Advancing Accounting Expertise with Work and Family
Sam Aljure was finishing her undergraduate political science degree and had a few extra credits she needed to earn. So she decided to take an accounting class.
“I was hooked,” she says. “I fell in love with accounting.”
It was too late to change her major. After graduation, a series of accounting-related jobs allowed her to carve a path into an accounting role at a statewide nonprofit, the Autism Society of North Carolina. The job also matched her desire to work in public service.
She is now a senior accountant at the organization. But there was a lot she didn’t know about accounting, and to eventually land an executive role more education was critical.
Flexibility is key
A master’s degree in accounting turned out to be the perfect solution. But Aljure also needed a program she could pursue while working fulltime and fit in around her responsibility as the mother of a young child.
“It is important for me to have that flexibility,” she says. “I have to somehow find the perfect balance between being a full-time mom, a full-time employee and a part-time student.”
The Jenkins Online MAC at NC State University’s Poole College of Management was the ideal fit.
“I think that one of the most remarkable parts of this process has been the people. Everybody has been incredibly welcoming and communicative,” she says. “This is the first time that I’ve had a university experience where it truly feels like a family. I don’t feel uncomfortable sending an email to anyone for advice.”
The Jenkins On Campus MAC, is typically a one-year program. In the online program, Aljure will spread it out over two years to accommodate her work and family responsibilities.
She expects to continue a career path in a nonprofit organization, such as her current employer, or possibly work in government someday. She believes the Jenkins MAC will prepare her well for those roles, and also give her a broader perspective on the career options accounting provides.
“One of the things that really piqued my interest is the fact that there are concentrations that you can pursue within the master’s program,” Aljure says. “I think that everyone has different strengths, and having the ability to drive your own master’s program into something that will be better suited for those strengths — that’s awesome.”
Filling in the fundamentals
But before she could start the program, she needed to strengthen her fundamental accounting skills. Though a few undergraduate classes and her job had given her exposure to some concepts, there was still holes in her basic accounting and business knowledge.
The ASAP Program at Poole filled that gap. It provides non-accounting majors an intensive, online bootcamp of six prerequisite courses, providing the accounting fundamentals they need to be successful as MAC students.
“It has given me the ability to say, ‘OK, these are my strengths. These are things that I definitely need to learn more about. And these are things that I’m looking forward to mastering,’” Aljure says.
Her bosses, she says, have been very supportive of her educational ambitions — a key factor in her ability to pursue the master’s degree.
“They want me to succeed, and they want me to also bring something new to the table,” she says. “I’m going to have the most up-to-date information and learning on things that we may be able to improve.”
Aljure is not undertaking the MAC program lightly. She knows it will require a lot of time and energy, and she says it’s important that anyone pursuing a master’s degree is committed to improving themselves and their career prospects.
“Do it only if you really want to, because you think you should do it,” she says. “You’re truly making an investment in yourself.”