For Joe DeVries, BS’18, MSA’19, finding his niche at Kelley helped him to excel.
“In high school, I wasn’t an exceptional student. I didn’t love it. But once I started studying business at IUPUI, I found my niche in accounting—and I enjoyed it. It was something I was good at, and something I’ve become passionate about.”
And somewhere Joe could shine. Finding his passion led to a master’s degree in accounting and, ultimately, a full-time auditing internship at Ernst & Young.
“I discovered accounting after taking A100 (Basic Accounting Skills) with professor Diane Sturek. I enjoyed every class session. It was only 12 weeks, and I wished it was longer! Not only did I enjoy it, but I found I was good at it. I enjoyed reading the homework assignments, studying processes and learning how money flows through an organization. I was motivated to study and do well.”
In fact, Joe’s initial plan had been to study finance at IUPUI, but he says it’s the exactness of accounting that drew him to it instead.
“Finance is more about forecasting, and financial accounting is all about what has happened in the past. It’s very factual. I really appreciate that—and I can’t wait to make it the focus of my career.”
Shortly after declaring his accounting major, Joe pursued Kelley’s +1 program, through which he received a bachelor’s degree and a master’s in accounting degree, while also earning the 150 credits needed to sit for the CPA exam.
Joe originally headed to college with an interest in math and law, and he quickly found he preferred the accounting side of law over litigation.
“Coming into college, I loved history and business law, and I also really liked math. These all come together in accounting,” he says. “Financial accounting is like clockwork. Within the mechanics of debits and credits everything balances. Even if you get something wrong, you can figure out where it happened by studying the overall picture. Everything has to work in order for it to even out. I love that about accounting.”
When deciding where to go to college, Joe says he chose the Kelley School at IUPUI because it’s close to his hometown of Lebanon, Ind. and because it’s close to major companies based in downtown Indianapolis, where he could get internships year-round.
“The proximity to accounting firms in Indianapolis is a major draw,” says Joe. “I could work downtown and take classes at night.”
Joe also stays involved in his community and church, where he plays guitar.
Joe plans to take the CPA exam, and to get the 150 credit hours needed to sit for the exam, he enrolled in Kelley’s +1 program.
The program allows him to get a Kelley Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) degree by simply adding one year to his undergraduate studies. In Joe’s case, he’ll finish his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in four years. Furthermore, the MSA’s advanced classes in audit, tax and ethics are specifically designed to help students pass the CPA exam.
He says the +1 program is a better option than earning a 150-credit bachelor’s degree.
“When I first started college, I planned to pick up a couple minors and maybe an extra major so I could get the 150 credits I needed to sit for the CPA exam,” explains Joe. “But when I started the recruiting process for internships and jobs, accounting firms weren’t sure where my interest was—because I’d taken so many different courses. Once I started working toward a master’s in accounting, recruiters were convinced of my focus on accounting, and they knew what my specialization was.”
“They’re also impressed I’m taking more advanced, graduate-level courses, so I’ll be ready for the CPA exam.”
When considering Kelley’s +1 program, Joe says he wanted to make sure he could fit it into his busy schedule with a full-time internship.
“The scheduling was the biggest thing I wanted to consider,” he explains. “But it was easy to fit in the graduate courses, even with a full-time internship. I took classes in the evenings while working during the day, and I prepared for the CPA exam at the same time, instead of taking courses in other subjects.”
“I’m getting to where I want to go faster—essentially saving a year by adding the MSA through the +1 program.”
And there are other “pluses” to the +1 program, Joe adds. For example, he says, those who’ve taken extra credits in other subjects have had to do a lot more work to prepare for the CPA exam. Joe had a head start in the accounting field, where he is pursuing a career in auditing.
“As a new accounting graduate with a master’s degree, I can leverage a higher starting salary. There are more job opportunities because of the MSA. It’s the best way for me to prepare and the best way for me to show recruiters I’m serious about my field—and ready for a career.”