts events that are almost purely for fun, including a welcome back to alumni during Homecoming, a December holiday party, and a celebration at the end of the academic year.
“The fun is as important as the skills, because CPAs don’t just work with numbers—they work with people,” Hall says.
Many job opportunities
More than 90 percent of graduates are placed in full-time jobs before they graduate or during the summer following graduation. The program has been named #9 Best Undergraduate Accounting Program in California by College Factual 2020 and #10 Best Accounting Schools in California by Best Value Schools 2021.
Students who know they have an interest in accounting can start in sophomore year to pave the path toward a job, Hall says. “The larger firms sponsor summer leadership programs that provide students an opportunity to learn about a career in accounting and network with professionals while professionals get an early look at prospective hires.”
Chubbfertal says he applied for many different internships and was overwhelmed by the amount of attention from each. “The hardest part was choosing the firm that felt right for me and that I could see a future in their company. The interview process can be intimidating but with the help of my professors and experienced accounting majors, I was well prepared. I completed my summer internship over the summer of my junior year and was offered a full-time position.”
Chubbfertal says an unexpected benefit of the program is the lifetime connections he has made with Redlands alumni. “They have gone above and beyond to help me navigate the process.”
“The accounting program has a long history of faculty and alumni who care passionately about the success of students and the program,” Hall says, “and students get help securing their professional start. Faculty follow up with students, not only about coursework, but also about the job search process. We know at all times who has secured an internship, who has signed a full-time job contract, who is still looking and what they are looking for.”
The department stays in contact with an extensive network of Redlands accounting alumni who connect when they know about position openings, and that information is passed along to the students—and recent graduates—who are still looking. Alumni who need to change jobs a year or two after graduation can tap back into the network for help moving forward.
“Our alumni are loyal and enjoy helping current students with guidance or introductions to other accounting professionals,” says Hall.
Learn more about the accounting program at the University of Redlands.