The Big Four: KPMG, Ernst & Young, Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers. In the world of accounting, these names are as well-known as those of the top SEC quarterbacks in the South.
These professional networks offer a variety of accounting and auditing services to clients such as IBM and McDonalds. For accounting majors, garnering a job at one of these top firms is equivalent to winning the National Championship.
Two recent Trevecca graduates, Savannah Carr (’19) and Meredith Koon Godfrey (’19), did just that. Both are starting their accounting careers with Ernst & Young this fall. A third professional accounting graduate, Jackson Poole (’19), will work as an internal auditor at Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), one of the largest healthcare companies in the nation.
It takes a strong professional accounting program to make these opportunities available to students, something Greg Runyan, chair of Trevecca’s Department of Business Administration, knows well.
“The professional accounting degree gives students flexibility with what their future paths are,” Runyan said.
The paths Trevecca accounting alumni have taken further prove Runyan’s point. Trevecca accounting graduates serve in a variety of roles at independent, regional and Big Four firms across the country. In the state of Tennessee, Trevecca alumni hold some the highest-level positions at firms such as HCA, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young.
According to Carr and Godfrey, competition is stiff when it comes to garnering a position at one of the Big Four straight out of college. Both have been hired as staff accountants in Ernst & Young’s insurance department, where they will audit public companies’ financial statements.
A global organization with member firms in more than 150 countries, Ernst & Young’s partner office in Nashville generally hires just 30 new employees a year.
“I feel unbelievably blessed to have been offered a position at Ernst & Young,” Godfrey said.
She attributes some of her success in landing a position at Ernst & Young to connections Trevecca faculty members helped her make.
“I wasn’t quite sure of where I would want to work coming out of school, but through connections at Trevecca, I built a relationship with a senior manager at EY,” Godfrey said.
While students are immersed in accounting theory and given opportunities to practically apply what they’re learning early in the program, faculty members also seek to get to know students personally. Mentoring students is a key component of the program, says Dr. Allen Jinnette, associate professor of accounting. Professors are actively engaged in helping students define their callings, make connections with industry professionals and more.
“We take more of a vested interest in students,” Jinnette said. “It’s more of a professional mentorship alongside a degree where students can come to our offices and talk about school or personal issues, something you don’t get at a big university.”
Poole says that professional mentorship as well as connections with Trevecca alumni helped him line up a job at HCA before he ever graduated.
“Students in the past have worked at HCA and have maintained good relationships with the school and they know our students are good employees,” Poole said. “One of the big reasons our program is so good is because of Dr. Jinnette. He is top-notch and a large part of our success. You get those personal connections with your professors, especially in the accounting major.”
Poole will begin his new job as an internal auditor at HCA on Sept. 3. In this role, he’ll travel to various HCA subsidiaries to ensure they are following proper procedure, complying with the law and functioning as efficiently as possible.
Godfrey and Carr will begin their careers at Ernst & Young in October. Carr is excited to put what she’s learned into practice.
“I’m looking forward to learning more about the auditing world and working in real-life outside of the classroom,” Carr said.
Runyan and Jinnette say graduates like Carr, Godfrey and Poole will keep the Trevecca tradition of sending highly qualified accountants into the business world alive.
“Those three students are exemplary representations of the University,” Runyan said. “We are very proud of them.”