Flavors are also how Robert Hutchinson describes the possibilities in accounting. The new professor of accounting in the School of Business and Economics catches up with a couple of soon-to-be accounting graduates, sharing his insights on the field as a whole.
“There’s so, so much you can do,” Hutchinson stresses. “Of course, there’s always demand for CPAs— taxes aren’t going anywhere any time soon, so we’ll always need them. But the range of opportunities is immense. Businesses want people who know how to lead and understand cost dynamics. So much senior management comes from accounting.”
Judy Isaacson has those possibilities in front of her. The senior, who grew up nearby and is about to graduate this fall, is looking at career and grad school options. “I’d love to work in internal audit long-term,” she says. “I’ve gotten a bit of a taste of it working at a bank, and there seems to be a lot of room to grow there.”
“Definitely,” Robert confirms. “Internal auditors hold a lot of sway in a lot of organizations. In my experience, the internal auditor is like the honeybee of the corporation, visiting all of the units, cross-pollinating best practices. They tend to develop the best perspective on the business. They’re a great resource. Really valued.”
Melanie Wells is getting closer to graduation as well, though she is continuing for two additional terms to complete her Master's in Accounting. Melanie, originally from Hillsdale, Michigan, had an unusual path to Michigan Tech. “The first time I visited here was when I moved in at Orientation,” she laughs. “Sheila Milligan (instructor of accounting in the School of Business and Economics) called me up to talk accounting. It did a lot to assure me this was the right school. It turns out that it was the perfect choice.”
Melanie is the first student to have enrolled for the new MA in Accounting, the timing of the introduction of the program proving to be just right. “I wanted to get my master’s anyhow,” she says. “Being able to stay here, a place I enjoy personally and academically, was a no-brainer.”
The new graduate program began with the efforts of accounting faculty in the SBE, especially Joel Tuoriniemi, professor of practice in accounting. “I’m just coming in and turning the key. An enormous effort was made by my colleagues to build the foundation of this program prior to my coming on board,” Robert says. “Everyone is dedicated to seeing this program succeed.”
The program joins the Tech MBA and the MS in Applied Natural Resource Economics as advanced degree options for current undergraduate students as well as working professionals.
For Melanie, the paths after graduate school are numerous, though Robert had a few ideas he has encountered along the way.
“One place to look that might surprise you is the military,” he says. “You wouldn’t believe how many accountants they wind up needing, and the amount of responsibility they assume in a short time. Take a look at the Army Finance Corps or the Navy Purchasing, Supply, and Logistics Corps, for example.”
These aren’t necessarily safe positions, tucked away at a remote base, either.
“One guy I know is a former Army Ranger,” Robert says. “He went back to school, got an accounting degree, and then reenlisted. A little bit after that, in 2003, the conflict in Iraq got going, and guess who was on the ground first! The Army Finance Corps was working behind the lines, working the numbers with local tribes and the Kurdish government in the north. The very first ones there.”
Judy’s choice now is between graduate school immediately or after a bit of work experience. “It’s tough,” she explains. “I want to get an additional degree, but I’d like to see the inner workings of a company, too. See where I might fit.”
With a move to the Twin Cities on the horizon, she is finding plenty of options out there. “It’s hard to decide what to do.”
Robert understands the array of choices. “With where you are, you can either continue on to grad school and have a leg up on the competition, or you can be in-demand in the corporate world and see where you would most like to be.
“That’s a nice problem to have."
Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.