Madelyn Heron, BS’21, MSA’22, has known for years that she wanted to pursue an accounting career. But as she completed an undergraduate internship in tax, she realized how much more she wanted to learn about this field.
“I had a basic understanding of tax, but it’s not until you get into the fine details that you realize how much you don’t know,” said Madelyn. “I was looking for a way to progress my tax knowledge before starting a job, and a graduate certificate in tax seemed like a great way to advance my potential career opportunities.”
With plans to earn a +1 Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) from the Graduate Accounting Programs at the Kelley School of Business in Indianapolis, Madelyn was able to earn 12 credits through the Graduate Certificate in Taxation during her senior year of undergraduate studies. This left only 18 additional credits to complete the +1 MSA. Plus, the graduate certificate provided credits toward the 150 required to sit for the certified public accountant (CPA) exam. She says the Graduate Certificate in Taxation helped launch her into the graduate accounting program with a deeper depth of knowledge in tax.
“Earning the graduate certificate while also starting the +1 MSA gives me credibility that signals to an employer that I’m interested in accounting, but also fluent in tax topics that can help my client or firm,” said Madelyn. “These stepping stones into accounting help you figure out where your interests lie and where you need to learn more. The addition of a tax certification provides more leverage when applying for your first—and even second—job.”
These stepping stones into accounting help you figure out where your interests lie and where you need to learn more. The addition of a tax certification provides more leverage when applying for your first—and even second—job.”
Madelyn earned a Fellowship awarded to MSA+1 students who enter the program with an accounting undergraduate degree and a GPA of 3.2 or higher (with larger amounts awarded based on GPA.) While the temptation to graduate with an undergraduate degree and begin a career is attractive—especially after a senior year spent learning remotely during a pandemic—Madelyn says the opportunities available after earning a Kelley +1 MSA outweighed the lure of getting to work.
“Sometimes students are so eager to get out of school that they don’t reach out to learn more from professors about how to maneuver in the job market,” she said. “The +1 MSA is only an extra year added to your bachelor’s degree, and if you start thinking about it and planning early, it’s a really smooth transition.”
As an accounting student, Madelyn always had the CPA exam in her sights. She says the graduate tax coursework complemented her CPA exam studies directly.
“I’ve found it particularly helpful to study for the CPA exam while taking these graduate classes because the lessons run parallel. I’m taking an audit course that mirrors some of the CPA exam topics I’m studying, and I’ll take the exam a few days before graduation,” she said. “Not only do you get exposure in the coursework, but anything you don’t understand in class can be supplemented while studying for the CPA exam.”
Sometimes students are so eager to get out of school that they don’t reach out to learn more from professors about how to maneuver in the job market.”
Madelyn added to her studies as a research assistant for Kelley School accounting professors at IUPUI. She says this work not only put her coursework into perspective, but it also provided a wider look at the use of accounting in real time.
“Research lets you look behind the scenes of what you’ve learned in class and how it’s applied in practice. Through this work, I’ve been able to continue my exploration of tax, which spurred a lot of conversations with faculty about the work,” she said. “Overall, it’s solidified my interest in accounting and tax, and I learned how research papers are made and how data is collected. It was truly a great experience.”
After interning at EY, Madelyn accepted a full-time offer as a staff accountant, which she will begin as she completes the Kelley +1 MSA in 2022. As she prepares to graduate with her bachelor’s and head into the last year of the +1 MSA Program, Madelyn is shaping her master’s degree to fit her interests and future career.
“What’s nice about the Kelley +1 MSA is that it’s customizable: You take required classes, and then, it’s up to you. If you like audit, you can take more audit classes; if you enjoy tax, there are tax courses as well as studies in real estate and finance,” she said. “The +1 MSA gave me the opportunity to choose my path through tax and accounting while gaining a well-rounded education.”