Accounting Program Develops Successful Students and Alumni

In the past 25 years that Dr. Penny Clayton, Professor of Accounting and Program Coordinator, has been teaching at the Breech School of Business, she has seen a majority of accounting students graduate from Drury University with a job lined up for them. Some of these students receive a job offer almost a whole year before they even receive their diploma.

But, securing a job doesn’t happen without effort. The success of Breech’s accounting program depends upon the relationship between dedicated faculty who make the program strong and alumni who reach out to current Breech students.

A strong accounting program
The strength behind the program comes from faculty, such as Dr. Clayton, who prepares each of their students for future careers in accounting. Working alongside her are Dr. Rod Oglesby, Professor of Accounting, Dr. Tiffany Cossey, Assistant Professor of Accounting and Coordinator of the VITA program, and Dr. Kelley Still, who presently serves as Executive Director of the Edward Jones Center for Entrepreneurship.

“We have a very comprehensive and structured program and that's important as the accounting recruitment process is becoming extremely competitive,” Dr. Clayton explains. “It is also important to prepare students for job interviews which we accomplish by working with the Career Center on resume preparation and mock interviews. In Breech, all majors are required to have an internship to provide insights into selecting a career path."

Seven students graduated from Drury during the 2012-2013 school year—two last fall and five recently in May 2013—who all studied under Dr. Clayton’s instruction. These students have been placed in some of the top accounting firms in the United States, such as BKD and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Recent graduate Jason Kester will be relocating to Kansas City, Missouri in September 2013 to start his career at BKD, where he first held an internship.

“Dr. Clayton worked to get me a special internship at BKD that has led to the job I will start in September,” Jason says. “Since it's a small team, there isn't a major recruiting process like there is for tax or audit. This means that without Dr. Clayton, I wouldn't have this job opportunity that I'm very excited about.”

Another recent graduate, Wes Bird is working with PwC in Kansas City, Missouri. Breech helped Wes discover the skills and experience he needed to get where he is today.

“Through my classes in Breech I've learned the technical, team, and leadership skills necessary to work in the professional world,” Wes explains. “The connection that was made by a Breech professor, Dr. Clayton, for an internship also gave me practical experience and an idea of the public accounting work environment.”

Other students who have graduated this past year will be working other top firms such as PwC in   Fayetteville, Arkansas, Elliott, Robinson & Company, BKD and Hardy and Associates, all in Springfield, as well as Baker Tilly Virchow Krause in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Alumni who give back
However, the Breech accounting program also thrives because of their alumni who went through the same program and had success.

Jeremy Clopton, a 2005 graduate, is thankful for his time at Breech. The accounting program helped him get to where he is today—with BKD in Springfield.

“The most memorable part of being a Breech student was the faculty,” Jeremy says. “The Breech faculty made students their top priority from their freshman year through graduation. Specifically in the accounting department, the faculty were integral in helping me prepare for the CPA Exam, looking at possible internships and getting me in contact with potential employers prior to graduation.”

Because of their success, some Breech alumni enjoy coming back to visit with current students during networking events such as Reach Out to Breech. Carrie Brown, a Drury alumnus who received her bachelor’s degree in 2007 and her MBA in 2008, interacts with students when she can. She currently serves as the senior accountant at Elliott, Robinson & Company, LLP in Springfield and the president-elect on the alumni council.

“I do get to interact with the students at some events that I go to, Carrie says. “ One of my favorite events is the Senior BBQ that takes place at the beginning of the school year. It is fun to interact with the seniors and hear about their plans post-graduation.”

Alumni-student networking serves another purpose than just meeting face-to-face. The experience allows students to receive real career advice and help from professionals.

Casey Carroll, a current accounting student at Breech, recently worked with two of Drury’s alumni who offered her experience and guidance.

“I have more contact with alums than I thought I would,” Casey admits. “I worked for Clayton, York, & Hopp, CPAs during this past tax season helping prepare tax returns. This firm was founded by Kailey York and Brittany Hopp, two Drury Breech alumni. They were wonderful mentors and helped me tremendously moving towards my future career in accounting.” 

To get the most out of any program with Breech, Jeremy suggests that students should join student organizations. “Being a member of various organizations while on campus helps develop teamwork and time management skills and provide a great way to network with alumni in the community.”

Learn more about Drury’s accounting program under “Majors” on the Breech webpage.