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Minority students preview accounting careers

Published July 11, 2013

Minority high school students recently were introduced to career opportunities in the accounting profession during a five-day program presented by the School of Management and the Foundation for Accounting Education of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA).

Twenty-two students from 16 area high schools attended the eighth annual Career Opportunities in the Accounting Profession (COAP) program June 23-27 at the School of Management.

“The goal of the program is to increase awareness of the many opportunities that an accounting education and career can provide,” says Ann Burstein Cohen, associate professor of accounting.

Working with the NYSSCPA, Cohen has led the Buffalo COAP program since its inception in 2006. “It is our hope that if minority students realize early on that the accounting profession has a variety of interesting opportunities, we can increase the number of candidates who enter the field,” she adds.

The program features a comprehensive series of breakout sessions designed to provide participants with insights into all the components of an accounting education and career.

A number of area accounting firms gave presentations on campus and students made off-site visits to Lumsden & McCormick, PricewaterhouseCoopers and New Era Cap Co., where they took company tours and spoke with accounting representatives from those firms.

Students also took part in a variety of professional development sessions, including a business lunch featuring etiquette tips for working meals; a “dress for success” session; a “speed-meeting” event; and sessions on business writing, work/life balance, interviewing techniques and personal branding.

Throughout the week, student groups worked on a “Build Your Own Business” project, developing plans for new business ventures. On the last day, the groups presented their plans to a panel of industry professionals who evaluated the entries and shared their feedback with the students.

COAP concluded with a banquet for students and their parents at the Hotel Lafayette. The 2013 keynote speaker was Thomas Beauford Jr., former vice president of HSBC Bank USA and current president of the Western New York chapter of the National Black MBA Association.