OUR THOUGHTS ON:

How Accounting Found Me

Internship

By Madison Barnhart

From an early age in life – around age five or six – kids start being asked what they want to do when they grow up.  It’s an innocent question that slowly gains more and more weight to it, the older you get. A young child can dream of the most incredible career choices without a single regard for what it might take to reach that dream. As reality sets in, this simple question becomes increasingly harder to answer. It is not too often that you hear a young child say they would like to be an accountant when they grow up, and to this day, I am still asked about how I choose the path I did.

Being a first-generation college student in my family, I surprised everyone in my family when I choose accounting to be my major.  Each person’s surprise was then followed by: “Are you sure this is what you want to do for the rest of your life,” and the ever-so-daunting question of “Why?”  I can honestly say I ended up in the accounting world by chance.

I attended a high school that has a graduating class of around 800 to 900 kids. Due to so many kids and the huge emphasis placed on sports at North Allegheny High School, your sport ends up being your claim to fame. Your sports allows you to connect and compete with kids in the multiple different elementary and middle schools within NA, before you all get thrown together for high school.  Since you transition schools three different times during your time at NA, the friendships you gain from your sport give you a place to belong. Slowly and surely, your sport consumes you. While I never regretted the fact that my life revolved solely around basketball, it left little time to contemplate what my future would be.

Regarding college, I never really thought about where I would attend; I was just hoping to get lucky enough to get an offer from anywhere to continue my basketball career. I cared little about where that would be, as long as I could keep that constant in my life. As things turned out, my basketball career ended in 10th grade due to an injury to my hip. After this, I walked blindly around school wondering what my next move was. Losing something that consumes your life for as long as you can remember is a huge adjustment. Junior year of high school was approaching, and it was time to pick our elective classes. Well, I had one class left to pick, and no idea what to take. A random choice was made then that lead me onto my new life path.

When I randomly selected accounting as a class in high school, I never would have guessed that I would actually kind of enjoy it. Accounting came somewhat naturally to me and I ended up doing pretty well in the class. One thing led to another, Washington & Jefferson College emailed me with a free application to apply, and that was that. I toured the school and accepted without even knowing that their accounting program was set up to allow me to graduate in four years with enough credits to sit for the CPA exam!

One random choice and one lucky break later and W&J become my home, where I am fortunate enough to study accounting. Thanks to the incredible work our career services department at W&J does, they were able to help me get the opportunity to apply for an internship at Schneider Downs. I will never be able to thank them enough for leading me to a wonderful firm that has provided me with a great opportunity to further my education in accounting.

You’ve heard our thoughts… We’d like to hear yours

The Schneider Downs Our Thoughts On blog exists to create a dialogue on issues that are important to organizations and individuals. While we enjoy sharing our ideas and insights, we’re especially interested in what you may have to say. If you have a question or a comment about this article – or any article from the Our Thoughts On blog – we hope you’ll share it with us. After all, a dialogue is an exchange of ideas, and we’d like to hear from you. Email us at contactSD@schneiderdowns.com.

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