I am an international student from China. Prior to enrolling in the UNC Kenan-Flagler Master of Accounting (MAC) Program, I was trained as a material scientist. When I first made the decision to pursue a career in accounting from a non-major background, I knew that I needed to find a quality graduate program to help me build my technical knowledge and professional network effectively and efficiently.
To me, the first aspect that distinguishes the MAC Program is that it’s only facing towards people like me who decide to become an accountant with no technical background. I researched a lot of programs in the U.S. and have audited classes in a good number of them.
In a “normal” program, I usually ended up having classes with a majority of students who had already spent four years studying accounting in college. As a result, often times I found myself lost and frustrated during lectures or group discussions because of my lack of the very basic knowledge.
In the UNC Kenan-Flagler MAC Program, everyone starts at the same level – no prior accounting knowledge is expected. And in fact, having more than 12 credit hours of accounting courses would actually disqualify you as an applicant. We all started with the 101 classes and studied all the way to the advanced level. It’s really amazing even to think about how this program manages to turn everyone into professionals within a year and help 99 percent of us find full-time employment at the big accounting firms (yes, even without prior internship experience).
The second thing that surprised me is the quality of education you receive in the UNC MAC Program. Prior to my enrollment, I was told that the program makes tremendous efforts to help students build our soft skills. Frankly, I was highly critical in the beginning as I thought it could very well be a gimmick that all the other programs are using as well. However, after a while, I noticed how much of an emphasis the program is really putting on developing our soft skills. The classes and many workshops are focused on business communication skills, which really helped me excel during my interviews. To this day, I still remember our professor teaching us how to properly shake hands and maintain eye contact. It seems trivial, but in reality these details are crucial to the success of the recruiting process.
Lastly, I really want to touch on the “almighty” professional network that the program has. All of the Big 4 accounting firms and several other famous mid-market firms appoint a number of representatives on campus to introduce their companies. It’s impressive that after the application process, everybody will end up with first round interviews with these firms, and most will get at least one final interview. This is a big deal compared to many other programs in the U.S., and it shows just how broad and profound the outreach of our program is. Shortly after wrapping up my own recruiting process, I received two full-time job offers from two of the Big 4 firms. Given the fact that I was a chemistry major and have only been in the program for less than half a year, I am really happy and grateful with the results.
All in all, I really enjoyed my personal experience in the MAC program and am more than satisfied with the faculty and staff at UNC Kenan-Flagler. If you are thinking about starting a career in accounting, definitely consider the UNC MAC Program. It might very well be the right choice for you as well.
By Jack Song (MAC ’16)