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Top of the Class: MAC Fellows Gain Exposure, Confidence

This article was originally posted on Jan. 29, 2020, on the MAC Student Life Blog.

Each year, the Poole College of Management Jenkins Graduate School receives hundreds of applications to the Master of Accounting program. Top students are identified and offered the opportunity to receive one of the program’s prestigious merit-based MAC Fellowships.

The MAC Fellowship program is made possible through a partnership between sponsoring CPA firms, the NC State Graduate School and the Poole College of Management’s Department of Accounting and is offered to on-campus MAC students. Recipients of MAC fellowships are selected based on their scholarship, leadership, service, experience, presence and integrity.

A MAC fellowship may provide recipients financial support for educational expenses, or even an offer of employment upon graduation through the program’s firm-sponsored fellowship option.

The MAC Fellowship program awarded fellowships to 12 students in the class of 2020. 

Let’s meet a few…

Devon Parker

Hometown: Fayetteville, NC
Undergraduate: NC State University

A jack-of-all-trades, Devon Parker had a non-traditional path into the world of accounting.

He started as an undergraduate at NC State with plans for a career in the medical or dental field. He decided on a degree in agricultural business management with a concentration in biological sciences. He spent the summer after his freshman year taking the real estate exam, and the summer after his sophomore year earning his general contractor’s license – just because he figured it would be good practice. However, it was Parker’s one required accounting course that gave him pause.

“Honestly, I didn’t enjoy the sciences courses as much as I thought I would, but instead, for some reason, I fell in love with accounting,” Parker laughs. “I was that nerd who read every page of the textbook. I’ve heard some people say that with accounting, you either get it or you don’t. For me, it just clicked.”

So during his junior year, Parker was at a crossroads. On track to graduate on time with his agricultural business degree, he met with the Poole College Department of Accounting to explore what the process would be to transition to a major in accounting.

“I learned that I could essentially spend an extra year to double major in accounting, or I could add an accounting minor in order to get some prerequisites out of the way and add an extra year after undergraduate school to get my MAC,” Parker says. “I had to work hard to get into some of those pre-req courses that were reserved for accounting majors, but the faculty and staff at Poole really worked with me.”

In February 2019, after being accepted into the Jenkins MAC, Parker received notification that he was invited to be a candidate for the MAC Fellowship Program. He polished his resume and worked on his interview skills with Kelly Hardy, PHR, MAC’s associate director of student programs and career services in advance of his networking and interviews with the MAC Fellow sponsoring firms. “Kelly did a great job reminding us that all these firms are great to launch a career, so it will boil down to which people and culture fit us best.”

For Parker, that was Cherry Bekaert. “It never felt like I was in an interview. April, the firm’s recruiter, looked at my resume and saw my experience – from my real estate license to the ag degree and was like, ‘What in the world is going on with this resume?’ We just clicked,” Parker recalls.

He’ll have a position waiting for him at Cherry Bekaert in January 2021.

“They’re even listing my title as staff accountant,” he says. “Because while I plan to start with the tax side of their business, I told them there’s a chance I might want to switch to auditing.” 

Randawanique Coakley

Hometown: Nassau, Bahamas
Undergraduate: Saint Leo University

When it came to Randawanique Coakley, it didn’t take much to draw the attention of the Jenkins MAC Program admissions team. After all, it’s not every day they come across the resume of a student who passed all four parts of their CPA exam before they set foot in their master’s program.

But for Coakley, it was just another challenge she wanted to tackle. In high school, she wanted to be a biology teacher – but that was before she found herself drawn to the world of accounting. She moved from the Bahamas to central Florida to attend Saint Leo University. A double major in accounting and economics, Coakley spent three summers interning at Deloitte.

“I interned in the auditing department, and learned I really enjoy risk advisory work,” Coakley says.

A Saint Leo accounting professor encouraged Coakley to apply for the Jenkins MAC Fellowship Program, where she was named one of the 2020 MAC Academic Fellows.

“When we talk about a student who is doing everything she can possibly do to position herself for a bright future, that’s Randwanique. She’s exceptionally bright,” says Kelly Hardy, PHR, MAC’s associate director of student programs and career services.

Coakley, who has maintained a 4.0 GPA during the MAC program, will graduate in May 2020. She credits the program with providing valuable real-world experience that will prepare her for her accounting career. “I’ve been able to network with accounting firms, work collaboratively on group projects and practice my presentation skills,” she says. “Best of all, the Career Services group has been so helpful in helping me, as an international student, navigate the process of finding a company to sponsor me through a work Visa after graduation.”

Julian Drew

Hometown: Raleigh, NC
Undergraduate: Randolph Macon College

Julian Drew spent his undergraduate years playing football for Randolph Macon College and finding accounting internships to boost his resume during the summers. A successful student-athlete, Drew’s desire to attract the attention of larger accounting firms led him to Jenkins Graduate School of Management.

“I had summer internships with Wake Med Hospital, Myers and Stauffer, and Keiter – and all of them gave me great experience,” Drew shares. “But coming from a smaller college, it was hard to get in front of those large firms.”

Drew, who majored in accounting and minored in economics, applied for the MAC Fellowship program and quickly connected with Andrea Young, MAC’s associate director, and Kelly Hardy, PHR, MAC’s associate director of student programs and career services. The two prepared Drew for his rounds of interviews with firms who participate in the MAC firm-sponsored Fellowship Program.

“Julian was a really strong applicant. He was a college athlete, Eagle Scout and held various accounting internships. That’s rare,” remembers Hardy. “So we weren’t surprised that when he went through Fellowship interview process, he ended up with multiple offers from different firms.”

Drew accepted a MAC Fellowship offer sponsored by Ernst & Young (EY). After he graduates with his master of accounting in May and finishes his CPA examinations this summer, he’ll join EY’s auditing group in their Raleigh office.

“The MAC Fellowship gave me opportunities I just wouldn’t have had otherwise,” Drew says. “To have a group help me work on my interview skills, pitch myself and then sit in front of those firms – it was a great experience for me.”

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